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The AfterWords Literary Festival was co-founded by Ryan Turner and Stephanie Domet, and in the fall of 2019 AfterWords held its inaugural edition. Mona Awad, Caroline Adderson, Lynn Coady, Andre Fenton, Nolan Natasha, and Kamal Al-Solaylee are just some of the sixteen authors the festival brought together from Nova Scotia, across Canada, and beyond for its first year.

In 2020, due to Covid-19, the festival hosted live events online. Some of the highlights included Evelyn C White's conversation with Giller-nominated authors Francesca Ekwuyasi, Michelle Good, and Shani Mootoo; and Stephanie Domet's interview with Vivek Shraya and Cicely Belle Blain. In November, CBC's IDEAS broadcast Mary Lynk's conversation at AfterWords with New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay.

AfterWords is primarily interested in presenting (and being in the audience for) conversations among writers about the ideas that push them forward, the experiences that formed them into writers, and what writing can tell us about how to be human. Our mission is to give those writers who choose to join us the very best experience that Halifax has to offer. 

Our experience in our first two years has shown us that programming writers from across the spectrum of background and identity has been compelling to diverse audiences in Halifax. Additionally, we program our events in venues that are physically accessible. We also work to find spaces that are broadly welcoming. We had ASL interpreters at live venues in Year One and offered live captioning upon request to all of our online events in Year Two. We've also worked with various partner organizations to distribute tickets to low income Haligonians interested in attending literary programming and workshops, and we will continue that partnership and develop others in 2021.

We celebrate our festival on the unceded and traditional homeland of the Mi’kmaq People. We do land acknowledgements as a part of the reconciliation process. In order for this festival to exist, for Canadians to enjoy the lives that we do, Indigenous people were removed, displaced, and killed. This truth is an uncomfortable one, but one that is necessary to face if we, as fellow Canadians, are to understand our whole history.