Words 2020 lives on as virtual festival

Words 2020 – London’s literary and creative arts festival – launched on Nov. 6 and it’s 100-per-cent virtual as the world stays safe amidst the global pandemic.

“We need the transformative power of literature, the arts, and big thinking now more than ever. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be hosting the Words Festival so that physical distancing measures do not become cultural isolation for our community,” said Joshua Lambier, Western’s Public Humanities director and Words artistic director.

All programming for the festival, which runs through Nov. 21, is free with registration.

Western is well represented at Words this year, as a number of events include faculty and staff as hosts, panel moderators or featured guests.

On Saturday, Nov. 7 at 2 p.m., award-winning Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer and storyteller Leanne Betasamosake Simpson will be in conversation with Candace Brunette-Debassige, Western’s (acting) vice-provost & associate vice-president (Indigenous Initiatives). They will discuss Simpson’s new novel, Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, which combines narrative and poetic fragments through a careful and fierce reclamation of Anishinaabe aesthetics.

“Monumental Questions: Revisiting Controversial Monuments and Memorials,” hosted by Huron University College’s Thomas Peace, will include a panel discussion on the deliberative processes that communities have undertaken to tackle the difficult subject of historical monuments and commemorations, especially when the figures or events they honour confront Canada’s legacies of systematic racism and slavery.

Lisa Helps, mayor of Victoria; Monica MacDonald, co-chair of Halifax’s Task Force on the Commemoration of Edward Cornwallis and the Recognition and Commemoration of Indigenous History, and Melanie Newton, University of Toronto professor who researches topics related to gender, slavery and slave emancipation and indigenous Caribbean history, are the distinguished guests for event set for Saturday Nov. 14 at 5 p.m.

These two special events are presented in collaboration with Western’s Anti-Racism Working Group, as are “In Conversation with Jesse Thistle” (Nov. 13) and “An Evening with iskwē & Sarah Legault” (Nov. 19).

In partnership with Western Alumni, Words will also share “The Forgotten Ones” on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m., featuring Eric Arts, Kate Choi, and Prachi Srivastava, three Western researchers investigating the inequalities that have caused vulnerable populations around the world to be hit the hardest by COVID-19.

Other festival highlights include events featuring Ivan Coyote, Wade Davis, Emma Donoghue and Adan Gopnik.

For a complete listing and registration details, visit http://wordsfest.ca/events