Saturday, September 6, 2008

News Story: Writing Outside the Margins Literary Festival

Published in National Post. [Toronto magazine, Sep. 6, 2008]

Now featuring girls in glasses!
Queer writing festival about more than just words

The early Sunday drizzle on Aug. 24 couldn't keep hundreds of attendees off Church Street and acclaimed writer/director John Cameron Mitchell rewarded those at the Writing Outside the Margins festival with his take on the slippery nature of attraction.

"The kiss is the gateway drug," the Hedwig and the Angry Inch star told the crowd. "It usually tells you what's going to follow."

Hosted by Xtra magazine, the second annual literary fest took over Church Street from Alexander to Gloucester. Authors ranging from San Francisco-based memoirist Michelle Tea to musician/first-time author Kinnie Starr graced the two stages and answered questions from the crowd after their readings.

"It's great to see the city shut down city blocks for gay people," Starr said.

With a mandate that organizer Brandon Sawh described as "celebrating and supporting the local queer artists and the arts community," the event featured the Pink Ink Open Mic stage, which provided amateur writers 15 minutes of stage time to read their works. Da Kink In My Hair scribe trey anthony participated in a roundtable discussion that explored the challenges of being a queer writer of colour.

"When you reach a certain level of success, it's always great to give back to people who are just starting up," anthony said. "It's also great to be a part of community events because, a lot of times, you're divided from what's actually happening on the ground level."

Amy Clarke was one of those people on the ground level seizing the spotlight. Performing for the first time at last year's inaugural fest, Clarke wowed the open mic stage and won the slam poetry contest.

"There are three things that I love about this festival," Clarke said between events. "Writers, queer people and all the girls in glasses who are so cute."

Link to story in National Post here.

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