The Word on the Street
If it’s the last Sunday in September, it’s The Word on the Street Book and Magazine Fair. On this day, several cities across Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Kitchener, Toronto, and Halifax so far) hold a free festival celebrating the printed word and those who enjoy it–readers, writers, publishers, booksellers, libraries, literacy organizations. (The last Sunday in September 2006 is today, 24 September–the fair is on.)
Vancouver’s show is held at Library Square (map), the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library, downtown. As befits a festival of words, the webpage for The Word on the Street–Vancouver does a fine job of describing the participants, exhibitors, and schedule of events, so I won’t reinvent the wheel reiterating them here.
One suggestion from me, though:
Even in a word festival, there are big attractions in the geographical or attention centre and smaller ones off to the side. Like any festival, it’s often in the small, out-in-the-suburbs booths that the most interesting finds are found. While the stage performances and author readings and poetry slams and kids’ literacy activities may get the write-ups in the programme and draw the crowds, may I suggest if you go to the fair, that in addition to the above, you also make enough time to browse the little, crammed-together tables away from the stage or reading tents–Magazine Mews (Canadian & BC magazines) or Word Under the Street (micro-published comics and ‘zines).
The world of the printed word is a ‘quieter’ one, compared to, say, that of film or music. More of it tends to not be found or noticed unless one specifically goes looking for it–or comes across it in a fair like this one. Even though I know this, I keep getting surprised every year at The Word on the Street by the sheer quantity and variety of magazines, independent booksellers, comic writers and artists, small presses, and other individuals or organizations who seem to run just on a shoestring and passion, whom I find at the fair. Spend some time checking them out–particularly if they’re new, even strange, to you–browse some comics, magazines, and ‘zines, talk to the exhibitors, rather than just glancing curiously as you go past–perhaps you’ll surprise yourself too.