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.