Talk Wordy to Me

In only its third year running, Words Fest united literary minds from around London and internationally from November 4-6th at Museum London. In support of the noble effort to bring together authors, poets, singers, graphic novelists, publishers, screenwriters, readers, and listeners, the museum graciously donated its space and the galleries in it — rife with local artists’ work — to emphasize notions of community, locality, artistry, and appreciation.

Many SASAH students volunteered at the festival this year; some greeted guests, met authors, encouraged people to see speakers they might not have heard of, and peeked in on all the insightful discussions (Joel Faflak’s included), while others worked hard to invite Western students and promote the event through several platforms.

Something really unique and emblematic of the experience of Words is that every guest was “In Conversation With” a local mind—some of them faculty members at Western, others writers themselves. So, instead of just letting Emma Donoghue give a standing-room only presentation about her work, or letting Andre Alexis tell us what his books are about (both of those presentations would have no doubt still been fabulous), there is rather a mingling of bright minds, combined in interesting and unique ways to bring different backgrounds into the same room. The audience was also invited to ask questions which was tremendously lovely because subjects would flow and twist into new ones and everyone, either speaking or listening, could get to somewhere they hadn’t expected to go.

Irish-Canadian writer Emma Donoghue speaks to a crowded room at Words 2016.
Irish-Canadian writer Emma Donoghue speaks to a crowded room at Words 2016.

Continuing with that idea of getting people to places they otherwise wouldn’t have gone, another hugely successful idea on the part of Words was to host a Souwesto (Southwestern Ontario) book fair. Local authors were invited to occupy booths in a gallery upstairs at which they could sell their work to any of the people attending the festival. It was such a great way to bring together the cultural community of writers and readers, and it coincides with one of the main goals of Words: to make the arts accessible. The festival is completely free beyond the opening reception, and thereby encourages attendees to come out and support the work of the artists. Words featured several workshops for artists of all levels to come out and hone their craft in a creative and welcoming environment, as well as a range of other activities including lectures, films, readings, and performances. There was a little something for everyone, and a lot of somethings for the inquisitive mind.

For a taste of this year’s Words Fest, check out the WordsFestZine—a publication put together at the end of the weekend which is composed entirely of short pieces by those who attended the festival and had a literary reaction to any part of it. That could be you next year! Keep an eye out for this festival on the rise and don’t miss out on the chance to participate in such a unique, accessible, and local cultural community bound by Words (pun intended).

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