Freedom to Read

Details: The Hart House Literary and Library Committee and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association are co-hosting a literary evening, with four well-established, well-respected authors reading excerpts of their work and discussing their experiences with freedom of expression – or the lack thereof. George Elliot Clarke, Joy Kogawa, and Katherine Govier will read excerpts of their own work (specifics to be determined), and the following Q & A session will be moderated by Marian Botsford Fraser.

After the Q&A session, the microphone is open to the audience, who are encouraged to share excerpts of their own writing and/or their experiences with freedom of expression.


When: Fri, Mar. 1 at 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Where: Library, Hart House
Cost: Free


Established in 1964, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association aims to ensure that fundamental human rights and civil liberties are protected and respected. The organization’s first mission was a success: opposing the Ontario government’s idea of endowing the police force with greater authorities. And over the years, its members have been tirelessly vigilant about responding to issues involving public safety, national security, equality, and fundamental freedoms, the last of which includes the absolutely invaluable freedom of expression.

About the Authors



George Elliot ClarkeBorn in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1960, George Elliot Clarke is one of those rare individuals who wears many hats and wears them well. The Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-2015), he has published multiple collections of poetry, one of which, Execution Poems (2001), was awarded the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. The E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, he is active in the academic community, an expert on African-Canadian literature, and a clear favourite of students, having earned the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2005.

Joy KogawaBorn in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1935, Joy Kogawa is perhaps best known for her first novel, Obasan. This work, not unlike her later ones, draws on her personal experiences during World War II, where Canadians of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps. Her prolific literary career includes multiple poetry publications – in fact, her first collection of poetry, The splintered moon, was published in 1967 – and children’s literature, such as Naomi’s Road (1986). This particular work was adapted as a play in 1995 and then as an opera in 2005.



Katherine GovierBorn in Edmonton, Alberta in 1948, Katherine Govier has an impressive resume of publications: nine novels and three short story collections! Among her numerous accolades, she was awarded the Marian Engel Award (now called the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award) in 1997 in recognition of her praiseworthy literary works. Her involvement in mentoring the next generation of literary award winners includes helping to establish innovative writing programs, such as Writers in Electron Residence. Among other things, WiER has become an invaluable educational tool that has opened up dialogue between students and professional authors, to the great benefit of both parties.

Marian Botsford FraserMarian Botsford Fraser, a freelance writer, broadcaster, and critic whose work has appeared widely in The Walrus, the Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among other outlets. Her work is often deeply personal and extremely poignant: Solitaire: the Intimate Lives of Single Women was based on her travels across Canada, interviewing women of all backgrounds, and she shares with her reader her own experiences with love, marriage, and divorce.

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