“Meet at my place at 5:00 AM.” “Sure!” Easily said in reply, this was one of those comments that once released, occurs at a time where either action will happen, or the thought of this happening occurs and slips away, often running. Yet, October 31st, 2019 was National Book Festival Day in Washington D.C., at the Library of Congress, and believe it or not, it is a BIG DEAL. Turns out Canadian artist Marian Bantjes redesigned the image of the National Book Festival,
and the result was exotic, elaborate and powerful. My first impression was that of a new order of Bloom’s taxonomy, one that can only result from frequent run ins with stories, ultimately books, that can only add to a life rather than complicate one.
As two friends and I made our way across the Bay Bridge and some beautiful scenery we often take for granted living in Delaware and traveling through field, water from the east coast to Washington D.C., we did occasionally drop the memories of last year, the 18th annual Festival last year, we all had personal reasons for this pilgrimage, celebrating all that comes from the written word.
I had been taken in by the story of Tara Westover – in educated, and then shocked to find as if you found a random Starbucks, Ms Westover herself in the hallway being interviewed live on PBS Books in front of the bustling Book Festival crowd. It was a privilege to experience a look into a book so inspiring, recounting her travel from a life that was shared with so many, and now able to share this moment live with a different meaning to so many people. Yet last year being able to see Amy Tan, Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Madeline Albright, Jason Reynolds, and just a handful of overwhelming events occurring in a while of one day, that energy and enthusiasm, as well as the simple love of what is written that can influence a better future, it was contagious. A year later, it brought us back with many plans to take in much much more, despite the recordings being available at the Library of Congress, the reality of these dreams and inspirational what could be presentations in the live, it was again contagious.
As we turned into the parking garage of the New Carrollton metro, (weekends are FREE! YEAH!) , we waited to bard the metro, and the usual haze that occurs with being so early in the AM, on a vacation weekend, as well as no breakfast – but a bright promise of what the day might hold.
Arriving at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, (if you are there, is is impossible to notice the resemblance to inside mobile art to the cover of the National Book Festival of 2019 ), we need before contemplating getting into any semblance of a line for entrance, finding a way to fuel up with breakfast – and finding that location as Compass Coffee. You never forget a place that when you walk in, all your senses are brought alive. While not a coffee drinker, the strength of the coffee invited you in without hesitation. With acquiring a collection of Chai tea (amazing amazing rich taste),
peaches and oatmeal Kolache, coffee, taking in the feel of morning awakening, we were back at it.
Lines, despite wrapping around the corner, begin shortly, and we were in obtaining the hallowed schedule of the day and iconic poster, and one of our colleagues headed to get in an early line for the 11:30 session for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We all felt it would be the main attraction of the day – and we headed to the floor exhibits to gather materials, resources, materials, etc. to be used later in our own library and for future events. It was thrilling to see all the booths, one for every state that represented authors from every state in the U.S., (it was great, anyone can take a map and get a stamp visiting every state and then a prize at the end of the passport stops, I love this about the National Book Festival) –
and with what seemed all the booths to ourselves so early, we moved onto our first session, The View From Country- Australia’s Aboroginal Writers – Jeanine Leane, Brenton McKenna, and Kim Scott. I was definitely drawn to the international scene and panel and this drew my attention after having taught AP Literature taking on a new country as a focus and having Australia as a part of that overall unit focus – memories of what the film the Rabbit Proof Fence meant to me when I had witnessed it the first time, and I had alot of background interest coming into this panel.
Some of the largest takeaways were being able, willing, and patient enough to realize how much larger the world is than us as a society, community, and as neighbors and respecting that fact. In addition, the fact that a country’s history is not necessarily the whole history is the history of a country without research and attention – and overall, from the perspective of a graphic novel, novels, and poetry, this was a moving experience full of an awareness of others, in may various ways, belief, history, the written word, as well as culture that helps defines so many aspects of us as citizens of the world. This was almost too good of a start to the first workshop. The books each represented were all added to my to-be-read list.
Despite having a calvacade of event that have interrupted my want to post more frequent blogs, and having a summer of hurdles and contemplation, there is no better way to return to so much to celebrate in the past months starting back with The National Book Festival. Stay tuned for a glimpse of a second/post look into this amazing day. The second session we will begin the next post with concerns our session on graphic novels and pop culture.