Q&A: East Boston Librarian Margaret Kelly Highlights What’s On for the Neighborhood Festival

We’re excited to be returning to the East Boston Branch of Boston Public Library for the second edition of BBF in East Boston!

We piloted our first Neighborhood Festival in East Boston last year, and had over 100 attendees in just our first year. This year, we’re stepping it up. We’ve expanded programming, added live mariachi music, and developed all-day activities, such as a community-developed poem.

Margaret Kelly, branch librarian in East Boston, tellls us a little more about what made last year’s East Boston Neighborhood Festival successful, why the Neighborhood Festivals are important, and what to expect for this bigger and better line-up this year!

Check out the full schedule.

1) Last year’s East Boston Neighborhood Festival–BBF’s first beyond Copley Square–was a huge hit. What are some of your favorite highlights?

My favorite was definitely the writing workshop for children that Matt de la Peña presented. Both the children and parents really enjoyed it, and so did I. Matt was very funny and really got the children excited about writing.

I  also really liked the art and illustration workshop for children conducted by James DeMarco, a local author and illustrator. It was kind of amazing that all the children from the youngest to the oldest made these great dinosaur drawings. They all looked like dinosaurs, and all the children put their own spin on it.  I don’t think I would have been nearly as successful.

James will be back this year but this time he will be  speaking on a panel discussion about writing and publishing, which I’m looking forward to.

2) What was the most unexpected part of the day last year?

I don’t know that anything was really unexpected, but, if anything, it was how excited the adults were about all the programs. We had a short story discussion group that the participants really enjoyed. Most of our other programs were geared toward children. But the parents and other adults loved these programs, too. I think they particularly enjoyed seeing the children get so excited about books and maybe there was a nostalgia factor, as well, with our Curious George visit and storytime.

This year we have increased our programs and have something for all ages.

3) Why is the festival important to what you do and the neighborhood?

It’s a great opportunity to connect people with books and authors.  It makes both reading and writing more accessible. Through meeting and hearing from both famous and local authors, participants get the message that everyone has a story, and I think that is very powerful. Most of all, the festival is about having fun and celebrating reading. I love that it is a neighborhood event and a celebration of both reading and community.

4) We’d love to know more about East Boston. What books are flying off the shelves?

 The President is Missing by James Patterson has been very popular, as well as The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas has been in high demand from both adults and teens.  In the Children’s Room, it is nearly impossible to keep any books by Mo Willems and Jeff Kinney on the shelves.

5) Any sneak peeks into what we can expect at the 2018 BBF East Boston Neighborhood Festival?

There is going to be an array of fun and interesting programs for adults and children.  Pete the Cat will be visiting and we will have a panel discussion from local authors about writing and publishing. Actress Sheetal Sheth will  be reading from her first children’s book, and Daniel José Older will be presenting a writing workshop for preteens.

All ages will be invited to help craft a community poem on East Boston and also to create their own blackout poetry.  To give visitors a flavor of East Boston, local artist Veronica Robles will perform with her all female mariachi band.

6) Will there be programming for all ages?

Yes, we truly will have something for everyone.

Check out the full schedule.

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BBF Partners with Heart-of-Roxbury Bookstore: A Q&A with Frugal Bookstore Owners, Clarrissa and Leonard Egerton

We are thrilled to be debuting the Boston Book Festival in the vibrant Roxbury neighborhood of Dudley Square with a not-to-be missed lineup of workshops, performances, music, kids’ activities and lots of discussion on fascinating new books.

One of the best parts of organizing this new initiative has been working with our Roxbury programming partners: the Roxbury Cultural District, the Boston Public Library’s Dudley Branch, and, of course, the beloved neighborhood institution, the Frugal Bookstore. We talked with Frugal owners Clarrissa and Leonard Egerton, who grew up in Roxbury and are proud local business owners, about how they started the bookstore, what are some popular Roxbury reads, and what they’re most excited about with the October 13 launch of the Boston Book Festival in Roxbury.

 1) How did you come up with the idea of starting Frugal Bookstore?

We were part of a business in Roxbury, Frugal Furniture, owned by Robert Romanow, and within the furniture store, he had a section with books—all primarily by authors of colors. I was looking for a job, and Mr. Romanow asked me if I would help him build a book business. I had never seen so many books by people of color in one place, and it just looked beautiful.

It made me very proud, because I am an avid reader and I know how important it is for all people to see themselves in the literature they read.

It became my mission to assist Mr. Romanow, and when he saw how dedicated I was, he offered to sell me the bookstore portion of his business. I asked Clarrissa if she wanted to join me in building a business that could serve the very community we both grew up in, and she came on board.

A space opened up across from the furniture store, we applied for it, and we moved the books into it. We kept the name Frugal Bookstore simply because it was becoming known, and why fix something that is not broken. And that’s how Clarrissa and I became owners of the Frugal Bookstore.

2) You recently moved locations to be right in the heart of Dudley Square. What impact has that had on your business?

The impact of moving to Dudley Square has been quite measurable. The fact that a person can walk by and see a bookstore and stop in has garnered us more support, patronage, and business. We have been able to partner with different organizations in Dudley Square. Being in the center of Roxbury, where so many people pass through each day, has given people the chance to see us who may have never seen us in our other store. Visibility and diverse people coming into the bookstore have had the biggest impact on our business.

3) What’s the best part of running a bookstore in Roxbury?

The best part is that we are the only bookstore in Roxbury. We are one of a kind.

Our families and the people we’ve grown up with can watch and see us thrive and know that it is very possible to own a business in the very community you grow up in. And not just any business—one that offers value, a business where you can come in and you light up because you feel proud that it is in Roxbury. Books help people in so many ways, and for us to be able to help the very people we grew up with and give to our community a resource that keeps on giving is definitely the best part of running a bookstore in Roxbury.

4) What’s been popular reading in the neighborhood this year?

That’s a hard question to answer, because the interests within the community are so diverse. There’s no particularly popular reading, but there has been a great deal of focus on starting book clubs within the community, and a great deal of support has been given to us by different organizations.

5) What are you most excited about with the BBF Roxbury program?

The mere fact that it is being held in Roxbury and that we were selected to help is a big deal. BBF coming to Roxbury means we can showcase talent that may not otherwise have been seen by the people who live in Roxbury. It gives the people of Roxbury a chance to be a part of the literary world that seems out of reach sometimes.

Interested in learning more about the Boston Book Festival’s Roxbury edition? Check out the schedule and make plans to join us on October 13!

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Meet the Interns!

Here at Team BBF, we thrive on the fresh ideas and energy of our amazing and hard-working interns. We thought you’d like to get to know this year’s interns, Katie (R) and Bella (L), so we asked them to interview one another–and keep your eyes on our social media for more posts from Katie and Bella this summer and fall!

  1. What is your favorite book?

    Bella: My favorite book is Citizen by Claudia Rankine. I think she is absolutely fabulous and has such a talent for writing in the lyric style. As a creative writer, I have learned so much from her and the strategies she uses while navigating sentence structure, cultural tension, and being in a space that is dominated by the majority class.

    Katie:  My favorite book is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. No matter how many times I read it, I never get bored. I do not skip any parts even though, of course, I know what is going to happen. It is the perfect escape and a relaxing and thrilling read. There is no question that after I finish reading I will watch the movie.

  2. What is your favorite book turned movie?

    Bella: I just watched the Ready Player One movie and, while it was nothing like the book, I enjoyed the movie. I really appreciated that all of the budget went to post-production because it made the narrative really visually stimulating. I loved the book when it came out and I also love Ernest Cline’s other book Armada.

    Katie:  I  loved The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I read the book in the summer right before the movie came out. It was such a luxury to finish reading and then immediately go to the movie theaters to experience the same story world in a new way. I remember gasping when I read the scene with Minny Jackson watching Hilly Holbrook eat her “chocolate” pie. However, it was even sweeter to see Octavia Spencer’s face in that same scene. I gasped again, and could not stop laughing.

  3. What is something you read that is out of the ordinary?

    Bella: I am a creative writing major and whenever I have a hard time generating content that is interesting and stimulating to an audience, I go on reddit’s writing prompts tag and read through them. There are some brilliant flash fiction writers out there and whenever one of them breaks through and publishes something, I also buy it. I love supporting lesser-known authors.

    Katie: I love reading the IMDb “Did You Know?” section for every movie that I watch. Right when I finish watching a movie, I never feel like the experience is complete until I know the lesser-known facts of the film, the acting methods, some of the goofs of the movie, etc. Then, when I  watch the movie for a second time I sound like I’m an expert on the film! My friends love to hear me interrupt the movie to say, “did you know…..?” They don’t find it annoying at all!

  4. What BBF panel or event are you the most excited about?

    Bella: Honestly, I am most excited for our bar literary trivia night. Mostly because I helped to orchestrate it, but also because I am a literary nerd and I’m excited to see how well I can do in comparison to all the teams playing. Plus it’s at a bar, so that’s pretty cool.

    Katie: I love preparing for the festival because I get to see it bit by bit come together before it is announced to the public. I am excited to see all of the authors visit Boston on October 13th to present and discuss their work. I wish that I could clone myself so that I could be at each BBF event!

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BBF Unbound 2018: Seeking Submissions

2017’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 an intro to writing positive spoken word and hip hop, a rousing game of “Literary Never Have I Ever,” a road map to reading and writing feminist romance novels, and a timely discussion on writing from a position of privilege. We love hearing your ideas for sessions and working with you to develop successful BBF presentations and workshops.

We’re now accepting proposals for 2018 BBF Unbound sessions, to be presented at the Boston Book Festival on October 13.

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. Note that in 2018, due to venue limitations, we are particularly interested in proposals for small writing/publishing workshops.

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 as well.

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 29–applicants will be notified of their selection by late 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, Deputy Director
Boston Book Festival
32R Essex St. Cambridge, MA 02139
norah@bostonbookfest.org

We look forward to reviewing your submissions!

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BBF Unbound 2017: Seeking Submissions

2016’s BBF Unbound series of community-curated sessions offered a veritable feast for readers and writers, featuring discussions on spicy contemporary romance novels, mouthwatering food in fiction, and best practices for creating a nourishing writers’ group. We love hearing your ideas for sessions and working with you to develop successful BBF presentations and workshops.

We’re now accepting proposals for 2017 BBF Unbound sessions, to be presented at the Boston Book Festival on October 28.

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. Note that in 2017, due to venue limitations, we are particularly interested in proposals for small writing/publishing workshops.

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 as well.

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?

Applications are now closed–the deadline for applications was June 30, and we will be notifying successful applicants soon.

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

We look forward to reviewing your submissions!

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BBF 2016: Make It Your Own

If you’re as much of a planner as we are, you’re sure to be thrilled with the new schedule-building tools on our website. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the new features!

Look!
The default option for displaying sessions is the so-called simple view, but that’s not your only choice! Choose from the dropdown menu under “Schedule” to look at our schedule as an expanded list with session descriptions, as a grid (like the one you’re used to seeing in our printed program guide), or even via an interactive map with venues and sessions listed.

Filter!
You can also filter sessions by genre or audience—use the dropdowns from the navigation menu at the top of the page or filter from right within the schedule. Sessions are color-coded by genre, so start by selecting a session you like. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and then click on the category—you’ll instantly be taken to a version of the schedule that shows you just the sessions that fit that category. Just hit “Clear Filter” to go back to the full schedule at any time.

Save!
Want to keep track of your day at the BBF? It’s easy! Create a login and add sessions to “My Sched.” Any sessions that require preregistration will prompt you accordingly. You can change your schedule at any time, and you’ll even get a helpful reminder email the morning of the BBF (not that you’d forget to go!).

…and Go!
You can easily keep your schedule in your pocket by accessing our site on your smartphone. Your login information and personalized schedule can be saved across devices, or for even more flexibility and speed, download our BBF app for iPhone or Android.

Need more help?
This brief guide only scratches the surface of what you can do with our new scheduling software. Visit Sched’s online support center for answers to pretty much any question you can think of. Happy planning, and we’ll see you in Copley Square!

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What Are You Reading, Boston?

We’ve just announced the lineup of fabulous authors and presenters and in a few weeks we will reveal all the other details of BBF 2016: author pairings, times, locations . . . everything you need to know to get ready for Boston’s annual literary extravaganza. In the meantime, we thought you might be as curious as we are about the recent reading habits of our fellow Bostonians. So we’re asking: What are you reading, Boston?

To find out, we took a look at what people are buying or checking out from the library. According to the Boston Globe bestseller list, The Underground Railroad by BBF fiction keynote Colson Whitehead is the bestselling book in Boston. (Lucky for us that we invited Colson to the BBF way back in March when his book was scheduled for a September release!) Number two is The Girls by Emma Cline and number three is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, which just happens to be what BBF presenter Sherry Turkle is reading this summer. Side note: BBF 2015 nonfiction keynote Atul Gawande is STILL in the top ten of bestsellers in the city!

Cambridge and Somerville readers who shop at Porter Square Books preferred Shrill, by BBF 2016 presenter Lindy West, Tribe by Sebastian Junger, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyassi. Following right behind is the just-released Art of Rivalry by BBF art history keynote Sebastian Smee. The number one paperback bestseller last week was Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh. Elena Ferrante novels continue to fly out the door as well.

The intellectuals and tourists (not that they are mutually exclusive) who frequent Harvard Book Store chose Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by you-know-who, while The Underground Railroad and The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer were two and three respectively. Buyers of paperbacks wanted The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins for their beach bags, while Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole were the next most popular paperbacks.

In Jamaica Plain, customers of Papercuts J.P. selected the Papercuts Anthology more than any other book, while Harry Potter and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance were runners-up.

Harry Potter claims the number one spot at Boston’s Trident Booksellers & Cafe as well, leading us to wonder if the college students, back in town but before classes start, are snapping up copies. Next, The Girl on the Train, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Milk and Honey. In nonfiction, the top two sellers were Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air and The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo.

Turning our attention to the Boston Public Library’s circulation desk, we learned that system-wide, the most popular books of late were All the Light We Cannot See, The Girl on the Train, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Our snapshot of Boston readers’ summer book preferences tells us a lot, even if it’s nothing we didn’t already know: our city reads—widely, broadly, deeply. The fiction picks range from playful fantasy and thrilling mystery to the highly literary and lyrical. Nonfiction top titles include one, Between the World and Me, by an African American man wrestling with the experience of being black in America and one, Hillbilly Elegy, that describes the author’s childhood living in white, rural poverty. From humor to feminism, thrillers to literary novels, poetry and art history to essays and manifestos, the diverse selections by Boston readers run the gamut.

Now it’s your turn. What are YOU reading? Let us know:

Send out an Instagram of yourself with your current read, or tweet it out using #whatareyoureadingboston (tag us at #BBF2016 and @bostonbookfest). Come to the Boston Book Festival on October 15, show us your tweet or Instagram, and we’ll reward you with an Ask Me What I’m Reading button.

Have a great end of the summer. And read on, Boston.

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What We’re Reading This Summer

This year, we’re wondering: What are you reading? We started by asking our staff for their current summer reading recommendations, below. And we’d love to hear from you too: use the hashtag #whatareyoureadingboston to join the conversation!

Deborah Z Porter, Founding Executive Director

I am reading Susan Faludi’s extraordinary new book, In the Darkroom. It is a multi-layered exploration of identity prompted by the news from Faludi’s estranged father that he had undergone sex reassignment surgery. The change from male to female is the starting point as Faludi investigates the puzzle that is her father. I was particularly fascinated by Faludi’s description of the history of Jews in Hungary, where her father grew up, escaped death at the hands of the local Nazis, left for Brazil and then America, and to which he returned for the last decades of his life. As Faludi describes the time she spends with her father in Hungary post-op, she weaves into the narrative fascinating insights into her father’s preoccupations—from trick photography to fairy tales to Hungarian nationalism.

Next on my list are books by Mychal Denzel Smith and Yaa Gyasi, who I recently heard at Porter Square Books and the Harvard Book Store, respectively. Mychal’s book is Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education. In it, he discusses growing up as a black male in America and confronts assumptions about black masculinity. Yaa’s novel, Homegoing, follows two Ghanian half sisters—one who is sold into slavery and one who remains in Africa—down through the generations.

Norah Piehl, Deputy Director

I greatly enjoyed reading A. J. Hartley’s new YA novel Steeplejack, which launches a new trilogy. Set in a world that looks very much like an alternative historical version of South Africa, Steeplejack tackles head-on the kinds of bigotry, class and race warfare, and identity politics that are all too relevant in the real world. And the best news is that this social commentary is placed in the context of a thrilling mystery plot, investigated by a truly unforgettable heroine.

I don’t usually read a lot of memoirs, but I am always in awe of writers who can tackle the genre really well. That’s certainly the case with Elisha Cooper, whose new memoir is Falling: A Daughter, a Father, and a Journey Back. Cooper, best known as an author-illustrator of picture books, here writes about what he learned about himself, his family, and about fatherhood in the wake of his four-year-old daughter’s cancer diagnosis. Filled with tenderly beautiful prose and blessed with a hopeful ending, this book is a must-read for parents of all ages.

Next up on my list are We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley and How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball, both of which feature complicated female protagonists.

Sarah Parker, Director of Operations

I’m about halfway through Girls On Fire by Robin Wasserman. The setting (the 90’s) and the plot (intense teenage friendship) drew me in from the beginning, but now I’m hooked because there’s also a mystery to be solved! I’m parceling out these last few chapters as I’m about to go on vacation and this is just the kind of book I want to be reading lakeside.

Next up for me: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg and Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan.

Amanda Holman, BBF Intern

My current book is Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. It’s a comical and enjoyable story about a middle aged man who finds out upon his father’s death that his father was actually Anansi, the African trickster spider god. This sets in motion a series of events that lead the protagonist, Fat Charlie, around the world to discover strange things about himself and his heritage. A magical story grounded solidly in the reality of this world, it’s a great summer read!

The second I’m reading is The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. A witty, ironic story about the dysfunctional Plumb siblings as they clamor to receive their inheritance, dubbed “The Nest,” the story begins when Leo, the oldest sibling, threatens the inheritance through several personal mistakes. This book tells a story of character growth and development in one family through learning the many motivations and relationships that drive each sibling.

Samantha Strain, BBF Intern

I’m currently all about George Watsky’s debut essay collection, How to Ruin Everything. As a fan of his work as a slam poet / spoken word artist / rapper, I’ve loved his prose work as well. Watsky’s personal narrative draws on the same talents as his music—his sense for authentic humor, self-aware candidness, and descriptive observation. I couldn’t put it down and ended up whipping through it in one day—half of it while waiting in line for his reading at Brookline Booksmith!

As part of this summer’s reading list, I’m also working my way through Virginia Woolf’s collected diaries. Her writing is lively, insightful, and as linguistically rich and creative as her more intentional published works, but what I like best about the diaries is Woolf’s lack of restraint. Without the confines of an essay or novel, or expectation of readership, the entries show a brilliant mind in unstructured conversation with itself.

Veronica Moreno-Nestojko, BBF Intern

(R)evolution: The Girls Write Now 2016 Anthology w/ forward by Francine Prose
Featuring the works of young women this anthology presents insight into the next generation of writers and the theme of “(r)evolution” displays their dedication to their communities and activism. The Girls Write Now program helps young women writers develop their craft and find their voices, helping to shape the future of literature and the minds of young readers and writers.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
This beautiful, buoyant novel blends technology and the out-of-date to create a brilliant mystery that envelops the reader within the secret societies and exciting discoveries of Clay Jannon and the bookstore he finds himself working in. It is an enjoyable, funny, and all around good natured read perfect for travelling, sitting in the sand, or curling up on your couch with.

 

 

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BBF Unbound 2016: Seeking Submissions

2015’s series of BBF Unbound community-curated sessions was rich and diverse, focusing on such topics as: the new debate over religion in the schools; why YA is a genre for everyone; and ways to make your content stand out online. We love hearing your ideas for sessions and working with you to develop successful BBF presentations and workshops.

We’re now accepting proposals for 2016 BBF Unbound sessions, to be presented at the Boston Book Festival on October 15.

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.

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 as well.

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?

In your proposal, please tell us:

Who You Are (your name, name of organization [if applicable], your bio, your or your org’s website):

Title of Proposed Session:

Description of Session (150 words max):

Intended Audience:

Implementation Plan (400 words max, including answers to the following questions: If there are expenses associated, how will you fund your session? How will you guarantee your proposed participants’ involvement? How will you communicate your plans and needs to BBF staff? Through what channels will you publicize your session?):

Participants:

Moderator/Emcee:

Audiovisual Requirements:

Deadline for Application: extended to July 6

Notification: late July

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

Submit all materials (including samples of previous work, if applicable), to:

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

We look forward to reviewing your submissions!

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