Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Buzz on The Word On The Street: An Interview with Nicola Dufficy

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The Buzz on The Word On The Street: An Interview with Nicola Dufficy

Nicola Dufficy, Festival Co-Manager of The Word On The Street Toronto gives Open Book a preview of this year's festival. Mark your calendars: The Word On The Street is coming up on Sunday, September 26th.

Open Book:

Tell us about The Word On The Street.

Nicola Dufficy:

Every year on the last Sunday of September, in Toronto, Vancouver, Kitchener, and Halifax, The Word On The Street unites the country in a national celebration of literacy and the written word. The Word On The Street Toronto annually attracts more than 200,000 visitors to its Queen’s Park location, making it the largest book and magazine festival in Canada. It’s a book lover’s paradise! Even before I moved to Canada, I had heard about The Word On The Street.


One exciting new feature of The Word On The Street is the Digital Drive Stage. What prompted you to expand the program to include the ebook trade this year?


The continuous evolution of digital publishing is changing the way we write, publish, market and read books. Both industry professionals and the wider community seem to have strong opinions on the future of the book and The Word On The Street felt compelled to respond to this. The Digital Drive stage provides a forum for a discussion of ideas and issues, and a platform for exploring digital reading devices on the market today.


What other new features do The Word On The Street visitors have to look forward to?


In a festival first, two of Canada’s biggest publishing houses are coming on board to host their own stages. Random House of Canada, partnering with McClelland & Stewart, were the first to approach us with the idea and will be the proud sponsors of The Remarkable Reads Tent. Also launching this year is Penguin Group (Canada)’s own venue, the Penguin: Celebrating 75 Years tent. Both tents will feature a jam-packed program of author readings and signings – not to be missed!


The Word On The Street first started in 1989 – how was the festival grown and changed in those 21 years?


In its early incarnation, the festival was focused mainly on book exhibitors, but in response to its growth and the interests of the community who attend, programming is now one of the major draws of The Word On The Street. People who attend the festival are excited about the opportunity to listen to their favourite authors read and to have their books signed.


Tell us a little about the literary programs that The Word On The Street supports.


The Word On The Street is a proud supporter of a number of both literary and literacy organizations around Toronto.

New to the festival this year is the Metro Toronto Movement for Literacy (MTML) Story Path! MTML is Toronto and York's regional network of people and organizations concerned about adult literacy.

We are also excited to be supporting the launch of ABC Life Literacy’s Good Reads initiative. It's an exciting new book series created especially for adult literacy learners, with books by well-known Canadian authors such as Joseph Boyden, Marina Endicott and Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Maureen Jennings will be appearing at the Great Books Marquee, reading from her Good Reads title, Shipwreck.

Literacy Lane is an exhibitor space at the festival which is dedicated to literacy organizations. We provide 20 free booths for these exhibitors in return for the wonderful work they do! This year we are happy to welcome S.T.E.L.L.A.A. to Literacy Lane! Since 2007, S.T.E.L.L.A.A. has collected over 100,000 books and educational resources and shipped two 40-foot containers of books to Africa to promote literacy to the children and adults of Africa. They will be collecting books at the festival this year.

Finally, our great friends at Diaspora Dialogues are partnering with The Word On The Street to launch the Diaspora Dialogues Literary Scavenger Hunt. Anyone can get involved in the hunt which features flash mob readings, goodies to collect, and a chance to win great prizes!


What features or authors are you most excited to see at the festival?


This year I am very excited about a new concept launching in the Great Books Marquee. We will be featuring two segments dedicated to “taste testing” the debut books of emerging authors and have programmed a great selection of poetry, non-fiction, fiction and short stories. All of the books are amazing and I feel as though the audience may be discovering the big names of tomorrow! The Word On The Street prides itself on providing a forum for new writers.
Yann Martel’s appearance will also be a highlight. Martel will be reading from Beatrice and Virgil. This will be followed by an interview and a Q & A session featuring questions that have been pre-selected as a part of the “Ask Yann Martel” competition featured on our blog and website. We’ve had some great questions so far!

Nicola Dufficy Festival Co-Manager at The Word On The Street Toronto, is responsible for artistic programming and development as well as overall festival production. Her previous role was as Children's Event Coordinator at McNally Robinson Booksellers, Toronto. She is a freelance writer for Quill and Quire magazine’s Books for Young People section and the Canadian Children's Book News. Originally from Australia, she currently calls Toronto home.

For more information about the festival, please visit The Word On The Street website.

Stay tuned for our upcoming interview series In the Digital Driver's Seat, with panelists from the new here for more details.

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