Words in all Their Wonder at The Word On The Street

by Chris Cameron

Published at 2015-09-30

On Sunday September 27 at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, the 26th edition of The Word On The Street once again brought together the people who create books and the people who love to read them.


More than just a book fair, WOTS is a countrywide celebration of the written word in all its forms: reading, writing, publishing, editing, and even book-binding. Parallel events are held in Kitchener, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, and Halifax each September.


The Word On The Street is proud to be a 100% Canadian event, promoting the work of Canadian authors and publishers. Everything from poetry readings to cooking demonstrations can be found in tents and laneways as you stroll around the site. The event also supports local literacy organizations through onsite venues such as the Learning Tent and Literacy Lane.


One of the things that WOTS does best is give book lovers an opportunity to interact with writers and other members of the Canadian publishing community. At the Wordshop Marquee, faculty from The Humber School for Writers delivered a full day’s worth of advice to hopeful authors. At the Vibrant Voices of Ontario tent, writers such as Bill Richardson and Richard B. Wright could be heard reading from their latest books. The Great Books Marquee offered the chance to hear an interview with the venerable Austin Clarke.


All of this took place on a sparkling fall day beside the lake. And by the way, the whole event is free!


As we do every year, The Editing Company supported The Word On The Street by “friending” one of the featured authors. This year our choice was the respected science journalist and author Alanna Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell has written extensively about environmental and social trends, and has recently created and performed her own one-woman show based on her prize-winning book, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis.


TEC editors Alanna, Chris, Melissa, and Beth were on hand in the Nothing But The Truth Tent (a great name for a nonfiction venue!) to help Ms. Mitchell introduce her new book, Malignant Metaphor: Confronting Cancer Myths (ECW Press). She shared with the audience the fact that The Word On The Street was her very first appearance connected with the new book, and we were proud to have been a part of it.


Malignant Metaphor describes the deadly fear that cancer seems to hold over so many of us. By means of her exhaustive research as well as her own personal connections, Ms. Mitchell illustrates how we have come to equate cancer with individual human failings. We can even blame ourselves when we receive a cancer diagnosis, certain that the disease is the result of something we have done, or left undone.

Alanna Mitchell combines her investigative skill with her ability to spin a compelling tale, resulting in a very readable and informative book. It was a pleasure to meet her and to talk to her about her work.