Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

One Man's Guide to the upcoming Scream Literary Festival

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The summer season is upon us, and one of the dreams the slow moon brings is the Scream Literary Festival. For seventeen years now, the poets have taken over venues around the city for up to a week and more, events that gradually escalate to the main stage marquee evening at High Park. Did you know that it was once illegal for poets to read poetry in Toronto Parks?

I've been told that it's the largest poetry event in North America, but I've also had many people try to explain to me why the Maple Leafs are worth following. Despite Toronto's uneven record across the entertainment spectrum, this year's poetry events look fantastic. Here's what I'm interested in:

Thursday 2 July: Die Scream Die: A Musical Revue

For just seven bucks enjoy the talents of Tony Burgess -- the guy who wrote Pontypool, which was turned into a zombie flick by Bruce McDonald --, novelist Derek McCormack, and others, as they spin a phantasmagoria that organizers are calling a "ghoulish extravaganza". Campy undead fun for seven bucks. Sometimes I love the poetry world.

Sunday 5 July: Incidental Poetry Reading

A reading in the Toronto Library -- all over the Toronto library, disrupting the carefully wrought Dewey decimal system. Many noteworthy readers at this event, including Martha Baille, Stuart Ross, Kate Eichhorn, and more. Free! I've always said that poetry readings are the best free entertainment in any city, and with this stellar line-up you are guaranteed to get more than your money's worth.

Tuesday 7 July: Five Manifestos on the Book

The theme of the Scream this year is the death of the book, or rather the deaths of the books, the book festivals, and all things literary. Bill Kennedy, the Czar of the Scream, hits the stage to announce his take on the future of the undead livre. Other presenters include one of Canada's foremost postmodern critics Barbara Godard, one of Canada's foremost poetry publishers Jay MillAr, and literary impressarios such as Margaret Christakos, Jenny Sampirisi, a. rawlings, and more. This one is seven bucks at the Supermarket and could be the most significant event of the festival.

Friday 10 July: If Hope Disorders Words: An Evening with Dennis Lee

One of my favourite events at the Scream Festival has become the book-length reading over a dinner. I had the pleasure, for instance, of witnessing Christopher Dewdney read an entire book at the Brickworks, which I ate and drank with poets, friends, and literary types. It was a magical evening. This year's reader needs no introduction, and the featured book, Civil Elegies, should need no introduction either. $15 for the reading, $40 for dinner with the reading.

Monday 13 July: The Scream in High
A great list of readers, including many who have been featured on Open Book Toronto. It's a ten dollar event that is always remarkable. You might like not love every reader performing on the stage, but you will discover at least two writers new to you that you'll be glad of. Dutton and Eirikur alone make this an event not to miss. Bring a blanket, bring something to drink, maybe eat. Pass a lovely evening in the park with the infinite sky and an open mind. This year's featured readers include:

* Oana Avasilichioaei
* Wakefield Brewster
* Margaret Christakos
* Peter Culley
* Jeramy Dodds
* Paul Dutton and Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl
* Lisa Foad
* Susan Holbrook
* Ryan Kamstra
* Shani Mootoo
* Andrew Pyper
* Adam Sol

There are other events, all of which look promising, but these are the ones that I would call as can't miss. Toronto's summer is insanely packed with great or just large events. On the scale of Caribanna, Pride, and so on, this is a small event, but it is always richly packed and thoughtfully -- creatively -- orchestrated. While other literary festivals focus on selling things, the Scream has always seemed to me more like the place where literary happenings occur. Enjoy the festival!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Gregory Betts

Gregory Betts is an experimental poet, editor, essayist and teacher. He is the author of If Language (BookThug, 2005), Haikube (BookThug, 2006) and The Others Raisd in Me (Pedlar Press, 2009). He has edited editions of poetry by W.W. E. Ross, Raymond Knister and Lawren Harris. His latest book is The Wrong World: Selected Stories and Essays of Bertram Brooker (University of Ottawa Press 2009).

Go to Gregory Betts’s Author Page