Monday, April 27, 2009

Newburyport Literary Festival


On Friday, my friend since we were 12, Tanya, and I went to Newburyport for the literary festival.

We stayed at Essex Street Inn.

After check in, I was a bit of a crazy person trying to kind of plan out the sessions we'd be going to the next day. When my nuttiness subsided, we walked around town and along the water reveling in the sunshine and temps in the 80's. We also picked up some books at Jabberwocky.

Friday night we went to the opening ceremony where Julia Alvarez was interviewed by Jon Peede. I love her and have read nearly everything she has ever published. I wanted to ask her about going from writing poetry, which in many ways is all about brevity, to writing novels which demand just the opposite. There was limited time for questions though, and I put my hand up too late. Then dinner at The Uppercrust where Andre Dubus III and his family sat down to eat at the table next to us. We did not bother them.

Then we went back to the room where we read, giggled, and talked ourselves to sleep. No different than being 12 except... We called our husbands to say good night.


Saturday morning as we were leaving breakfast, Julia Alvarez and her husband we're sitting down to eat. Wow!

Tanya headed to see Julia Glass and Joan Wickersham while I went to see DeLaune Michel and Ellen Meister.

We then met up outside The Firehouse to go see Cheryl Richardson. She was incredible! Just so real, genuine, authentic. She had the lighting guy dim the spotlight he had on her and bring up the house lights so we could all see each other. She asked us to shout out our reason for being there, what questions we were looking to have answered. Several people shouted things out or raised their hands to speak. I asked about having a bunch of ideas, how do you pare them down? How do you know when you have a good one? Later, when she got to a point where she could pull her answer to my question into the conversation, she remembered I had asked it and looked straight at me. I just couldn't believe with all the people who asked things, she remembered exactly who asked what question and where they were sitting and spoke right to them. The man sitting next to me asked a question just as time was expiring. She helped him get to the answer by asking him questions. Then she asked, is that helpful? With a catch in his voice he said, "Yes." Even before his answer, I knew he was near tears. Cheryl has the power to move and to motivate.

Next Tanya and I were off to lunch at Andaman Thai which was empty but for us and Ellen Meister! I asked her what she was reading (Elinor Lipman) and then left her to her lunch. Tanya and I chatted about the sessions we went to separately, Cheryl Richardson, books, writing, etc. over Tofu Triangles, Yellow Curry (her), and Massaman Curry (me). By the time we paid the bill, it was just after 1:00. We tried to see Anita Shreve at Jabberwocky, but it was packed. We decided to see her at 3:00 instead when she was scheduled to speak with Elinor Lipman at The Firehouse about having your book turned into a movie.

It was really hot out. We went to the inn where our car was parked, changed our clothes in the parking lot somewhat discretely, and window shopped. Among the fascinating items we encountered: Invisible Underwear. We felt the sample on the cover of the box and wondered how on earth it stays on the body.

2:00 brought Young Adult Poetry Slam. Performers were between the ages of 13 and 24. They were amazing! One of the performers was gutsy enough to sing her poem!!!! I was also please to see that three of the seven performers were male. As much as I love Teen Voices and all of the poetry performances the girls put on, it was nice to be at an event where males were welcome and to hear what the boys had to say in their poetry.

After round one of two, we ducked out to get over to The Firehouse for Anita Shreve and Elinor Lipman. After their talk on "From Fiction to Film", I met Anita and she signed her most recent book, Testimony, even personalizing it for my grandmother who I intend to send it to. After what must have been a very long day for her, I appreciated it immensely.

The closing ceremony wasn't until 6:30. We decided to get sorbet and head out.

Great weekend! Great Festival!


  1. it appears to be a very nice literary festival,does it happen every year?

  2. It does happen every year. This was the fourth one.


Have a Brainy and Beautiful Day! Love reading all the Brainy and Beautiful Things you say <3