Pages by and for the people

Millennium library to host independent literature festival

On Oct. 24, Toronto-based Broken Pencil Magazine, a publication dedicated to “zine culture and the independent arts” will present Canadian zine event Canzine 2015 in Winnipeg. Broken Pencil Magazine will once again join forces with the Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair, uniting Winnipeg’s literature and zine-loving population with both events under one roof.

This year’s Canzine festival will be held at the Millennium Library from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free with a suggested $5 donation.

The success of the relationship between Broken Pencil and the Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair is a result of the commonalities both organizations share when it comes to values, literature, and the independent arts.

According to the magazine’s editor Alison Lang, “Broken Pencil is currently the world’s only magazine devoted solely to zine culture and the independent arts.”

Founded in 1995 by Hal Niedzviecki, Broken Pencil has not only been able to gain success over the years but has given a voice to writers and zine enthusiasts alike by providing them a platform to showcase their talents.

Canzine festivals are nothing new for Broken Pencil; they have been around as long as the magazine has.

“We held our first Canzine fair in 1995 at the now-defunct Spadina Hotel in Toronto with a skeleton crew of volunteers and hours of hard labour,” said Lang.

Since that time, the meaning of Canzine has not wavered: not surprisingly, that meaning is simply to support those involved in zine culture.

“Hal’s goal with Canzine was to have a non-exclusive, non-curated gathering space where zine makers could sell their wares to a curious public,” said Lang.

Similarly, and according to the group’s online bio, the Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair began as a way to “create space for people to share anti-capitalist ideas and culture, and present viable living alternatives through radical literature and free skill-sharing given as mutual aid to any and all who partake.”

The organization held its first “Bookfair and DIY Fest” back in 2009 and has continued to do so annually.

Wayne Antony, a co-publisher at Fernwood Publishing and one of the people involved in organizing the Bookfair since its inception, explained to the Manitoban that “we just come together to do the book fair. It’s just people who are interested in it, who are a part of other organizations and activist organizations in the city.”

Canzine 2015 will mark the second time Broken Pencil Magazine and the Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair have collaborated. The first was last year.

The idea of joining forces can be credited to Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair member Tim Brandt.

“[Brandt] had known about Canzine and started talking to them before last year. I think they were just doing it in Vancouver and Toronto, so he asked them if they’d be interested in doing it in Winnipeg, and then when time came to start talking about the Anarchist Bookfair for last year, he just came to one of the meetings and said ‘so what do you think, should we join up with Canzine and broaden our audience and base a little bit?’ And we all thought, well, let’s give it a try and see how it goes, and it worked out quite well,” said Antony.

It has proven to be a great move, one in which both Broken Pencil and the Winnipeg Anarchist Bookfair seem to benefit, and so do those living in Winnipeg.

“This partnership has been an amazing way for Broken Pencil to become exposed to the many brilliant artists, writers, activists and performers in Winnipeg,” said Lang.

This year’s Canzine promises to accommodate both newcomers and those who have attended in the years past.

“Expect to see over 25 vendors of zines, comics, small press books, and indie art from all over Manitoba and beyond,” said Lang.

The festival features zinesters Kristin Nelson and Leslie Corbay and will also hold a panel on accessibility this year.

Other fun events include the 1-2 Punch Book Pitch “where anyone can come and pitch their book idea to our panel of judges and receive glowing praise or tough love,” said Lang.

There are workshops as well, including an introduction to unionism by the International Workers of the World and the Radical Reading Series, which features authors Sheldon Birnie, Jeanne Randolph, and Ariel Gordon.


For more information on Canzine 2015, go to and