2 min

Power of the public readings

Wilde About Sappho gives voice to written word

Credit: Damon Poliveira

Canada’s annual celebration of gay and lesbian literature is only a turn of the page away.

Wilde About Sappho (WAS), now in its 14th year, is the Lambda Foundation’s annual fundraiser. The queer literary tour will visit six cities across Canada next month, stopping in Ottawa on Thu, Feb 24.

The literary get-together will once again be held at the National Library, located at 395 Wellington St, where it remains one of the largest events on the library’s calendar.

According to WAS spokesman William Staubi, this year’s tour will be the largest yet with events planned in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Guelph. Confirmed authors include:

RM Vaughan, a native of New Brunswick who lived for a stint in Ottawa, is a playwright, poet, author and weekly arts columnist with the National Post;

Helen Humphreys, who resides in Kingston, received international acclaim for her novel Afterimage. Her latest novel is The Lost Garden.

Writer, performance poet and curator Anna Camilleri is a co-founder of Taste This, a spoken-word performance troupe that collaborated to publish the critically acclaimed Boys Like Her: Transfictions. Her next book, Red Light: Superheroes, Saints And Sluts, is an anthology that explores new interpretations of female icons, due for release in fall 2005;

Toronto native Warren Dunford – author of Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture and the sequel Making A Killing – will release the third book in the series, Scene Stealer, next month.

Matthew Fox is a Canadian transplanted to New York City, whose collection of short stories, Cities Of Weather, will be published in 2005.

Staubi says organizers are excited by the variety and balance offered by this year’s crop of authors.

“We try to reflect the diversity that there is in the gay and lesbian community by presenting a wide variety of authors. That way, we can get as many folks out from the community as possible and provide something for just about everybody that arrives,” explains Staubi.

The multi-city event helps the foundation underwrite scholarships for students at Canadian universities who want to study gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans-related issues. The foundation’s national scholarship series in gay and lesbian studies is unique in Canada.

The one-day event has two main parts: a gala reception where ticket holders can meet the authors and network with fellow guests; followed by a main event comprised of readings from each of the authors, as well as a presentation about the scholarships offered by the foundation.

In addition to being an excellent opportunity to meet and network with members of both the queer and literary communities, Staubi says each stop on the tour also provides “a superb opportunity to meet and chat personally with the authors whose work helps enrich our community and give a public face to GLBT culture.

“What is surprising is in an age where the written word is becoming less and less popular, there still seems to be a large core of folks that are interested in literature and that are interest-ed to hear what authors have to say about the world around them,” says Staubi. “And that’s what really attracts a lot of the people to the event, the opportunity to hear the work in the author’s own voice – and that’s the power of the public readings.”


Thu, Feb 24.

National Library (395 Wellington St).

Tickets: Gala & Reading $40; Reading only $10/advance, $12/door.

Advance Tickets: Available through Lambda Foundation members,, After Stonewall (370 Bank St) and mother tongue books (1067 Bank St).