3. Writers on Community and Isolation Part 1 - The FOLD

3. Writers on Community and Isolation Part 1

A Mood Series Event

Session Description

The voices of the Black community emerged loud and strong in the midst of a global crisis, calling much needed attention to the stories of Black folks and the systemic racism that continues to affect Black lives. In the first of a two-part Mood Series event, three nonfiction authors discuss the importance of connection and the perils of isolation, and the unique ways their books convey strength in these troubled times. From university campuses to small town Ontario to life in the big city, authors Antonio Michael Downing (Saga Boy), Eternity Martis (They Said This Would Be Fun), and Ben Philippe (Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend) discuss the courage and creativity involved in writing stories that challenge readers to reflect on the critical bonds and complicated barriers in a divided world.

This session is sponsored by Penguin Random House Canada.

The logo for Penguin Random House Canada

About the Mood Series

In these 70-minute conversations, belonging, hope, grief, love, isolation, magic, transformation, and fear, readers will hear from authors who have published or written work in unprecedented conditions. Moderators will discuss these moods and themes with authors, unpacking each mood and its connection to their lives and their work.

Each mood event will be followed by a discussion in our festival lounge – providing attendees with the opportunity to respond to the facilitated conversation.

How to Register

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.

Featured Speaker(s)

A photo of author Ben Philippe--a young Black man with a buzz cut and a small goatee. He sits against a bright blue background.
Ben Philippe
Bio
A young Black woman with dark-rimmed glasses. She wears a dark blue turtleneck sweater top.
Eternity Martis
Bio
a black and white photo of a Black man with short hair and a small goatee. He wears a white shirt underneath a black leather jacket.
Antonio Michael Downing
Bio
A young Black woman sits outside surrounded by leafy green and violet bushes.
Makda Mulatu
Bio
A photo of author Ben Philippe--a young Black man with a buzz cut and a small goatee. He sits against a bright blue background.

Ben Philippe

Ben Philippe is an author and screenwriter. Born in Haiti and raised in Montreal, Ben has a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. He has written two Young Adult novels: The Field Guide To The North American Teenager, which won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, and Charming as a Verb. Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend is his first adult nonfiction book.

A young Black woman with dark-rimmed glasses. She wears a dark blue turtleneck sweater top.

Eternity Martis

Eternity Martis is an award-winning journalist and author of the bestselling book They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life and Growing Up. She is an Adjunct Professor and Journalist-in-Residence at UBC.

a black and white photo of a Black man with short hair and a small goatee. He wears a white shirt underneath a black leather jacket.

Antonio Michael Downing

Antonio Michael Downing grew up in southern Trinidad, Northern Ontario, Brooklyn, and Kitchener. He is a musician, writer, and activist based in Toronto. His 2010 debut novel, Molasses (Blaurock Press), was published to critical acclaim. In 2017 he was named by the RBC Taylor Prize as one of Canada’s top Emerging Authors for nonfiction. His memoir Saga Boy was published by Penguin Random House Canada in January 2021 and his children’s picture book Stars In My Crown will be published by Tundra Books in Canada in 2021. He performs and composes music as John Orpheus.

A young Black woman sits outside surrounded by leafy green and violet bushes.

Makda Mulatu

Makda Mulatu is a writer, editor, and podcast producer living on Treaty 6 territory in amiskwacîwâskahikan or Edmonton, Alberta. She writes mostly poetry — which has previously appeared in “Glass Buffalo” — and, alongside Jason Purcell, she co-produces the podcast “Glass Bookshop Radio”.

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.

Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her

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!

Ben Philippe, author of Field Guide to the North American Teenager

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.

Zetta Elliott, author of Dragons in a Bag

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.

Harold Johnson, author of the memoirs Clifford and Firewater

Being part of such a clearly diverse, inclusive and mutually respectful group was thrilling and inspiring: a glimpse of a better world.

Kathy Page, author of Dear Evelyn, winner of the 2018 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize

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.

Ian Williams, Author of the Giller Prize-winning novel Reproduction

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.

Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out On The Ground

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.

Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon Of The Crusted Snow

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.

Ann Y.K. Choi, author of Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety

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