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The Word On The Street Blog

Stay updated on the latest festival news, book reviews, and more!

Meet The WOTS Team

July 17, 2018

The Word On The Street Festival in Toronto is only possible because of all of our small team’s work. Get to know the crew that is helping to put on our festival this year! And stay tuned to meet the rest of our team in part two next week!


Maya Baumann, Programming Coordinator

After earning her undergrad at U of T St. George in Diaspora and Transnational Studies and Indigenous Studies, Maya graduated from the fine ranks of Humber College’s Arts Administrators. Maya enjoys reading entire novels on her commute, creating meticulously organized spreadsheets, and learning about the perspectives of others.

Top 3 Books:  (read recently!) Stereoblind by Emma Healey, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, and Sodom Road Exit by Amber Dawn

Why You’re At WOTS: This is my dream position because combines it all for me: organizing a valued event, working with writers and other bookish people, and having the opportunity to 

read voraciously and not be told to “put it down now Maya, we forget what your face looks like.” WOTS is my happy place.

What You Can’t Wait For This Year: There are so many cool programs making a comeback this year like Inspire Teen Reads, a pitch competition for high school students organized by high school students; and programs being expanded like our language sessions in Anishinaabemowin and Cree at our Indigenous Voices stage. The poetry slams on offer (now in English and French!) are not-to-be-missed.


Chelsea Dab Hilke, Event Coordinator

Originally from Montreal, Chelsea has made Toronto her home for the past seven years. Though making theatre is where she feels most at ease, Chelsea has branched off into arts administration roles, as a front of house manager for the Luminato and Fringe festivals, and the communications coordinator for the Bloor St. Culture Corridor.

Top 3 Books:  everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jonny Sun, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and stereoblind by Emma Healey

Why You’re At WOTS: I feel strongly that all means of artistic expression inform each other and the best way for me to be a well-rounded artist is to have a tenable grasp of all art’s forms. While I have an in-depth knowledge of theatre and a working knowledge of visual art and dance, my familiarity of Canadian literature is still in development. I have discovered so much already about the fantastically strong writers and illustrators we have in Canada and look forward to my continued learning about this great community.

What You Can’t Wait For This Year: I can’t wait to meet and say hello to all the wonderful exhibitors I’ve had the privilege to chat with over the past few months! I’m also looking forward to the language sessions on the Indigenous Voices stage… If I can make it there during the festival!


Daniel McGuire, Festival Assistant

Daniel McGuire thinks literature is lit. He is a recent graduate of McMaster University, and is heading to Humber College in the fall. Daniel’s favourite types of stories are usually able to give him some insight into other people’s daily lives … or can keep him up til 4am.

Top 3 Books: children of air india: un/authorized exhibits and interjections by Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai, and Tell No One by Harlan Coben

Why You’re At WOTS: WOTS is kind of an intersection between two of my favourite things, stories and festivals. I love that the festival acts as a meeting ground for so many to come and geek out about all kinds of literature. Also, reading has always been important to me. Getting to be surrounded by people who also feel that way is just phenomenal.

What You Can’t Wait For This Year: As the Festival Assistant, I’ve been learning so much about our various events and programming. This is actually my first WOTS, I’m relatively new to Toronto. I am pretty much like a kid in a candy store, with just so many amazing options. If you made me pick, it would be our Vibrant Voices stage. The other thing I am super excited for is new book suggestions. I’ve already started devouring some of our programmed books and can’t wait to talk to different booths for even more great reads. This year’s festival looks so exciting! … Though my bank account might have a different take


Cody Caetano, Programming Assistant

Cody Caetano is a Pinaymootang First Nation and Portuguese writer with work recently published in Prism International, Bad Nudes, and elsewhere. He is currently enrolled in the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto, and is at work on a nonfiction manuscript under the mentorship of Lee Maracle.

Top 3 Books: Tommy Orange’s There There, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, and Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club.

Why You’re At WOTS: The Word on the Street promotes the ethos of literary citizenship by offering attendees a colourful smoothie of new and established writers, the heft and size of which mitigates the isolation some readers inevitably feel if they lack the connective synapses to a larger community. WOTS is free, kid-friendly, and the most vital gathering of book nerds each year. I’m incredibly happy, thankful, and excited to see it unfold from the inside of our office on King Street.

What You Can’t Wait For This Year: Definitely the Indigenous Voices stage, which I expect will have many attendees losing it after the full lineup is announced, especially if they’ve given any attention to any feel-good Native news stories this year. Not to mention the language lessons we have planned as part of the stage. I’m also excited to help debut WOTSPLUS+ in 2018, which promises another day of sweet sweet programming.