Knowledge is power

Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair & DIY Fest joins forces with Canzine


Uncap your Sharpies and empty your book bag, Broken Pencil’s festival of zine culture and independent arts will happen in conjunction with the seventh annual Anarchist Bookfair & DIY Fest this year.

The three day event will take place in the Bulman Student Centre at the University of Winnipeg and feature workshops, entertainment, live readings, snacks, and of course tables upon tables of zines and alternative literature.

Performance artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan will be reading from their 2012 work Bedtime Stories for the Edge of the World on Oct. 25 as part of Canzine’s radical reading series. The collection of short stories is published by Winnipeg’s ARP Books.

“I think it’s important that people engage with the written word and feel empowered to do so,” Dempsey says. “You don’t need to have a big American publisher to write. We all have unique and important points of view and the act of translating them into words is really powerful and empowering for others.

“Bookfairs like this one really illustrate the full range of ways in which people can engage in the written word, both as writers and as readers.”

Anishnabe poet, author and activist Marie Annharte Baker will be reading from her new work, AKA Inendagosekwe, on Oct. 24 as part of the Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair cabaret. She also shares in the importance of creating a constructive environment for the reader.

“When so many good bookstores have closed it’s so important to keep the pressure of corporate ideas away,” Baker says. “You need to have a chill out space and an approach to books that is more
reader friendly.”

Baker stresses that often the material in alternative texts gets overshadowed by the commercial needs of booksellers and an alternative bookfair is a necessary means of bringing that material to readers.

“I also like the accessibility of the festival, the congenial aspect,” Baker adds. “It’s opening up social interactions with groups that tend to have their separate spaces. It’s a little ‘60s in a way.”

Tim Brandt has been involved in organizing the Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair since its conception seven years ago and has a clear idea of the types of material a newbie to the fair would experience.

“Hopefully there’s a good selection of radical literature, ideally there should be books and publications that present ideas and tactics from an anarchist or alternative perspective, whether it’s critical of capitalism or corporatism, global raping of the Earth’s resources, or material on positive ways of living on this earth,” he adds. “It’s always important to have a place where people can learn about
alternative culture.

“Besides literature there will also be entertainment, it’s not all dry academic seriousness,” Brandt says with a chuckle. “Canzine is more about personal zine making and artistic expression, but it also contains radical articles that promote expression in oppressed people. It’s really strong in giving a voice to everyone and in being inclusive.”

Other guests include Neal Hall, M.D. and Halifax poet laureate El Jones.

Published in Volume 69, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 22, 2014)

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