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!
BBF Unbound Sessions for 2021
Our BBF Unbound program invites community members to curate and produce their own sessions as part of the festival, and each year, we love to see what comes out of the creativity and diversity of Boston’s literary community. For 2021, we’ll be featuring the majority of our BBF Unbound sessions on our “BBF Bonus Day” on Sunday, October 24. Our diverse and insightful sessions for readers and writers include dramatized flash stories illuminating injustice (No More Drama), a cooking demonstration as metaphor (Bake It Till You Make It), a discussion about writing in the margins of life (Writing in the Graveyard Shift Panel), new techniques to writing with better flow (Set Your Writing Free: Write from Your Intuition and Heart), an examination of environmental themes in writing (After “Nature Writing”), how to more accurately and respectfully write marginalized characters (Writing Outside of Your Lane), and a walking tour of Nubian Square’s history given by METCO students (BEAT Tour).
Here’s your guide to our BBF Unbound sessions.
BBF Unbound BEAT Tour
Saturday, October 23 at 1:00pm | Nubian Square
This session is for readers and writers 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.
This session is for readers and writers interested in…: Seeing a unique approach to talking about and destigmatizing mental illness.
What you’ll find in this session: Dayna Altman, the author of Bake it Till You Make it: Breaking Bread Building Resilience, will give a cooking demo, using ingredients and the baking process as a metaphor for living with mental illness.
What you’ll take away from it: New insights and understandings of building resiliency in your own life, and a new recipe to try, too.
This session is for readers and writers interested in…: Hearing short stories from Boston residents and seeing them dramatized.
What you’ll find in this session: Maru Colbert centers this session on flash stories based upon personal experiences of injustice, which will then be dramatized through performance, spoken word, vocals, and other forms.
What you’ll take away from it: A new ways to experience writing, and better ways to understand and empathize with stories of injustice.
BBF Unbound: Set Your Writing Free: Write from Your Intuition and Heart
Carolyn Wilkins and Sarah Smith
Sunday, October 24 at 1:00pm | Virtual
This session is for writers interested in…: Learning how to overcome blocked creativity and write in a flow state.
What you’ll find in this session: Carolyn Wilkins and Sarah Smith will guide attendees through exercises that can help them bypass writer’s block, self-doubt, and other hindrances to flowing, free writing.
What you’ll take away from it: New tips and approaches to finding more freedom in your writing practice.
Kerri Arsenault, Kate Brown, Joan Naviyuk Kane, and Tony Perry, in conversation with Bathsheba Demuth
Sunday, October 24 at 2:00pm | Virtual
This session is for writers interested in…: Learning how to better incorporate themes of the environment in their writing.
What you’ll find in this session: Four writers—Kerri Arsenault, Kate Brown, Joan Naviyuk Kane, and Tony Perry—will discuss how they use environments in their writing, from how it connects people to each other and history, to the current environmental crisis. They’ll be in conversation with Bathsheba Demuth.
What you’ll take away from it: A better understanding of the interconnectedness of environments, and insights to inspire your own writing.
This session is for writers interested in…: Better ways to approach writing about marginalized characters, if they themselves are not.
What you’ll find in this session: Milo Todd facilitates a discussion around the questions that writers have around writing marginalized characters, and whether they should do it, and how they can do it accurately and respectfully.
What you’ll take away from it: More empathy and understanding of how to create characters different from you.
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!