I love a good festival! Whether it’s for music, art, film, poetry or just the cultural exchange of ideas, festivals make the world feel just a bit brighter and reminds you there’s a lot of talented people in the world who will enrich our lives if only we knew more about them. That’s why the Montclair Literary Festival kicking off this week is another feather in our community’s arts and culture cap.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Literary festival? Does this mean I’ll have to pretend I read something that everyone else is reading?” The answer is “Of course not!” Only in its second year, the Montclair Literary Festival was created to celebrate the joy of reading whatever you love. That’s why over 4 days — from March 15th to 18th — you’ll find panels dedicated to romance novels, comic books, short stories, music biographies, mystery novels, poetry, flash fiction, children’s books, sci-fi/fantasy, as well as books on history, politics, race relations, feminism, and more.
Still not convinced this is a great event? What if I were to tell you that most of the panels are free? That’s right. With exception of a few select events — sorry Patti Smith fans, tickets to her talk and performance sold out fast! — most of the panels are free. On top of that, if you’re a budding author yourself, and let’s face it, aren’t we all, the festival offers workshops to help you get some practical advice on how to get published, how to land an agent, and how to improve your writing, whether it be about food, memoirs or college essays.
And the organizers have made this year’s festival extra special with more Meet the Author events; a panel dedicated to the process of transforming a book to the silver screen with guests actor Patrick Wilson and author of Mrs. Fletcher, Tom Perrotta; and my admittedly favorite event on the program, the Pitchapalooza! Here, I’ll let the organizers explain this one:
Pitchapalooza is American Idol for books (only kinder and gentler). Twenty writers will be selected at random to pitch their book to an all-star publishing panel. Each writer gets one minute—and only one minute! Dozens of writers have gone from talented amateurs to professionally published authors as a result of participating in Pitchapalooza. Whether potential authors pitch themselves, or simply listen to trained professionals critique each presentation, Pitchapalooza is educational and entertaining for one and all. At the end of Pitchapalooza, the judges will pick a winner. The winner receives an introduction to an agent or publisher appropriate for his/her book. As always, bestselling author David Henry Sterry and agent-to-the-stars Arielle Eckstut will host the party. This year featuring Susan Weinberg, the publisher of Perseus; Victoria Skurnick, agent at Levine Greenberg Rostan; and Erika Turner, editor at Versify (a new imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
Venue: Montclair Public Library Auditorium
So you can see there’s something for every kind of reader and writer at the Montclair Literary Festival. The event does a wonderful job of balancing panel topics between what’s currently on everyone’s minds to evergreen subjects that are constantly evolving as much as their audiences. So if you’re like me and think all writers deserve to be treated like rock stars ( 😉 to Patti Smith! ), head over to the town on the hill and enjoy a day or two or three sharing your love of the written word with your fellow bibliophiles!