Welcome to AfterWords Literary Festival

The AfterWords Literary Festival is the creation of a small volunteer group of professional writers keen to bring the very best Canadian and international writers to audiences in Halifax. We’re primarily interested in presenting (and being in the audience for) conversations among writers about the ideas that push them forward, the experiences that formed them into writers, and what writing can tell us about how to be human. Our mission is to give those writers who choose to join us the very best experience that Halifax has to offer. We are dedicated to presenting authors from across a wide spectrum of background and experience, with a commitment to panel parity that broadly reflects gender, race, and ability.

The festival’s inaugural iteration took place in Halifax from Wednesday October 2 to Sunday October 6, 2019, with a mix of free and ticketed readings, conversations, celebratory events, public workshops, and workshops geared to professional writers, and brought together international, Canadian, and Nova Scotian writers over five nights and three days. Our dates for 2020 are September 30 through October 4.

Our experience with the inaugural festival showed us that programming writers from across the spectrum of background and identity was compelling to diverse audiences in Halifax. Additionally, we program our events in venues that are physically accessible. We also work to find spaces that are broadly welcoming. We were able to have ASL interpreters at three of our events in Year One, and we hope to expand that in Year Two. We also worked with Halifax Humanities to distribute tickets to low income Haligonians who are interested in attending literary programming, and we will continue that partnership and broaden it if we can.

The founding members are Ryan Turner and Stephanie Domet, supported by board members Stephens Gerard Malone, Sue Goyette, and Rebecca Thomas. As programmers, we’re passionate, organized, and connected. We have among us the skills of entrepreneurs, teachers, broadcasters, event producers, presenters, editors—and of course writers. Our festival appeals to audiences roughly between the ages of 25 and 65 ,and our goal is to continue to broaden the appeal and reach of AfterWords each year.

We celebrate our festival on the unceded and traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq People. We do land acknowledgements as a part of the reconciliation process. In order for this festival to exist, for Canadians to enjoy the lives that they have, Indigenous people were removed, displaced and killed. This truth is an uncomfortable one, but one that is necessary to face if we, as fellow Canadians, are to understand our whole history. We honour the Mi’kmaq, whose stories have been shaped by Mi’kma’ki.

Consider it booked!


Here it is! The full line up for the inaugural edition of AfterWords Literary Festival. We are so thrilled with this gang of writers who are coming from near (north end Halifax! Berwick! Hubbards!) and far (Vancouver! Boston! Baltimore! Barbados!) to talk about the ideas and obsessions that push them to the page.

We literally could not have pulled this off without the support of Arts Nova Scotia, the Halifax Regional Municipality, The Writers’ Union of Canada, and the Canada Council for the Arts. And we’ve been so fortunate to have support from other corners, including The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, Lilt Creative, Cafe Lara, Halifax Central Library, Councillors Waye Mason and Lindell Smith, Rosie Porter, the Bookmark, The University of King’s College, Morris East, The Coast, and many others. Erica Penton made this gorgeous poster, and we love it. Our board—Rebecca Thomas, Stephens Gerard Malone, and Sue Goyette—have been steady hands behind the scenes.

We really hope you like what we’ve put together. Truly, we have made our festival of dreams. We hope it’s yours, too. Our free public workshops are already filling up, and tickets to our ticketed events are on sale now here. We can’t wait to see you at AfterWords!

Just about in the bag

bookbagHere’s a quick update to thank all the writers, publishers, agents and others who have been in touch with suggestions about programming, and requests to be part of our inaugural festival.

What started as an uphill climb—introducing ourselves to funders, publishers, agents, and audiences, telling our story and explaining who we are and what kind of festival we envision—has turned into a long leisurely coast down a scenic hill (we imagine it will start to feel a lot less leisurely and a lot more like a high speed chase down a very steep, craggy mountain the closer we get to October!). We’re grateful for the support of Arts Nova Scotia and are hopeful Halifax Regional Municipality will also send some support our way. We’re working to get more sponsors on board, too, so that we can pull off some of our big dreams.

We have been overwhelmed by the response to our plans, both from audiences and writers alike. Thanks to everyone who has contacted us about appearing at AfterWords. We have received your submissions—too many to respond to individually for this small but mighty duo of volunteers, so we appreciate your patience and understanding about that. We’re about a month out from announcing our full schedule, so most of our programming decisions have been made, and communicated to the writers and publishers in question. But we’ll soon begin planning the 2020 iteration of AfterWords, and we are glad to have such a wealth of information about fascinating writers and books to contemplate as we think about the future.

We just wanted to check in and say thank you for your interest in and enthusiasm for what we’re up to. If you want to stay up to date with all our news, please sign up for our newsletter here!