This year’s Word on the Street festival paid tribute to Canadian authors, literary organizations, publishers, and magazines. On a beautiful Sunday at Harbourfront Centre, the weather was perfect for literary enthusiasts, who attended the event with more than 50 publishers, 60 independent authors, and 30 magazines on site. A total of eight nifty booksellers were also in attendance.

Free to the public, many tents were full of books and journals, while the festival featured several performance pieces and talks. TVO Kids offered three pirate shows for young viewers, and acclaimed Canadian author André Alexis introduced his latest crime novel The Hidden Keys. Publishers and stores like BMV had a chance to sell some of their books and expand their readership by chatting with curious visitors.

Lauren McKeon, editor of Canadian periodical THIS Magazine, was enthusiastic about sharing her experience at the festival. “We’ve been doing Word on the Street for years and years now,” she said. “And we love it because it gives us a chance to meet our readers and to get feedback, and [to] hopefully introduce the magazine to new readers as well.”

Although THIS Magazine has been around for 50 years, McKeon pointed out that more readers are discovering it every year, and events like Word on the Street certainly contribute to its exposure.

Biblioasis, one of Canada’s prominent publishers based in Windsor, Ontario, also sought to expand its readership and introduce festival attendees to its works of fiction and poetry. One example is the CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries, a journal dedicated to artistic and literary criticism since 1968 that typically solicits its content from Canadian writers and, more specifically, journalists, while occasionally considering unsolicited submissions.

Apart from its range of literary press and collections of fiction, Word on the Street offered educational opportunities for those who wish to pursue a career in publishing or creative writing. Representatives from Humber College offered pamphlets promoting intensive writing courses, where students are able to learn from authors like Dianne Warren, Ashley Little, and Joseph Kertes. For readers interested in international experiences and foreign literature, The Japan Foundation of Toronto invited audiences to free movie nights, lectures, and Japanese lessons.

With over 200 editors, writers and publishers, Word on the Street’s success was due in part to the sense of community the festival fosters. Dozens of volunteers helped prepare the festival and ensure that literary enthusiasts were able to gain the most out of their experience — a celebration of reading, communication, and literacy.

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