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    The Way We Speak

The Way We Speak

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Wordfest's trademark storytelling series continues with The Way We Speak, featuring four of the contributors to the new essay collection Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language: Kamal Al-Solaylee, Amanda Leduc, Carrianne Leung, and Ayelet Tsabari.

Each writer will perform an open-mic style monologue on the theme of how we communicate. The Imagine On Air show, hosted by Pam Rocker, starts at 7:00 p.m. MT (The pre-show starts at 6:50 p.m. MT.) The broadcast on Wordfest.com is free; if you RSVP, we'll send you a reminder on the morning of the show, as well as our unique Digital Doggie Bag after the event with links to extended interviews with each author.

We are grateful to Book*hug Press for helping us connect you with these thoughtful and inspiring writers.

About Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language

In Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language writers examine their intimate relationship with language in essays that are compelling and captivating. 

There are over 200 mother tongues spoken in Canada, and at least 5.8 million Canadians use two or more languages at home. This vital anthology opens a dialogue about this unique language diversity and probes the importance of language in our identity and the ways in which it shapes us. 

In this collection of deeply personal essays, 26 writers explore their connection with language, accents, and vocabularies, and contend with the ways they can be used as both bridge and weapon. Some explore the way power and privilege affect language learning, especially the shame and exclusion often felt by non-native English speakers in a white, settler, colonial nation. Some confront the pain of losing a mother tongue or an ancestral language along with the loss of community and highlight the empowerment that comes with reclamation. Others celebrate the joys of learning a new language and the power of connection. All underscore how language can offer transformation and collective healing to various communities. 

With contributions by: Kamal Al-Solaylee, Jenny Heijun Wills, Karen McBride, Melissa Bull, Leonarda Carranza, Adam Pottle, Kai Cheng Thom, Sigal Samuel, Rebecca Fisseha, Logan Broeckaert, Taslim Jaffer, Ashley Hynd, Jagtar Kaul Atwal, Téa Mutonji, Rowan McCandless, Sahar Golshan, Camila Justino, Amanda Leduc, Ayelet Tsabari, Carrianne Leung, Janet Hong, Danny Ramadan, Sadiqa de Meijer, Jónína Kirton, and Eufemia Fantetti.

Owl's Nest Books (Calgary) | Shelf Life Books (Calgary) | Audreys Books (Edmonton) | Glass Bookshop (Edmonton) | Flying Books (Ontario) | Massy Books (B.C.) | Indigo Calgary Public Library

About Kamal Al-Solaylee

Kamal Al-Solaylee is  the author of Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, winner of the 2013 Toronto Book Award and a finalist for CBC’s Canada Reads and the Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Prize for Non- fiction. His second book, Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone) won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. His third book of nonfiction, Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From, was recently published by HarperCollins Canada. He holds a PhD in English and is the Director of the School of Journalism, Writing and Media at the University of British Columbia.

Follow him on Twitter @KamalAlSolaylee.

About Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From

Drawing on extensive reporting from around the world and astute political analysis, Return: Why We Go Back to Where We Come From illuminates a personal quest. Kamal Al-Solaylee, author of the bestselling and award-winning Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes and Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (for Everyone), yearns to return to his homeland of Yemen, now wracked by war, starvation, and daily violence, to reconnect with his family. Yemen, as well as Egypt, another childhood home, call to him, even though he ran away from them in his youth and found peace and prosperity on the calm shores of Toronto.

In Return, Al-Solaylee interviews dozens of people who have chosen to or long to return to their homelands, from the Basques to the Irish to the Taiwanese. The author does make a return of sorts himself, to the Middle East, visiting Israel and the West Bank as well as Egypt to meet up with his sisters. His Arabic stilted and his mannerisms foreign, Al-Solaylee finds that the English language and Western customs are now his only cultural currency.

Return is a chronicle of love and loss, of global reach and personal desires. It sets the narrative of going home against geopolitical forces that are likely to shape the rest of this century and beyond. It’s a book for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to return to their roots.

About Amanda Leduc

Amanda Leduc is a disabled writer and author of the novels The Centaur’s Wife (Random House Canada), The Miracles of Ordinary Men (ECW Press), and the non-fiction book Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability and Making Space (Coach House Books). She has cerebral palsy and lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she serves as the Communications and Development Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity, Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and stories.

Follow her on Twitter @AmandaLeduc and Instagram @amanda.leduc

About The Centaur's Wife

Amanda Leduc's brilliant new novel, woven with fairy tales of her own devising and replete with both catastrophe and magic, is a vision of what happens when we ignore the natural world and the darker parts of our own natures.

Heather is sleeping peacefully after the birth of her twin daughters when the sound of the world ending jolts her awake. Stumbling outside with her babies and her new husband, Brendan, she finds that their city has been destroyed by falling meteors and that her little family are among only a few who survived.

But the mountain that looms over the city is still green – somehow it has been spared the destruction that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. Heather is one of the few who know the mountain, a place city-dwellers have always been forbidden to go. Her dad took her up the mountain when she was a child on a misguided quest to heal her legs, damaged at birth. The tragedy that resulted has shaped her life, bringing her both great sorrow and an undying connection to the deep magic of the mountain, made real by the beings she and her dad encountered that day: Estajfan, a centaur born of sorrow and of an ancient, impossible love, and his two siblings, marooned between the magical and the human world. Even as those in the city around her – led by Tasha, a charismatic doctor who fled to the city from the coast with her wife and other refugees – struggle to keep everyone alive, Heather constantly looks to the mountain, drawn by love, by fear, by the desire for rescue. She is torn in two by her awareness of what unleashed the meteor shower and what is coming for the few survivors, once the green and living earth makes a final reckoning of the usefulness of human life and finds it wanting.

At times devastating, but ultimately redemptive, Amanda Leduc's fable for our uncertain times reminds us that the most important things in life aren't things at all, but rather the people we want by our side at the end of the world.

About Carrianne Leung

Carrianne Leung is a fiction writer and educator. Her debut novel, The Wondrous Woo (Inanna Publications), was shortlisted for the 2014 Toronto Book Awards. Her collection of linked stories, That Time I Loved You, was released in 2018 by HarperCollins and in 2019 in the US by Liveright Publishing. It received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by CBC, awarded the Danuta Gleed Literary Award 2019, shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards 2019, and long-listed for Canada Reads 2019. She is working on a new novel, The After.

Follow her on Twitter @kayee13 and on Instagram @carrianneleung

About That Time I Loved You

Life is never as perfect as it seems.

The suburbs of the 1970s promised to be heaven on earth—new houses, new status, happiness guaranteed. But in a Scarborough subdivision populated by newcomers from all over the world, a series of sudden catastrophic events reveals that not everyone’s dreams come true. Moving from house to house, Carrianne Leung explores the inner lives behind the tidy front gardens and picture-perfect windows, always returning to June, an irrepressible adolescent Chinese-Canadian coming of age in this shifting world. Through June and her neighbours, Leung depicts the fine line where childhood meets the realities of adult life, and examines, with insight and sharp prose, how difficult it is to be true to ourselves at any age.

About Ayelet Tsabari

Ayelet Tsabari was born in Israel to a large family of Yemeni descent. She is the author of The Art of Leaving, finalist for the Hilary Weston Writer’s Trust Prize, winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for memoir, and an Apple Books and Kirkus Review Best Book of 2019. Her first book, The Best Place on Earth, won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and the Edward Lewis Wallant Award. The book was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and has been published internationally. Her translations appeared in the New Quarterly, Berlin Quarterly, Paper Brigade, and Mantis. She teaches creative writing at the University of King’s College MFA and at the MFA in creative writing at the University of Guelph.

Follow her on Twitter @AyeletTsabari and on Instagram @ayuli1

About The Art of Leaving

This searching collection opens with the death of Ayelet Tsabari’s father when she was just nine years old. His passing left her feeling rootless, devastated, and driven to question her complex identity as an Israeli of Yemeni descent in a country that suppressed and devalued her ancestors’ traditions.

In The Art of Leaving, Tsabari tells her story, from her early love of writing and words, to her rebellion during her mandatory service in the Israeli army. She travels from Israel to New York, Canada, Thailand, and India, falling in and out of love with countries, men and women, drugs and alcohol, running away from responsibilities and refusing to settle in one place. She recounts her first marriage, her struggle to define herself as a writer in a new language, her decision to become a mother, and finally her rediscovery and embrace of her family history
– a history marked by generations of headstrong women who struggled to choose between their hearts and their homes. Eventually, she realizes that she must reconcile the memories of her father and the sadness of her past if she is ever going to come to terms with herself.

With fierce, emotional prose, Ayelet Tsabari crafts a beautiful meditation about the lengths we will travel to try to escape our grief, the universal search to find a place where we belong, and the sense of home we eventually find within ourselves.

About Host Pam Rocker

Pam Rocker is a native Texan turned Albertan, atypical activist, award winning writer, speaker, and musician. Rocker has worked for over a decade for the full inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ people in faith communities and beyond. She was chosen as one of the Top 40 Under 40 in Calgary, and as one of the top 30 activists in Canada. She was a frequent panelist on CBC Radio's Unconventional Panel, is the Chair of Broadview Magazine, and an Instructor with YouthWrite Alberta and YOUth Riot. Rocker is currently the Director of Affirming Connections, performs queer feminist ukulele comedy music, and speaks and plays across in the US and Canada.

Visit her at www.pamrocker.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @realpamrocker.

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