Book Festivals are Alive & Well

The Southern Festival of Books was a wonderful success. The Pinch had a blast.

Some of my favorites from this weekend:

Darren Jackson (editor of Grist, translator, and a poet)

Jim Shepard (novelist/short story writer)

Bobbie Ann Mason (who during the “thank you” reception party took refuge at our little Pinch table and talked to me a lot about her 7 dogs and 6 cats and even showed me pictures! (novelist/short story writer, famous as all get-out))

William Pitt Root (who wrote a gorgeous poem about slug sex (poet, translator, editor of Cutthroat))

Book festivals are rejuvenating and great precursors to AWP. I heard a lot of great poetry. I thought up a lot of great ideas for poems. I bought some great books of poetry that inspired me. I even heard some great excerpts from short stories and novels.

I heard a lot of talks about the sustainability of books and writing. Some people think making poetry more exciting by including readings on itunes would help, or for literary journals to go all online. I don’t agree with either. Reading something in a book is a far different experience for me than reading something on my computer or my Kindle. Yes, it’s nice carrying like 1000 something books in a tiny device, but I love flipping pages, the feel of the weight in my hand, to be able to quickly check where I am in the book and how far I have to go.

The festival had a great turn-out. We at The Pinch volunteered to help out, and we saw a lot of people in nearly every session. A lot of people also attended the party. A lot of people checked out our booth and bought an issue. That’s a good enough sign that things are okay for the time being.

Next time there’s a book festival in your area, think about volunteering. Think about going and checking out the booths, attending sessions over multiple days, trying different genres, picking lesser-known and more well-known writers/poets to listen to. Really getting involved. Day-to-day life can be a toxic environment to the writer, but after the festival, I felt like I could breathe in a new way.

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2 thoughts on “Book Festivals are Alive & Well

  1. I agree – there is nothing like having a real book in your hand so you can flip through the pages and feel the grain of the paper. While having things online may make them more popular in that they’ll be more accessible, nothing will ever be able to replace the feel of a real book – at least not for my generation & those before it!

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