Festival Program

The 2020 Festival will be presented online. We’re working on building the 2020 Festival Program, so check back often for updates, or better yet, sign up for our newsletter and get all the details soon as we have them!

The Inaugural AfterWords Literary Festival October 2-6, 2019

Wednesday Night Festival Kick-off | Good Robot Brewery Company, free 6pm-8pm and beyond Join us for a bit of Silent Reading at the Imbibrary then stick around afterwards to toast AfterWords! Bring a book, magazine, or newspaper, and prepare to read silently in a crowd while you sip a beverage. This is a free event, and open to all 19+


Thursday Night at the Festival | Cafe Lara, free 8:30-10:30 Local writers read Once Margaret Atwood’s reading at the Halifax Central library wraps up, head up town to Festival second home Cafe Lara to hear local favourites like Kris Bertin, Jaime Forsythe, Nolan Natasha, and Deirdre Lee share their work, hosted by Sarah Mian. This is a free event!


Friday Night at the Festival | Spatz Theatre, $20 Ticket Halifax

7pm-7:45pm Poetry Panel Halifax Poet Laureate Dr. Afua Cooper, Doyali Islam, and Gwen Benaway join host Sue Goyette to talk poetry.

8pm-9pm Caroline Adderson and Cary Fagan join host Stephanie Domet in conversation.


Saturday Night at the Festival |Spatz Theatre, $20 Ticket Halifax

7pm-7:45pm Short Story Panel Shakirah Bourne from Barbados, Christy Ann Conlin, and Elise Levine join host Alexander MacLeod to talk short story writing.

8pm-9pm Mona Awad in conversation with Stephanie Domet.


Sunday Morning at the Festival | Agricola Street Brasserie, $40 Ticket Halifax

9am-11:30am Books and Brunch Mona Awad and Gwen Benaway read from their latest works. Hosted by Stephanie Domet


Sunday Afternoon at the Festival | New Academic Building, University of King’s College, free

3:30pm-5pm Non-fiction writer Kamal Al-Solaylee in conversation with host Mary Lynk. This is a free event!


Sunday Night at the Festival | The Bus Stop Theatre, $15 Ticket Halifax

7:15pm-7:35pm Andre Fenton reads

8pm-9pm Lynn Coady and Christy Ann Conlin in conversation with Mary Lynk.


Festival Workshops

Friday, October 4 2019 | Halifax Central Library BMO Room

1pm-2pm Be Brave in Your Words! Poetry workshop with Doyali Islam Have you ever felt that certain topics are off limits for your poetry, or that no one would be interested in hearing what you – yes, you! – have to say? Award-winning poet and the author of the intimate poetry book heft (McClelland & Stewart, 2019), Doyali Islam is here to help! Together, we’ll approach and question our fears, and learn to be brave in our words so that we can live authentically and inspire others to do the same! This is a free public workshop, but it is limited to 12 participants, so please register in advance tickethalifax.com


Saturday, October 5 | Halifax Central Library Room 301

1pm-2pm Creating Character: Fiction workshop with Elise Levine Fiction reveals character — who we are, what we want, our mistakes and good deeds, our fears and hopes. In this workshop, we’ll consider the craft elements that allow us to capture the animating forces behind, and build, compelling fictional characters. We’ll read and discuss some brief examples from published work, and you’ll write a guided generative exercise during our time together and share it with us. You’ll leave with a clear idea of the techniques for creating character, and the beginnings of a new character of your own, around which to write a story or novel. This is a free public workshop, but it is limited to 12 participants, so please register in advance tickethalifax.com


Saturday, October 5 | Central Library Room 301

3pm-4pm, Writing Meaningful Dialogue: Screenwriting workshop with Shakirah Bourne This class will explore the functions of dialogue and illustrate techniques for making your dialogue authentic and distinctive to your characters, while also effectively enhancing the story through subtext. This is a free public workshop, but it is limited to 12 participants, so please register in advance tickethalifax.com


Saturday, October 5 | Central Library Room 301

10am-12pm, Writing Narrative Scenes: Advanced Fiction workshop for Professional Writers with Caroline Adderson Show, don’t tell is one of the most misleading axioms of fiction writing.  In fact, there is as much to tell in a story as there is to show; the key is to know when to do each, and how.  Through instruction and writing exercises, this workshop will explain the four types of prose used in fiction with a special focus on the “showing” mode — the narrative scene. $30, maximum 15 participants. Ticket Halifax


Sunday, October 6 | Cultural Federations of Nova Scotia (CFNS) 

1pm-2:30pm Get That Grant! Tips and Resources for Writers Presented by AfterWords and The Writers’ Union of Canada Writers of all levels are invited to learn the dos and don’ts of navigating the public funding landscape and tips on writing a persuasive grant proposal. Panelist include representatives from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, Arts Nova Scotia, and Canada Council for the Arts. Presented by The Writers’ Union of Canada at the AfterWords Literary Festival. Maximum 40 participants. This is a free event, but you must register in advance Ticket Halifax


Meet the Authors

carolineaddersonnewCaroline Adderson is the author of four novels, including The Sky Is Falling and Ellen in Pieces, two collections of short stories, as well as many books for young readers. She is also the editor of and co-contributor to Vancouver Vanishes. Her work has been nominated for the  International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, and the Rogers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Winner of two Ethel Wilson Fiction Prizes and three CBC Literary Awards, Caroline was also the recipient of the 2006 Marian Engel Award for mid-career achievement.

LACOMBE_18130_SHOT_1_MONA_AWAD_Q9A3711_A - Mona AwadMona Awad is the author of the novel BUNNY (Viking, 2019) and 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL (Penguin Books, 2016) which won the Amazon Best First Novel award, the Colorado Book Award and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize.She earned an MFA in fiction from Brown University and an MScR in English from the University of Edinburgh where she studied the role of fear in the fairy tale. She recently completed a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English literature at the University of Denver.

headshotlowres - Lynn CoadyLynn Coady is the author of seven books of fiction. Her novel The Antagonist was published internationally and nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011, and her short story collection Hellgoing won the Giller in 2013. She lives in Toronto and writes for TV.

Kamal street1 - Kamal Al-SolayleeKamal Al-Solaylee’s first book, Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, won the Toronto Book Award in 2013 and was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Hilary Weston Prize for Nonfiction. His second, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone), a Governor General Literary Awards finalist in nonfiction, won the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing in 2017. Kamal holds a PhD in English from Nottingham University and is a Professor of journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto.

gwen benawayGwen Benaway is a trans girl of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She has published three collections of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead, Passage, and Holy Wild, and was the editor for an anthology of fantasy short stories, Maiden Mother and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. Her writing has been critically acclaimed and widely published in Canada. She was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ writers from the Writer’s Trust of Canada, the Lambda Literary Award for Trans Poetry, and the National Magazine Awards and Digital Publishing Awards for her personal essay, A Body Like A Home. Her fourth collection of poetry, Aperture, is forthcoming from Book*hug in Spring 2020. She is also currently editing a book of creative non-fiction, trans girl in love, forthcoming from Strange Light in 2020. She lives in Toronto, Ontario and is a Ph.D student at the University of Toronto in the Women and Gender Studies Institute.

doyali-islam-photo-by-arden-wrayDoyali Islam’s second poetry book is heft (McClelland & Stewart, 2019). Her poems have been published in Kenyon Review Online, The Fiddlehead, and The Best Canadian Poetry in English, and they have won several national contests and prizes. Doyali serves as the poetry editor of Arc Poetry Magazine. In 2017, she was a guest on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition and was a poetry finalist for the National Magazine Awards. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Elise Levine 16 - Elise LevineElise Levine is the author of the novels Blue Field and Request and Dedications, and the story collections Driving Men Mad as well as the forthcoming This Wicked Tongue. Her work has also appeared in Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, The Collagist,Blackbird, Best Canadian Stories, and the Journey Prize Anthology, among other publications, and has been named a finalist for Best Small Fictions 2018. She is the recipient of a Canadian National Magazine Award for fiction; awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council; and residency fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Ucross Foundation, among others. She lives in Baltimore, MD.


CF2HR - Cary FaganCary Fagan is the author of six novels and three story collections for adults, as well as many award-winning books for children. His books include A Bird’s Eye (finalist for the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize, an Amazon.ca Best Book of the Year) and the story collection My Life Among the Apes (longlisted for the Giller Prize, Amazon.ca Best 100 Books of 2013). Cary was born and raised in Toronto, where he lives with his family.

Christy Ann Conlin 2019 BW - Christy Ann ConlinChristy Ann Conlin is the author of two acclaimed novels, Heave and The Memento. Heave was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, and the Dartmouth Book Award. Her short stories have been published in numerous literary journals, long listed for both the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the American Short Fiction Prize, and appeared in the anthology Best Canadian Stories. She lives in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.

Shakirah Bourne pic - Shakirah BourneShakirah Bourne is a Barbadian author and filmmaker. She has written four films: PAYDAY (writer/producer), Two Smart (writer/co-director), Next PAYDAY (writer/producer) and A Caribbean Dream (writer/director). Her first collection of stories, In Time of Need, won the Governor General Award for Excellence in Literary Fiction. My Fishy Stepmom, her debut children’s book, was a finalist for the 2018 CODE Burt Award for Caribbean YA Literature. She was recently shortlisted for the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. http://www.shakirahbourne.com



Alexander MacLeod author photo (1) - Alexander MacLeodAlexander MacLeod’s first collection of stories, Light Lifting, was named a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Commonwealth Book Prize and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Recently, his story “Lagomorph,” originally published in Granta, went on to win a 2019 O Henry Prize recognizing international achievement in short fiction. Alexander lives in Dartmouth and teaches at Saint Mary’s University.


Andre Fenton_Headshot - Andre FentonAndre Fenton is an author, spoken word artist, and filmmaker. He has performed and represented Halifax, Nova Scotia at seven national poetry festivals across Canada. He was previously a member at large on Spoken Word Canada and currently on the board of directors within the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. He is also an author of young adult fiction. His new novel, Worthy of Love was released in September of 2018 from Formac Publishing.


JF Photo 1 - Jaime ForsytheJaime Forsythe is the author of two collections of poetry, I Heard Something (Anvil Press) and Sympathy Loophole (Mansfield Press). Her poems have appeared in Minola Review, The Rusty Toque, Lemon Hound, Public Pool, This Magazine, NewPoetry, and more. She holds an MFA from the University of Guelph and lives in Halifax/K’jipuktuk, where she works with the youth organization LOVE Nova Scotia.


P1010611 - nolan pike

Nolan Natasha is a queer and trans writer living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His poems have appeared in The Puritan, The Stinging Fly, Event, Grain, The Fiddlehead, and Plenitude. He has been a finalist for the CBC poetry prize, the Ralph Gustafson Poetry prize, the Geist postcard contest, and was the runner-up for the Thomas Morton fiction prize. His first full-length poetry collection will appear in the fall of 2019 with Invisible publishing.

HEADSHOTkrisbertin - Kris BertinKris Bertin is a Halifax-based writer of short fiction and comics. His first book, BAD THINGS HAPPEN won the Writer’s Union of Canada’s Danuta Gleed Award, as well as a ReLit Award. His new collection of short stories, called USE YOUR IMAGINATION! (Vagrant Press) is out now, and THE CURSED HERMIT (Conundrum Press), the follow-up to his critically acclaimed graphic novel CASE OF THE MISSING MEN is too.