Last year’s inaugural Bangor Book Festival was a big success. Three days of talks and panels at locations all over downtown Bangor, featuring 35 writers from all over the state, and many more writers, book-lovers and curious people in the audience. The only problem?
“It was almost too big,” said Andrea Stark, one of the co-organizers of this year’s festival, set for Oct. 3 and 4. “We had such a great response, but everyone told us that they were constantly running all over town trying to get to all the events. So this year, we scaled back a little bit.”
There are worse problems to have than your audience members being slightly overwhelmed by the wealth of programs offered. This year’s Bangor Book Festival still features that broad array of writers from many different genres and backgrounds — but this time, they’re all in one place (the Bangor Public Library) and it’s all on one day (Saturday, Oct. 4 — with the exception of the Oct. 3 opening reception).
The theme for the second Book Fest is “Voices at the Threshold.” Stark chose the theme after deciding against going with a more overtly political subject. It’s an election year; politics will creep in anyway. Stark felt that an even bigger idea was the concept of change, and of developing new perspectives on different aspects of modern life — so she came up with the idea of “Voices.”
“It’s really about looking at people who are taking a chance in their writing, that have a perspective that’s out of the ordinary,” said Stark. “It’s about people who are taking a fresh look at themselves, and at society.”
To that end, each of the writers involved has something to say about the concept of change. Kate Braestrup, a Lincolnville resident whose 2007 memoir “Here If You Need Me” was a New York Times best-seller, knows plenty about it. “Here If You Need Me” recounts Braestrup’s experiences after losing her husband, Drew, and then fulfilling his dream of becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister and becoming chaplain for the Maine Warden Service. Braestrup will give the keynote address for the festival, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, at Wellman Commons in the former Bangor Theological Seminary.
Lyn Mikel Brown, a professor at Colby College in Waterville, has written several books on girls and teenage development — a period in life in which things change on a seemingly daily basis. Her books include “Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girls’ Development” (co-authored with Carol Gilligan), and “Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes” (co-authored with Sharon Lamb).
Robert Klose, a professor at University College of Bangor, authored “Adopting Alyosha — A Single Man Finds a Son in Russia,” detailing his experience adopting a child from Russia in the early ’90s, a time when single men adopting children was virtually unheard of.
“This was all during the collapse of the Soviet Union, so I found that my aspirations to adopt inadvertently collided with history,” said Klose. “Only now do I have the big picture of how much was at stake, and what I was up against. It was, and still is, a life-altering experience.”
Children’s authors also are represented at the festival. Lynn Plourde, author of “Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Road” and the just-released “Margaret Chase Smith: A Woman for President,” will be on hand, as will Jan West Schrock, author of “Give a Goat.” And, of course, there are fiction writers like Carrie Jones and Monica Wood, poets like Patricia Ranzoni, Leonore Hildebrandt and Kathleen Ellis.
The breadth of styles represented only serves to create more dialogue among writers, rather than show off their differences.
“Writers are very appreciative of one another, even if they write in completely different styles,” said Stark. “The number one thing I hear from people involved in this festival and other festivals like this is that they love the opportunity to talk with one another, and bounce ideas off each other. There are small but devoted communities of writers all over the state, and to be able to bring them all together here in Bangor is really special.”
Schedule of events for the Bangor Book Festival, Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Bangor Public Library
10 a.m. — “Writing for and about Real Kids,” panelists Lyn Mikel Brown, Carrie Jones, Robert Klose, moderator Valerie Osborne Northeastern Maine Library Consultant.
11 a.m. — Readings by Monica Wood and Lynn Plourde.
11:45-1 p.m. — Book signings.
12-1 p.m. — Lunch.
1 p.m. — “Changing Lanes: Writers at Mid-Life,” panelists Kate Braestrup and W. Hodding Carter, moderator Deb Neumann, host of “Back to Business” on WVOM Radio.
2 p.m. —“A Coastal Companion: A Year in the Gulf of Maine from Cape Cod to Canada,” panelists Catherine Schmitt, Kathleen Ellis, Leonore Hildebrandt, Annaliese Jakimides and Patricia Ranzoni.
2 p.m. – “Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes,” talk by Lyn Mikel Brown.
3:00 p.m. — “The Writing Life: Starting and Staying the Course,” panelists Ellen Booraem, Carrie Jones, Monica Wood, moderator Annie Kuhn.
3:00 p.m. — Reading by Jan West Schrock.
4:00 p.m. — Reading W. Hodding Carter.
5:00 p.m. — Reading by Robert Klose.