Autism panel is one highlight of Woodstock Bookfest

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Completely new this year at the Woodstock Bookfest will be its first gathering of writers who specialize on the subject of autism, at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 24 at the Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 36 Tinker Street, Woodstock. The featured speakers, all authors, include Ann M. Martin of the Baby-Sitters Club books and more recently Rain Reign, a teen novel; novelist Carolyn Parkhurst, whose latest work Harmony deals with a family’s life as they cope with special needs child, whose story is half-told in her own voice; and John Elder Robison, himself an autistic adult and author of four books (as well as the Neurodiversity Scholar at The College of William & Mary, a Visiting Professor of Practice at Bay Path University, and an advisor to the Center for Neurodiversity at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.)

The panel is being moderated by Jamey Wolff, cofounder and Program Director of the Center for Spectrum Services (formerly known as The Children’s Annex) that has provided model programs for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families for 40 years now, serving over 275 individuals yearly in day schools in Kingston and Ellenville.

Ann Martin

The packed weekend at the Woodstock Bookfest starts Thursday, March 22 with a 7:30 p.m. Story Slam at the Bearsville Theater.


Friday features a series of One Day Intensive sessions at various locations around town from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., focused on all aspects of the literary and publishing worlds. They’ll be augmented by Mini-Intensives, for those seeking a broader sense of things. Then there’s a fun party, Little Bites + Big Libations, at Oriole 9 at 6 p.m., followed by a live version of well-versed and always-prepared Joe Donahue of WAMC’s interviewing technique when he gets together with top local writers of the moment Alana Massey, Christopher Yates and Larry Ruhl at the Kleinert/James Arts Center, just off the Village Green, beginning at 8 p.m.

Saturday, March 24, will be just as packed, beginning with author Gail Straub of the Empowerment Institute discussing her new book The Ashokan Way with its illustrator (and her long time friend and neighbor) Kate McGloughlin in a Spirituality Panel at 9:30 a.m. again at the Kleinert/James. Poet Lissa Kiernan then moderates a poetry panel with Marie Howe and Cornelius Eady at 11:30 a.m. (see attached story), while author/editor Jonathan Santlofer leads an ACLU panel with Bliss Broyard and Sheila Kohler in which all discuss the need for legal acumen and opposition in the Trump era as evidenced in a new anthology in support of the acclaimed watchdog institution.

Following another Little Bites and Big Libations event, with readings, at the Commune Saloon in Bearsville, starting at 6 p.m., everyone will gather for this year’s keynote event, a reading by the one and only Colm Toibin, author of Brooklyn and many other award-winning novels and nonfiction works, at the Bearsville Theater starting at 8 p.m.

Sunday, collectively labeled as “A Day Celebrating Women,” begins with a breakfast session with locally-based authors Bar Scott and Abigail Thomas starting at 9:30 a.m. at Joshua’s Café, on Tinker Street.

At 11:30 a.m., Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman will moderate a session, “My Body, My Words,” based on the new anthology of the same name that they’ve edited, featuring writers Abigail Thomas, Kitty Sheehan, Kaylie Jones, Kathleen Harris, Eve Fox and Martha Frankel. At 2 p.m. everything will draw to a close with what promises to be a rousing Memoir A Go-Go event moderated by Frankel, the Bookfest’s director, featuring Nyna Giles, Tina Alexis Allen and Woodstock’s own performative provocateur Amanda Palmer. Both events will take place at the Kleinert/James Arts Center.

From what we’ve heard, tickets have been selling fast to everything for this year’s Bookfest, which has been labeled “Read to Resist.” Prices range from $15 for some panels to $20 and up for major events and higher for intensive sessions. Sales end Thursday for full passes, and early on the day of most events.

See for tickets and more information.