In May 2017, Barrett and Welsh began hosting a (now not so) “secret” reading series on its lovely open-air rooftop deck while it’s warm, and in its large open concept studio space in colder weather.
The Tartan Turban Secret Readings were launched to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary by the series curators, poet Gavin Barrett and late author, Mayank Bhatt. The Readings celebrate and support Canadian writers with a special focus on those who self-identify as black, indigenous or people of colour, who have few such platforms — particularly in the east end. We attempt to create equity by privileging or centring writers who don’t experience privilege in Canada. At the same time, all writers who celebrate Canada’s multiculturalism, diversity and indigenous heritage, and have talent to share are warmly welcomed.
The readings have attracted a roster of some of the most talented writers writing in Canada today. Featured writers have included Governor’s General prizewinners, Giller shortlisted authors, CBC poetry prizewinners and novelists with books on the New York Times’, Globe and Mail’s and CBC’s best books lists. It has featured Canadian writers who identify as Bangladeshi, Chinese, Ethiopian, Ghanian, Indian, Jamaican, Korean, Mexican, Nepali, Nigerian, Pakistani, South African, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Trinidadian and Ugandan to name but a few.
Featured readers read their own work including works in translation. As a literary series fiction, poetry, drama and screenplays are all welcomed as are works of literary non-fiction, such as reportage, columns, memoirs, letters and biographies. (Academic or self-help/motivational works are not accepted).
The readings are free to attend, though bookings are required (seats are limited). The audience is encouraged to support the writers who share their talent by buying signed copies of their works at the reading and supporting them online.
Each evening has its own curator. If you would like to read or curate, contact Gavin Barrett, who is the series curator.
There are two to three open mic sessions at each reading.
The Tartan Turban Secret Readings organizers are members of LitNetTO. LitNetTO or Literary Network Toronto is an organization of literary reading series organizers in the Greater Toronto Area.
The sessions are often photographed, filmed or streamed on FB/YouTube live and recordings will eventually be posted on YouTube and the series website. Please be aware that by attending this event, you agree to be photographed and/or filmed and give permission to use your likeness in promotional and/or marketing materials.