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Boston Book Festival Boasts This Year's Literati Delights

BBF To Host Many Authors

Heights Staff

Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

For readers and writers everywhere, the annual Boston Book Festival returns on Saturday, Oct. 27, in Boston’s Copley Square. The independent non-profit group of the same name, based in Cambridge, Mass., runs the festival. Events will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in buildings including the Boston Public Library. There is something for everyone, from poets to Austen fans to science buffs. What follows is a short list of six events not to miss. More information can be found on the official Boston Book Festival site.

Writer Idol
The first event scheduled for the Boston Book Festival, Writer Idol, may also require the attendance of the most courageous. Designed for unpublished writers, this event will take place at 10:15 a.m. in the Old South Church. This event invites writers to submit the first 250 words of their unpublished manuscripts to be read aloud by actors. A panel of experienced judges will select a winning manuscript. While it may be difficult for more sensitive writers to hear their works critiqued, it will serve as an excellent way to hear how one’s written voice translates aloud for others to hear.

Writing the War

Veterans including poet Colin Halloran, author of the poetry collection Shortly Thereafter, will meet in the Boston Public Library at 11:30 a.m. to discuss the literature’s role in civilian life. If one is a fan of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried or even Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, one should take the time to hear the impact of such works on actual veterans.

Great Brits and Books

This event will be especially dear to a certain breed of literary nerd—the type that grew up imagining themselves matchmaking like Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse or becoming gentlemen like Charles Dickens’s Pip. Hosted at 12:30 p.m. in the Boston Public Library, Great Brits and Books will host a discussion on the significance of British literature. One segment of this discussion will be led by Rachel Brownstein on her book Why Jane Austen? and another will be led by Leah Price, author of How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain. This will be a particularly interesting discussion on the esteem in which the British held books of all kinds. For fans of Brit J.R.R. Tolkien, it would be worth the while to visit The Hobbit: There and Back Again at 11 a.m. in the Boston Common Hotel.

Black Culture: Music and More

At 1:45 p.m. in the Boston Common Hotel, this event will strive to find the synthesis between the literary and the musical. The event will be hosted by composer William Banfield, author of Representing Black Music Culture. Emily Bernard will discuss her Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance, a particularly interesting meditation on the revolutionary Van Vechten, a white man who swam amongst the predominately black cultural movements, maintaining a correspondence with the famous Langston Hughes. This event will also include musical performances, which will serve as a great way to break up the day.

The Brain: Thinking About Thinking

The Boston Book Festival is not just for literary nerds. At 2:30 p.m. in the Trinity Sanctuary, science geeks will get their chance to shine. Speakers will include Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel on his Age of Insight, and futurist Ray Kurzweil will discuss his stimulating How to Create a Mind, which will be released in November. Both Kandel and Kurzweil invite science to dance along the edge of philosophy, with Kandel discussing the brain’s perception of art and Kurzweil assessing human potential to mechanically recreate facets of a human brain in the not-so-distant future.

Poems and Pints

This event is a great time to stop and have a beer over some poetry in Cuffs at the Back Bay Hotel at 5:30 p.m. If one is not legally able to drink, a day at the book festival would still not be complete without paying homage to one of the world’s most important literary traditions. Readers such as Nick Flynn, author of the poetry collection Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, will likely stand to show that poetry is still modern and very much alive. To hear poetry and stories from younger voices, visit the Old South Church at 4 p.m. for Page and Stage: Teen Spoken Word.


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