Lit on Tour: International Festival of Authors Makes Stop in Thunder Bay

Story by Amy Jones, Photos by Alastair MacKay

The Thunder Bay Art Gallery was packed on November 4 for the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) Lit on Tour event, featuring four diverse authors—Dionne Brand, Elizabeth Hay, Miranda Hill, and Alexander MacLeod—representing the very best of Canadian literature.

The evening began with a moment of tribute to Dr. Margaret Phillips, founder of Northern Woman’s Bookstore, who had passed away earlier that day. The artwork of Shayne Ehman was a fitting backdrop for the readings which were all incredibly powerful and had the audience at times laughing, crying, and cringing—we all recognized a part of ourselves in their words.

Brand, a Governor General Award and Griffin Poetry Prize-winning poet and novelist, read from her latest novel Love Enough. Giller Prize winner Hay read from her latest novel His Whole Life. Hill read from her short story collection, Sleeping Funny, which features her story “Petitions to Saint Chronic,” winner of The Journey Prize. And fresh off this year’s Giller Prize jury, Alexander MacLeod read from his own Giller-nominated short story collection, Light Lifting.

The readings were followed by a lively Q&A in which the authors discussed, among other things, their writing process, the genesis of their ideas, and who they admire as writers. 

Lit on Tour is presented by IFOA Ontario, which partners with local organizations to bring the best writers of contemporary literature to cities around the province. In Thunder Bay, the program was presented by CBC Radio, Lakehead University, Northern Women’s Bookstore, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and the Thunder Bay Public Library.