- Photo by Franco Vogt
- Maggie Thrash, one of the featured authors at the Woodstock Bookfest.
To quote George R. R. Martin, "a reader lives a thousand lives." A kaleidoscopic feast of lives will be laid before us March 28-31 at the annual Woodstock Bookfest, a weekend-long gathering of literary minds and lovers of the written word.
The event was born a decade ago under the "Woodstock Writers Festival" banner with "a ragtag collection of writers who wanted to put on a play," recalls executive director (and author) Martha Frankel. "I don't think the smart money was on us making it to 10 years," she says. "And I don't think anyone was quite prepared for how much work it would be. But we do have a blast."
As the buzz developed over the years, the organizers realized they were limiting themselves. "I had lots of people tell me, 'I heard it's great fun, but I'm not a writer,'" says Frankel. But everyone loves books, so in 2016, the gathering became the Woodstock Bookfest—and last year, over 1,100 people joined the party.
This year's festivities will include some familiar elements like Sunday breakfast at Joshua's Cafe with Bar Scott and Abigail Thomas, and Frankel's popular "Memoir a GoGo" panel. Edgar Award nominee Alison Gaylin will host a Mystery Panel with Frankie Bailey and Marlene Adelstein. WAMC radio host Joe Donahue will sit down with National Book Award winner Sigrid Nunez, and Bard College Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi will present "What Presidents Read." And that's just a taste of the panels, intensives, story slams, and parties.
A few panels are still taking shape; planning is a fluid process, and one organizers hope to keep opening up. "The variety has grown, but more would be even better," says Frankel. "We want to bring in all kinds of new voices."