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A Literature Lover's Guide To Toronto: Summer 2016 Events

Picture of Dominic Smith
Updated: 31 May 2016
The beauty of literature is that it can represent the voice of a city or a country, whether this be the mainstream voice or the unheard ‘other.’ This June, Toronto hosts the Canadian Writers Summit and there simply couldn’t be a better time for literature lovers in the city, as the members of the Writer’s Union of Canada flock to the city in droves and bring with them the complete mosaic of the nation’s identity. Such an influx of writers means there are a multitude of literary events taking place across the city, attended by some of Canada’s greatest creative minds. Below is a compiled list of 10 of the best available to you this summer.

The Art Bar Poetry Series

When: Tuesdays May 31st & June 7th/14th/21st/28th – 8pm

Not restricted to the summer, this weekly poetry series allows you to watch professional poets whilst also offering an open-mic section, and is Canada’s longest running poetry only reading series. However, The Art Bar Poetry Series is actually closing down this summer with the final night taking place on June 28th, proving that all good things come to an end.

Black Swan Tavern, 154 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-469-0537

Toronto Poetry Slam

When: Wednesday 1st June/ Sunday 12th June – 8pm

Sticking with poetry, this is another weekly series taking place this summer. This event merges critically respected poets against novices in a poetry battle competing for the grand prize, which includes prize money. With three upcoming events this summer it allows you to see the lighter side of poetry, particularly the comedy slam on June 1st.

1150 Queen St W, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-531-5042

#TOpoetryslam #spokenword #toronto #drakeunderground

A photo posted by Rene | Toronto (@teneran) on

Rowers Reading Series: Dietrich Kalteis, Shane Rhodes, Jess Taylor and Daniel Perry

When: Monday June 6th – 6:30pm

The Rowers Reading Series brings the works of four of Canada’s most respected current writers to the Central. Reading both poetry and prose, these four writers are making a real impact on the literary landscape of Canada, which makes this a must-see event for literature lovers.

603 Markham St, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-913-4586

The eh List Author Series: Joan Crate

When: Tuesday 7th June – 7pm

Author of the heartbreakingly brilliant novel Black Apple, Joan Crate will be giving a presentation and signing books at an The eh List Author Series at the Northern District Branch of the Toronto Public Library. Her works are famous for giving a voice to the Indigenous population and a talk from her promises to further your understanding of Canada’s identity.

40 Orchard View Boulevard, Toronto, Canada, +1 416-393-7610

The eh List Author Series: Joseph Kertes

When: Thursday 9th June – 7pm

Continuing The eh List Author Series is the Hungarian born author Joseph Kertes, who will be discussing his latest book, The Afterlife of Stars. The novel is set in Hungary at the time of the Hungarian revolution that Kertes’ family fled in the 1950s. This event, and the others in this series, highlight the different identities that make Canada such a cultural mosaic.

20 Covington Road, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-395-5440

Kyp Harness’ Debut Novel Launch

When: Friday 10th June – 7pm

Not a name that is widely known, Kyp Harness is a well respected Toronto born folk singer, who has put pen to page on his first novel Wigford Remberies. His songs are well known for their beautifully written and poetic lyrics, a formula that has led to strong critical reception for his step into literature. If the novel is as well received across the board, this small event at the Belljar Cafe could be the first of many launches for Harness.

2072 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-535-0777

A photo posted by Bell Jar Cafe (@belljarcafe) on

Indigenous Writers’ Gathering: Honouring the Elders

When: Friday 10th June – 7pm

Harness’ novel isn’t the only event on the 10th of June. Across town at the Toronto Reference Library is the Indigenous Writers’ Gathering. With Indigenous Writers from all over Canada attending (including Joan Crate), this gathering gives a voice to a too often overshadowed and underappreciated part of Canada’s history.

789 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-395-5577

Bootleggers, Bookmakers and Brothels

When: Tuesday 14th June – 6pm

Kensington Market may now be a trendy spot for brunch but it hasn’t always been. Three authors Bob Bossin, Ellen Scheinberg and Harold Trooper will be illuminating the past with stories (and music) from Toronto’s lesser known Jewish communities that were once based almost exclusively in the area. Bootleggers, Bookmakers and Brothels is an exploration of the ‘underbelly of early Jewish Toronto.’

239 College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-393-7746

Arsham Parsi Talk

Thursday 23rd June – 7pm

Having been exiled from Iran for being openly homosexual and attempting to assist others in a similar situation, Arsham Parsi’s non-fiction book Exiled for Love is an eye opening account about the treatment of the LGBT community in a country where same-sex relationships are illegal. Bound to be a fascinating night, listen to Parsi describe his own experiences and how he plans to help others.

495 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-393-7744

Photo by @makhismprivate

A photo posted by Arsham Parsi (@arshamparsi) on

Making Your Short Stories Sparkle and Sell

When: Wednesday 29th June – 7pm

After a full month of events across the city you are bound to feel inspired by the phenomenal array of literature that Toronto and Canada are producing. Making Your Short Stories Sparkle and Sell is an opportunity for you to etch your own name in the great Canadian literary tradition by sitting down with successfully published writers and discussing how you can get your own work published.

170 Memorial Park Avenue, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416-393-7744