A RECKONING IN BOSTON Film Screening Comes to the BBF

What was supposed to be a documentary about Dorchester residents enrolled in a humanities course turned into an exploration of racism, violence, and justice in Boston…

In 2014, Kafi Dixon and Carl Chandler enrolled in a night course offered at a Dorchester community center. It was The Clemente Course in the Humanities, a nine-month rigorous curriculum that includes Aristotle, Kant, Plato, Woolf, DuBois, and Shakespeare, and that encourages students to read critically and think analytically about the texts they encounter. The Course, started in 1995, is offered to low-income adults who have experienced barriers to traditional education. Both Dixon and Chandler entered the Course with a distrust in educational institutions, but were eager to learn and participate. (Chandler was later elected class graduation speaker.)

James Rutenbeck, a white filmmaker from the suburbs, had the intention to simply document the Clemente Course in Dorchester, and to better understand the impact of this academic curriculum on the community. But he discovered much more than students just interacting with the great works of literature. Instead, he found students grappling with the realities of racism, homelessness, violence, and gentrification that surround them, students who face existential threats every time they stepped out of the classroom.

“I had first imagined Reckoning as an observational film,” writes Rutenbeck in his director’s statement. “I conceived it as a year in the lives of students in the Clemente Course, a rigorous tuition-free night class in the humanities. I vowed to keep my distance and let the students tell their own stories. But…I’d been struggling with the film. My editing attempts, however focused, seemed to be leading nowhere. Despite several workshop screenings, I was at a loss.”

Rutenbeck quickly abandoned his intended project, and instead committed to listening and following the stories of Dixon and Chandler instead, and let them lead him to the story that needed to be told. He accompanied Dixon to housing court after she was evicted, and met others there in danger of losing their housing. Rutenbeck also witnessed firsthand Chandler’s uncertainty in keeping his housing as well. “Although I had planned to anchor the film in the personal transformations of the Clemente students, I came to realize ever-present structural racism was something I could no longer ignore,” writes Rutenbeck. “I hadn’t really understood the lives of low-income people of color and had failed to recognize my own complicity in the structures that were holding them back.”

He eventually brought them on as collaborators and producers, and together they investigate what they believe is a reckoning coming to the city of Boston. Says Dixon of Rutenbeck, “It is only through the life experiences of Carl and I that James has become aware of his blind spots.”

The Boston Book Festival is proud to partner with Mass Humanities to bring a free screening of A Reckoning in Boston to our 2021 Festival. Join us Friday, October 22, at 7:00pm for a virtual screen of the documentary, then join filmmakers James Rutenbeck, Kafi Dixon, and Carl Chandler for a post-screening discussion at. 8:20pm, moderated by Rep. Liz Miranda. Watch the trailer below, then register to see the film, and attend the post-screening discussion.

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Welcome to the BBF 2021 Virtual Marketplace

The inevitable signs of fall in Boston: Leaves yellowing, chill evenings, and the familiar rows of tents lining Copley Square, noticeably lively as you come up out of the T stop or walk down Boylston. It’s the Boston Book Festival street fair, filled with exhibitors ready to sell you some books, chat with you about their literary magazine, give you some information on how to be a better writer, or ready to engage the kids with a fun activity.

We’ll get back there eventually. This year, with our focus on keeping our audience safe and healthy, we’ve moved not only most of our Boston Book Festival sessions online, but we’ve moved our street fair online, too, to our Virtual Marketplace.

There, you can browse the virtual tables of over three dozen exhibitors, find out more about their programs or offerings, and pick up a new book or two. This year we’re joined by literary magazines, author and editor organizations, local arts organizations, small publishers, MFA and graduate programs, and more. Some are even offering discounts or special offers for Boston Book Festival visitors.

Visit our Virtual Marketplace to support local and global literary—and literary-adjacent—organizations today!

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BBF 2021 Virtual Sessions FAQ

As much as we want to see all of you in person in Copley Square and Nubian Square this October, our desire for our reading community to stay safe and healthy is our priority. Despite a few in-person sessions, this year, like last, the Boston Book Festival will be a week-long virtual event, kicking off on Friday, October 15.

At this point in the pandemic, many of us have grown accustomed to working with virtual tools, tuning into virtual programming, and the virtual conferencing and webinar options out there. But if not, or if you’re wondering what our 2021 virtual sessions are going to be like, here’s a bit of a primer for you!

 

What platform will you be using?

All of our BBF-hosted sessions will be held on Crowdcast. Crowdcast is a web-based broadcast platform (so no need to download and install any applications), and our Boston Book Festival Crowdcast hub can be found at crowdcast.io/bostonbookfest. Since Crowdcast broadcasts in webinar fashion, there’s no need to worry about having a camera or mic turned on, or people seeing your face or your name, unless you comment in the chat.

Will I only be able to watch? Or can I interact with others?

The great thing about Crowdcast is that not only do they offer the ability to watch the presenters in webinar style, but they have a live chat where you can interact with others tuning in as well. Some audiences stay silent, and some have a lively running commentary about favorite quotes or passages. It’s a great way to connect with the community virtually!

Will I be able to ask questions on Crowdcast?

Of course! Crowdcast has a button that allows you to submit your questions for the presenters. However, our prerecorded sessions won’t allow for live Q&A.

Can I use any browser for Crowdcast?

You can, but Crowdcast recommends Chrome for best performance (and it really is the best one!).

Can I watch on my phone?

You can! Crowdcast is available on mobile, either online or in the mobile app, but you’ll probably have the best experience on a laptop or desktop.

Do I have to register in advance?

Crowdcast does require a registration for attending a session, and you can certainly register now! They’ll send you a reminder before your session begins with a link to log on (which will be the same link where you registered). You can also register and log on right before the session as well. (Though registering in advance helps us anticipate numbers!)

Do I have to create an account with Crowdcast?

You do have to provide a name and email in order to access the session. You can upload a profile image if you choose so others can see your face in the chat if you decide to chat, or you use one of their anonymous avatars.

Does Crowdcast offer live closed captioning?

Unfortunately Crowdcast does not offer in-app live closed captioning, but live captions are available through the Chrome browser. You can find out how to turn them on here. However, if you’d like to tune in via Facebook, they do offer live captioning for you.

Can I go back and watch the session after it’s over with?

Yes! Everyone who registers for the session on Crowdcast will have access to rewatch it.

Will you be streaming on any platforms other than Crowdcast?

We will! We’ll also be simulcasting to our Facebook page, so you can watch it there as well. No need to preregister—simply tune in.

I see that some sessions will be prerecorded. What does that mean?

It means that we’ve recorded the discussion with the authors beforehand, so we’ll be broadcasting a recording that’s not live. However, you can still interact with the community in the live chat while you watch.

What do you mean that “BBF-hosted sessions will be held on Crowdcast”?

That means that all of the sessions the Boston Book Festival is producing ourselves will be on Crowdcast. However, some of our partners will be hosting their own sessions, like GBH and the Goethe-Institut. For those sessions, follow the links in our schedule to see how they will be hosting their virtual sessions.

Do I have to pay for the session?

The Boston Book Festival is a free event. We do have an option to donate when you register, and you can choose any amount you would like, but it’s not a requirement to have access to the session. However, for some of our sessions, the donations made at registration or during the session will be earmarked for either the Boston Globe’s Globe Santa Program, or to go towards our Shelf Help School Partnership program. (So a bit of incentive to donate!) And donations at any event can help us keep our festival programming—both in-person and virtual—free to all.

Will the in-person sessions have a virtual component?

The only in-person session that will also be live-streamed will be the Boston in 100 Words awards ceremony. Otherwise, our other in-person events (“A Warming World and Your WIP” and the Nubian Square/BPL Roxbury branch reopening festivities) will only be offered to those who are present.

 

That should be all you need to know about our BBF 2021 virtual sessions! Head to our full schedule to register today, and let us know if you have any further questions at info@bostonbookfest.org.

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Browse the BBF 2021 Program Guide

One of the most exciting days on the book festival calendar is the day when the BBF program guides arrive in our office. And today’s that day! Starting this weekend, you’ll be able to find copies of our printed program guide—with a beautiful cover design by Elissa Turnbull and pages that are suitable for dog-earing, annotating, or doodling—in our partner bookstores throughout Greater Boston. Grab a copy when you’re out and about this weekend, and keep it by your laptop or TV through October 24 so you don’t miss a single session of interest. If you’d like a preview, you can flip through our PDF version here!

BBF21_PDFProof_ProgramGuide
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Your BBF 2021 Guide to Fiction and Poetry Sessions

Hello readers! It’s Jessica from Team BBF, here to guide you through our schedule for the 2021 Boston Book Festival.

As you’ve probably experienced from past Boston Book Festivals, the sheer number of sessions is like a literary feast set out for hungry readers (the last in-person Festival we hosted had over 150 sessions!). But you’ve also probably felt that panic of “What do I choose?” when you open up that two-page multi-colored spread of sessions in the program guide. (I know I have!)

Because that schedule can be a bit daunting, even in a virtual year, we’re here to help you find the sessions you want to attend so you can see a favorite author, learn something new, think about the world around you in different ways, or discover some new reads for your TBR pile. And because the majority of our sessions will be virtual this year, you don’t need to worry about sprinting down Boylston Street or Washington Street to get to the next session (being sure to grab a grilled cheese on the way). Let’s get started!

Fiction and Poetry Sessions for 2021

Longtime attendees of the Boston Book Festival know that we are committed not only to featuring mainstream or literary fiction, but also to welcoming authors working in genre, or new narrative forms, or in translation—and that commitment continues this year. The week will be bookended with poetry (Poetry Keynote and Poems & Pints), but in between there’s something for every kind of fiction reader out there: mystery lovers (Every Story Is a Mystery), romance readers (Contemporary Romance Roundtable), spec fiction fans (Speculative Fiction), novels reflecting current day issues (Beyond the Page: The Happiest Girl in the World; Work and Identity), short fiction (One City One Story), and historical fiction that’s also in translation (Ada’s Realm, The Radio Operator). There also a session for readers in book clubs (The Care and Feeding of Book Clubs).

Here’s your guide to our fiction and poetry sessions.

Poetry Keynote

Tracy K. Smith, with host Danielle Legros Georges

Saturday, October 16 at 10:30am | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing a former Poet Laureate of the US and Pulitzer Prize winner talk about her career and her work.

What you’ll find in this session: Tracy K. Smith will not only discuss her forthcoming career-spanning collection Such Color, but will be in conversation with former Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros George about the role of poetry in everyday lives, and specifically about its role in recovery and resistance.

What you’ll take away from it: Inspiration in how words, imagery, and verse can address the deeper concerns and considerations of humanity.

Session is sponsored by Mass Poetry, with media sponsorship by TLS.

REGISTER

 

The Care and Feeding of Book Clubs

Callie Crossley, Cynthia Haynes, and Woods Seney, with host Akunna Eneh

Sunday, October 17 at 3:30pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Starting their own book club, or who need fresh ideas for one they’ve been in—a book club meeting about book clubs, if you will!

What you’ll find in this session: Longtime book club members and organizers Callie Crossley, Cynthia Haynes, and Woods Seney will share their experiences in fostering good conversation, how to pick the right books, and how to keep things interesting, in conversation with BPL librarian Akunna Eneh. They’ll also offer the audience a chance to share their own book club advice and tactics.

What you’ll take away from it: Actionable steps to inject some literary life into your book club, and maybe some new recommendations for reading, too.

REGISTER

 

Every Story Is a Mystery

Dale Phillips, Joanna Schaffhausen, and Sarah Smith, with host Steve Rogers

Sunday, October 17 at 4:45pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: How mystery novels, suspense stories, and compelling creative nonfiction are crafted.

What you’ll find in this session: A robust discussion of craft—creating tension, crafting plot twists, maneuvering through POV, and more—between veteran mystery and suspense writers Dale Phillips, Joanna Schaffhausen, and Sarah Smith, hosted by Steve Rogers.

What you’ll take away from it: A behind-the-scenes look into how your favorite mystery writers leave you hanging until the last twist.

Session is sponsored by Mystery Writers of America–New England.

REGISTER

 

Ada’s Realm

Sharon Dodua Otoo, with host Jon Cho-Polizzi

Tuesday, October 19 at 12:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: An author in translation with a debut novel exploring the role of women across centuries through a non-traditional narrative.

What you’ll find in this session: Short story and novella writer Sharon Dodua Otoo will discuss her debut novel Ada’s Realm, a sweeping narrative that follows various protagonists named Ada throughout the centuries. She’ll be in conversation with translator Jon Cho-Polizzi.

What you’ll take away from it: Not just how a masterful storyteller can use voice and imagery to craft a striking and unique narrative, but how translators work to convey that narrative to new audiences.

Session is hosted and sponsored by Goethe-Institut Boston.

REGISTER

 

The Radio Operator

Ulla Lenze, with host Marshall Yarbrough

Wednesday, October 20 at 12:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Historical fiction in translation, as well as a narrative exploration of immigrant life in early 20th c. America.

What you’ll find in this session: Ulla Lenze will discuss her first novel available in English, The Radio Operator, whose protagonist works for a Nazi spy ring yet uses his wireless to also connect to others around the world. Lenze will be in conversation with the novel’s translator Marshall Yarbrough.

What you’ll take away from it: How novelists craft historical fiction and how translators work to tell those stories to new audiences, as well as a slice of WWII history.

Session is hosted and sponsored by Goethe-Institut Boston.

REGISTER

 

Contemporary Romance Roundtable

Alyssa Cole, Lana Harper, KM Jackson, and Farrah Rochon, with host Andrea Martucci

Wednesday, October 20 at 6:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing from celebrated contemporary romance writers, and those who are curious to learn more about the skyrocketing genre.

What you’ll find in this session: Romance authors Alyssa Cole, Lana Harper, KM Jackson, and Farrah Rochon discuss not just their work, but the variety of contemporary romance today, the importance of the genre for readers, and its growing impact on the industry, in conversation with Shelf Love podcast’s Andrea Martucci.

What you’ll take away from it: A glimpse into romance novel creation, and why romance is—and should be—gaining more space in the reading world.

Session is sponsored by Emerson College Graduate Admission.

REGISTER

 

One City One Story

Chandreyee Lahiri, with host Alicia Anstead

Thursday, October 21 at 6:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Discussing this year’s One City One Story selection, and hearing from the author on its creation.

What you’ll find in this session: Local author Chandreyee Lahiri will be in conversation with facilitator Alicia Anstead and the virtual audience about the One City One Story selection “Dumba Chora,” distributed throughout the city in the weeks leading up to the BBF.

What you’ll take away from it: Getting to hear how an author crafts a place-based short story, and getting to connect with others in the community.

Session is sponsored by Plymouth Rock Assurance Foundation.

REGISTER

 

Beyond the Page: The Happiest Girl in the World

Alena Dillon, with host Craig LeMoult

Thursday, October 21 at 7:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing a novelist discuss their very timely work, as well as for those who follow GBH’s Beyond the Page series.

What you’ll find in this session: A very relevant discussion around Alena Dillon’s new novel The Happiest Girl in the World, about an Olympic gymnast pushing herself to the brink for gold, and how authors can explore dark truths and current headlines in fiction. Dillon will be in conversation with GBH News reporter Craig LeMoult.

What you’ll take away from it: How fiction writers can use created characters and plot to comment on and explore pressing real-world issues.

Session is presented by GBH.

REGISTER

 

Work and Identity

Mateo Askaripour, Eric Giroux, Zakiya Dalila Harris, and Elizabeth Gonzalez James, with host Lanelle Sneed

Saturday, October 23 at 1:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Seeing four debut novelists talk about their portrayal and commentary on the work world in new literary fiction.

What you’ll find in this session: Mateo Askaripour, Eric Giroux, Zakiya Dalila Harris, and Elizabeth Gonzalez James discussing novels that follow protagonists navigating the oddities, frustrations, inequalities, and hilarities of working life in America, in conversation with Books on the Rox’s Lanelle Sneed.

What you’ll take away from it: The ability to see yourself and your work life plights represented in fiction—and maybe the ability to laugh a bit at shared workplace antics, too.

Session is sponsored by Greenough Brand Storytellers.

REGISTER

 

Speculative Fiction

Djèlí Clark, Anita Kopacz, and Lucinda Roy, with host Quentin Lucas

Saturday, October 23 at 3:45pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: What Black authors are doing in the speculative fiction space.

What you’ll find in this session: P. Djèlí Clark, Anita Kopacz, and Lucinda Roy will discuss their novels whose settings are alternate realities or near futures—a magic-filled 1912 Egypt, a mystical antebellum past, and a second Civil War—and how these alternate realities can shed light on our own. They’ll be in conversation with host Quentin Lucas.

What you’ll take away from it: How imagined worlds in fiction can comment on society and history, in addition to telling a fascinating and imaginative story.

REGISTER

 

Poems & Pints

Sam Cha, Anthony Febo, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Danielle Legros Georges, and Bianca Stone, with host Danielle Jones

Saturday, October 23 at 6:30pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Listening to poetry while having a drink to celebrate the culmination of the Boston Book Festival.

What you’ll find in this session: Poets Sam Cha, Anthony Febo, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Danielle Legros Georges, and Bianca Stone will read from their latest collections, and have some fun doing it in our annual BBF capstone. You’ll also get to meet Mass Poetry’s newest program director, Danielle Jones, who will be hosting.

What you’ll take away from it: The power of words to inspire and provoke, and a big sigh and “Cheers!” after a full week of BBF events.

Session is sponsored by Mass Poetry.

REGISTER

 

I hope this guide has helped you get a glimpse into the vast array of writers and what they’re working on who will join us for the 2021 Boston Book Festival. Head to the main schedule to browse all sessions and for registration links, and we’ll see you there!

 

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Your BBF 2021 Guide to Nonfiction and Memoir Sessions

Hello readers! It’s Jessica from Team BBF, here to guide you through our schedule for the 2021 Boston Book Festival.

As you’ve probably experienced from past Boston Book Festivals, the sheer number of sessions is like a literary feast set out for hungry readers (the last in-person Festival we hosted had over 150 sessions!). But you’ve also probably felt that panic of “What do I choose?” when you open up that two-page multi-colored spread of sessions in the program guide. (I know I have!)

Because that schedule can be a bit daunting, even in a virtual year, we’re here to help you find the sessions you want to attend so you can see a favorite author, learn something new, think about the world around you in different ways, or discover some new reads for your TBR pile. And because the majority of our sessions will be virtual this year, you don’t need to worry about sprinting down Boylston Street or Washington Street to get to the next session (being sure to grab a grilled cheese on the way). Let’s get started!

Nonfiction and Memoir Sessions for 2021

The past few years are ones for the history books, and with the Boston Book Festival’s commitment to engaging readers through ideas, observations, critique, scholarship, and new perspectives, it was obvious that we’d commit to sessions focused on what’s affecting our current society, including: the COVID-19 pandemic (Kickoff Keynote: Our Pandemic Future); the climate crisis (Environmental Activism: How To Protect the Planet and Yourself); racial history and present justice (The Enduring Legacy of Slavery; Lifelong Learning Keynote; The Chinese Question; Building Up Their Own: The Legacy, Power, and Potential of Black Organizing and Institution Building in America); activism (Graphic Nonfiction: The Political Is Personal; Woke Leadership); women’s rights and equity (Women: Working It; Period. End of Sentence); and researching historical lives (Lifelong Learning Keynote; History Keynote). We also have a related personal narratives session as well (Memoir: Finding Your Way as a Black Person in a White World).

Here’s your guide to our nonfiction and memoir sessions.

 

Kickoff Keynote: Our Pandemic Future

Nicholas A. Christakis and Sandro Galea, with host Vanessa Kerry

Friday, October 15 at 6:30pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Thinking critically about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on society, and preparing for future pandemics.

What you’ll find in this session: Public health experts Nicholas A. Christakis and Sandro Galea will discuss how living during a global pandemic impacts society and its structures, but also how neglecting issues like economic equality and racism will impact future pandemics. They will be in conversation with Vanessa Kerry.

What you’ll take away from it: How to place our current time in the context of humanity’s history, as well as how to prepare for humanity’s future.

REGISTER

 

The Enduring Legacy of Slavery

Annette Gordon-Reed and Clint Smith, with host Meghna Chakrabarti

Saturday, October 16 at 11:45am | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing from two prominent authors discuss the effects of slavery’s history on America today.

What you’ll find in this session: Pulitzer Prize winner Annette Gordon-Reed and National Book Award longlister Clint Smith will interrogate the lingering impact of slavery, including the history leading up to Juneteenth and an examination of Civil War sites. They’ll be in conversation with WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti.

What you’ll take away from it: A better understanding of America’s history of slavery, and how to engage in these important discussions.

Session is sponsored by the Krupp Family Foundation.

REGISTER

 

Women: Working It

Colleen Ammerman, Danielle Dreilinger, Minda Harts, and Dominique Mielle, with host Morra Aarons-Mele

Saturday, October 16 at 1:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Learning more about the history of women in the workplace, current challenges they face, and future change ahead.

What you’ll find in this session: Colleen Ammerman, Danielle Dreilinger, Minda Harts, and Dominique Mielle investigate the roles of women and work: a history of home economics, underrepresentation in leadership, the pay gap for women of color, and what it’s like to be a woman in hedge fund management. They’ll be in conversation with Morra Aarons-Mele.

What you’ll take away from it: A better understanding of the history and present of women in the work world, and the big and subtle challenges and successes found therein.

Session is sponsored by Western Governors University.

REGISTER

 

Environmental Activism: How To Protect the Planet and Yourself

Laurie David, with host Tatiana Schlossberg

Saturday, October 16 at 2:30pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing from two climate change experts talk about what we can and should do to take action.

What you’ll find in this session: Also known for producing documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth, Laurie David will bring her insights into how often it’s the little things that affect climate change, and what each of us can do to truly save the planet. She’ll be in conversation with Tatiana Schlossberg.

What you’ll take away from it: A better understanding of climate change’s peril, as well as very doable actions you can take today to help.

Session is sponsored by Cambridge Trust.

REGISTER

 

Graphic Nonfiction: The Political Is Personal

Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, with host David Leonard

Saturday, October 16 at 3:45pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Seeing how storytellers can use art and illustration to convey real lives and address current issues.

What you’ll find in this session: Acclaimed visual storytellers Nate Powell and Andrew Aydin will discuss their work in portraying civil rights icon John Lewis’ life in graphic form, as well as Powell’s work on what it means to be a parent in a time of unrest. They’ll be in conversation with BPL’s president David Leonard.

What you’ll take away from it: You’ll see how evolved the graphic novel and nonfiction form has become, and new ways of making meaning from challenging times.

Session is sponsored by Boston Public Library.

REGISTER

 

Lifelong Learning Keynote

Tamara Payne, with hosts Jurianny Guerrero and Kellie Carter Jackson

Saturday, October 16 at 5:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: The life of Malcolm X, but also how biography is researched and written.

What you’ll find in this session: A conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner Tamara Payne, who, after her father passed away, stepped in to finish his exhaustive biography of Malcolm X, already decades in the works. She’ll be in conversation with Wellesley College professor Kellie Carter Jackson and Fenway High School senior Jurianny Guerrero.

What you’ll take away from it: The depths of research it takes to compile a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, as well as one family’s ongoing work to do just that.

Session is sponsored by the Eric and Jane Nord Family Fund.

REGISTER

 

Woke Leadership

Tracy Swinton Bailey, Priscilla H. Douglas, and Steven S. Rogers, with host Steve Grossman

Sunday, October 17 at 6:15pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Wanting to become more aware about oppressive structures and how to end them.

What you’ll find in this session: Tracy Swinton Bailey, Priscilla H. Douglas, and Steven S. Rogers will share their experiences working to end systemic oppression by increasing childhood literacy, documenting leaders working to end inequality, and raising awareness around racial wealth disparity. They’ll be in conversation with Steve Grossman.

What you’ll take away from it: A better understanding of those doing the work to change society, and recognizing areas in which you might need to get woke yourself.

Session is sponsored by Other Press.

REGISTER

 

The Chinese Question

Mae Ngai, with host Jia Lynn Yang

Tuesday, October 19 at 6:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: A history of the Chinese diaspora and the post–Gold Rush immigration debate.

What you’ll find in this session: The Gold Rush years saw a massive increase in Chinese immigration to the US, and Mae Ngai and Jia Lynna Yang will discuss the history of the challenges to that wave of immigration known as “the Chinese question,” early 19th c. immigration quotas, and the impacts those decisions have on our society today.

What you’ll take away from it: A better understanding of Chinese immigrants in America, and the roots of racism still prevalent today.

Session is hosted by New England Historic Genealogical Society, and presented in partnership with the Boston Public Library and GBH Forum Network.

REGISTER

 

Period. End of Sentence.

Anita Diamant, with host Meredith Goldstein

Friday, October 22 at 5:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Increasing their awareness around the stigmas and challenges of those who menstruate worldwide.

What you’ll find in this session: Following similar themes as her novel The Red Tent, Anita Diamant turns her attention to the history, stories, and pop culture accounts of menstruation around the globe, and the fight for the end of that shame and stigma. She’ll be in conversation with the Boston Globe‘s Meredith Goldstein.

What you’ll take away from it: More awareness and normalization to the conversation around what should no longer be a taboo subject.

REGISTER

 

Memoir: Finding Your Way as a Black Person in a White World

Brian Broome, Kim McLarin, and Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, with host Kelley Chunn

Saturday, October 23 at 10:00am | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing personal narratives of unique experiences and common humanity.

What you’ll find in this session: Brian Broome, Kim McLarin, and Chanda Prescod-Weinstein discuss their recent works, all of which articulate their experiences as Black individuals navigating white spaces, including being a Black woman in science, a queer coming-of-age, and finding guidance in James Baldwin’s work. They’ll be in conversation with Kelley Chunn.

What you’ll take away from it: A glimpse into others’ lives and experiences, as well as the artistry involved in crafting compelling personal narratives.

Session is sponsored by Arbella Insurance Foundation.

REGISTER

 

Building Up Their Own: The Legacy, Power, and Potential of Black Organizing and Institution Building in America

Eddie R. Cole, Martha S. Jones, and Kate Masur, with host Jelani M. Favors

Saturday, October 23 at 11:30am | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Learning more about the history of Black institutions and how they’ve pushed forward civil rights and Black liberation.

What you’ll find in this session: Three scholars—Eddie R. Cole, Martha S. Jones, and Kate Masur—will discuss their work on how Black organizations and institutions pushed voting rights forward, fought pre-Civil War racist legislation, and challenged racist policies on college campuses. They’ll be in conversation with Jelani M. Favors, 2020 MAAH Stone Book Award winner.

What you’ll take away from it: A history of the individuals who fought for equity and equality.

Session is presented in partnership with Boston’s Museum of African American History and is sponsored by the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation

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History Keynote

Tiya Miles, with host Lee Pelton

Saturday, October 23 at 5:15pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: A story of two slaves and the investigation to learn their history through the objects they left behind.

What you’ll find in this session: National Book Award finalist Tiya Miles will tell the story of Ashley’s sack, the information born upon the fabric that is the only historical record of two enslaved people, and how it led to the uncovering of previously unknown lives. She’ll be in conversation with President and CEO of the Boston Foundation Lee Pelton.

What you’ll take away from it: That many people have been lost to history, and what we can do to discover who they were and keep their memory alive.

Session is sponsored by the Wagner Foundation.

REGISTER

 

 

I hope this guide has helped you get a glimpse into the vast array of writers and what they’re working on who will join us for the 2021 Boston Book Festival. Head to the main schedule to browse all sessions and for registration links, and we’ll see you there!

 

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Your BBF 2021 Guide to Kids and Middle Grade Sessions

Hello readers! It’s Jessica from Team BBF, here to guide you through our schedule for the 2021 Boston Book Festival.

As you’ve probably experienced from past Boston Book Festivals, the sheer number of sessions is like a literary feast set out for hungry readers (the last in-person Festival we hosted had over 150 sessions!). But you’ve also probably felt that panic of “What do I choose?” when you open up that two-page multi-colored spread of sessions in the program guide. (I know I have!)

Because that schedule can be a bit daunting, even in a virtual year, we’re here to help you find the sessions you want to attend so you can see a favorite author, learn something new, think about the world around you in different ways, or discover some new reads for your TBR pile. And because the majority of our sessions will be virtual this year, you don’t need to worry about sprinting down Boylston Street or Washington Street to get to the next session (being sure to grab a grilled cheese on the way). Let’s get started!

Kids and Middle Grade Sessions for 2021

Unfortunately, the shift to virtual programming downsized much of our planned kids programming, but we still have ways for kids to hear from their favorite authors online, and we’ve created in-person opportunities for families to connect around a love of reading as well. Like last year, we’ll be setting up three Story Walks around Boston, and will host virtual story times featuring the chosen books: a story time with Jason Chin and Andrea Yang, with their book Watercress featured in Chinatown; a story time with Raúl the Third, with his book ¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge! featured in East Boston; and a story time with Katie Yamasaki, with her book Dad Bakes featured in Nubian Square. We’ll also have in-person activities and a story time at the reopening of the BPL’s Roxbury Branch. You’ll also get to tune into a children’s and YA book awards ceremony (Boston Globe—Horn Book Awards Feature). And for middle grade readers, we have a session on graphic novel furry friends (Middle Grade Graphic Novels: Cats vs. Dogs).

Here’s your guide to our kids and middle grade sessions.

 

Story Time: Jason Chin and Andrea Yang

Jason Chin and Andrea Wang

Monday, October 18 at 3:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing a story about a family and their traditions beautifully told through watercolor, and to get a preview of our Chinatown Story Walk.

What you’ll find in this session: Writer Andrea Wang and illustrator Jason Chin will read their story about a Chinese American family’s mealtime and the discovered tradition and nostalgia within, gorgeously illustrated with Chin’s watercolors.

What you’ll take away from it: Every kid, whether from an immigrant family or not, will relate to the story of family traditions, especially food traditions.

Session is sponsored by Simmons University.

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Middle Grade Graphic Novels: Cats vs. Dogs

Michelle Mee Nutter, Colleen AF Venable, and Stephanie Yue, with host Jef Czekaj

Monday, October 18 at 4:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Determining definitively whether it’s “Cats or dogs?” as well as finding middle grade graphic novels focused on best furry friends.

What you’ll find in this session: A Cats v. Dogs draw-off! On Team Dog, Michelle Mee Nutter and her graphic novel about a girl who wants a dog despite her allergies, will challenge Team Cat, with writer Colleen AF Venable and illustrator Stephanie Yue and their graphic novel about a girl and the 217 felines she catsits. Author Jef Czekaj moderates the discussion, competition, and voting.

What you’ll take away from it: The humans who love their furry friends can have a little fun and find some great new reads, too.

Session is sponsored by Simmons University.

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Story Time: Raúl the Third

Raúl the Third

Wednesday, October 20 at 3:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: The return of Little Lobo and Bernabé in a new adventure, and to get a preview of our East Boston Story Walk.

What you’ll find in this session: Raúl the Third brings his lively illustrations and storytelling to this new tale about a traffic jam that turns into a big fiesta on a bridge.

What you’ll take away from it: A lively, lighthearted story about the connections we can make with others anywhere.

Session is sponsored by Simmons University.

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Story Time: Katie Yamasaki

Katie Yamasaki

Thursday, October 21 at 3:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing a sweet story about the love between a father and daughter, and to get a preview of our Nubian Square Story Walk.

What you’ll find in this session: Muralist Katie Yamasaki’s work with formerly incarcerated people inspired this story of a father and daughter who bake bread together every day, and the quiet moments they share together.

What you’ll take away from it: The power of simple connection between parents and children.

Session is sponsored by Simmons University.

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Boston Globe—Horn Book Awards Feature

Friday, October 22 at 12:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: The awards ceremony of the annual children’s and YA prize.

What you’ll find in this session: The Boston Globe—Horn Book Awards were first presented in 1967, and they’ll be hosting their 2021 awards ceremony virtually on October 22, honoring authors in YA fiction and poetry, YA nonfiction, and picture book.

What you’ll take away from it: The chance to discover new, awarding-winning authors.

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BPL Roxbury Branch Reopening: Chalk Art

Zahirah Nur Truth/ZNT Arts

Saturday, October 23 at 11:00am | In Person

This session is for readers interested in…: Gathering in person at the reopening of the BPL Roxbury branch, and participating in creating some chalk art.

What you’ll find in this session: Local artist Zahirah Nur Truth will lead the community through chalk art activities, perfect for families and those wanting to add a little artistic inspiration to Nubian Square.

What you’ll take away from it: Connect with others outside and in person, as well as through some fun creative expression.

 

BPL Roxbury Branch Reopening: Dream Street Story Time

Ekua Holmes and Tricia Elam Walker

Saturday, October 23 at 1:00pm | In Person

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing from two Roxbury natives as they read their picture book in person at the BPL’s Roxbury branch reopening.

What you’ll find in this session: Roxbury natives—and cousins—writer Tricia Elam Walker and illustrator Ekua Holmes will talk about their new picture book inspired by the people and places of their Roxbury neighborhood.

What you’ll take away from it: A homage to childhood memories and joy found in someone’s neighborhood.

 

I hope this guide has helped you get a glimpse into the vast array of writers and what they’re working on who will join us for the 2021 Boston Book Festival. Head to the main schedule to browse all sessions and for registration links, and we’ll see you there!

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Your BBF 2021 Guide to Young Adult Sessions

Hello readers! It’s Jessica from Team BBF, here to guide you through our schedule for the 2021 Boston Book Festival.

As you’ve probably experienced from past Boston Book Festivals, the sheer number of sessions is like a literary feast set out for hungry readers (the last in-person Festival we hosted had over 150 sessions!). But you’ve also probably felt that panic of “What do I choose?” when you open up that two-page multi-colored spread of sessions in the program guide. (I know I have!)

Because that schedule can be a bit daunting, even in a virtual year, we’re here to help you find the sessions you want to attend so you can see a favorite author, learn something new, think about the world around you in different ways, or discover some new reads for your TBR pile. And because the majority of our sessions will be virtual this year, you don’t need to worry about sprinting down Boylston Street or Washington Street to get to the next session (being sure to grab a grilled cheese on the way). Let’s get started!

Young Adult Sessions for 2021

YA literature has grown into a category that’s not just entertaining for teens and adults alike, but that has served as the vehicle for authors to explore deeper topics of identity, belonging, relationships, societal injustices, and more. This year we’re highlighting some of those topics in our YA sessions, which range from new takes on old tales (Classics Remixed), how to act in a time of unrest (Revolution and Resistance Then and Now), a memoir of growing up Black and queer (Memoir Keynote), and new takes on nature writing (This Session’s for the Birds). We also have a session featuring the intergenerational work of a family of writers (Lifelong Learning Keynote). Teens will also have the chance to connect with other teens and learn about the arts and activist history of Nubian Square as well.

Here’s your guide to our YA sessions.

 

Lifelong Learning Keynote

Tamara Payne, with hosts Jurianny Guerrero and Kellie Carter Jackson

Saturday, October 16 at 5:00pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: The life of Malcolm X, but also how biography is researched and written.

What you’ll find in this session: A conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner Tamara Payne, who, after her father passed away, stepped in to finish his exhaustive biography of Malcolm X, already decades in the works. She’ll be in conversation with Wellesley College professor Kellie Carter Jackson and Fenway High School senior Jurianny Guerrero.

What you’ll take away from it: The depths of research it takes to compile a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, as well as one family’s ongoing work to do just that.

Session is sponsored by the Eric and Jane Nord Family Fund.

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YA: Classics Remixed

C.B. Lee and Bethany C. Morrow, with host Laura Berestecki

Monday, October 18 at 5:30pm | Virtual (prerecorded)

This session is for readers interested in…: Discovering more YA authors who are reinterpreting classics through new cultural lenses and fresh takes.

What you’ll find in this session: How authors C.B. Lee and Bethany C. Morrow remixed their source material—one a queer retelling of Treasure Island, the other a retelling of Little Women centered on formerly enslaved Black people—to bring more culturally relevant and diverse takes on classic literature. They’ll be in conversation with BPL’s YA librarian Laura Berestecki.

What you’ll take away from it: Reimagining classics, myths, and fairy tales is hot (BookTok hot) these days, and you can hear how authors are crafting and rethinking these old stories for new audiences.

Session is sponsored by Simmons University.

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YA: This Session’s for the Birds

Derrick Z. Jackson, Stephen Kress, and Rosemary Mosco, with host Jeremy Spool

Wednesday, October 20 at 4:00pm | Virtual (prerecorded)

This session is for readers interested in…: Learning more about the natural world, and getting to know some feathery friends a bit better.

What you’ll find in this session: Pigeons and puffins will be the focus, as Rosemary Mosco gives us a rundown of the quirks and fun facts about pigeons, while ornithologist Stephen W. Kress and photographer Derrick Z. Jackson will tell the story of repopulating puffins in Maine. They’ll be in conversation with Jeremy Spool of the Massachusetts Young Birders Club.

What you’ll take away from it: Find out some fun facts about familiar and not so familiar birds, as well as hear from nature writers on their craft.

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YA: Revolution and Resistance Then and Now

Kekla Magoon, Jamia Wilson, Crystal M. Fleming, and De Nichols, with host Carissa Romain

Thursday, October 21 at 4:00pm | Virtual (prerecorded)

This session is for readers interested in…: Learning about the history of activism, and finding out how to engage in the present moment.

What you’ll find in this session: Four authors—National Book Award finalist Kekla Magoon, Jamia Wilson, Crystal M. Fleming, and De Nichols—will discuss protest and activist movements, from a history of the Black Panthers and the feminist movement, to how young people can take action to speak up and fight injustice today. They’ll be in conversation with Carissa Romain.

What you’ll take away from it: More context around our present moment of protest, and actions to take to combat injustice today.

Sessions is sponsored by Candlewick Press.

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BPL Roxbury Branch Reopening: BBF Unbound BEAT Tour

METCO

Saturday, October 23 at 1:00pm | In Person

This session is for readers interested in…: Discovering more about Nubian Square’s activist and arts history from METCO students on an in-person tour.

What you’ll find in this session: Attendees will be introduced to Nubian Square’s history and its many organizers and civil rights workers as they participate in the Boston Education Activism Tour (BEAT) tour, led by high school students in the METCO program.

What you’ll take away from it: New insights into our local history, and inspiration on taking action to make the world a better place today.

 

YA: Memoir Keynote

George M. Johnson, with host Nicholl Montgomery

Saturday, October 23 at 2:30pm | Virtual

This session is for readers interested in…: Hearing from the author of All Boys Aren’t Blue on their newest memoir.

What you’ll find in this session: George M. Johnson’s new memoir We Are Not Broken tells the story of their growing up as a queer Black boy, their relationship with their three siblings, and the fiercely loving grandmother that raised them. Johnson will be in conversation with children’s literature professor Nicholl Montgomery.

What you’ll take away from it: Inspiration in hearing the story of a queer Black author’s childhood, and the foundational love and support found there.

Session is sponsored by Simmons University.

REGISTER

 

 

I hope this guide has helped you get a glimpse into the vast array of writers and what they’re working on who will join us for the 2021 Boston Book Festival. Head to the main schedule to browse all sessions and for registration links, and we’ll see you there!

 

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Your BBF 2021 Guide to Sessions for Writers

Hello writers! It’s Jessica from Team BBF, here to guide you through our schedule for the 2021 Boston Book Festival.

As you’ve probably experienced from past Boston Book Festivals, the sheer number of sessions is like a literary feast set out for hungry readers (the last in-person Festival we hosted had over 150 sessions!). But you’ve also probably felt that panic of “What do I choose?” when you open up that two-page multi-colored spread of sessions in the program guide. (I know I have!)

Because that schedule can be a bit daunting, even in a virtual year, we’re here to help you find the sessions you want to attend so you can see a favorite author, learn something new, think about the world around you in different ways, or discover some new reads for your TBR pile. And because the majority of our sessions will be virtual this year, you don’t need to worry about sprinting down Boylston Street or Washington Street to get to the next session (being sure to grab a grilled cheese on the way). Let’s get started!

Sessions for Writers for 2021

The Boston Book Festival doesn’t just cater to readers and fans of authors and books, but wants to train and inspire the writers creating those books, too. Each year we host a series of sessions for writers to help better understand the craft or the business of writing. This year, writers can examine the role of climate change in fiction (BBF Unbound: A Warming World and Your WIP: Facing Up to the Climate Emergency in Your Fiction), prepare to apply to MFA programs (Under the Hood: A Look at What’s in a Low-Residency MFA Program), learn the path to self-publishing (Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book), discuss craft and audience with other Black writers (Who We Are Writing For: Black Authors Discuss Craft and Audience), or simply hear other writers read their flash fiction (Boston in 100 Words Awards Ceremony).

Here’s your guide to our sessions for writers.

 

Boston in 100 Words Awards Ceremony

Saturday, October 16 at 6:00pm | In Person/Virtual

This session is for writers interested in…: Hearing flash fiction writers read their work in person at Trident (or virtually).

What you’ll find in this session: Boston in 100 Words will be announcing the winners of their second annual flash contest that highlights everyday writers crafting stories about the neighborhoods they live in. Hear about the local and global initiative, and meet the winners.

What you’ll take away from it: A night out (or in) hearing inspired, well-crafted, insightful short stories about the city we love.

Session is hosted by Boston in 100 Words.

 

Under the Hood: A Look at What’s in a Low-Residency MFA Program

Danielle Legros Georges, Heather Hughes, and Janet Pocorobba

Sunday, October 17 at 2:00pm | Virtual

This session is for writers interested in…: Pursuing an MFA and who want to know more about what to look for in a program.

What you’ll find in this session: Lesley University program director Danielle Legros Georges, associate director Janet Pocorobba, and MFA alum Heather Hughes will answer all your questions about what attending a low-resident MFA program is like, the work required, what to look for in a program, and more.

What you’ll take away from it: Knowledge and insight to make the right decision for the future of your writing career.

Session is sponsored by Lesley University.

REGISTER

 

BBF Unbound: A Warming World and Your WIP: Facing Up to the Climate Emergency in Your Fiction

Julie Carrick Dalton and Erica Ferencik

Monday, October 18 at 12:30pm | In Person

This session is for writers interested in…: Investigating climate change in their fiction—or who know they’ll have to someday soon—in an outdoors session at the waterfront.

What you’ll find in this session: Held on the Seaport’s waterfront, authors Julie Carrick Dalton and Erica Ferencik will lead a discussion of how climate change is represented in fiction, how fiction writers should approach climate change in their writing, and writing prompts for further story creation.

What you’ll take away from it: Further your awareness of craft by learning how to tackle new themes, and how to use them in future work.

Session is presented in partnership with GrubStreet and ICA Boston.

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Who We Are Writing For: Black Authors Discuss Craft and Audience

Tatiana Johnson-Boria and Simeon Marsalis, with host James Bennett II

Thursday, October 21 at 5:30pm | Virtual

This session is for writers interested in…: Discussions around how to craft stories and narratives for certain audiences.

What you’ll find in this session: Authors Tatiana Johnson-Boria and Simeon Marsalis will have a craft talk on how Black writers can approach their work and their audiences. They’ll be in conversation with GBH News Arts & Culture reporter James Bennett II.

What you’ll take away from it: A better understanding of the Black literary community.

Session is presented by GBH.

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Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book

Delanda Coleman, Valerie Foxx, and Candelaria Silva, with host Cagen Luse

Friday, October 22 at 3:00pm | Virtual (prerecorded)

This session is for writers interested in…: Learning the ins and outs of how to self-publish a children’s book.

What you’ll find in this session: Three self-published children’s authors—Delanda Coleman, Valerie Foxx, and Candelaria Silva—will share their journey from story idea to story writing to how to successful take the self-publishing journey. They’ll be in conversation with co-founder of Comics in Color Cagen Luse, whose son Coleman will join to tell about how he’s self-publishing his own comic book.

What you’ll take away from it: Both the knowledge and the confidence on how to self-publish the children’s book that you’ve always wanted to write and send out into the world.

REGISTER

 

 

I hope this guide has helped you get a glimpse into the vast array of writers and what they’re working on who will join us for the 2021 Boston Book Festival. Head to the main schedule to browse all sessions and for registration links, and we’ll see you there!

 

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