Today we start the roll out of our 2016 lineup – a phenomenal group of diverse Canadian writers. As the founder and Artistic Director I am filled with excitement. I’m also a rookie at this, and incredibly nervous. I have been working on the festival with a bright and innovative Program Planning Team for two years. And now the time has finally come.
Will people like our selection?
I know, I know, who cares what people think? But here’s the problem with that line of thinking: this festival isn’t for me. It isn’t for the Program Planning Team, either – which is why we picked these authors so carefully. The Festival of Literary Diversity, Canada’s first festival for diverse books, is for us – all of us. It’s for readers and writers young and old. It’s for teachers and librarians, business people and people in social services. It’s for bibliophiles and occasional readers. It’s for publishing professionals. It’s for people of faith and atheists. It’s for LGBTQ and straight readers – for readers who read conservatively and for those who read with daring. It’s for the abled and differently abled, and it’s for those living with mental health. It’s a forward-thinking festival that will seek out those who write on or from or beyond the margins..
So as we release our list, let me give you a little preparation on what you should expect.
THINGS YOU WILL SEE IN THE FOLD 2016 LINE-UP
Diversity, but not in the ways you may be expecting. Our lineup includes men, women, and non-binary writers who reflect a diverse range of experiences. Some are people of colour. Some are not. But as one of our authors said, “We have to start thinking about diversity in more complex ways.” We couldn’t agree more. You’ll find screenwriters and filmmakers, musicians and spoken word artists in the lineup, graphic novel writers and short story writers. You’ll find established writers, and fresh out the gate writers. You’ll find authors from communities with unique experiences, and sometimes they may talk about that experience and sometimes they may just talk about writing. We’re excited about that freedom. We’re excited to share important stories designed to help build more kind and cohesive communities.
In this first year of the festival, you will find some fresh titles with never-before-seen-covers. You’ll also find books by people who published a few years ago, who are actively engaging in important discussions. What we’ve found is that it doesn’t matter when your book came out. Writers need to make a living in between their published books too, and they often have great things to say about their works-in-progress.
THINGS YOU WON’T SEE IN THE FOLD 2016 LINEUP
We are proud of our lineup, but we are certain we’ve missed people. When we started planning for the FOLD, we thought we wouldn’t be able to fill a roster of diverse Canadian authors. We wondered how we would spread them out over the years. We had no idea how much DiverseCanLit talent was out there. We found out about great authors after we finalized the lineup, and we turned down so many great authors. Due to budget restrictions we also don’t have balanced geographical representation. We’d like to find ways to improve in that area in future years.
This lineup is engaging and interesting, and over the next month, you will see each author profiled through social media. Share their names. Buy their books. Follow them on Twitter. Welcome to the FOLD, Canada. I hope you’re as excited as I am to meet our first cohort of authors.
Jael Richardson is the Artistic Director of the FOLD.