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Sunday, May 01, 2011

Friday Nights with Diaspora Dialogues

Friday Nights with Diaspora Dialogues – the just-concluded series of three literary nights in April – featured readings and performances from Toronto’s brightest writers and artists. This was the sixth year that the series was part of the Toronto Public Library’s annual Keep Toronto Reading Festival – a celebration of books and reading in Toronto.
Antanas Sileika
The last reading of the series (April 29) featured two writers who have supported me in so many different ways to fulfill my dream to become a novelist – Antanas Sileika and Joyce Wayne.

Antanas is the artistic director of Humber School forWriters and author of the recently released Underground. It’s a “story of a troubled romance between Lukas and Elena, two members of the underground Lithuanian resistance movement in mid-1940s.” He read an excerpt from the novel where Lukas shoots a room full of Soviet workers.

Joyce founded the Canadian Journalism for Internationally Trained Writers program at Sheridan College. I met her at the College in 2009, and she is my well-wisher, mentor and friend. 
Her story When Belle Walked Along Spadina is in TOK 6:Writing the New Toronto (each year the TOK cover gets better). The story is “about a little band of hapless Eastern European immigrants who end up spying for the Communist Party in Canada during the 1940s. It is about how brutally Canada treats its political dissidents.”

Other writers, poets spoken word artists who made the evening memorable included Adebe DeRango-Adem, Jacob McArthur Mooney, Angelica LeMinh. 

The program concluded with a reading from Rebecca Applebaum's Complex (Karl Ang, Serena Parmar, Lisa Codrington and Araya Mengesha; directed by Tara Beagan). 

Of course, all my friends at Diaspora Dialogues were also there, and it’s always a pleasure to meet them. For me (and I’m sure for many others), Diaspora Dialogues is home.


Richard Johnston's pen sketch of Antanas Sileika from http://antanassileika.ca/?p=530 (the sketch was originally published in The National Post on April 16, 2011 along with Philip Marchand's review of Underground. Read the review here.)

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