Boston Book Festival Part 2: Slams, Magic, and Things That Don’t Go According to Plan


Have you ever been to a poetry slam? Maybe you don’t know what a slam is. Let me tell you: it’s one of the most captivating ways to consume poetry. It’s not just listening to people reading their poems. The poets perform their poems, playing with their voice, using their hands and sometimes their whole bodies to get their points across, like a dramatic monologue in a play. Slam poetry is where you get to share your feelings about real life issues – racism, sexual orientation, abuse – and no one can argue with you because you have the stage.

Between the horror writers event and Masters of Fantasy, I took a breather to stop and enjoy the poetry of some very talented Berkley students. I had meant to look at the information boothes for the various publishing companies and other writing-related institutions that had set up orange canopied Boston Book Festival tents along Copley Square, but for some reason, I was too captivate by the poets.

From there, I went, as I mentioned in my last blog post, to another church venue for the “Masters of Fantasy” panel, with young adult authors Gregory Maguire, Soman Chainani, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare. I arrived a few minutes late, during what appeared to be  the presentation of film clips advertising some of the books that had been written by the authors, such as this clip for Soman Chainani’s The School for Good and Evil: This just goes to show there are many creative ways to self publicize your work!

Fortunately, I did not miss Gregory Maguire, one of the authors who were my reasons for attending the BBF, singing a song by one of his characters in Egg and Spoon. The many ways you can enjoy the written word!

Besides discussing some childhood reads that inspired these authors to write within the Fantasy genre (including the Lord of the Rings), the authors debated about magic, specifically its source. Most seemed to believe emotion plays a large role in magic, which can be seen in so many works of fantasy – Harry Potter releasing the snake on his cousin, Elsa freezing everything in the movie Frozen… You get the idea.

When this event concluded, I was running late for one of the events I most looked forward to. As a library worker, an event titled “Libraries of the Future” certainly was high on my activities list. Why not learn about something intersting and better my career in one go?

Alas, it was not meant to be. As I arrived to the hotel (not a church this time!), and hurried up the steps, I found the doors closed and a line of people waiting for admittance. I had missed my chance to learn about the future of my favorite type of institution.

Downhearted, I resolved to use this opportunity to eat lunch, which I hadn’t done despite the fact that it was already 2:00 in the afternoon, and after that made my way back to Berkley Stage where, instead of a poetry slam, there was singing by a group called the 3 Sudacas, who were from Venezuela, Brazil, and Columbia. There is nothing so relaxing as sitting in the sun listening to talented musicians. But Fate had one last surprise in store for me.

Do you believe everything happens for a reason? As I was sitting on the stone steps of Copely Square, someone around my age, maybe younger, sat down next to me. She seemed unaware of why there were musicians singing here, and that there was a whole Book Festival going on around her. I told her about it, and as it happened, I had an extra program booklet that I gave her. While we were talking, I realized that I would not have met her if I’d made it to the library talk on time. I wondered about the significance to this. Perhaps she will now become a writer. Perhaps her life is not that great, and I just opened the door to a way to make it better: the enjoyment of literature. I realize I might not see her again, but I feel that that brief meeting was more important than it appears on the surface.

And the moral of this is, if things don’t go exactly according to your plan, as the Boston Book Festival didn’t go according to my plan from the start with going to a different first event, and then missing the last one I wanted to attend, think about what you would have missed if you had gotten your original way.
Live long and prosper! ~Editor Sandy

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