A Letter from Luminato Literary Curator Noah Richler on The North-South Project
This terrifically exciting event has arisen out of a profound interest in place, and the belief that writers and musicians are effectively our best guides to the territory – an appropriate idea in this, the year of Toronto’s hosting of the PanAm and Para Panam Games.
Unusual for a literary curator to admit, this commission of original pieces by thirteen top-notch writers from the Arctic to Argentina is also the result of a couple of practical convictions of mine. The first is that writers are often awkward communicators of their own work, so that we have actors doing the readings instead, and the second that it seems a little dull to ask folk to pay to hear something that’s already been published – which is why, months ago, we started working on these new pieces.
And that, I have to say, has turned out to be enormous fun. The pieces are wonderfully various – from Oscar-winning Chilean writer Antonio Skármeta’s wonderfully tender and joyful piece (one that brings to mind F.Scott Fitzgerald) remembering himself as a young man with the world laid out before him, and the almost paranoid, resigned world of Argentinian Mariano Pensotti’s “The Assassin”, to the Arctic of Inuk Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory’s “Dog Children,” rich with spirits, and the mischief of Canadian playwright Ins Choi (yes, he of Kim’s Convenience) and his schoolboy working out how to fit into his multicultural world neither reflected in movies nor TV.
Working with the writers was one joy. The next was how they and the musicians that are an integral part of the piece bounced off each other: Juno Award-winning Mexican-Candian Quique Escamilla, with his songs of rebellion; Amai Kuda ‘n Y Josephine and their glorious, soulful and percussive songs roots and identity; calypso-playing Drew Gonsalves, aboriginal performance artist Kinnie Starr and Steph Cameron – all ricocheting with ideas that sometimes implausibly, beautifully cohered.
All these writers and musicians are reflecting upon ideas of the lost and the missing – a notion that of course has resonance here in Canada, though also in Latin America. What has resulted is a very special treatise, one that will be marvellously illustrated and performed on the day, about our very uncertainty of being.
The writers are Carmen Aguirre, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory , Joseph Boyden, Ins Choi, Edwidge Danticat, Alain Farah, Ferrez, Nalo Hopkinson, Beatriz Pizano, Mariano Pensotti, Richard Rodriguez, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Antonio Skarmeta.
The thirteen texts are to be read over the course of three hours in The Shed, a licenced bistro setting within ‘the Hub’, Luminato’s imaginative refurbishing of David Pecaut Square as a garden.
And, don’t forget, the collected texts are being published as an eBook by the House of Anansi to be offered as a free download to ticket holders (with Luminato allotting the proceeds to charity). This should be an exceptional day. I really hope to see you there.
About the North-South Project
The North-South Project is a collective work of storytelling authored by twelve celebrated writers working the breadth of the Americas, from the Canadian Arctic to Argentina.
In a series of original prose pieces written for Luminato and performed by Ins Choi, Lisa Codrington and Beatriz Pizano in this year of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, authors Carmen Aguirre, Joseph Boyden, Ins Choi, Edwidge Danticat, Alain Farah, Nalo Hopkinson, Mariano Pensotti, Beatriz Pizano, Richard Rodriguez, Leanne Simpson, Antonio Skármeta and Laakkuluk Williamson contemplate ideas of the missing and of the lost true across the continents. The readings are accompanied by singer-songwriters Amai Kuda n’ Y Josephine, Drew Gonsalves, Quique Escamilla, Steph Cameron and Kinnie Starr, bringing to the Festival stage their own unique Pan-American sounds.
The North-South Project eBook
Edited by Noah Richler, author, journalist, cultural critic, and Literary & Ideas Curator of Toronto’s Luminato Festival, this anthology brings together thirteen acclaimed writers who take us across the Americas, from the Arctic to Argentina. These original pieces, which were performed in Toronto as part of the Luminato Festival on June 20, 2015, represent an array of experiences of the Americas and remind us that understanding what it means to be lost is one of many stories.
The North-South Project was commissioned by Luminato Festival as part of its celebration of the Americas in the year of Toronto’s hosting of the Pan American and Parapan American Games.
All proceeds from the sale of The North-South Project e-book, available free to ticket holders of The North-South Project through Luminato Festival and House of Anansi’s websites, will be donated for the care of victims of Mexico’s drug war.