from Alister Thomas, Chair of the Board of Directors

I’m wild about the Wild Writers Literary Festival.

Wild Writers is Waterloo Region’s premier literary event. The previous festivals were held in-person on the first weekend in November. As a result of Covid-19 restrictions, this year’s festival, the ninth annual, is online and has events throughout November. All our festivals brim with belonging, friendliness, and connectedness.

I have lots of fond memories of previous festivals:

  • Meeting Madeleine Thien, at our literary brunch whose Do Not Say We Have Nothing won the 2016 Governor General Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Man Booker, was a featured author. The next day she won the Scotiabank Giller.
Michael Helm, Madeleine Thien, and Alissa York (from left) holding each other’s books at the 2016 Wild Writers Literary Festival.
  • Finally meeting Alison Pick, the award-winning writer. She and I grew up in the same Kitchener-Waterloo neighbourhood, attended the same canoe-tripping camp, and went to the University of Guelph, albeit many years apart.

  • At two separate Wild Writers Festivals, watching two different dynamic duos took over the stage. Emma Donoghue and Ann-Marie MacDonald, who had not met before, became fast friends as they poignantly and hilariously discussed the intricacies of Canadian publishing. A year later, Nino Ricci and Don Gillmor, writerly friends and poker buddies in Toronto, personified professionalism and grace.

  • Getting to congratulate Sharon Bala for winning the 2017 Journey Prize, presented annually by McClelland and Stewart and the Writers’ Trust of Canada for the best short story published by an emerging writer in a Canadian literary magazine. Her story, “Butter Tea at Starbucks,” was published in The New Quarterly.
The launch of Falling in Love with Poetry, a master class that you hold in your hands, at the 2016 WWLF (from left): Michael Crummey, Kerry Lee Powell, Chris Banks, Kim Jernigan, and Isabel Huggan.
  • Having a laugh at our speakeasy, with Tasneem Jamal in conversation with Zarqa Nawaz, creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

  • Witnessing the balancing act at our literary panel, where Diane Schoemperlen had the unenviable task of herding four cats, all named Michael—Michael Winter, Michael Redhill, Michael Crummy, and Michael Helm.

We’ll miss seeing everyone face to face this year. That said, this year’s festival offers a unique opportunity for engaged readers and writers across Canada and around the world to have a Wild Writers experience without leaving home.

Our Wild Writers festivals would not be possible without our generous sponsors and donors—many thanks for your support. You are champions of literature, arts education, and inclusive community-building—thank you, thank you, thank you.

Along with being wild about the festival, I’m also an enthusiastic TNQer: TNQ is The New Quarterly, a literary magazine that has been publishing the best of new Canadian writing for almost 40 years. TNQ, in collaboration with Words Worth Books and the Balsillie School of International Policy, created and manages the Wild Writers Literary Festivals.

Margaret Atwood, in K-W in May 2019, is a champion of The New Quarterly.

If you’re looking for more TNQ in your life, please consider buying a subscription—we have a special festival rate this month. Visit tnq.ca/new and enter promo code WILD for a special festival subscription rate. Also visit tnq.ca/donate to support the work we do, and get a tax receipt at the same time. Very few magazines can offer that.

A huge shout-out to Pamela Mulloy, TNQ Editor and Wild Writers Creative Director, and Emily Bednarz, TNQ Managing Editor and Wild Writers Festival Manager—you are both amazing at what you do.

And a big thanks to you—our loyal and dedicated festival attendee—for your support. Much appreciated.

Hoping you have a Wild festival,

Alister Thomas
Chair of the Board of Directors

Scroll to Top