Maine Festival of the Book

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swimmersjpgWhat do David Sedaris, graphic novels, the Salt Institute and champagne have in common?

Give up? All are part of next week’s Maine Festival of the Book in Portland, Maine. From April 2-5 2009, the city of Portland is celebrating the written word with author signings, presentations, panels, readings and other events. The festival, put on by Maine Reads (in collaboration with organizations statewide), is in it’s third year.

While the bulk of the events are taking place at USM Abromson Center on Saturday, there are plenty of things to entertain and educate on Thursday, Friday and Sunday all over town. Another plus – other than Sedaris’ sold-out performance, all the events are free!

On Thursday, the 2009 Festival of the Book begins with a visual presentation on the history of the book at the Glickman Family Library at 4 pm. Friday starts with a noontime presentation by local graphic novelist Jay Piscopo, and is followed that evening by a reception for participating authors and sponsors. David Sedaris performs at Merrill Auditorium on Friday night.

Saturday features nine hour-long readings, author discussions, signings, book sales and performances at the Abromson Center, starting at 9:30. Topics of the presentations cover everything from gardening to celebrity biographies, and a full list of presenting authors is available here [.doc file]. Saturday closes with a poetry slam at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, which begins at 7 pm.

mfotbSunday evening, the Festival of the Book concludes at the Portland Stage Company on Forest Avenue. The Company will be preforming selections from Water Dogs, the new book from Lewis Robinson.

While I’ve already made my love for beer festivals and tastings clear, I’m the first to admit that I’m just as passionate about books as I am about beer. I’d encourage everyone to go to at least some of these events next week. Authors, publishers and book-lovers are a fun and fascinating lot, and this festival is a rare chance to peek beyond the pages of your favorite books. In my years working at a bookstore, one of the most enjoyable parts of meeting authors is learning about their process, expertise, and everything else that goes into getting a book published. With a free event spread over four days, you really have no excuse not to check it out.

Check out a full list of Saturday’s events below.

Abromson Center, University of Southern Maine

9:30 am Room 213

Springboards for Literary Pursuits

For authors Colin Sargent and John Manderino the focus of each of their new books is derived from musings. Sargent built his historical novel on the strange and exotic life of Sacagawea’s son Jean Baptiste and the question, “Whatever happened to the expedition papoose of the Lewis & Clark Voyage of Discovery?” For Manderino, it’s the entanglements of real life and the lives in the movies that become the basis for his memoir. The authors will discuss their inspirations and read from their books.

9: 30 am Room 109

The Changing Face of Maine: New Mainers

The changing landscape of Maine’s population enriches our communities, while raising new challenges. In a multi-media presentation, Reza Jalali discusses this book, which chronicles the lives of some of these new Mainers.

11 am Room 109

Jane Austen’s Gardens: Love in the Shrubbery

Kim Wilson (In the Garden with Jane Austen) explores the roles of gardens in the lives and loves of Austen and her characters.

11 am Room 213

Writing Your Way Back Home

Memoirists Meredith Hall (Without A Map) and Jaed Coffin (A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants) will discuss the challenges and joys of writing about the places—both spiritual and geographical—where they and their stories began.

12:30 pm Room 213

The Writing Life

Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle and Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, her new book on the loss of her 5-year old daughter, reads from her work and discusses her writing.

12:30 pm Room 109

What’s Your Life Worth?

A reading by Alex Irvine of his near-future noir novel Buyout, with a discussion of prison issues raised in the book.

2 pm Room 109

From Champagne to CNN: Tales of Two of History’s Great Entrepreneurs

Tilar Mazzeo and Bill Burke will discuss their New York Times best-selling biographies of Madame Clicquot and Ted Turner, revealing their tycoon’s secrets of success and the art of living well.

2 pm Room 213

Meeting of the Apes

Two particularly quick-witted and talkative apes, Hannah Holmes (The Well-Dressed Ape) and Bill Roorbach (Temple Stream), address their collisions with the rest of the natural world. This strangely self-analytical species often displays a fascination with its role in nature, a practice demonstrated differently in each of these prime primates. Roorbach’s recent work has taken him into the woods and fields behind his own house, a primitive but not always primate domain. Hannah Holmes has turned inward, primarily, to consider the fundamental animalness of this ape we so often mistake for something extraordinary.

3:30 pm Room 213

Maine as Inspiration and the Craft of Writing: A Discussion with Portland Writers Lewis Robinson, Andrew McNabb and Lisa Carey

Moderated by the Publisher of Warren Machine Company, Ari Meil, this event will be a discussion of why Maine provides such rich inspiration for writers, and what has brought the writers Lewis Robinson (Water Dogs), Andrew McNabb (The Body of This) and Lisa Carey (Every Visible Thing) to their respective places in the literary world today. The writing process, including publishing, also will be discussed.

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