by Joey Phoenix
The Salem Literary Festival opens this coming weekend, September 10-13, with virtual discussions and events featuring local authors, poets, and performers.
Although this year presents some challenges in regards to how to have a public festival safely during a global pandemic, the Festival will maintain its longstanding tradition of hosting readings, writing workshops, panel discussions, and artistic expression in music, theater, and dance. They’ll just be doing it virtually.
“The biggest [challenge] to us,” apart from the funding and sponsorship component, “is that the whole point of book festivals is for authors and readers to meet each other, to get autographs and ask questions, which just isn’t tenable this year, ” said Carolyn McGuire, festival organizer and librarian with the Salem Athenaeum. “But on the other hand, we’ve been able to invite high profile guests from further away.”
Virtual Red Carpet with Bestselling Author Kiley Reid
One of the highlights of the weekend will be the Virtual Red Carpet, hosted by New York Times bestselling author Jenna Blum, the co-founder of A Mighty Blaze, a social media community and organization founded to help quarantined writers introduce new books to readers.
The event includes a Keynote Conversation with Kiley Reid, whose debut novel Such a Fun Age, is a New York Times bestseller and long-listed for the 2020 Booker Prize. There will be an introduction by local author Brunonia Barry, bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Fifth Petal.
Amazingly, in a year where publishers expected book sales to be down – many title releases were postponed to next year – print sales are actually up.
“People are definitely reading more,” Carolyn said. “We’ve been doing curbside service [at the Salem Athenaeum] since March, and we got requests every day. We haven’t noticed any reduction in people, and in fact, people are requesting more things.”
Events like the Salem Literary Festival ask a bridge between author and reader, and in a year where people are craving connection more than ever, even a virtual festival seems timely.
And while authors and readers won’t be able to meet in person, local bookstores in Salem will have some copies on hand for readers to order and pick up this week and during the festival.
Schedule of events
Thursday, September 10th
Friday, September 11
Saturday, September 12
- Children’s Story Hour – 10 am
- Reckoning With Faith – 10 am
- Writing My Life – 11 am
- Giving Stories Voice – 1 pm
- Writers Writing Writers – 2 pm
- Conversation—Meet The Debuts – 3 pm
- Reclaiming Identities – 4 pm
- Saturday Evening Conversation With Ryan & Finder – 7 pm
Sunday, September 13 – YA Day
- Witchy YA – 11 am
- Writing Partners – 12 pm
- Suspenseful Storytelling – 1 pm
- Political Activism – 2 pm
- Immersive Fantasy – 3 pm
- Fairytale Retellings – 4 pm
- Exploring The Depth Of Contemporary Romance – 5 pm