by Marc Polite and Lorraine Currelley
The Bronx Book Fair has become a major draw for the New York literary scene. Initially launched in 2013, this event has grown, garnering more attention from readers, authors, and local news outlets. This year would be no exception, as the fair builds on the reputation of its five previous events.
Held at the Bronx Library Center branch of the New York Public Library, the Bronx Book Fair 2018 was part fair, and part conference. In addition to seeing book vendors, there were many authors present. Among the authors present were Aziza M., Yajaira Eduardo, Keisha Molby-Baez, Damien Tillman, Eartha Watts Hicks, Taneeka Wilder, and Judy Andrews. In addition to the authors, writers organizations and publishing companies like Verso Books, Haymarket Books, Riverdale Avenue Books, and the National Writer’s Union were also there.
Noelle Santos was this years keynote speaker. She is the owner of The Lit Bar, which is scheduled to open this year in the Bronx. As many who have been following Noelle’s journey know, her mission to return a book store to the borough began when the Barnes and Noble closed 2 years ago. “I cancelled my life plans and decided to be the change I wanted to see in the Bronx,” said Santos.
As mentioned earlier, this event was just as much of a conference as it was an event for authors to sell. This year, I had the honor of being a moderator on a panel at the fair titled “How To Get Your Book Published.” The panelists were Steve Bloom, author of One Hundred Years, Jennifer Baker, founder of the podcast Minorities in Publishing, and Carolyn Butts, founder of African Voices. This panel gave out some great advice to aspiring writers and tools that those who already are authors could use as well. Attendees were advised to work on their craft and not allow rejection to stop them from pitching. They were also encouraged to find supportive writers groups, and to seek out resources like Submittable and the African American Literature Book Club. This was an interesting discussion during the panel, and afterwards.
During the rest of the event, I spoke with attendees, and promoted my three books. It was here at the Bronx Book Fair 2018 that I officially launched my third book, Poetic Ruminations: Volume 2. Many came through to show support, and talk with me about the writing process. I met some new authors, and was gifted an issue of African Voices and an accompanying tote bag by Carolyn. It was a productive event, book-ended by a performance of Project X, a group of young spoken word artists.
It is apparent that the Bronx Book Fair is a vibrant and growing event, and will continue to be so in the future. I am grateful to have played a small part in it.
Now, I share with you a few remarks from Lorraine Currelley, the Executive Director.
As the Executive Director of the Bronx Book Fair 2018 I am overwhelmed with joy by the response of all participants and community.
I was visiting a friends Facebook timeline and read the following message
from a mutual friend we share.
”Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance due to a conflicting event, but
this book fair is truly vital and I’ll tell you why. I just got a thank you email yesterday night from a young lady I gifted my book to at last year’s fair. Their is power in supporting local artists but there’s even more power in representation. Seeing authors that look like you, from where you are, can make all the difference in the lives of others.
So again if you are free, check out this event. Support these authors. Bring your little ones so they can begin to see this as there normal and obtainable for them. Much luck to all the authors next Saturday and I hope the fair is even more of a success than previous years, the community needs it. “
– Dara Kalima
It is these words that remind me why my work and that of the organizing
committee is important. What do I know for sure? I will continue to advocate for literacy, and to work with the Bronx Book Fair organizing committee to create innovative programming. Programming that enhances
the artistic experience for community residents and opportunities for the
Bronx literary community of poets and writers.
Launched in 2013, the Bronx Book Fair is dedicated to engaging and growing the community of poets and writers in the Bronx and to connecting those literary artists to readers and book lovers of all ages. Through readings, workshops, and presentations. Our goal is to engage the community with a variety of literature and programs that will broaden access to Bronx literary artists, increase library usage, and encourage a love of books and reading.
Other attendees attested to the quality of this years fair, and had much to say regarding it. Derrick Charles had this to say about BBF 2018. “I have been a vendor at the Bronx Book Fair for the last 3 years and I can honestly say this was the best year yet. The crowd was steady all day even up until the end and a lot of visitors came in,” said Charles.
We cannot exist without the support of our beloved community of residents,
poets, writers, sponsors and supporters. As the Executive Director I look
to them for guidance. My role is not that of dictator, but to listen and to articulate the information shared with me. I am to bring it to life in the form of programming. Programming that responds to interests and concerns of
Bronx Book Fair 2018 was the highest attended book fair since 2013, with
nearly nine hundred attendees throughout the day. Vendors either sold out
books or doubled their sells.
Thanks to each of you for sharing our messages and posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and with your networks. A very special thanks to Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. board member Edward Currelley. Thanks, to our Community Partners Keisha Molby-Baez, Coco Delight, Damien Tillman. New York City Writing Club, and Marc W. Polite, Polite On Society.
Among attending authors and organizational heads were Heather Archibald, poet and Paul W. Morris, Vice-President Authors Guild/Strategic Director, House of SpeakEasy.
Special thanks and appreciation beyond measure to our Penguin Random House ambassadors and supervising coordinator Afton Mortensen. Penguin Random House input helped to make Bronx Book Fair 2018 a huge success.
Highlights were featured poets Sokunthary Svay and Willie Perdomo. Both presentations resonated and were well received by attendees.
Bronx Book Fair 2018 introduced our first Health panel. It was a major success thanks to Dr. Dawn Aldrich, M.D. and Radhiyah Ayobami, Herbal Health Specialist/Writer.
Thanks, to our media Kendra J. Oke, host of Crossover TV Live Cablevision-Channel 68 and Verizon Fios-Channel 34, Daren Jaime, Open Bronxnet TV, Arlene Mukoko , BRONXNET TV, New York 1 and Univision. Each of you headed the charge in getting the word out, along with so many others! Thanks to Crystal Arnette at Sequin!
Thanks, to our sponsors Poets & Writers, Inc., Bronx Council on the Arts, through public funds from the New York State Department of Cultural Affairs. In-kind support from the New York Public Library.
It is humbling and an honor to be recognized for my commitment and contributions to the literary and performing and fine arts communities. To work to provide the best in literary programming for the Bronx, our sister boroughs and the greater New York City area and surrounding communities is a privilege.
“Two years ago, I was outraged when I realized my borough of 42.7 square miles, over 1.4 million people, and 10 colleges, only had one bookstore — an inaccessible Barnes & Noble that has since closed its doors, leaving us with not one,” Santos told A Plus. “I canceled my life plans and decided to be the change I want to see in The Bronx.”
“I’m so glad I was able to hear the amazing speaker @willieperdomo
Great speaker, dope author, amazing supporter and dear friend. Many blessing to you and yours. Thank you for your continued support n friendship.
Project X @projectx718 was so dope! Omg, I enjoyed and loved you all. What a great way to end @bronxbookfair
“I’m filled with so much gratitude for being a vendor @bronxbookfair. It’s always an amazing event each year. You have the amazing opportunity to meet so many different authors, artisits, and vendors. You meet wonderful children and people who appreciate reading, learning and the value of books. You are given the lovely opportunity to attend very helpful and insightful workshops, listen to dope poets and learn from many great speakers.
I would like to give a special shout out @poetsnetwork &exchange for the amazing and lovely job they did with curating The Bronx Book Fair under the leadership of Executive Director Lorraine Currelley. A special thank you to the beautiful, amazing, talented and loving Lorraine. I look forward to next year’s Bronx Book Fair, as it’s always a rewarding and exceptionally educational event to attend.”A sincere and special thank you to my dear friends and family who came out to support The Bronx Book Fair.”
Here are three forthcoming events that you should be aware of:
Project X is having an event at the Bronx Museum of the Arts on Thursday, May 31st. The Project X Grand Slam Finals will be hosted there, featuring some of the same artists who performed at the fair.
The National Writers Union is hosting a workshop on Social Media and Marketing Tips on Wednesday, June 13th. For more info, contact Tim Sheard: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, the NWU will also host An Alternative 4th of July Celebration on Tuesday, July 3rd at 7pm @ 256 West 38th Street, 12th floor, featuring JazzPoetry Ensemble UpSurge! NYC.
Here is Bronx Brook Fair 2018 Coverage from the National Writer’s Union- NWU at the Bronx Book Fair