Not so long ago, Palm Beach County readers had no choice, if they wanted to enjoy a book festival, but to drive to Fort Lauderdale or Miami.
That’s no longer true. While events like Miami Book Fair International or the Literary Feast in Fort Lauderdale remain powerhouse attractions, Palm Beach County has a pair of well-established book and events right here: the Palm Beach Poetry Festival in Delray Beach and the Palm Beach Book Festival in West Palm Beach.
The Palm Beach Book Festival (April 14-15) is marking only its fourth year. The adult authors won’t be announced until January, but previous years have boasted a glittering array of writers the likes of Alan Cumming, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Sebastian Junger, and Amor Towles. Amazing for a festival that started because a writer who had moved here, Lois Cahall, missed some of her literary friends.
The 2018 festival kicks off April 14 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The following day, the children’s-lit portion of the event, Young Readers of the Palm Beach Book Festival, takes place at the Palm Beach Day Academy featuring James Patterson, Troy Cummings and Newberry Award-winner Kwame Alexander.
Founder and creative director Cahall enlarges the festival year by year. Now she has partnered with Florida Atlantic University, for a series of author events to begin February 2 with special guest Erica Jong.
“Erica has been a huge inspiration and sister to me in my life, stepping into the shoes of Helen Gurley Brown, who was like my second mother,” says Cahall, referring to the legendary Cosmopolitan editor. “This is a year where we really need to empower women. Now is the time to really be a voice and not let anything stop us!”
(For tickets to see Erica Jong, go to the FAU box office at www.fauevents.com. Keep checking the website at www.palmbeachbookfestival.com for the roster of authors for next April. A limited number of complimentary seats will be available for children from other schools. Check the festival website after Jan. 1.)
This Palm Beach Poetry Festival (Jan. 15-20) is dedicated to the memory of poet Thomas Lux, a leading light of the event since its inception in 2004. As always, it boats six days of private workshops for aspiring poets, plus a lively slate of affordable public readings, craft talks, lectures, and more.
The poets include Coleman Barks, Tim Seibles, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Chard deNiord, Beth Ann Fennelly, Ross Gay, Rodney Jones, Phillis Levin, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil. For a schedule of public events, or to register for the poetry workshops, visit www.palmbeachpoetryfestival.org.
A third Palm Beach County cultural fete, the Festival of the Arts Boca (Feb. 23-March 4), includes, along with opera, classical music, an eclectic selection of literary events. The biggest (and oddest) draw has to be Bill Murray’s multi-genre work, New Worlds, a mix of classical music, American standards, and literary readings. Joining Murray: cellist Jan Vogler, violinist Mira Wang and pianist Vanessa Perez.
Legendary music producer and songwriter T Bone Burnett (O Brother Where Art Thou) will talk about his 40 years in music, movies, and art, and his book, On the Road with T Bone Burnett. Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations will discuss his book, A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order. Entrepreneur and motivational author Peter Diamandia, famous for the $10 million Ansari Prize for private space flight, will present his book, Transforming Scarcity to Abundance.
Novelist Hannah Tinti (The Good Thief) launches the “Authors and Ideas” series Feb. 25 with her new book, Cabinets of Wonder. Tickets for these events vary from $15 to $250 and go on sale Oct. 15. For program details and ticket information visit: www.festivaloftheartsboca.org.
In Broward County, bestselling local author Brad Meltzer serves as honorary chair for one of the region’s oldest literary fests, Literary Feast 2018 (Feb. 9, May 4-5). Sponsored by the Broward County Library Foundation, it raises money for library programs such as the Summer Learning Program and the Creation Station for entrepreneurs.
Authors committed to a day of free public lectures and an evening of private fundraising festivities include Vin Baker (God and Starbucks: An NBA Superstar’s Journey Through Addiction and Recovery); historian Peter Cozzens (The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West); humorist Sloane Crosely (I Was Told There’d Be Cake).
Also appearing: Romance writer Elin Hilderbrand (The Identicals); thriller writer Mark Greaney (Agent in Place); crime novelist Attica Locke (Bluebird); debut novelist Brendan Matthews (The World of Tomorrow); novelist Christopher J. Yates (Black Chalk). Honorary Chair Brad Meltzer will present his new thriller, The Escape Artist.
For schedules, tickets, and other information, visit www.bplfoundation.org, or call 954-357-7382.
One of the most distinguished South Florida literary events, the Key West Literary Seminar (Jan. 11-14) is also the coziest. Nowhere is it so easy for people to approach and chat with famous writers. It’s also enormously popular, having already sold out. But you can still get on the waitlist at www.kwls.org/seminar.
This year’s topic, “Writers of the Caribbean,” features the customary gathering of famed literary talent, including Teju Cole, Nilo Cruz, Edwidge Danticat, Marlon James, Esmeralda Santiago, Caryl Phillips, and many others.
The first literary festival of the season is also, as always, the grandest. For eight days, Miami Book Fair International (Nov. 12-19) occupies downtown Miami with a wealth of activities for book lovers. More than 600 (!) national and international authors will be on hand at one point or another.
The full schedule won’t be unveiled until later this month, but authors already announced include Joe Biden, Isabel Allende, Patti Smith, Dan Rather, Eric Michael Dyson, Bill McKibben, Gene Yang, Robert Haas, Gerald Stern, Laurence O’Donnell, and Lisa See.
For tickets, full schedules, and other details, keep an eye on the book fair website, at www.miamibookfair.com.