Brooklyn Book Festival 2015 Edition

As a follow up to the prior post, here’s the write up!

As I said there, great weather, great turnout. Space was a little tight, due to the construction zone by Brooklyn Borough Hall.   When that construction is done, it’d be so much better again!   Anyway, I managed to attend a couple of panels and caught some others.

Poets Tell All” – where poets Elizabeth Alexander (The Light of the Wood) and Tracy K. Smith (Ordinary Light) talked about their published memoirs, and moderated by poet Mark Doty.  I still remember Alexander from her reading her poem at the 1st Obama inauguration, and I had really enjoyed reading Smith’s Life on Mars earlier this year.  Such a great program, to hear Alexander and Smith talk about writing poetry and prose, and the life of the artist and grief in life, as well as finding beauty in life.  I thought it was great that they even had some humor about their experiences.  (the  writing experience, putting aside the tragedies in life for the moment, being what it is).  Alexander’s and Smith’s respective readings of excerpts from their memoirs were amazing, and I especially admired Alexander’s reading an excerpt from Doty’s memoir of experiencing the passing of his late partner (Deep Lane). Deeply moving, all around.  I ended up buying Alexander’s and Smith’s books, and was delighted that Smith signed my copy of Life on Mars.

I admire poets, even if I don’t read enough poetry, can’t pretend to be able to write poetry, and so glad to keep learning more from poets and poetry.

Home Plate” – I attended most of this panel. Very interesting conversation covering a lot of questions: what is “authentic” cooking?  What does one do at home with the food on hand?  What is the intersection of cuisine and culture?  What does “sustainability” mean, if it’s not accessible to everyone?  (well, that last question is still more my question than anything else).  Moderator Julia Turshen facilitated a fascinating conversation with panelists Tamar E. Adler, Amy Chaplin, and Dale Talde.  I thought Talde was great about how he found inspiration in his urban settling and the mix of cultures on his surroundings, and appreciated the good humor too.

It was heart-warming to see Alma Mater law school hosting a number of panels (nice that the law school is getting more involved with the community at large as it is).   I attended the one where Dean Nick Allard, Brooklyn Law School, led a Q&A of author Derek Taylor on his book, Magna Carta in 20 Places (in time for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, and the school is hosting an American Bar Association exhibit on the Magna Carta and a symposium on it – which I’m just about totally missing).   Dean Allard also further facilitated a Q&A of Dina Gold, whose book Stolen Legacy is about how she won restitution from Germany for a building her family owned and lost to the Nazis – an analog to the story of “The Woman in Gold.”  Fascinating stuff and some food for thought about the various legal legacies out there.

I tried to catch some of the conversation of David Simon and Nelson George on the relationship of narrative and drama, but the standing room only – and the lack of space due to the construction anyway – made that hard to check out.

As noted, I also caught a little bit of the the panel on “Brooklyn Places and Spaces,” in which Carlo Scissura, CEO and President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, moderated with panelists: Arabella Bowen, Fodor’s Editor in Chief, who introduced Fodor’s
Brooklyn, and Oriana Leckert, author, Brooklyn Spaces.  It encouraged people to explore more of Brooklyn – and visit the places that are still around, in an ever changing Brooklyn.   (and, as I said in the prior post, it reminded me that I haven’t eaten at L&B Spumoni in awhile…).

So many programs, not enough time! I would have loved to have attended more.  The book vendors were also great and the food vendors – well, yeah, I gave in to an empanada from the Nuchas food truck.  Tasty stuff, and then again, I’m not too fussy about what I eat.  Now, on to reading the books that I bought…

The coming Sunday, for more fun in Brooklyn: Atlantic Antic.

(cross-posted at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.