Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Word on the Street Interview Series: Liz Worth

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Liz Worth (photo credit: Shawn Nolan)

From Alice Munro to Andrew Pyper, some of our favourite (and most decorated) Canadian writers grew up just around the corner. Ontario is a province stuffed with amazing literary talented, and every year we continue to see new evidence of that fact.

That's why The Word On The Street highlights great Ontario writing every year in their Vibrant Voices of Ontario Tent. This year they're boasting a fantastic line up, and we are excited to partner with The Word On The Street again this year, running interviews with several of the Vibrant Voices Tent's amazing writers.

Our first interview this year is with Liz Worth, who is well-known to Torontonians for her innovative and fearless writing in multiple genres. Her newest offering takes inspiration from a similarly innovative artist: Andy Warhol, whose controversial book a: A Novel documented life at Warhol's iconic "factory".

Liz's No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol (BookThug) creatively remixes a: A Novel, changing each page into a unique poem. Liz uses only the words on each page, re-arranging them into something totally her own — raw, defiant and witty confessional pieces that retain the magic of Warhol's era.

It's an artistic untaking Warhol himself would have approved of and we're thrilled to speak with Liz today.

Liz tells us about her favourite moment from past The Word On The Street festivals, how a good book is like both a punch and a kiss, and the zen of a great public reading.

Don't forget to mark September 27, 2015 on your calendars to catch Liz and dozens of other fantastic authors at The Word On The Street.

Open Book:

Tell us about what you’ll be reading in the Vibrant Voices tent.

Liz Worth:

I’ll be reading a few poems from my new book, No Work Finished Here: Rewriting Andy Warhol, which is coming out from BookThug this fall. The book is an appropriation of Warhol’s infamous a: A Novel, which actually wasn’t a novel at all but a few hundred pages of transcribed conversations that happened among his hangers-on.


Have you attended The Word On The Street in the past? If so, tell us about a favourite memory. If not, what are you most looking forward to?


Yes! I never miss it. My favourite memory is probably when I first met Nancy Kilpatrick at The Word On The Street. She’s been one of my favourite writers for years — she’s a phenomenal horror author — and I remember the first time I had the chance to chat with her was at WOTS.


The Vibrant Voices tent celebrates Ontario authored and published books. Tell us about a favourite Ontario author or book.


This is a bit like asking someone to pick their favourite child, but I would say that Lynn Crosbie right up there for me. I often find myself thinking of her work long after reading it. It’s so beautiful and tense at the same time. I love it when writing can hit you like a punch in the face while also making you feel like it’s bringing you in for a kiss, and that’s what Lynn’s work does for me.


What’s the best advice about public readings you have ever received?


Surrender any expectation of the outcome and just try to focus on the people who are there. You can’t control an audience. Sometimes not as many people show up as you would like. Sometimes the audience isn’t as attentive as you might hope. Sometimes you have to follow up a really tough act, or a writer who has a bigger profile than you. But don’t focus on what’s not happening, because that cheats your audience.

Look at the people who are listening. Thank everyone for showing up. Be gracious and grateful. Whoever is there and watching you is taking time out of their day to be there. There are so many other ways those people could be spending their time, but they are choosing to be there with you, to hear your work, so just appreciate the moment you all have together and try to give the audience an experience they’ll remember.


Do you have a favourite spot in Ontario?


I have a few, but my old neighbourhood would be my top pick. It’s a little area in south Etobicoke called Alderwood and even though I haven’t lived there in years and might never live there again, I will always think of it as my home.


What can you tell us about your next project?


I’m working on two projects right now: one is a poetry project, where I’m turning Twin Peaks scripts into poetry. The other project is fiction; I’m working on a vampire novel that combines a lot of surrealism and poetry. I’m not sure how experimental it will all feel in the end, but right now it’s feeling like it has the right amount of weird.

Liz Worth is a Toronto-based author. Her first book, Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, was the first to give an in-depth account of Toronto’s early punk scene. She has also released a poetry collection called Amphetamine Heart and a novel called PostApoc. You can reach her at, on Facebook or Twitter.

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