Ask any writer and they’ll happily agree with you that writing has a lot in common with rock ’n’ roll. We’re not talking about living from gig to gig, nor are we talking about the booze.
No, we’re talking about being a part of the hip underground; the edgy community with ink stained hands, the fringe dwellers pushing limits as they furiously scribble in black notebooks in cafes and dive bars across the Kitchener-Waterloo area.
This community will be out in force on Monday May 13 for Indie Lit, a night of readings from up-and-coming Canadian authors held at the Starlight Social Club in Waterloo. Hosted by David Worsley and Mandy Brouse from Words Worth Books, the night is a celebration of independent publishing and is a veritable who’s who of authors to watch for.
Featuring readings from Adrienne Barrett, Andrew Faulkner, Andrew Kaufman, Alisa Kay, Amanda Leduc, Sara Peters and David Seymour, Indie Lit happens only twice a year — in spring and fall — and isn’t your average literary event.
“It’s a relaxed reading,” said host and Words Worth Books co-owner Worsley. “The sort of general, staid reading where you come in, you shut up, you listen to an author, you maybe ask a question, then you buy a book and leave — it’s nice, but it’s been done. This is a little looser, a little lighter. There’s a little more punk rock to it.”
This seems an apt description, as all the authors who will be reading are from independent publishing companies here in Canada. The event itself is the brainchild of Evan Munday, publicist for Coach House Publishing, known for being one of the coolest publishing companies in Canada. They’ve staked their reputation on being adventurous in both content and presentation.
Coach House literally started in an old coach house in Toronto in 1965 and has worked with the cream of Canadian authors and published some of the most important works in Canadian literature, including bpNichol’s Journeying and Returns as well as Michael Ondaatje’s The Dainty Monsters.
“The idea,” continued Worsley, “is that independent publishers — publishers who aren’t part of a big corporate structure — they can move on a dime. There’s a cool factor. It’s not just books about grand, well-trodden Canadian themes; things are a little more urban, a little more modern.”
As for the authors themselves, they’re all coming to Waterloo with new works to share, most of which have only recently hit the shelves. Alisa Kay’s Under Budapest was just released on April 11, while Hamilton-born Adrienne Barrett’s first book of poetry, This House is Still Standing, came out on April 23. Both are already garnering rave reviews.
“These are writers who are early in their careers, or at least feel like they are early in their career,” said Worsley. “Some of them have major league hits on their hands. Andrew Kaufman, with his novel Born Weird, has cracked the best seller list.”
While many of the author’s who will be reading on May 13 are commuting in from Toronto, it’s no indication that K-W lacks own thriving community of writers. No, it’s actually because of the thriving network of writers who call Waterloo home that such an event is possible, something that Worsley readily acknowledges. “The big publishers have this attitude: ‘Why would we send people out there? It’s only pasture.’ I’m sorry but that’s bullshit. Waterloo is home to a lot of world-class Canadian writing, and that’s not cheerleading, that’s a fact.”
The night will be a celebration of Canadian literature, and don’t forget that it’s also rock ‘n’ roll. “Come on out,” says Worsley. “It’s a hell of a lot of fun… and Starlight has a fully stocked bar.”
Indie Lit is a free event and is held at the Starlight Social Club, 47 King St N in Waterloo. Doors open at 7:30pm; the readings begin at 8pm.