“All Lit Up!”: Lit Crawl Boston’s Immigrants in Conversation

Like a table filled with different dishes from all over, there is a beauty in what makes all of us unique. Jennifer and Julia’s interview is a great reminder as to how important it is to reach out and listen with love to the stories of those we may think are different from ourselves. Immigrants in Conversation is sure to bring people together to absorb the inspirational experiences and art of the immigrant community here in Boston. Read more about this event below and after you are done check out the schedule for Lit Crawl Boston posted on our website.

1. Tell me a bit about how your session came to be? Was there something that inspired you to form your group?

Jennifer: This was Julia’s idea. She had been hosting the Italian American Writers Association Reading Series at I AM Books for about a year when she asked if I’d co-curate/host with her. I AM Books has become the heart of Italian American writing in the city. In this day of scant independent bookstores, Nicola and the staff have created something special. And of course, the North End has always been a haven for immigrants to America—the Eastern Europeans, the Irish, the Italians. We wanted to explore, via conversation with recent immigrants, this deeply American history—especially in these fraught times. We’re trying to establish this conversation with literary works.

2. What is one thing you hope those attending Lit Crawl Boston will gain from your session?

Jennifer and Julia: We hope people will stop by, listen to some beautiful writing, and simply appreciate the conversation. And of course, we want Boston to discover this little bookstore!

3. In honor of Lit Crawl including drinks or food, what would your session be if it could be any type of drink and or type of food item?

Jennifer and Julia: Oooooh. This is tough! For a drink, we’d have to choose a nice Chianti, or a deep espresso. How about a sweet limoncello? Food? How about octopus (polpo) simmered in a red sauce (gravy???)? I’m thinking those long arms, reaching!
Actually, octopus is Jenn’s idea; Julia is embarrassed to admit as an Italian that octopus freaks her out. She prefers the circles of calamari grilled. Either way hands reaching out, circles of love!

4. Boston is such a historic and literary city! If you could have any historical figure attend your session who would it be and why?

Jennifer and Julia: We chose Margaret Fuller, who was our first full-time female journalist and critic and would have come to our event if she lived today. She reported on Italy’s unification struggles, married an Italian, and if their boat had not gone down off the shore of Fire Island, would have raised one of Boston’s earliest Italian Americans.

Thank you Jennifer and Julia, it was a pleasure getting to interview you. Now let’s get ready to “lit crawl!”

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BBF Unbound 2019: Seeking Submissions

2018’s BBF Unbound series of community-curated sessions offered a bounty of creative sessions and workshops proposed by members of our community. BBF Unbound sessions at last year’s festival included a primer on self-publishing, a workshop on telling politically relevant personal stories, a celebration of feminist romance, and a roundtable discussion on writing and publishing while queer. We love hearing your ideas for sessions and working with you to develop successful BBF presentations and workshops. Click here for a sample of last year’s selected “Queering the Canon” proposal (whose session participants are pictured above, toasting their success at the BBF afterparty).

We’re now accepting proposals for 2019 BBF Unbound sessions, to be presented at the Boston Book Festival on October 19 (in Copley Square) and October 20 (in Dudley Square/Roxbury).

We are looking for outside groups/individuals who can introduce fresh voices and new ideas to the BBF. Be creative! The session can involve a debate, demo, workshop, literary improv, dramatic readings, panel discussion, literary games, etc. We are not looking for product promotions, plugs for businesses, or sessions featuring a single author publicizing his or her book. We are especially interested in program proposals from organizations and individuals based in Roxbury, as well as by curators who represent communities historically underrepresented in publishing and literary programming. 

You will be responsible for running your session, i.e., gathering participants, beginning and ending on time, and covering any expenses (beyond room rental and basic A/V). We will publicize your session on our website and in our Program Guide, and we will expect you to publicize it via your networks as well. Presenters who come to us via BBF Unbound receive all the same benefits as any invited presenters: a presenter badge that guarantees priority seating at sessions, a headshot and bio on the BBF website, and invitations to the kickoff cocktail reception and afterparty.

We will evaluate proposals based on: 1. Will the content appeal to the BBF audience? 2. Does the content offer something different from standard BBF fare? 3. Is the individual/group offering a plausible plan for implementing the session?

APPLY HERE

The deadline for applications is June 28–applicants will be notified of their selection by mid-July.

Questions?: Contact Norah Piehl, norah@bostonbookfest.org

If you would like to submit a hard copy of your proposal, or if you would like to submit supporting materials, please send them to:

Norah Piehl, Executive Director
Boston Book Festival
32R Essex St. Cambridge, MA 02139
norah@bostonbookfest.org

We look forward to reviewing your submissions!

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“All Lit Up!”: Lit Crawl Boston’s Four Stories

We all know literature pairs well with laughter like a Cabernet Sauvignon with a juicy steak! Steven Beeber’s interview will have you giggling and eager to have even more fun at their session, Four Stories, during Lit Crawl Boston on June 6. Read on to find out more–and between the laughter, creative thoughts, and excitement make sure to check out this session on the Lit Crawl Boston schedule.

 

  1.    Tell me a bit about how your session came to be? Was there something that inspired you to form your group?

 

Steven: Four Stories was originally the baby of Tracy Slater, but when she moved to Japan and had a real baby, we three (myself, Sari Boren, and Steve Brykman) took over. Regarding our event at Lit Crawl, it’s a specialized version of Four Stories in which both the readings and the questions for the readers are shorter. It’s like Insta-Four-Stories. Just add water (well, alcohol actually) and you have our regular event at The Burren in Somerville.

  1.    What is one thing you hope those attending Lit Crawl Boston will gain from your session?

 

Steven: As with writing in general, we hope not just to entertain but to move those who come. Or rather, we hope that our readers do so. We have a great lineup and I’m sure that there will be laughter, provocative ideas and maybe even a few wet eyes during the course of the night. Of course after the readers do their thing, they answer questions from the audience, and these are by definition funny. No “What do you use to write, a pencil or a pen?” — more, “How does your mother feel knowing she gave birth to someone who could imagine something so sick?” (though asked in a tongue in cheek manner, of course.)

 

  1.    In honor of Lit Crawl including drinks or food, what would your session be if it could be any type of drink and or type of food item?

 

Steven: We actually offer food and drink at our regular events, so in a sense we’re only involved in Lit Crawl because it’s copasetic! But if we were to be a beverage or food item? Perhaps a very dry martini accompanied by a bowl of hot chili. Or a beer with vichyssoise. Or a shot of rubbing alcohol with a communion wafer. All of these pair well.

 

  1.    Boston is such a historic and literary city! If you could have any historical figure attend your session who would it be and why?

 

Steven: I personally have always felt guilty by association for Edgar Allan Poe being run out of the city, so he would definitely be on my short list. And to provide the appropriate beverage for the audience member who asked him the best question, we’d offer a “Rogue Dead Guy.”

Thank you Steven for such a fantastic interview! Now let’s get ready to “lit crawl!”

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“All Lit Up!”: Lit Crawl Boston’s Food Will Keep Us Together

Food is the way to the heart. Deborah Norkin’s session Food Will Keep Us Together is sure to bring out the foodie in us all. This interview is full of wise words, will make you want to delight in something delectable, and smile. Interviewing Deborah Norkin was the greatest treat of all, read on to find out more about this wonderful session and why you should attend it.

  1.    Tell me a bit about how your session came to be? Was there something that inspired you to form your group?

Deborah: I started producing and hosting literary events to bring my author friends and reader friends together. Bringing people together to celebrate books is one of my great joys. Being able to talk about books and food makes it even better. At the last Lit Crawl, I produced A Taste of Boston Food Writing. I chose Food Will Keep Us Together as this session’s theme because food really is one of the few things every human being has in common. If we understand each other through what we eat, all the noise of the world disappears and we can see each other as people with the same wants, needs, and desires.Crystal’s depth of knowledge of food history is brilliant. When I read Dariel’s work, I feel like he’s in the room with me. Grace’s memoir has many stories of how food and culture are often interchangeable.

  1.    What is one thing you hope those attending Lit Crawl Boston will gain from your session?

Deborah: To see beyond the surface and know that every person deserves dignity, respect, and consideration. We all hunger. We all love. We all want to live in peace.

  1.    In honor of Lit Crawl including drinks or food, what would your session be if it could be any type of drink and or type of food item?

Deborah: A great big pot of something that everyone can share. Paella, or Pot au Feu.

  1.    Boston is such a historic and literary city! If you could have any historical figure attend your session who would it be and why?

Deborah:No question. Julia Child. I actually served her a salad when I was working on the line at the Harvest in Harvard Square a few decades ago. I didn’t see her eat it, but when the plate came back empty, I was thrilled. She possessed such a generous spirit. I have rewatched her shows many times and even though beyond that one salad, we never met, she is like a friend to me.

Thank you Deborah for this lovely interview, now let’s get ready to “litcrawl!”

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“All Lit Up!”: Lit Crawl Boston’s A Little Box of Yes

 

Entertaining, delightful, and creative are three words that best describe a Little Box of Yes and the two wonderful people who created it, Ethan Gilsdorf and Brian Mooney. Life and stories are more fun when you just say YES! Getting to know this session and its presenters was enlightening and I hope you enjoy reading about them too.

  1.    Tell me a bit about how your session came to be? Was there something that inspired you to form your group?

Brian Mooney: Everyone knows that writing can be a solitary thing, but it’s also a spectacularly improvisational thing—it’s just that hardly anyone ever sees that part of it. Usually, nobody is around when you sit and ask your characters, What if you did this or that? What’s your first memory? What do you sound like? What do you want? When you ask your places, What if you rained? What if you snowed? What if you had purple trees? When you ask your story, What if I wrote you in first person? What if you’re in present tense? Writers constantly ask themselves questions like this. It’s important to be able to say Yes to asking and answering those questions and exploring where they take you. That spirit of exploration is what inspires A Little Box of Yes, and it’s a lot of fun to do that exploration with other people and see what comes out of it.

Ethan Gilsdorf: On a personal level, Brian and I have known each other since the early 1990s, back when I lived in Vermont. Brian still lives there. I live in Providence. So it’s great to reconnect in this way some years later on our literary trajectories, and see what kind of trouble we can cook up collaboratively as part of Lit Crawl Boston.

 

  1.    What is one thing you hope those attending Lit Crawl Boston will gain from your session?

Brian: That it’s totally entertaining (and legit) to hang out with your friends and make up characters and settings and scenes and stories.

Ethan: And that storytelling is something that anyone can do.

 

  1.    In honor of Lit Crawl including drinks or food, what would your session be if it could be any type of drink and or type of food item?

Brian: A spiked watermelon on a picnic table with a red-checkered table cloth.

Ethan: Or, that funky, improvisational soup/stew/stir fry you make from all the random found items in your refrigerator. That you wash down with a ‘Gansett TallBoy.

 

  1.    Boston is such a historic and literary city! If you could have any historic figure attend your session who would it be and why?

Brian: Gertrude Stein, the Queen of Yes. Or William Gass, because that guy knew how to say yes.  And if we’re going just Boston-area, then Kerouac. He also knew a thing or two about yes.

Ethan: And Poe was born not far from here, near the Boston Common behind GrubStreet‘s offices on Boylston Street. So it’s fun to think of his spirit watching over us.

Brian: Stein, Gass, Kerouac, and Poe… Now THAT’S a party!

 

Thank you to Brian and Ethan for letting us interview you! Now let’s get ready to Litcrawl!

 

 

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Request for Proposals: Shelf Help 2019

Boston Book Festival is once again reaching out to the Greater Boston community to help us implement our annual Shelf Help partnership, which this year is expanding to reach two schools–one serving grades K–8 and one serving grades 9–12. We know that many area schools lack the resources to fully stock their school libraries with contemporary, high-quality books. We want to help expand the library book collections at two local schools, and then we will work with the Wondermore organization to coordinate a children’s or YA author or illustrator visit to share the wonders of book creation with young readers!

Last year, as part of the Shelf Help partnership, the Boston Book Festival, Boys Town Press, Capstone Publishing, and Random House Children’s Books donated books to the King K-8 School in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. The BBF and Wondermore also coordinated a school visit by award-winning author Meg Medina.

In 2019, Shelf Help will partner with not one but two school libraries! We will choose one K–8 school library and one 9–12 school library, providing a donation of new books near the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. We will be collecting donations at the eleventh annual Boston Book Festival on October 19-20.

If you know a library professional at a school that needs some Shelf Help, please forward them this RFP, which has links to a short online or downloadable application. All proposals are due by May 312019.

You can also lend direct “Shelf Help” to the Boston community! If you would like to donate a book, please come to the Boston Book Festival on October 19 (in Copley) or October 20 (in Roxbury) and look out for our information booth, or you can donate through our online book wish list. Email us at info@bostonbookfest.org to receive a link to the “Shelf Help” donation site. If you would prefer to make a cash donation, please visit our donate page. Upon checking out, select “Make this a gift” and designate “Shelf Help” as the gift recipient in the appropriate box.

With “Shelf Help,” we aim to support students’ discovery and expression of their voices through access to an increased selection of books within their school environment. Words have power to motivate and provoke all readers to discover themselves and their place in the world, and we hope that Shelf Help will encourage students to view themselves as literary explorers!

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