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Milwaukee Book Festival

October 5 - October 15

Sep. 30, 2008
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It's that time of year again. The clamor of the summer festivals has subsided and the city sets its sights on more edifying offerings than fried cheese curds and bratwursts. Beginning Oct. 5 the Milwaukee Book Festival returns for 10 days of author readings, panel discussions, writing workshops, book-art presentations and a slew of culturally diverse literary events for young and old, hosted by festival partners across the city.

This year's lineup boasts two Pulitzer Prize-winning authors as well as local writers and artists of national and international repute. Once again the festival draws on disparate cultures, settings and artistic disciplines to create a holistic expression of the city's varied and vibrant cultural life.

"We have always tried to have a great diversity of offerings," says festival co-organizer Anne O'Meara. "But the depth of expertise of each of the presenters is really great this year."


Coming Into Its Own

Despite being in its third year, this year's event is something of a first. While it's served a satellite function for the Madison-based Wisconsin Book Festival in the past, the Milwaukee Book Festival comes into its own this year, according to festival co-organizer C.J. Hribal.

"Our book festival is set out to maximize our strengths, which is having community partners spread throughout the metro area," he says.

This year's community partners include UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, UWM Creative Writing Program, Marquette University English Department, Carroll University English and Writing Program, UWM Union Programming, Redbird Studio, Red Oak Young Writers, Milwaukee Public Library, UWM Peck School of the Arts, UWM Institute of Visual Arts, Woodland Pattern Book Center and the UWM Center for Celtic Studies.

"The festival is really built on the working relationship of our partners," O'Meara says, "and we've made sure each partner is sponsoring something that will appeal to their base audience."



Cultural Cornerstones

Although our increasingly visual culture places less emphasis on exercising the imagination than it does on offering a fast and easy fix, Hribal sees renewed hope for the future of books.

"People have always had a private relationship with books, and one of the things that's grown in the last 15 years or so is the book club," he says. "It generates the excitement of being able to talk about books.

"A book festival helps put that in the public eye," he adds. "Having authors come and make a connection with the audience and vice versa promotes book culture and reading, which are the cornerstones of a well-informed citizenry."

For festival opener Richard Russo, the benefits of connecting readers and authors run both ways. "Writing is a lonely task; you spend hour after hour turning over sentences and sometimes years between books," he says. "It's really important to get out there amongst people and watch these books land and talk to people and get their reactions to them. It makes the whole enterprise less lonely and less isolating."

Media Sponsor: Shepherd Express. Funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. n



Sunday, Oct. 5

6 p.m. Reading

Richard Russo

Marquette University's Weasler Auditorium, 15th and Wells


Richard Russo, author of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Empire Falls, kicks off the Milwaukee Book Festival with a reading from his latest novel, Bridge of Sighs. In it, Russo returns to the kind of small, post-industrial Northern town his works have become synonymous with, although a parallel narrative running through the book transports readers to Venice, Italy.

"I think it's the most ambitious of my novels," Russo says. "It's the one where a lot of things I've been talking about for a long time but have been looking at obliquely have really come into focus-class, race as a subset of class, and family relationships … I've been writing about them all along but this is the book that puts it all into center stage."

According to Russo, the book also offers more political commentary than any of his previous novels. "I felt I just had to let some of this out," he says. "I've always separated my private political feelings from my public works, but it was suddenly no longer possible to do that." (Aisha Motlani)



Monday, Oct. 6

7 p.m. Reading/Talk

Junot Daz

UWM Union Ballroom, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.

www.rhc.uwm.edu or call 229-6156


Junot Daz, Dominican-American novelist and short-story writer, will speak at UWM as the centerpiece of the Roberto Hernndez Center's sixth annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. Daz's 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, tells the tale of an overweight, self-loathing outcast who buries his heart in science-fiction fantasies while balancing two lives and two cultures-in urban New Jersey and his native Dominican Republic. Wao's story is couched in familial narratives of his "Banshees-loving punk chick" sister Lola and tough, rebellious mother.



Tuesday, Oct.7

5:30 p.m. Reception/Exhibition/Presentation

Peter Feldstein and Stephen Bloom, The Oxford Project

Reception and Art Exhibition: Marceil Pultorak Atrium Gallery

Dramatic Reading and Presentation: Dorothy Goff Frisch Recital Hall, Shattuck Music Center, Carroll University, 100 N. East Ave., Waukesha

(262) 524-7262


In 1984, Peter Feldstein set out to photograph every resident of his hometown, Oxford, Iowa. Twenty years later, he did it again, but this time those same residents did more than pose. With extraordinary honesty, they shared their memories, fantasies, failures, secrets and fears with writer Stephen Bloom. The result, in the literary and photographic traditions of Studs Terkel and Mike Disfarmer, is a riveting collection of personal stories and portraits that tell much more than the tale of one small Midwestern town. Their book, The Oxford Project, pokes beneath Oxford's everyday surface to explore, in word and image, a complex and wondrous community that embodies the American spirit.


7 p.m. Talk

Karen Hanmer

Special Collections, Fourth Floor, UWM Libraries


Chicagoland binder and book artist Karen Hanmer will offer a presentation on her dynamically expressive book works (for a preview of her work, go to www.karenhanmer.com).



Wednesday, Oct. 8

7 p.m.

Gaelic Literature Night with "An Leabhar Mr: The Great Book of Gaelic" Exhibit

UWM Art History Gallery, Mitchell Hall, Room 154



"An Leabhar Mr" is a 21st-century illuminated manuscript and exhibition that brings together the work of more than 150 poets, visual artists and calligraphers. It renews the connection between Gaelic Scotland and Ireland and celebrates the diverse strands of contemporary Celtic culture. This beautiful book, featuring work from every century between the sixth and the 21st, contains the earliest Gaelic poetry in existence. One hundred visual artists respond to the poetry in a variety of media. The book includes work by poets Nuala N Dhomhnaill and Mire Mhac an tSaoi and artists Allan Davie, Will Maclean and Rita Duffy among others.



Thursday, Oct. 9

7 p.m. Talk

Jim Schley on the Poetry of Robert Frost

Milwaukee Public Library's Centennial Hall, 733 N. Eighth St.

www.mpl.org or call 414-286-3031


Robert Frost's poems-some of the most beautiful and durable in the English language-are more popular and influential than ever, even 45 years after his death. Jim Schley, director of The Frost Place, will talk about the continuing impact of Frost's poetry, describing a variety of ways in which contemporary writers and readers relate to Frost as an artistic forebearer.


7:30 p.m. Reading

Milwaukee Poet Laureates Past and Present

UWM Hefter Center, 3271 N. Lake Drive



Don't miss this rare and historic event as all of Milwaukee's poet laureates past and present gather for a memorable evening. On hand will be Milwaukee's first poet laureate John Koethe, along with successor laureates Antler, Marilyn Taylor and Peggy Hong, and current laureate Susan Firer.



Friday, Oct.10

10 a.m.-3 p.m. Workshop

Literary Agent Workshop with Sheree Bykofsky

UWM School of Continuing Education, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Seventh floor

Fee: $99.

Registration required: 227-3200 or www.sce.uwm.edu


Learn about the world of literary agents in the "Intensive Workshop with Literary Agent Sheree Bykofsky." This one-day session includes information on working with an agent, what to expect from an agent and how to work without an agent. It will include an interactive exercise on creating and presenting your pitch. Enrollment is limited to 20 people.


7 p.m. Open Mic

Red Oak Young Writers' "Teen Coffee House & Open Mic Night"

Redbird Studio, 3195 S. Superior St. (Marian Center Room 210)

(262) 901-5171, kim@redoakyoungwriters.com


Calling all youth who love writing and books: Bring a passage of your favorite writing to share and Red Oak will provide an enthusiastic audience, some light refreshments and an entry into a drawing for a discount coupon for any of their programs. The mic will be yours for up to 5 minutes. Please choose material that is appropriate for a preteen/teen audience. Red Oak reserves the right of approval for all pieces.

Reading slots are limited. Arrive early to sign up for the mic.



Saturday, Oct. 11

2 p.m.

Editor/Agent Panel Discussion

UWM School of Continuing Education, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Seventh floor



Editor/Agent Panel and Reception featuring Sheree Bykofsky, Michael Rothenberg and Jim Schley. Sheree Bykofsky is founder and president of Sheree Bykofsky Associates Inc. and a member of AAR. Michael Rothenberg's most recent editorial project is The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen. Jim Schley, a Wisconsin native, is a writer, magazine editor, theater artist, teacher and director of The Frost Place, a poetry center in Robert Frost's historic farm in Franconia, N.H.


7 p.m. Reading

David Meltzer and Michael Rothenberg

Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E. Locust St.

Fee: $8 general/$6 members/$7 students and seniors.

www.woodlandpattern.org or 263-5001


One of the most respected poets of the Beat and San Francisco Renaissance periods, David Meltzer has kept alive interest in the interface between jazz and poetry that exploded in the 1950s. Meltzer is joined by San Francisco Bay Area poet Michael Rothenberg, author of Unhurried Vision and editor of David's Copy: Selected Poems by David Meltzer.



Sunday, Oct. 12

1-3 p.m., Workshop

"Pizzazz! Sparking Ideas for Creative Writers Grades 4-6"

Redbird Studio, 3195 S. Superior St. (Marian Center Room 314)

(262) 901-5171, kim@redoakyoungwriters.com


Nothing to write about? Impossible! In "Pizzazz," a workshop presented by Red Oak Young Writers, writers in grades 4-6 will participate in activities and exercises that "wake up" the creative side of their brains and open up a world of writing ideas.


Monday, Oct. 13

7 p.m. Reading

Wisconsin Authors Night

Marquette University's Weasler Auditorium, 15th and Wells



Featuring new work by Sandra Kring, Thank You for All Things and The Book of Bright Ideas, and Lesley Kagen, Land of a Hundred Wonders and Whistling in the Dark, a cornucopia of authors will perform a literary cancan of brief readings before your very eyes. Writers scheduled to read include Isabel Sharpe, As Good As It Got, Liam Callanan, All Saints, Brenda Crdenas, Boomerang, Valerie Laken, Dream House, Paul Salsini, The Cielo, Angela Sorby, Bird Skin Coat, Larry Watson, Sundown, Yellow Moon, and C.J. Hribal, The Company Car. A reception and book signing follow.


Tuesday, Oct. 14

7 p.m. Reading

Council for Wisconsin Writers Award-Winners Night

Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop, 2559 N. Downer Ave.

www.schwartzbooks.com or 332-1181


Winners in the 2008 Council for Wisconsin Writers contest for fiction, nonfiction and poetry will read from their award-winning works. Scheduled to read are Jean Feraca, Ben Percy, Paul Zimmer, Christi Clancy and Linda Aschbrenner.


7 p.m. Talk

Seth Tobocman

Conference Center, Fourth Floor, UWM Libraries

Seth Tobocman, co-founder and editor of the longest-running political comic book/zine in the United States, World War 3 Illustrated, will offer a presentation on his 28 years with this influential magazine.





"An Leabhar Mr: The Great Book of Gaelic"

UWM Golda Meir Library and the UWM Art History Gallery


"World War 3 Illustrated: America's Longest-Running Political Comic Book"

Fourth Floor Exhibition Gallery, UWM Libraries, 2311 E. Hartford Ave.


"People of the Book: Jewish and Israeli Book Arts"

Main Floor, West Wing, UWM Libraries


"Women of the Book: Mirta Kupferminc and Shirah Apple"

Mary L. Nohl Galleries, Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, Third Floor, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd.






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