Woodstock Bookfest returns for four days of books and stories

As Martha Frankel says, ten years have flown by! The tenth annual Woodstock Bookfest is coming in for a landing once again, promising to bring readers and writers to the village for four days of books and stories, craft workshops, panels of authors who have wisdom to share and lots of schmoozing. Frankel, the co-founder and director of the festival, always manages to attract a bevy of significant authors to come share their works and wisdom. This weekend promises nothing less, with 28 speakers lined up to teach and talk and generally regale us with their tales of literature and life.

Thursday/Friday, March 28/29

Kicking off with the ever-raucous Story Slam on Thursday night, the weekend offers daylong and half-day intensive workshops on Friday. The lineup of workshop leaders includes NPR host and memoirist Jacki Lyden, teaching “The Art of the Interview”*; teacher and memoirist Beverly Donofrio with “The Art of Crafting Your Memoir”*; agent extraordinaire Lynn Johnston guiding writers through “So, You Want to Get Published?”; author, memoirist, beloved teacher Abigail Thomas with “Just Get Some Work Done”*; and two half-day workshops with singer/songwriter and memoirist Bar Scott’s “Working with Words (When Words are Scary)” and author/fertility workshop leader Julia Indichova presenting “Birth a Book, Raise Your Voice.” (* indicates sold out)

WAMC’s Joe Donahue returns on Friday evening for the Donahue Interview, a regular feature at the Bookfest and one that always highlights an iconic contemporary writer at the top of his or her game. This Friday, Donahue will be talking with Sigrid Nunez, author of the new novel The Friend and recipient of the National Book Award for fiction. Her other works include the novels Salvation City and The Last of Her Kind, and Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Nunez has been a recipient of a Whiting Award, the Rome Prize in Literature and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. Donahue and Nunez will take the stage at the Kleinert/James Center at 8 p.m.; tickets cost $25.


Saturday, March 30

Saturday is jam-packed with panels, also presented at the Kleinert/James from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take your pick from this lineup: Gail Straub, moderating the “Spirituality Panel: Books & Consciousness” with Elizabeth Lesser, Mark Matousek, Baird Hersey and Akiko Kamigawara; Melissa Holbrook Pierson, moderating “New Forms for Personal Stories” with Akiko Busch and James Lasdun; “Queer Voices on the Road” with Tim Murphy and Joe Okonkwo; and a discussion titled “Crime Fiction: Write like a Girl” with Alison Gaylin, Frankie Bailey and Marlene Adelstein. All panels cost $15.

Saturday night, Jacki Lyden brings her award-winning interviewing skills to the stage at 8 p.m. in a keynote conversation with Reema Zaman, award-winning writer, speaker, actress and author of the critically acclaimed memoir I Am Yours, a title that has been adopted into the curriculum of several high schools through an Innovation Grant from the Oregon Board of Education. Zaman was the 2018 Oregon Literary Arts’ Writer of Color Fellow and is currently partnering with the International Rescue Committee and Girls, Inc. to serve crucial causes and to empower the next generation of leaders. Admission costs $25.

Lest those schmoozing opportunities be forgotten: Little Bites and Big Libations Cocktail Parties are held not once, but twice. Oriole9 on Tinker Street is the place to be at 6 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday evenings. Tickets cost $25, included with full festival passes.

Sunday, March 31

Breakfast at Joshua’s on Sunday morning is a longstanding tradition, with Bar Scott and Abigail Thomas welcoming a casual conversation. The gathering sets the tone (yes, it often involves some singing!) for the last round of author talks later in the day. 

At 11:30 a.m., a special event sponsored by One Day University will feature Joseph Luzzi, distinguished professor of Literature and Italian at Bard College, in a talk, “The Presidents’ Book Club.” Professor Luzzi will guide us through a fascinating “Presidents’ Library,” as he explores the books that shaped six of the most powerful men to occupy the Oval Office. Stating that some of the nation’s most popular presidents shared a common trait – that of being voracious readers – he says, “We can establish a connection between great readers and great leaders.” From Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama, the connections between presidential action and presidential reading are shown to be intimately linked, as Luzzi highlights the books that inspired their thoughts and guided their actions.

Last but never least, Frankel’s own panel “Memoir à Go-Go!” convenes at 2 p.m. to delve into the writing of memoirs by authors Jodie Patterson, Emily Bernard and Amanda Stern. Patterson is a social activist, entrepreneur and writer, whose current memoir, The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation, underscores the author’s remarkable matriarchal lineage. Bernard is a prolific writer and the Julian Lindsay Green & Good Professor of English at the University of Vermont, whose memoir is titled Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time and Mine. Stern is the author of 13 books: 11 for children written under pseudonyms, a novel and the memoir Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious Life.

Sunday panels cost $15 each and are held at the Kleinert/James on Tinker Street. Check the website for ticketing information and availability.

Woodstock Bookfest, Thursday-Sunday, March 28-31, Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, 34 Tinker Street, Woodstock; https://woodstockbookfest.com.