Hope to See You Sunday at Kerrytown BookFest 2011

This Sunday, September 11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Ann Arbor residents and visitors will be treated to the 9th annual Kerrytown BookFest, a celebration of award-winning authors, book artists, and illustrators that takes place at the Farmers’ Market at 410 N. Fourth Avenue and Kingsley in downtown Ann Arbor.

The theme of the 2011 Kerrytown BookFest is “Michigan Voices” and I’m honored to be one of them this year. For most of the event, I’ll be selling books at booth #119. I hope you’ll come by and say hello.

But during the last hour, from 4 to 5 in the main tent, I’ll be appearing on a panel called “Counterculture Voices.” BookFest promotional literature advertises it as “a broad discussion of the Detroit counterculture, focusing on underground newspapers and music.” That’s pretty accurate but forces of nature will extend the discussion to also include the music scene in Ann Arbor and the underground press scene in Ann Arbor and Lansing-East Lansing.

Appearing with me on the panel are Brett Callwood, a music writer who has written books about two legendary groups, Lincoln Park’s MC5 and Ann Arbor’s The Stooges; and Susan Whitall, former editor of Creem magazine and presently a writer for the Detroit News and author of Fever: Little Willie John’s Fast Life, Mysterious Death. Moderator Harvey Ovshinsky was the founder and editor of Detroit’s Fifth Estate, still going strong as the longest-running underground paper to emerge from the Vietnam era. My own four-volume Voices from the Underground Series includes a landmark history of Fifth Estate written by former staffer Bob Hippler with help from interviews with Harvey, Peter Werbe, and other veterans of the paper. Unfortunately, the story will appear in volume 3, which won’t be out until next year. But volume 1, which will be available for sale all day, includes my history of the Lansing-East Lansing underground press and a history of the Black Muslim paper Muhammad Speaks, written by former editor and now Ann Arbor resident John Woodford.

It will be a way-too-short panel discussion. Great entertainment for just before dinner. Harvey already is a friend of mine but I’ve never met Brett or Susan. I look forward to meeting them.

The Kerrytown BookFest is unique according to Gene Alloway, president of the BookFest board and owner of Motte & Bailey Bookshop in Ann Arbor. Kerrytown is a historic neighborhood in the city which includes the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market where the event is held. “The BookFest is the only festival of the book in the country to celebrate both authors and the artists and crafts people who help create books.” This year the BookFest will feature illustrators, poets, letterpress printers, calligraphers, librarians, publishers, book artists, and storytellers.

As a special attraction, Doug Stanton, New York Times best-selling author of Horse Soldiers and founder of the National Writers Series, will interview Jaimy Gordon, the 2010 National Book Award winner (Lord of Misrule). In addition, Robin Agnew, owner of Aunt Agatha’s mystery bookstore in Ann Arbor, will talk with Canadian Award-Winning Mystery Writer Louise Penny. who has won both Agatha and Anthony Awards for her mystery writing. Special arrangements have been made to present Penny the Dilys Award from the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association at the BookFest.

In recognition of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the panel “Michigan Civil War Voices” will feature Jack Dempsey, author of Michigan and the Civil War, moderating a discussion with Rick Liblong, author of Answering the Call to Duty: Saving Custer, Heroism at Gettysburg; and Kim Crawford and Martin Bertera, authors of The 4th Michigan Infantry the Civil War.

The panel “Working Voices” brings together a diverse group of writers who write about the world of the working man and woman. Poet and writer M.L. Liebler, most recently the editor of the literary anthology, Punching the Clock and Kicking out the Jams, will be joined by writer Jeff Vande Zande, recently editor of  On the Clock: Contemporary Short Stories of Work, and poet Ken Meisel, poet and the author of Beautiful Rust: Poems, part of Bottom Dog Press. The discussion will be led by author Lolita Hernandez, also a contributor to On the Clock.

“Detroit Voices” features a variety of voices from the changing face of Detroit talking about its future. The speakers will be John Gallagher, author of Re-imagining Detroit and a long-time writer for the Detroit Free Press; Sean Doerr and Dan Austin, author and photographer of the book Lost Detroit; and NPR Changing Gears reporter Kate Davidson. Leading the discussion will be writer and Wayne State Professor Dorene O’Brien.

Other panels will be on “Michigan Voices: A Sense of Place”; “Science Fiction Voices”; “Victorian History Mystery”; and “The Art of the Thriller.” In addition this year’s event will offer more hands-on demonstrations by local craftspeople specializing in the book arts.

Last year more than 5,000 visitors attended the one-day event, which includes more than 100 exhibitors, artists and book sellers.

For more information on the BookFest and for a complete listing of authors, artists and programs visit www.kerrytownbookfest.org.

The BookFest is sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council¸ WEMU Radio 89.1, Ann Arbor Bank, Kerrytown Market, Zingerman’s, Hollanders, Thomson Shore, Kerrytown Concert House, and Michigan Radio.