Join the League of Canadian Poets to celebrate Freedom to Read Week with TWUC Freedom to Read Award-winners Farzana Doctor and Gary Geddes! The evening will include poetry readings from Farzana and Gary, and short discussion about the importance of free expression and the freedom to read in Canada.
February 22, 2024 | 4:30 PT/7:30pm ET
Farzana Doctor is the Tkaronto-based author of four novels: Stealing Nasreen, Six Metres of Pavement, All Inclusive, and Seven. Her poetry collection, You Still Look The Same, which Quill & Quire has called “a powerful and necessary collection that breaks silences” was released in May 2022. In about a week or so, her new self- and community care workbook for helpers and activists--52 Weeks to a Sweeter Life--will hit bookstore shelves. Learn more at Linktr.ee/farzanadoctor
Doctor was nominated for the Freedom to Read Award by Canadian journalist and filmmaker, Giselle Portenier, who focused on Doctor’s writing about subjects shrouded in silence and taboo. From the nomination:
"All of Doctor’s books have addressed topics of social justice and immigrant life, but it’s her fourth novel, Seven, that caught my attention for being especially ground-breaking. It takes up the issue of khatna, or female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in her insular Dawoodi Bohra community.
"Doctor’s writing has helped to shift this silence and is helping to make change. Seven was released in September 2020 and since then, Doctor has participated in over 100 online events (book clubs, festivals, panels, webinars, podcasts, and interviews) to promote the novel. She also wrote articles on FGM/C that appeared in Chatelaine, Fair Observer and YourTango. In the process, she has educated thousands of individuals about FGM/C. This is no small feat. Thousands more have read the book, minds opened by the power of fiction and narrative."
Gary Geddes has written and edited more than 50 books of poetry, fiction, drama, non-fiction, criticism, translation, and anthologies and won a dozen national and international literary awards, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Americas Region), the Lt.-Governor's Award for Literary Excellence, and the Gabriela Mistral Prize from the government of Chile. His most recent poetry books are The Resumption of Play, The Ventriloquist and The Oysters I Bring to Banquets. Geddes has taught at Concordia, Western Washington University, and University of Missouri-St. Louis and served as writer-in-residence at U. of Alberta, Green College, Ottawa U. and the Vancouver Public Library. His most recent poetry books are The Oysters I Bring to Banquets and The Ventriloquist: Poetic Narratives from the Womb of War.
Credited with over thirty-five books, Geddes has written about war crimes, prisoners of war, conquest and the violence institutionalized by government policy. He has also donated generously to scholarly work around social sciences and environmental studies. From the nomination for Mr. Geddes:
"Gary's lifetime works [are] an outstanding example of freedom of expression that impacts not just the students who receive the scholarships or read the books, but has the greatest impact on society as a whole. Gary has devoted his life to human rights issues."
Freedom to Read Week is an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom. As of 2024, Freedom to Read Week entered a new phase led by Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, and the Ontario Library Association in partnership with the Book and Periodical Council.