If finding new authors to read, learning about the publishing industry, or workshopping your own poetry or prose sounds appealing to you, head to Nubian Square this weekend for the inaugural Greater Roxbury Book Fair and Writers Fest. The three-day event will be welcoming readers and writers alike with an array of interactive, in-person events that highlight the neighborhood’s local talent.
In previous years, the Boston Book Festival has held Roxbury-based literary festivities in tandem with its fall event in Back Bay’s Copley Square. And for the past two years all those events have been held completely virtually. This year, however, organizers from the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library, the American City Coalition and the Boston Book Festival are combining forces to bring a Roxbury-centric literary event to Nubian Square. In addition to hosting panels and workshops, the festival aims to promote Roxbury-based restaurants and other businesses like Frugal Bookstore, which will be selling a variety of books at the event.
The festival is free, open to the public, and suited for both readers and writers — “anybody that has a love for words,” said Boston Book Festival deputy director Jessica Kent, who helped organize the fest. “We have local authors who are going to be giving readings and doing discussions about their work. We have an afternoon full of storytimes for kids. We also have a number of workshops [including] this cool comics creation workshop for middle grade and teens.”
The festival gets underway on Aug. 19 at Roxbury Community College, with opening remarks from Joyce Taylor Gibson, the college’s vice president of academic and student affairs. A panel discussion, “Boston By Neighborhood: Community Struggles That Make a City,” follows with local authors Karilyn Crockett, Jim Vrabel, and Michael Liu on how Boston activists fought to preserve their communities’ identity in the face of gentrification and political forces. The authors, all of whom have written about community activism within Boston neighborhoods, will be joined by moderator Akunna Eneh, programs and community outreach librarian at the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library, who also helped organize the festival.
The main events will be held on Aug. 20 at the Roxbury library, including readings from Roxbury-based authors, writers’ workshops for children, teens, and adults, and other interactive activities. The day begins at 10:30 a.m. with author Tricia Elam Walker, who wrote her picture book, “Dream Street,” with her cousin, acclaimed artist, illustrator, and Roxbury native Ekua Holmes. Elam Walker will lead a story walk through Roxbury Heritage State Park, where each page from her book will be displayed along a path so attendees can read the story as they make their way through the park. Literary agent Sarah Khalil and author Valerie Foxx will lead separate workshops exploring how writers can navigate the world of book publishing, while local authors Sara Farizan and Katalina Gamarra host readings of their new novels. The plaza outside the library will host vendors, live music, and other activities.
Organizers hope the event will provide an opportunity for local bibliophiles to gather and celebrate a shared love of literature.
“Reading and writing can be very solitary events,” Kent said. “We do those by ourselves in our homes, and I really believe that there’s something key to getting people together in a room listening to a storytime, or together with each other talking about the writing process.”