Tag Archives: IFOA Ontario

IFOA Ontario On The Road Playlist

IFOA’s Transportation Coordinator, Matt King, created a playlist for his travels across Ontario with Lit On Tour. Check it out here:


For the 10th year, the International Festival of Authors has partnered with libraries, bookstores, universities, and community organizations across the province of Ontario to present the world’s best writers of contemporary literature as part of its touring program, IFOA Ontario. Events include readings, interviews, roundtable discussions, and public book signings throughout the province.

As a driver for many of these events, I got to meet the authors, engage in conversation, watch their readings, as well as getting to play car DJ. Sometimes setting the tone, filling in spaces, or just providing background noise to ideas and laughter. Here is a collection of songs that reflect the authors, their books and our adventures driving throughout Ontario in these last 4 months.

Err Humanum Est “Mistakes are Human.” Alyssa York’s book, The Naturalist, is a story of loss, discovery, and love in the Amazon of the 1860’s which I relate with this 1960’s Brazilian track by Jorge Ben in which he speaks of our cosmic inheritance and of the gods exploring new worlds.

Before that, we heard “The Boy with the Arab Strap by Belle and Sebastian. One of many musical references made in Jamie Tenants debut novel The Captain of Kinoull Hill.

Takashi Hiraide’s The Guest Cat is a tale of a couple’s encounter and impermanent relationship with a cat. In his song Bird’s Lament Moondog does his signature exploring tiny musical forms, much like a cat pawing at some interesting piece of string until it ceases to move, at which time they continue on for their next encounter.

A story of family looking back through old worlds and previous generations with a new set of eyes is what Nina Bunjavec did with her most recent graphic novel, Fatherland. That’s what this 1970’s Yugoslavian electronic composition by Silvio Foretic does. Here he takes an old melody and relates it through the most current technology of the time, analog synthesizers, which are now relics to be ruminated upon themselves.

Steven Price’s book takes place in Victorian England. I don’t have any Victorian music to play you, but on our drive to the airport one October morning we spoke about the German band, Kraftwerk. So here they are with a song about a scientist who would have been in France studying at the same Steven’s book takes place.

A lot of authors at the IFOA this year were crime fiction and suspense novelists. Robert Rotenberg, Lotte Hammer, Iain Reid, Ben Sanders, and Shari Lapena amongst others. Though I’ve been told it wasn’t intentional, I remain suspicious. In our travels there was some conversation about being a “genre” artist and whether this is time for it to elevate itself past that title, or whether it will remain a fertile breeding ground for on screen adaptations. But regardless, that last noir song about double indemnity is by Rodd Keith. The track before it was by Nina Simone from her album Nina Simone and Piano, an album I definitely played on every IFOA Ontario trip.

Moving along, here is a song by Toronto’s Bad Bad, Not Good that I think could inspire a screen adaptation itself to their song, Timewave Zero.

That was of course Leonard Cohen with the song Everybody Knows.

Though the trip up to Thunder Bay and Oliver Paipoonge may have been on a plane, I send this chilly song for Karen Connelly’s tale of politics and love in Myanmar. I am choosing a track Lover of the Winter and Snow by Burmese singer Ton Tay Thien Than. Though it may not be the most overtly political song, it’s the notion of snow in a mostly tropical country like Myanmar that can harken ideas of impermanence and loss, mirroring some of the complex themes brought up in Karen’s newest book Burmese Lessons.

IFOA Midland event happened to be on the day Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize, so much of our trip with Jowita Bydlowska, Jamie Tennant and Emily Saso was spent discussing the many confounding and potentially affirming arguments for his selection. Jowita’s book Guy is a story of a record exec with an insatiable thirst for average women. In honour I thought I’d play a Bob Dylan song that Guy might put on as he is coldly ensnaring his prey, but chose the sacrilegious wordless muzak cover by Claude Dejean. Now here is a song by Andy Schauf about a party.

With our last song, I think back to our first trip of the season to the Stephen Leacock Museum in Orillia Ontario with Gary Barwin and Lynn Kutsukake. What song did I choose? Gary’s own experimental electronic compositions, a yiddish sea shanty if one exists? Gary set the tone of his reading with some circular saxophone music. I think our talk about translation and fitting in matches both Gary’s and Lynn’s novels. For this warm summer drive, I’m playing a composition from a man who found his own unique voice living both inside and outside of the surroundings in which he was placed. Here is Ulysses at the Edge by Harry Partch.

Thank you for taking this ride with me, and thanks to all the authors for stimulating conversation about the world inside and outside of our minivan. For more information on the IFOA Ontario program check out litontour.com or our main site, IFOA.org.


By guest blogger Matt King. You can follow Matt on Twitter @FreeAbsolutely

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Lit On Tour Preliminary Lineup

We are excited to announce that André Alexis, Nina Bunjevac, Jowita Bydlowska, Gary Barwin, Liam Card, Chris Chambers, Lisa de Nikolits, Sunila Galappatti, Peter Geye, Takashi Hiraide, John Jantunen, Amy Jones, Joseph Kertes, Lynne Kutsukake, Andy McGuire, Donna Morrissey, Steven Price, Iain Reid, Nino Ricci, Robert Rotenberg, Emily Saso, Olive Senior, Kate Taylor, Nathan Whitlock, Jacob Wren, and Alissa York  are touring Ontario this Fall!

Check out their event locations.
Do not forget to buy your tickets.



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Interview with Sarah Jarvis

We recently chatted with Sarah Jarvis of BookFest Windsor, one of our current IFOA Ontario partners. Read below to learn her thoughts on our touring programme!

Sarah Jarvis © Sanja Frkovic

Sarah Jarvis © Sanja Frkovic

IFOA: How long have you been working with IFOA in Windsor?

SARAH JARVIS: BookFest Windsor first teamed up with IFOA in 2010. Lenore Langs, who was the BookFest Windsor Chair for many years, was approached by IFOA to see if there would be any interest in a joint venture here in Windsor. She worked really hard to make sure that IFOA staff and authors were made welcome in Windsor. We were very excited by the possibility. The first IFOA delegation to Windsor included a whole panel of mystery writers, including Peter Robinson. I remember the buzz that night at our former venue at the Art Gallery of Windsor. It was wonderful to meet the IFOA staff, and the authors were amazing. Our audience was thrilled with the energy of that panel. We’ve kept on with the partnership ever since. It’s now an integral part of our festival.

IFOA: What have your past experiences with IFOA Ontario been like?

SARAH JARVIS: We love our continuing partnership with IFOA Ontario. Over the years, each organization has gotten to know each other better, and we really appreciate how the programmers at IFOA take into account our wishes. Windsor-Essex is a very sophisticated literary townthere are writers in every corner! But authors who might be a big draw in Toronto or Hamilton may not be as well known here. It’s great that IFOA Ontario takes into account our suggestions. That said, we were thoroughly surprised and delighted by the suggestion of Scottish writer Louise Welsh last year. Although Louise wasn’t a familiar name to us here, local media really caught on to her books, and Ted Shaw, the Arts columnist for the Windsor Star, did a great interview with her for our IFOA Ontario panel. Last year, IFOA Ontario introduced us to a great programme that supports local artistsmusicians and or artistsas part of the IFOA Ontario appearance. We jumped at this opportunity with our partners at the Windsor Public Library, who encouraged their Comic Book Club to prepare artwork for us to display. We had artwork to display all over the theatre, in the three different presentation rooms, on the stages, and it looked great.

IFOA: How does having IFOA Ontario present at BookFest Windsor enhance your festival?

SARAH JARVIS: We love the element of discovery that comes with working with IFOA Ontario. We put together our own lineup, then IFOA sends us suggestions for the author or authors they’d like to bring us. We’re always impressed that those authors fit so well into our programme for that year. Through IFOA Ontario, our audiences get to see authors that may not otherwise come to Windsor. Our budget doesn’t stretch to international authors, so to be able to piggy-back onto the generous resources of IFOA Ontario enhances our programming. It’s great for our outreach programs, great for local media, great for book sales and most of all, great for our audience. I think that we are unique in that we integrate the IFOA Ontario presentation into our Festival as a whole (for now), and it’s not a stand-alone event, but it really adds an element of discovery for our audience. We give emerging writers a voice at our festival, so for them to be able to interact with established authors through our programming and with IFOA Ontario is also an advantage.

IFOA: Why should other cities and communities participate in IFOA Ontario?

SARAH JARVIS: IFOA Ontario is a wonderful resource to access what’s new and current in both Canadian and worldwide literary presentations. This is extraordinary access to the best and most up-to-date authors and presenters for communities that are not within easy travel distance to Toronto. Even if they are, audience members really appreciate these authors visiting their communities. The conversation goes both ways; the authors learn a bit about the various communities in Ontario, too. The staff work really hard to work with each location to make sure the experience is tailored to a location, but it’s also a great way for audiences in communities to engage in discovery of a new author as well.

IFOA: What has been your favourite IFOA Windsor event?

SARAH JARVIS: Not fair asking me to choose among so many great experiences! However, for me personally, and I’m sure for most of us, it was very exciting to have Eleanor Catton come to join us. When we learned about her nomination for the Man-Booker Prize, we were delighted. Then, I remember rushing home from a breakfast BookFest planning meeting and turning on the coverage of the prize announcement on BBC World News. When they announced Eleanor Catton’s name, I whooped with delight! To be honest, I was a little afraid that she would have to pull out from the Windsor visit to deal with all the press and other appearances, but IFOA Ontario kept its commitment with us, for which we were so grateful. Margaret Atwood had also asked to join us for BookFest that year, which meant we had two Man-Booker prize winners at the same festival. All of our lineups are an extraordinary list of accomplished authors, but this was a highlight. And Eleanor herself was amazing. She packed the room and was utterly insightful, generous and gracious to the audience and her interviewer, Dr. Karl Jirgens from the University of Windsor.

If your community is interested in becoming an IFOA partner for 2015, email us at litontour@ifoa.org! We are expanding our touring programme this year and would love to visit a new place.


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