The Harlem Book Fair 2018 was this past Saturday, July 21st. The yearly literary event is one that people in the Harlem community look forward to, for a number of reasons. Whether it is to find new authors, meet up with old friends, or listen to poets on the main stage, there is always something for everyone.
Among the authors at this year’s event were Ndigo Washington, Deneen Connor, and Russell Vann.
Of course, as previously mentioned on this blog, the Harlem Writers Guild was in attendance and represented fully at this important literary event. For those who may not be aware, the HWG is a literary organization that exists to assist serious writers of color in their pursuit of publication. It has been around since 1950.
Among the members present were Judy Andrews, Eartha Watts Hicks, Minnette Coleman, Diane Richards, and Angela Dews. Our table was busy, and collectively, we were able to draw attention from HBF attendees. We were even granted time on the main stage for members to read from their books. I had the opportunity to read a poem from my third book Poetic Ruminations Volume 2. I think the day went well all things considered.
This event is one that I look forward to every year. I did just fine , mostly because of my affiliation with the Harlem Writers Guild and my social media presence informing people I’d be there. But, I have to be honest regarding the event overall.
The turnout was not great in comparison to years past. There were no panels, no itinerary printed out, a few empty spaces on the sidewalk, and less vendors than last year.
The advertising of the event was non existent. I, in addition to letting others know that I’d be at the fair, I had to remind them that there was a fair going on in the first place.
All that remained was the book vendors, food vendors, jewelry and other wares, and the Main stage right on the outside of 135th and Lenox avenue.
I’m sharing these observations as a person who is invested in Black literature. The Harlem Book Fair is the highlight of the summer for literary events.
It shouldn’t go out like this. I would like to see this event flourish, turning around the trend that I have noted in the past 2-3 years.