Speakers - The FOLD
fold-iconThe Festival of Literary Diversity

Speakers

The Festival of Literary Diversity brings a wide range of powerful authors, poets and storytellers to the festival each year.

Description

Speakers for the festivals are selected by the FOLD’s programming team and are revealed in the months before the festival. Past speakers include authors like Esi Edugyan, Lawrence Hill, Jillian Tamaki and Rich Donovan.

Upcoming Speakers

Sheena Kamal
Sheena Kamal
Bio

Sheena Kamal’s writing has been featured in The Guardian, Bustle, The Irish Times, Writer’s Digest and Entertainment Weekly.

Sandhya Menon
Sandhya Menon
Bio

Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi, Of Curses and Kisses, and many other novels that also feature lots of kissing, girl power, and swoony boys.

Jamaal Jackson Rogers
Jamaal Jackson Rogers
Bio

Jamaal Jackson Rogers is an award winning poet, arts educator, creative entrepreneur, and performance artist and was selected to be Ottawa’s first English Poet Laureate.

Lindsay Wong
Lindsay Wong
Bio

Lindsay Wong is the author of the bestselling, award-winning memoir The Woo-Woo. My Summer of Love and Misfortune is her first young adult novel.

Imam Baksh
Imam Baksh
Bio

Imam Baksh is from Guyana, South America and writes tales of magic, monsters and heroes. His works feature Guyanese folklore and dialogue in his native Creole.

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D’Scribe
Bio

D’Scribe the poet is an indigenous spoken word artist currently residing in Niagara.

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Amanda Leduc
Bio

Amanda Leduc is the author of the non-fiction book DISFIGURED: ON FAIRY TALES, DISABILITY, AND MAKING SPACE, out now with Coach House Books.

Sheena Kamal

Sheena Kamal

Sheena Kamal’s writing has been featured in The Guardian, Bustle, The Irish Times, Writer’s Digest and Entertainment Weekly. Her bestselling debut novel The Lost Ones won her a 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, a Strand Magazine Critics Award and Macavity Award for Best First Novel. The sequel It All Falls Down was called “a stunning, emotionally resonant thriller” in its Kirkus starred review. In 2020, expect her next thriller No Going Back, and her first YA novel, Fight Like A Girl.

Sandhya Menon

Sandhya Menon

Sandhya Menon is the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi, Of Curses and Kisses, and many other novels that also feature lots of kissing, girl power, and swoony boys. Her books have been included in several cool places, including the Today show, Teen Vogue, NPR, BuzzFeed, and Seventeen. A full-time dog servant and part-time writer, she makes her home in the foggy mountains of Colorado. Visit her online at SandhyaMenon.com.

Jamaal Jackson Rogers

Jamaal Jackson Rogers

Jamaal Jackson Rogers is an award winning poet, arts educator, creative entrepreneur, and performance artist. As a poet, he was selected to be Ottawa’s first English Poet Laureate after 27 years in which the position had gone unfilled, while his career in arts education has earned him 2016’s Ontario Arts Educator Award. His defining moments are when he makes intimate connections with his participants during workshop exchanges and performance sets.

Lindsay Wong

Lindsay Wong

Lindsay Wong is the author of the bestselling, award-winning memoir The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug-Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family. She has a BFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and MFA in literary nonfiction from Columbia University, and she is now based in Vancouver, Canada. My Summer of Love and Misfortune is her first YA novel.

Imam Baksh

Imam Baksh

Imam Baksh is from Guyana, South America and writes tales of magic, monsters and heroes. His works feature Guyanese folklore and dialogue in his native Creole.

F20_DScherle copy

D’Scribe

D’Scribe the poet is an indigenous spoken word artist currently residing in Niagara. He has competed, cried, lost and won on many slam stages around Turtle Island. Currently working on his appearance in the play “Over to you” hitting the meridian center in Niagara falls in mid December as well as a video series that will be released early February 2020. D’Scribe is loud, angry and unapologetic on stage. Offstage, though he is a giant teddy bear.

F20_Leduc

Amanda Leduc

Amanda Leduc is the author of the non-fiction book DISFIGURED: ON FAIRY TALES, DISABILITY, AND MAKING SPACE, out now with Coach House Books. She is also the author of the novel THE MIRACLES OF ORDINARY MEN, published in 2013 by ECW Press. Her new novel, THE CENTAUR’S WIFE, is forthcoming with Random House Canada in the spring of 2021. She makes her home in Hamilton, Ontario, where she lives with a very lovable, very destructive dog and serves as the Communications Coordinator for the FOLD.

Past Speakers

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Past Speaker

Charlene Chua
Bio
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Past Speaker

Danielle Daniel
Bio
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Past Speaker

Melanie Florence
Bio
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Past Speaker

Hilary Leung
Bio
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Past Speaker

Ishta Mercurio
Bio
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Past Speaker

Angela Misri
Bio
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Past Speaker

Angelot Ndongmo
Bio
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Past Speaker

Olive Senior
Bio
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Past Speaker

Kai Cheng Thom
Bio
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Charlene Chua

Charlene Chua has illustrated many things over the years for kids of all ages.  She has worked with various clients on everything from advertising to apps, toys, magazines and of course, books. Books she has illustrated have been nominated for the Shining Willow Award, Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards, and Kirkus Best Middle-Grade books. Originally from Singapore, she now lives in Ontario, Canada.

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Danielle Daniel

Danielle Daniel is the author and illustrator of Once in a Blue Moon and Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, winner of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, finalist for the First Nation Communities Read Award and the Blue Spruce Award. She illustrated You Hold me Up, written by Monique Gray Smith. Danielle writes and paints in Sudbury, Ontario and holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She is currently completing two novels.

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Melanie Florence

Melanie Florence is an award-winning author of Cree and Scottish heritage. When she’s not clumsily tripping over one of her pets (or kids), she can be found watching Marvel movies, beading, debating which superpower she’d rather have or planning her next trip to Universal Studios. Her books include Stolen Words, Missing Nimama, He Who Dreams, The Missing and the upcoming novels Just Lucky and Dreaming in Color.

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Hilary Leung

Hilary Leung is a Toronto-based author and illustrator. When not creating, Hilary can be found at home playing with his 2 awesome children.

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Ishta Mercurio

Ishta Mercurio is an author and actor. Raised in Cincinnati, she has traveled to England, Scotland, Italy, France, and all over the United States. She now lives in Brampton, Ontario, where she films and photographs plants and wildlife, from the tall to the small, in her backyard.

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Angela Misri

Angela Misri is an award winning author, journalist and speaker.

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Angelot Ndongmo

Young Angelot Ndongmo was a constant reader, a creative soul, and a socially-conscious citizen. Admiring the ways in which writers infused their stories with cultural familiarity, messages of hope, and beautiful passages, she internalized their expert examples when she began to craft her own stories later in life. Loving Me Series resonates with young children with its use of simple rhyming patterns and vibrant imagery.

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Debbie Ohi

Debbie Ridpath Ohi is the author and illustrator of Where Are My Books? and Sam & Eva (Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers). Her illustrations have appeared in books by Judy Blume and Michael Ian Black, among others. Her next picture book is Gurple & Preen, written by Linda Sue Park and illustrated by Debbie (2020, Simon & Schuster). For more info please visit DebbieOhi.com, @inkyelbows on Twitter, @inkygirl on Instagram and @debbieohi on YouTube.

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Ruth Ohi

Ruth Ohi is the illustrator of over 60 books, 21 of which she is also the author. Her most recent include Fox and Squirrel Help Out and  No Help Wanted! (both Scholastic Canada). Ruth is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit Ruth at www.RuthOhi.com. You can also find Ruth on Twitter: @Ruth_Ohi and Instagram: @RuthOhi.

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Olive Senior

Olive Senior is the award-winning author of 18 books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Her children’s books include Birthday Suit illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (Annick Press), Anna Carries Water and Boonoonoonous Hair both illustrated by Laura James (Tradewind Publishers).  Birthday Suit was listed among Best Books for Kids and Teens and Anna Carries Water has won world-wide praise and been translated into Korean and three South African languages.

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Rina Singh

Rina Singh is an internationally published children’s author and has written fifteen books for children including A Forest of Stories, which has been translated in several languages. Her most recent publications are A Meeting in the Sky, Holi Colors, and Diwali Lights.  Holi Colors got starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly. Rina has done readings and workshops in schools, libraries, and literary festivals across Canada. She lives in Toronto.

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Kai Cheng Thom

Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, performer, lasagna lover and wicked witch based in Toronto, unceded Indigenous territory.  She is the author of several award-winning works, including the poetry collection a place called No Homeland, the children’s book From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea, and the forthcoming essay collection I HOPE WE CHOOSE LOVE: A Trans Girl’s Notes From the End of the World.

I found the FOLD very well organized and put together. I enjoyed attending the panels and was fortunate to meet several other like-minded authors during panels of my own. One of my most rewarding experiences was the Teen Track event, where I had the opportunity to connect with young writers from schools. The FOLD brings together all that is great in Canadian literature, with artists from multiple experiences and backgrounds. I am sure that, with its commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, the festival will only grow better in the years to come.

Tanaz Bhathena, author of A Girl Like That

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

L Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her

This book [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

I felt this festival was very special. 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, winner of the 2019 Giller Prize

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. I’ve been fortunate to participate in the FOLD twice now, and each experience has been a major highlight of my literary career. I felt right at home!

Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon Of The Crusted Snow

Being part of the FOLD community has provided me with a strong sense of belonging. I can’t understate how much 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. My sincerest thanks to everyone at the FOLD for championing diverse authors and stories!

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

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