11. Big and Beautiful Bodies
Pop culture stereotypes, shopping frustrations, fat jokes, and misconceptions about health reveal how society systemically rejects large bodies. In this feature event, contributors to the anthology BIG: Stories about Life in Plus-Sized Bodies discuss the experience of crafting and sharing stories that shed light on bodies that are big, beautiful and proud — of people that demand and deserve acceptance in a society obsessed with being thin.
Events scheduled for May 1-15 are available via an all-access festival pass. The festival pass costs $39 and gives you access to a virtual festival platform, which includes an auditorium hosting forty virtual events, an exhibit hall with a live chat feature for communicating with vendors, and a lounge for engaging in discussions before and after events with other festival-goers.
Passholders will have be able to compete in the space for incredible prizes and will have access to the platform and all of the recorded festival events, as well as bonus content, until May 30, 2021. If the cost of the pass is prohibitive, please fill out the Patron Pass form, and a pass will be made available.
Christina Myers is a writer, editor, and former journalist. She is the creator and editor of BIG: Stories About Life in Plus-Sized Bodies (Caitlin Press, 2020), a BC-bestselling collection of non-fiction by 26 writers from across Canada, the US and the UK. Her first novel – The List of Last Chances – will be on shelves in April 2021. She co-hosts a reading series just outside Vancouver, BC, for emerging and established writers of all genres.
Rabbit Richards is learning how to exist on stolen land in a marginalized body. They were born on occupied Lenape territory in Brooklyn, NY. Their family has never rooted for more than one generation anywhere for as long as their history can trace. Their father’s family claims Kyiv and Minsk; their mother’s family remembers St Thomas and St Croix, islands of the Carib, Arawak, and Ciboney. Relentlessly compassionate with fierce integrity, Rabbit is passionate about anti-oppression and accessibility work and is deeply invested in the conversations that are provoked by their art.
Sonja Boon is a researcher, writer, teacher, and flutist who lives in St. Johns, Canada. Passionate about stories and storytelling, she is the author of What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home (WLU Press, 2019), a memoir that traverses five continents and spans more than two centuries. Sonja’s creative non-fiction essays appear in published anthologies as well as in Geist, The Ethnic Aisle, and ROOM, among others. For six years, Sonja was principal flutist and a frequent soloist with the Portland Baroque Orchestra (Oregon).
Jo Jefferson is a Toronto-based queer writer, parent, and community worker who grew up in Nova Scotia. Their poetry, short fiction, and personal essays have been published by Prairie Fire, The Antigonish Review, Understorey Magazine, Syracuse Cultural Workers, and in various anthologies. Jo’s first novel, Lightning and Blackberries, was released by Nimbus Publishing in 2008. They write about apocalypse, queerness, weather, travel, and family. When they’re not writing or reading, Jo hangs out with their kids, works with queer elders at a community centre, plays softball, explores the world, and facilitates workshops with curious creators of all ages.
The FOLD is a remarkable and wonderful event for authors and attendees alike. What an amazing community, dedicated to the vital need for inclusive stories and the critical role they play in building a better world.
Field Guide to the North American Teenager is my first novel and FOLD was my first Canadian literary festival. While American and Canadian culture overlap quite a bit, especially when it comes to bookshelves, Canadian literature is unique and I was very heartened by to be embraced by that community I consider home despite residing in the US. It was a homecoming I didn’t know I needed!
The Festival of Literary Diversity was an absolute joy–the organizers thought of *everything* and by anticipating authors’ needs, they freed us to focus on connecting with the audience and each other. There was no pretension, no posturing–just very genuine conversations with invested writers and engaged readers.
I have been to a lot of writers festivals and the FOLD is definitely near the top of the list of those I want to be invited back to.
Being part of such a clearly diverse, inclusive and mutually respectful group was thrilling and inspiring: a glimpse of a better world.
Wherever I go in Canada and find another writer of colour, we eventually end up gushing about how great the FOLD is, how by normalizing diversity it liberates us to talk to audiences about craft. It’s hard to imagine the literary landscape returning to a prehistoric pre-FOLD era.
FOLD is a festival experience unlike any other I’ve had. The FOLD team strive to create a space that’s welcoming and engaging, while allowing for curiosity, ingenuity and the fostering of real community – and they succeed, every year.
The FOLD is one of the most important literary events on this continent. By focusing on diverse voices and giving authors space to share their stories and speak their truths, it is revolutionizing the writing and storytelling realm as we know it.
Being part of the FOLD community has provided me with a strong sense of belonging. Sharing diverse stories and listening to different voices that broaden my understanding of the world has impacted me as a person and motivated me as a writer.