The Brockton Writers Series (BWS) is a bi-monthly literary reading series founded in in the west-end Toronto neighbourhood of Brockton in November 2009 and now held at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St. Our vision for the series is to host writers who reflect Canadian literature and Canadian diversity. Our definition of diversity includes: established and emerging writers, writers of colour, queer writers, younger and older writers, aboriginal writers and other writers who might not always have the platform to showcase their work.
XTRA! wrote in February, 2011: “What do you get when you put together a two-spirit poet who slams the church, a senior citizen reading bloody stories about nuns and a playwright of colour cussing like a sailor? A night at the Brockton Writers Series.”
It’s this emphasis on diversity that makes BWS unique. The co-curators and volunteers of BWS manage this easily, perhaps because our own social, activist, academic and literary networks are large and include established, emerging, queer, and writers of colour. Each event includes a mix of emerging and established writers, as well as a mix of genre. For example, at our March 2013 event, we hosted a multi-media playwright, a spoken word poet (unpublished in Canada), a novelist reading from her second book, and a reviewer/journalist/first novelist.
When curating each event, we pay attention to what our line-up looks and sounds like; we’re interested in offering our audiences readings that entertain and are of high literary quality. We’re excited to showcase the writers we invite and to offer them opportunities to share their work, perhaps with a new audience.
Besides offering a literary event with high quality readings, our second mandate is to build a sense of community amongst our audience. We do this by creating a warm, welcoming environment, encouraging audience members to read at subsequent events, to volunteer, and to participate in the writers’ networking session and the event Q&A. We hope that new audience members feel comfortable enough at our events to participate in all aspects of BWS. We listen to community feedback and have adjusted BWS accordingly. This has included the addition of the writers’ networking session, the Q&A, an earlier end time and the move to a fully accessible venue.
Our audience is made up of members of the local Brockton communities as well as readers and writers from the rest of Toronto. We’ve received positive feedback about the quality and diversity of the writers and have become known as a community event worth attending.
Farzana Doctor, co-founder, curator and c0-host
Daniel Perry, co-host and blog co-ordinator
Sarah Henstra, guest speaker co-ordinator
Sonia Pathare, photographer
Nancy Kay Clark, publicity
Michael Erickson (Glad Day Bookshop), book seller
Cathy Bennett, all this and more
Melanie Janisse (co-founder)