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Monday, 11 October 2021 13:31

Word is back – and back online!

BLUE HILL – A highlight of the state’s literary calendar is back – and back online – for another year.

As pandemic concerns continue into the fall, organizers for Blue Hill’s beloved Word literary festival have decided that the annual event will return to the online format introduced last year. The festival's free events and paid workshops will be available via Zoom; the dates for the event are October 21-24.

Preregistration is required for all events. Details and registration links are at www.wordfestival.org.

While it’s a shame that lexophiles and literary lovers will once more have to wait to engage with one another in person, the show must go on. The truth is that there just aren’t that many events in our region that are fully devoted to the written word. And so, while it might not be ideal that Word has moved once more into the virtual realm, the event still presents a wealth of opportunities for people near and far to engage with some of the incredible talents that are participating this year.

Featured speakers will include novelist Susan Choi and journalist Bob Keyes. The event will also feature four notable poets, as well as some of the region's most popular food writers. In addition, Word also will offer local school visits by children's author/illustrator Russ Cox and children’s/young-adult author Anica Mrose Rissi.

Published in Cover Story

BLUE HILL — In these trying times, many arts and cultural organizations are doing their best to find alternate paths forward.

Word, the annual Blue Hill literary arts festival, is no exception. This year, the festival is going online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While festival organizers do say they will miss the chance to bring the various authors to Blue Hill in person, they’ve found that the switch to an online format has opened some new opportunities – opportunities that actually extend beyond the actual festival weekend.

The festival will be available on Zoom October 23-28. The plan is to stick to the annual tradition of three evenings of author conversations and poetry readings. However, this new format gives Word the chance to offer two-session workshops on weeknights in addition to the usual single-session weekend classes.

“This is a luxury the online format gives us and our authors, who will conduct workshops from home rather than traveling to Blue Hill,” Word organizer Sarah Pebworth said in a press release.

If this month's online sessions go well, she added, Word hopes to offer periodic Zoom readings and workshops over the winter, as well as a continuation of the Word Book Club that was introduced in June.

Workshop fees start at $25, and space is limited. Readings and evening conversations are free with attendance unlimited. Registration is required for all events and is available at www.wordfestival.org.

Word is funded by the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as other generous donors. Word’s fiscal sponsor is Blue Hill Community Development and its media partner is WERU-FM.

Here’s a look at some of what Word has to offer this year.

Published in Cover Story

BLUE HILL – A celebration of the written word is set to mark its third year in Blue Hill.

The Word. Blue Hill Literary Arts Festival is taking place October 24-27 in venues around Blue Hill. There will be speakers and panels and workshops galore, all dedicated to the joy of words. There will also be a number of other events – poetry crawls and art installations and community dinners and more.

Every bit of it dedicated to a celebration of all things literary.

The event has seen a number of acclaimed authors and literary types come through over the past two years, but this year’s festival looks to be bigger than ever, with notables from all walks of writing life participating over the three days of Word.

Here’s a quick look at some of what we’re talking about:

There will be a number of conversations featuring literary types. Journalist Dave Cullen and local student organizer Abigail Jakub will be interviewed by Brook Ewing Minner. Novelists Joe Hill and Elizabeth Hand will chat, as will New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum and Blue Hill Books owner Samantha Haskell. In addition, there will be a panel on ethics in memoir courtesy of Maine Writers and Publishers Association, featuring Gibson Fay-Le Blanc, Elizabeth Garber, Linda Buckmaster and Jaed Coffin.

The New York Times children’s books editor Maria Russo will give a talk on “How to Raise a Reader”

As for workshops, well … wow. Music legend Noel Paul Stookey will offer one in songwriting and Richard Blanco – Obama inaugural poet - will offer one in poetry. Cynthia Thayer has a workshop on helping writers get unstuck, Elizabeth Minkel offers up something about writing fan fiction and Katherine Koch takes on memoir.

There are some all-ages workshops as well. Mia Bogyo will teach some bookmaking fundamentals, while Charlotte Agell (Catch an Idea) and Ellen Booraem (Lightning Round for Writers Young and Old) lead workshops that offer different forms of writing guidance.

The Poetry Crawl will feature former Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl and fellow poets Sonja Johanson, Kifah Abdullah, Mark Statman, Marie Epply and Elizabeth Garber.

Plus, we have Word.Art, the annual show of word-related art at Winings Gallery. This year, the show features Mark Statman, Katherine Koch, Katy Helman, Kristy Cunnane and Buzz Masters.

All that, plus the festival will feature the debut of a new collaborative words-and-music performance piece courtesy of Paul Sullivan and the aforementioned Richard Blanco.

Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? That’s because it is; it’s an incredible amount of literary excitement to be packed into just three days, but there are a lot of people who work incredibly hard to make sure that it all comes to fruition.

Published in Cover Story

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