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Different Voices: Irish and Latino

Literature was the focus of the show on Saturday, October 25th, with interviews with Irish writer, Dermot Bolger, Halli Villegas, publisher of Tightrope Books and poet, Monica Rosas. Bolger is a participant in Harbourfront Centre’s International Festival of Authors (IFOA), which for the first time, is spotlighting authors from a particular country: Ireland. Bolger’s thick accent and rapid-fire delivery was a pleasure to listen to as we talked about the wealth of writers in Ireland due, in part, to the introduction of free secondary schools and tax breaks for writers, and also to the Irish imagination. Where other countries had a tradition of opera and performing arts, Bolger says it’s writing that has always been a popular method of artistic expression in Ireland. Bolger’s first novel, Night Shift, was written while working in a factory. He used his co-workers as characters since he didn’t think it would really get published. Lucky for him, everyone was okay with the obvious characterizations. Bolger has since written many award-winning poems, plays and novels, including The Journey Home, from which he reads at the Fleck Dance Theatre the evening of October 25th along side other Irish authors Emma Donoghue, Hugo Hamilton, and David Park.

Being involved with the Irish writing scene (he started Raven Arts Press which has since turned into New Island), Bolger is encouraged by the variety of expression in contemporary Irish literature. As a member of the Aosdána, an organization which provides small stipends to writers so they can concentrate on their craft, Bolger hopes that the tax breaks and government funding to the arts will not be cut during this current economic climate.

IFOA runs until November 1, 2008 at Harbourfront Centre. 416-973-4000.

How familiar are you with Canadian voices of Latin American descent? I sometimes see event notices for readings by Latin American writers, but these writers have usually been invited from outside Canada. Tightrope Books publisher, Halli Villegas who is half Mexican-half Welsh and looks Caucasian, became involved in the upcoming event, Other Voices: Latino Writing and Music because she has an interest in promoting the works of people who look like her and who share a Latin American heritage. Villegas founded Tightrope books in 2005 because she wanted to take Canadian publishing in a different direction, connecting more with the writer, and publishing books that resound with unheard voices.

Poet, Monica Rosas (of Colombian-Peruvian heritage) is one of the performers at Other Voices. Rosas has an interest in bringing to the forefront experiences of gender and cultural status, demonstrated in her very eloquent reading of a selection from her chapbook,Inside Out.

Monica’s book is published by Lyrical Myrical Press and will be available for sale, along with the works of other writers reading on Thursday, October 30th at the Trane Studio (964 Bathurst Street). Doors open at 6:30 pm and includes music by Cubanos. The event is FREE, so please bring some money to support these authors.

Photo: Dermot Bolger
Photo Credit:

Photo: Monica Rosas
Photo Credit: Stephanie Sonnemann


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