Creativity. Freedom. Discovery.  Repeat. Festival of Words 2022.

Remember that bad start to the day of Festival of Words?

It gets better.

Much.

Creativity. Freedom. Discovery.  Repeat.

Such was the mantra you would see occurring at the December 3rd Festival of Words held at St. Georges Technical High School in Middletown in Middletown, Delaware.  Despite the chilly onset of a rainy morning to greet all 60+ registered attendees, the glow of literary excitement was in every corner of the halls as you entered.  Authors, artists, students, librarians, and faculty all became intertwined in the excitement of a reading free for all that represented the return of Festival of Words through the hiatus that COVID had brought to many literary events.

Heavyweight representation in the form of UDLIBSearch, DLA, DE Public Libraries, SORA, DASL, came bearing the gifts of what any bibliophile would look for – opportunities, services tied to literacy, activities, reading supplies, and books represented in full force.

Artistry in the form of bracelets for purchase that supported individual countries, a workshop creating letters from metal mediums, practicing monologues, to designing buttons represent attendee’s own personal addictions to reading provided the wide range of where literacy could be found.  Keynote author Yamile Saied Mendez empowered the excitement of the ongoing World Cup with women in futball and providing a look into her world of Argentina while becoming an author; keynote author K.A. Holt let loose and reinforced how poetry and characters can bring creativity to the forefront of everyone’s attention.  The diversity of perspectives brought by authors such as Ryan Gebhart that combined architecture and writing, C.H. Williams illustrated world building within writing, the artistry of lettering from Jennifer Greer, diversity representation thanks to Deshanna and Trinity Neal, poetic monologues performed with Dr. Traci Curry, to the ins and outs of self-publishing with E.S.Rosaylnn, attendees were given the best gift of all, the gift of choice. Art again became the focus this year with the opportunities to bring student artwork to the New Castle County Imazine project and funnel talents into the technicalities of creating and working with the medium of Zines.

Outside of offering over 300 books at the pick your own book for free station set up, in between sessions attendees were able to rub shoulders with the representatives of native Delaware literary programs such as the Delaware Public Library system working alongside countless physical and digital  resources through SORA available.  The Delaware Association of School Libraries taught students how to design and manufacture buttons that could be worn and representing attendee’s literary values, while UDLIB Search continued to offer the many avenues to assist attendees in research and discovery beyond the physical pages being found at Festival of Words.

Don’t be fooled, the sheer success of moving the Festival of Words from Spring to Winter, and organizing a plentiful collection of artists, food and refreshments and the social interactions among so many age groups did not come without the guidance of director Andrea Rashbaum, the Festival of Words Organizing Committee, and the support of the Delaware Library Association, strongly supported by the sponsors that make this one, insightful Delaware festival for teens the exciting event it is.  Months of outreach, planning, organizing and creativity are rewarded as you see in every possible corner and classroom, attendees finding a space they belong to read, collect literary bling, hoard autographs, selfies, and countless bags of books; all memories that continue to emphasize the power of literacy, libraries, and learning. 

Planning has already started for the next Festival of Words- your energy and creativity is also welcome to be a part. Please reach out to the planning Committee at festivalofwordsde@gmail.com to continue to grow this amazing festival that celebrates all that Delaware can do to bring literary dreams to reality!

About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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