Woodstock Bookfest returns for its 9th year

A uthor and the co-founder of Omega Institute Elizabeth Lesser and Bookfest executive director Martha Frankel. (Photo by Dion Ogust)

Anyone out there remember Fahrenheit 451, the classic dystopian sci fi Ray Bradbury novel made into a disquieting film by the great Francois Truffaut in the mid-1960s? It imagined a future of book-burnings, based its title on the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns, and based its plot on a disillusioned bookburner who joins an underground resistance group who memorize and share what they remember having read.

The annual Woodstock Bookfest, which comes to town from March 22 through March 25, started out as a Writer’s Festival. Now in its 9th year and still run by the indefatigable magazine writer and book author Martha Frankel, who basically grew up in town, the annual event kicks off Woodstock’s growing festival season each year, and draws sizable crowds of book lovers, struggling authors (as most are these days), and those just realizing that they’ve got writing inside of them that needs meaningful release.

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It comes at a perfect time of year, if you think about it, just as the final snowstorms and power outages of the year abate (hopefully). Participants are ready to emerge from their cozy homes filled with writing projects well-underway, or at least plenty of books well-digested. Everyone’s ready to discuss what’s been on their minds, and hear tips from those who have found success getting ideas, experiences, and stories on to paper (or at least into doc files of some sort).

The 2018 Woodstock Bookfest has a star keynote speaker, as usual, in the form of the prolific Irish author Colm Tóibín. It’s got key panels with top poets who maintain ties to the region (Marie Howe, Lissa Kiernan and Cornelius Eady), writers who’ve tackled autism in various ways (Ann M. Martin, Carolyn Parkhurst, John Elder Robison and Center for Spectrum Services cofounder Jamey Wolff), a number of writers from the new collection My Body, My Words, to be hosted by the book’s co-editor Amye Archer.

Frankel will moderate a sure-to-be-intense Memoir-A-Go-Go panel discussion featuring best-selling authors Tina Alexis Allen and Nyna Giles, along with Woodstock-based performative provocateur Amanda Palmer. WAMC host Joe Donohue returns to interview top new authors from the region, Alana Massey (All The Lives I Want: Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen To Be Famous Strangers), Larry Ruhl (Breaking the Ruhls), and Christopher J. Yates (Grist Mill Road).

The presciently-named It Occurs To Me That I Am America will feature writers from a new anthology published in support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one year after the Trump Presidential Inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington.

Best of all, there’ll also be intensive sessions with industry professionals discussing everything from best practices for editing, writing and getting published, including time with Frankel’s own talented agent, Lynn Johnston.

There will be parties, loads of opportunities for spirited conversations with other literary sorts, and a chance to get out and enjoy Woodstock as it emerges from its quaint winter blanket of recent months.

As for book fires…look only for the warmth of mindful brightness March 22-March 25. An HBO remake of Fahrenheit 451 starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, arrives on television screens later this year.++

Tickets are going fast. See woodstockbookfest.com for tickets and further information.