Following her death on August 5, 2019, the world has felt the absence of literary legend Toni Morrison. Known for being a leading novelist in writing about the black experience in America, Morrison remains one of the most renowned American authors. On today, what would have been her eighty-ninth birthday, the Brooklyn Museum is dedicating an entire festival to the legendary author and celebrating her contributions to the literary world.
image via eventbrite
Ohio-born Morrison earned her B.A. in English from Howard University and later her Masters in American Literature from Cornell University. In the late 1960s, she became the first black female editor in fiction at Random House. Her first novel The Bluest Eye was published in 1970 and remains one of her most celebrated works. Her third novel Song of Solomon, published in 1987, earned her the National Book Critics Circle award. She was also awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved in 1988. In 1993, Morrison became the first and only black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature for her collective body of work. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Toni Morrison died on August 5, 2019 in New York City due to complications of pneumonia. She was mourned by many and remembered for her great contributions to the literary world.
image via the New Yorker
In honor of what would have been her eighty-ninth birthday, the Brooklyn Museum is hosting a festival titled The Toni Morrison Festival: Alive at 89. The festival will take place today, February 18, from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Brooklyn Museum. This festival will not only highlight Morrison’s storied legacy, but also touch on the ongoing lack of diversity within literature, note festival founders Magogodi Makhene and Cleyvis Natera Tucker. The event will feature guests and performers such as Sandra Guzman, Tyehimba Jess, and Mitchell S. Jackson, among others. Event organizers say the festival seeks to “reimagine our literary history today by centering Toni Morrison as one of many diverse thinkers.” Tickets are available via Eventbrite, with the first 100 tickets free and following at ten dollars a ticket.
Featured Image via Vanity Fair
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On October 19th, the Boston Book Festival commenced in Copley Square. Rows of tents housing local authors, publishers, and bookstores lined the square, bringing book lovers together on the beautiful Saturday afternoon. Right next door, at the Boston Public Library, several panels from authors and publishers were held all day. In one panel in particular, which they called Warrior Girls, held in the Teen Central section of the library, several authors tackled topics such as what makes their characters warriors, and the challenges they faced in regard to diversity in their books and making sure those stories are told. The panelists were Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy, authors of Once and Future; Charlotte Nicole Davis, author of Good Luck Girls; Rory Power, author of Wilder Girls; and Brittney Morris, author of Slay. The moderator was Monique Harris, a local special education teacher.
The main aspect of the characters that the authors gave to describe them as warriors was the fact that they are, indeed, fighting for something. Whether it be for survival, or to overcome racism in their respective worlds, there is something at stake for all the characters that they have to fight for. In Davis’ debut novel Good Luck Girls, which is inspired by the old west, her two main characters are on the run after one of them accidentally kills a man.
“I guess they’re warrior girls in that this is a world that doesn’t really want them to be free but they’re fighting for that freedom anyway,” Davis said.
The concept of “warrior girls” is one that has grown in popularity in young adult fiction over recent years, seen in titles such as Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi and Sarah J. Maas’ two series A Court of Thorns and Roses and Throne of Glass. However, the inspiration for these authors began way before these titles were even a thought.
“I feel like when I was growing up when YA was blowing up for the first time Harry Potter was just coming to a close, Twilight was right at its peak, and The Hunger Games had just come out, and it’s very interesting to me how those are three very different female protagonists,” Davis said. “Katniss really is a strong, female protagonist in the very literal sense in that she’s a fighter, and you’ve got Hermione who’s really brainy and clever.”
“Ella Enchanted was the very first time I read a book in which the protagonist saves herself and that wasn’t even a concept until I read that,” Morris said. “It was really empowering and I was wanting that in whatever else I read.”
With the concept of “warrior girls” and feminism in these authors’ books comes diversity, not only in terms of race but of sexuality as well. Even though diverse representation is getting better in the publishing world, authors are still faced with some challenges, even within themselves.
“When I was trying to find a book about people who looked like me they were always very heavy suffering books, and those are important, I kind of describe it as eating your vegetables, but it didn’t feel fair that I never had any cake,” Davis said. “So, in writing [Good Luck Girls], I want the characters who don’t usually get to have fun, I want them to have the most fun possible.”
“When I was seventeen, my feeling was ‘I don’t know, not straight, though.’ So, I put that in the book and I realized as I was writing it that queer readers knew exactly what I was talking about, but straight readers did not,” Power said. “I had to learn how to put in these big, neon arrows for the straight reader who was like ‘help me understand’ without feeling like I was pausing the book to give a PowerPoint presentation.”
At the end of the day, young adult fiction is a genre that has a lot of impact on the minds of the readers, especially since they are young and malleable. In addition to writing entertaining, diverse books about warrior girls, these authors also wanted to leave their readers with a newfound message at the end of it all.
“Slay is actually dedicated to everyone who has ever had to minimize who you are to be acknowledgeable to those who aren’t like you. And I chose that dedication very deliberately,” Morris said. “I hope that by the time you get to the end of the book you are sure of who you are, or at least confident in taking the time to decide what that is.”
“If a book is a story about a character it’s for everybody. A book about queer people is for every reader, a book about girls is for every reader,” Capetta said. “I think there’s still that message that is not spoken out loud anymore but is reinforced in a lot of subtle ways that a book about a girl or about a marginalized person is only for that reader, and that’s the person that needs that book.”
In writing these books about warrior girls, it seems that these authors are embodying warriors themselves, combatting racism and genderism through their characters. They have hope for these types of books in the coming years and will continue to write their own stories in order to contribute to the changing dynamics of the young adult genre.
There’s nothing like the feeling of going to your first music festival. It’s even more fulfilling experience to organize one. The founder of the Glastonbury Festival is sharing his experience of organizing the festival in a new book.
Glastonbury 50 is a collection of stories from founder Michael Eavis and co-organizer Emily Eavis, Michael’s daughter, about the festival’s early beginnings all the way up to its current incarnation. Some stories include Michael organizing his first festival with his wife, Emily taking over as his partner after his wife dies, and the various musicians and controversies that have accompanied the event.
The book will also feature contributions from popular artists like Adele, Jay-Z and Dolly Parton.
The news about the book was first reported by The Guardian and later covered on the festival’s Twitter.
We’re very pleased to announce the release of Glastonbury 50, our official book celebrating next year’s 50th anniversary of the Festival, on 31 October 2019. Get more info – and pre-order a copy signed by Michael and Emily Eavis – from https://t.co/oPFiwN4Eu5 now. pic.twitter.com/b2mPbXGULn
When asked about the book, Emily Eavis reflected on all the joy she had while helping her father organize the event each year:
“With our 50th anniversary fast approaching, we felt now was the time to put all of our memories and stories together in one place. It’s been a total joy to look back through piles of old photo albums and scrapbooks and to reflect upon what it meant at the time, and the incredible evolution of the event.”
Great books and delicious food are the perfect match. And a fun new trend helps bring both of them together!
Edible book festivals have popped up on college campuses all over the USA, and each one has the same idea: book lovers show up to display their culinary skills and their love of puns and serve delicious treats for all to enjoy. Though these festivals have taken college campuses nationwide by storm, for now let’s focus on the festival at UC Berkeley, California.
The third edible book festival at Berkeley was held on March 18th. Organized by librarian Susan Powell, the event is open to students and faculty. The festival is held in an effort to bring people together.
“We wanted to celebrate books in a fun, lighthearted way that we felt could touch a lot of people. Whether you’re more of an artistic type, or you love literature, or you’re creative — no matter where you’re coming from, you can find some way to get involved,” said Stacy Reardon, a literatures and digital humanities librarian at Berkeley.
In addition to uniting the community, there are also judges who hand out prizes based on: Punniest, Eye Candy, Least Edible, People’s Choice and Best Student Entry.
Judging by these photos, it looks like everyone was a winner: