The 6th Annual Ann Arbor Book Festival

BY PRIYA BALI
Daily Arts Writer
Published May 10, 2009

Ann Arbor Book Festival
May 15-17

For those still taking classes in Ann Arbor, the art scene continues to be a thriving resource. And it's only appropriate that a town known for its intellectually stimulating culture and for housing over 30 bookstores host a spring book festival. The 6th Annual Ann Arbor Book Festival will run this Friday through Sunday.

Since 2004, the festival has aimed to promote reading, writing and literary appreciation through author presentations, exhibits and panel discussions. Booths will be set up in the Michigan League – as well as outside in Ingalls Mall – exhibiting 57 authors, bookstores and publishers. Presentations in the League will cover topics such as the newspaper industry, youth and creativity, how books change lives and the future of the book.

“The organizers who were originally behind the idea were various people in the community,” said Kathy Robenalt, a University alum and executive director of the festival.

“Some were University people, bookstore people, library people and a mix of writers who all felt that the community can support something like this,” Robenalt added.

Over the past few years, the festival has brought together over 850 authors and performers and over 8,000 students. This year promises to be a continuing success. For the third year in a row, a writing conference will be held for those interested in sharpening their writing skills and interacting with visiting authors. The list of appearing authors includes Colson Whitehead ("Sag Harbor"), Deanna Adams ("Confession of a Not-So-Good Catholic Girl") and Heather Buchanan ("Kiss & Tell"). Guest authors will also be at a reception at the Ann Arbor District Library following the conference and at the Author Breakfast on Saturday in the League.

The festival is not only committed to promoting literariness through the written word but also through theater, dance and music. On Friday, an event called “The Art of the Play: From Page to Stage” will feature short performances by Ann Arbor's Blackbird Theatre and The Performance Network. These performances will be part of the evening’s examination of play production, which will also include a panel discussion featuring William Bolcom, a Grammy Award winner and former professor in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and OyamO (Charles F. Gordon), a renowned playwright and an associate professor of English and Theatre.

On Saturday, Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, who is commonly remembered for “Puff the Magic Dragon,” will perform folk songs from his children’s books.

Returning this year is the Ann Arbor Civic Ballet, which will perform on Saturday with original choreography set to the children’s picture book “Llama Llama Misses Mama,” by Anna Dewdney. The author will narrate her story as the dancers perform.

The festival is accessible to all age groups and supports the reading and writing scene not only at the University, but also throughout Ann Arbor as a whole – a town composed of accomplished and developing writers alike.

“Ann Arbor is a culture of ideas where people want to come and hear what others have to say about different issues, and then interact with those people and have Q&A and share their thoughts,” Robenalt said. “It’s a hotbed of literary activity.”

For maps, directions and a complete list of events, visit www.aabookfestival.org.

Correction: The Ann Arbor Civic Ballet will perform on Saturday. A previous version of the article incorrectly stated they would perform on Sunday.