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Wordstock Sudbury months away, but plans already in place for 'hybrid' 2021 event

Literary festival hosts to host a hybrid of virtual and in-person events this November
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Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist, and the former host of CBC Sudbury's afternoon show, Up North. (Supplied)

Wordstock Sudbury Literary Festival is going hybrid for its eighth edition Nov. 4-6.

Northern Ontario’s premier English language literary festival is hoping that the pandemic stays on a good track, allowing for small indoor gatherings this fall. 

The province is beginning to open up as restrictions ease and vaccines are distributed, so Wordstock Sudbury plans to offer safe in-person events this November, alongside virtual events for the digitally inclined. It’s a compromise that lets everyone participate in the ways that they feel most comfortable. 

“Those who love attending literary events are eager to return to in-person events and we have our fingers crossed we are safe to do so this fall,” said festival director Heather Campbell, in a press release. 

“But we also respect that some people are more comfortable staying virtual. A hybrid festival ensures that everyone can participate.”

The festival is committed to accessibility and will be implementing year one actions identified in their multi-year accessibility plan.

Inspiring and thought-provoking conversations through literature are a hallmark of Wordstock Sudbury, and this year is no exception. 

The festival is also excited to share that Waubgeshig Rice (Moon of the Crusted Snow) will be curating the Indigenous guest artists for the festival this year.

Its Youthwords Writing Contest is now open for submissions on the theme of Containment. 

The contest encourages high school students across Northeastern Ontario to submit their best writing, and there are cash prizes for first place and the runners-up.

More information about submissions can be found on our website. The deadline is Oct. 24.

In addition, the festival offers several masterclasses for those wanting to learn more about writing and publishing.

Here’s a little taste of guests at the 2021 festival: 

  • Zoe Whittall is the author of four novels and three books of poetry. Her fourth novel, The Spectacular, makes its debut this September. Her third novel, The Best Kind of People, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, while her second novel, Holding Still For As Long As Possible, won the Lambda Literary Award. She is also a Canadian Screen Award–winning TV and film writer, with credits on the Baroness von Sketch Show, Schitt’s Creek, Degrassi, and others.
  • Sam Hiyate is the president of The Rights Factory, a literary agency based in Toronto. Sam worked at the literary magazines Blood & Aphorisms and The Quarterly in the 90s. He ran the edgy micropublisher, Gutter Press, from 1993 to 2002, as publisher. He launched the literary division of The Lavin Agency in 2003, where he built a list of clients and did his first deals. 
  • Shani Mootoo worked as a visual artist and video maker before becoming a published writer. After writing four novels, a book of poetry and short stories, she has returned to painting and to photography. She continues to write, and, in 2020, released her fifth novel, Polar Vortex. Her books have been longlisted for the Giller Prize and the Man Booker Prize, and shortlisted for the Giller Prize, the Lambda Award, the Chapters First Novel Award, and more.
  • Rebecca Salazar (she/they) is a writer, editor, and community organizer originally from Sudbury but now living on the unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik people. The author of poetry chapbooks the knife you need to justify the wound (Rahila's Ghost) and Guzzle (Anstruther), Salazar also edits for The Fiddlehead and Plenitude magazines. Her latest work,  sulphurtongue, was released in March of this year.
  • Morgan Murray is the author of the humorous and absurd novel Dirty Birds, which was longlisted for the 2021 Canada Reads and winner of the AMPA Best Atlantic-Published Book award.

Watch for more updates in the coming weeks as festival plans are finalized, including when early bird tickets go on sale.