Newburyport Literary Festival makes virtual return | News

Authors from around the world will tell people about their latest works when the Newburyport Literary Festival returns to virtual life this weekend.

The festival is presented annually by the Newburyport Literary Association Inc. and is designed primarily to engage people in reading while educating them about books and authors they may not have heard of before.

The festival also aims to encourage young people to read and engage with books, while bringing people to Newburyport. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made it a bit more difficult to transport people around the city over the past two years and the festival has been held virtually since 2020.

Vicki Hendrickson and Jen Entwistle are in their 17th year as co-directors of the festival.

As most of the festival’s traditional venues could not be guaranteed, this year’s event will remain virtual, according to Hendrickson.

Entwistle said holding a virtual literary festival has its own rewards and the Newburyport Literary Association has been able to attract authors from around the world.

“We have someone who will be zooming in from London, Australia, Prague and so on. These are people we wouldn’t normally be able to bring to Newburyport,” she said.

Entwistle added that a virtual literary festival also opens the door to participants from around the world.

“We are available to a much wider audience who can call from the west coast or from London or wherever they are,” she said.

Newburyport Bank and the Institution for Savings are the main sponsors of the festival this year, while grants have also been provided by the cultural councils of Newburyport, Amesbury, Newbury, West Newbury, Merrimac, Georgetown and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

All festival events are free.

“One of our missions is to make sure everything is available to everyone, so we want it to be free and accessible to everyone,” Hendrickson said.

friday april 29

Young adult fiction will be the focus of the festival’s opening ceremony when “This is my America” ​​author Kim Johnson speaks to CJ Farley on Friday, April 29 from 6-7 p.m.

Saturday April 30

Twenty-three activities, including the traditional Breakfast with the poets, punctuate this day. Program presenters include seven Pow Wow River poets, including Midge Goldberg, Don Kimball and Deborah Warren, reading their most recent books from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

West Newbury biographer Christopher Clarey will speak with fellow local author Dyke Hendrickson about his bestselling new biography, ‘The Master: the Long Run and Beautiful Game of Roger Federer’, from 9am-9.45am.

‘The Butler: A Witness to History’ author Wil Haygood will return to the festival and speak to Peter Guralnick about his latest book, ‘Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World’, which was named one of National Public Radio’s Best Books of the Year, 12:15-1:15 p.m.

Elizabeth Strout will talk to local bestselling author Andre Dubus III about her latest novel, “Oh William!” Saturday from 1:15 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“This should prove to be our most popular event. Elizabeth and André are friends and they have already chatted at the festival. It was one of the most fabulous events in its history,” Entwistle said.

The relatively new genre of climate fiction will be represented on Saturday from 7-8 p.m. when moderator Julie Carrick Dalton hosts a discussion with “Once There Were Wolves” author Charlotte McConaghy and “The House Between Earth and the Moon” author. Rebecca Scherm on their approach. environmental calamities in their writings.

“Cli-fi is about climate change in fiction and it’s a very trendy genre these days,” Entwistle said.

She also said McConaghy would call from Australia.

Sunday May 1

Twenty events are scheduled for May Day, such as Newburyport author Dyke Hendrickson talking about his upcoming book, ‘Plum Island: A Vulnerable Gem’, from 3.15pm to 4pm.

“Paradise Falls: The True Story of Environmental Disaster” author Keith O’Brien will tell Sam Evans-Brown how a group of ordinary women fought to protect their families while revolutionizing environmental activism modern from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

New York Times best-selling thriller author Lisa Jewell will be calling from London and talking to Hank Phillippi Ryan about how she sets the stage for her stories from 1:30-2:15 p.m.

“It really shows you the reach we have with Zoom,” Entwistle said.

Literary festivals can often be a logistical hassle for an author and offering a virtual event has brought a lot more to Newburyport this year according to Hendrickson.

“We’ve been trying to get Ann Patchett for 16 years and we were able to get her last year because it was on Zoom,” she said.

Entwistle said the Newburyport Literary Association hopes to return to a mostly in-person festival next year, but it also hopes to keep some virtual programming.

“We like to retain some of the benefits we get from Zoom but, if we can be in person, we’d like to be,” she said.

To view the three-day schedule, go to

Writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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