Now in its third year, the Maine Festival of the Book is settling into a new home on the USM campus due to the renovation of the Portland Public Library, which hosted the festival's first two years. Presented by Maine Reads, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to literacy and the encouragement of reading, the festival will kick off April 2 with a 4 pm multimedia presentation on the history of the book at USM's Glickman Library, and close April 5 with a 7 pm Portland Stage Company dramatic reading of Lewis Robinson's novel Water Dogs (see "Gone to the Dogs," by Alex Irvine, January 30).
This is going to be a slimmed-down version of the festival compared to the first two years, with children's programming a notable casualty. "Due to poor attendance in 2007 and 2008 for children's programs," says Maine Reads coordinator Sarah Cecil, "we decided to eliminate the children's programming with the exception of the very-targeted outreach programs," like an event hosted for local eighth-graders by local comics artist Jay Piscopo.
The bulk of festival events are scheduled for Saturday, April 4, when 16 writers (including your correspondent) will offer readings from their latest work and lead discussions on everything from immigration to the grief process to nature and the Maine landscape. This, too, is a departure from previous years, when the festival ran multiple simultaneous tracks and events. One thing that will also be missing is the Monument Square signing tent. Although it let the festival bring in authors just for signings, "it also created a lot of logistical work, not to mention expenses," Cecil says.
This year, each reading will include time for discussion and signing. Cecil hopes that the improved focus will result in better attendance for each event. It will also allow the dedicated attendee to catch more than half of the festival's programming; at no time does the schedule present more than two events, and Cecil has tried to make sure that simultaneous events are directed at different audiences.
David Sedaris is also in town this weekend, performing Friday night, and one of the perks of reading at the festival is a ticket to the show. Asked if Sedaris might be hanging around town after the show is over, Cecil said, "Maybe at Joe's Smoke Shop."
Look for him there once programming ends on Saturday. And see the listings for all the details on the events.
: This Just In
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