Kingston WritersFest releases virtual line-up

(L to R) (top row) Helen Humphreys, Desmond Cole, Robyn Doolittle, Thomas Homer-Dixon, (bottom row) Jane Urquhart, Joan Thomas, Shani Mootoo, and John Stackhouse are just some of the many authors and journalists on the Kingston WritersFest 2020 lineup. Photos via Kingston WritersFest website.

The virtual line up for the 12th annual WritersFest has been announced. Twenty three events will be held on the Kingston WritersFest Facebook page from Wednesday, Sept. 23 to Monday, Sept. 27, 2020. WritersFest announced in May that the 2020 festival would take place virtually.

Artistic Director Barbara Bell announced author and journalist John Stackhouse will join podcaster Ben Charland in conversation on the Festival’s opening night, after an opening event with Kingston writer and former poet laureate, Helen Humphreys.

Desmond Cole, an award-winning Canadian journalist, activist, author, and broadcaster, will be this year’s Robertson Davies Lecturer. Cole will present his book on systemic racism, “The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power”.

Canadian professor, politician, scientist, and author Thomas Homer-Dixon will be speaking during the Thursday programming, as well as journalist Robyn Doolittle and fiction author Danielle Younge-Ullman.

Friday and Saturday will see Gwen Benaway, Aislinn Hunter, Canisia Lubrin, and Shani Mootoo participating in events for the Festival.

Saturday evening sees the return of Carol Off as moderator of The Big Idea, and Author! Author! returns with 2019 Governor-General’s Literary Award-winner Joan Thomas and Jane Urquhart. Author Annabel Lyon will be speaking on the Sunday, along with Norwegian author Torbjørn Ekelund.

“With the advent of restrictions in March to contain the spread of the virus, we saw it as important to find a way to continue to provide relevant cultural programming,” says Bell. “And we feel strongly that more than ever in this difficult and extraordinary time, we need the thinkers, dreamers, and creatives to provide insight, to give us new tools to think with, and to show us possibility.”

Many Kingston authors round out this year’s line-up: Sadiqa de Meijer, Helen Humphreys, Anita Jack-Davies, Ying Lee, Lindy Mechefske, Laura Murray, Diane Schoemperlen, and Sarah Tsiang.

Bell also announced a free, online, bi-weekly pre-festival program, which began Wednesday Jul. 22, 2020 with festival alumna, award-winning author Emma Donoghue and continues until the Festival begins.

Bell comments, “We wanted to feed the need for the literary through the summer, as readers look ahead longingly to the Festival, so we’ve prepared some great surprises in the pre-festival programming.”

For more on these events and a full line up of authors, visit

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