Indie lit night returns
Starlight Social Club and Wordsworth Books joined forces again to bring audiences their annual Indie Literature Night at Starlight, this year entitled “The Bride of Indie Lit Night.” Typically held once a season—once in the spring and once in the fall—Indie Lit Night aims to bring authors and poets from alternative publishers primarily based in Toronto to smaller cities around the area. This year, talent from House of Anansi, ECW Press and Coach House Books were featured, however, this was the first year in a while that a non-fiction book has been included.
“[These publishers are] based in Toronto and we realized that there were all these others towns that were just a drive away from Toronto like Guelph, Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo,” said Evan Munday, publicist at Coach House Books and creator of Indie Lit Night. “We would realize that if we got a few different presses … all combined we could make a bigger event. Waterloo seemed to be a town we’ve often had really good luck with, maybe because of the two universities in town or Wordsworth is really good at getting the word out … we just kept at it.”
This year’s Indie Lit Night felt different than the past seven years. Munday noted that the audience size had dwindled a bit from the spring, but chalked it up to the cold. As well, the name “The Bride of Indie Lit Night” was a new addition, but Munday explained that because it has been happening for so long they treat subsequent events like “sequels.”
The biggest change was the introduction of the “comic” emcees Caroline Wesley and Jules MKools the alcohol ninja. While the intent and purpose of the duo was obvious, the execution fell short. The pair received awkward chuckles as Caroline played straight man to MKools’ slightly offensive and mostly unfunny jokes read off of his iPhone.
However, this was the only blight on a night of strong talent.
Indie Lit Night hosted an eclectic mix of genres from a road trip to deal with intense grief to life after Jehovah’s Witness to minimalist poetry that weaves its way through many strands of thought. One of the stand-out performances of the night was Sarah Liss reading from her non-fiction work Army of Lovers: A Community History of Will Munro. Army of Lovers tells the true story of Will Munro, a gay activist and club promoter who helped shape the LGBTQ community in the early 2000s when the culture was just gaining momentum and died of brain cancer at age 35.
“It is a community history. Part oral history, part essay and trying to describe and celebrate the life of Will Munro who was a queer activist, seamstress, party thrower, artist. Kind of like a billion things at once — he had a huge effect on Toronto,” recounted Liss, a music columnist and cultures editor at Toronto newspaper The Grid.
Despite this being Liss’ first time attending the event, she immediately felt the difference between Indie Lit Night and other larger events.
“I’ve done a bunch of events so far but it’s really lovely to come to an event put on by booksellers … to have the feeling that the people hosting you have actually read your book and really connected with it is really flattering and incredible,” said Liss.