By Marc W. Polite
The 2019 Bronx Book Fair was yet again another successful event. This years theme was Our Children, Ourselves: Sustaining a Healthy, Creative, Educationally & Literary Rich Community. In operation since 2013, the Bronx Book Fair has been a draw for authors and readers alike. Notably, on this occasion, Valerie Bell, author of Just 23 and Gwen Carr, who wrote This Stops Today were featured authors. Valerie Bell, who is the mother of Sean Bell, and Gwen Carr, who is the mother of Eric Garner both wrote books about the stolen lives of their sons.
This year, I had the honor of moderating a panel discussion on marketing and publishing. With solid advice from the panelists Jode Millman, Damien Tillman, James Dean Rivera, Yajaira Eduardo, and Peter Benjaminson, we discussed the ins and outs of publishing. The attendees were encouraged to start with writing workshops, and to work through issues of self doubt. There was a spirited debate about the pros and cons of self publishing versus commercial publishing. Learning how to promote, and write book proposals was discussed as a base of knowledge that is highly necessary.
I participated as a vendor, and was able to get into interesting conversations about poetry, literature, and of course, politics. Members of the Harlem Writers Guild were present and active, including Eartha Watts Hicks, Gene Edwards, Judy Andrews, and Oscar Sanders. A few other authors who were in attendance were Denise Martin-Thompson, Carla Cherry, Keisha Molby-Baez, and Alyssa D’Amico.
Every year, emerging authors make their way to the fair at the Bronx Library Center to reach their intended audiences. Among the new authors I saw present were Alexander Rutherford, author of Best Friends Forever, Renaee Smith, author of 31 Days of Encouragement, and Anthony Huger, author of Too Far in The Dark.
The all day event ended with an open mic session hosted by Oscar Sanders, author of the forthcoming Exposing Politics: A Play of Acts.