For people who love the written word, the day was perfection. By 1:00 p.m., on Sunday, Sept. 18, the sun had burned off the morning pre-fall chill as Brooklynites and other booklovers ambled among paths outside of Brooklyn Borough Hall.
There, more than 160 winding booths displayed literary journals, writer or literature organizations, books self-published by individuals, and the works of obscure and better known commercial publishers, many local. At the National Coalition Against Censorship booth, festival visitors were invited to read on video a passage from their favorite banned book.
Outdoor stages held stimulating discussions with authors and all-day long guest readers captured the imagination of the younger set in the children’s story tent.
The festival was a great opportunity for self-published writers to meet the public. Attorney Jawanza Phoenix sat with his collection of poems “The Intersection of Beauty and Crime.” Ephraim Benton of Daddy Daughter Publishing – daughter Amber was sick – displayed an upside-down, two-in-one children’s book authored by daughter Amber: The Story of Two Best Friends: Nail and Hammer and Bill and His Adopted Siblings: Cup, Blender & Blanket. “She’s seven years old,” proud dad and actor Ephraim said.
Around his neck, Frederick Monderson wore a huge enlarged book jacket image of his authored work on Obama. Graphic artist and science fiction writer Vlane Carter touted his “BiAlien” trilogy.
Author Nandi signed her self-published “True Nanny Diaries” book at the table she shared with Medger Evers College. As the newly purchased book was signed by the author, Saidah Henders, a writer and blogger, commented, “I don’t want to see the movie,” meaning Hollywood’s version, “The Help.”
Nandi talked about her book. “I’m interesting in why they (the nannies) are doing it and what they are thinking. It’s a trickle down from slavery. She continued, “Being responsible for white women’s lives, their home, professional life, is happening because there is a Black woman at home.” The fictionalized book is about the life of four nannies–from Trinidad, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Guyana–trying to find their way. Author Nandi particularly is concerned with the lack of options for some nannies and vulnerability to exploitation because of their undocumented emigration status.
Trinidadian-born Nandi was a journalist when she came to the U.S. at age 30. She worked for two years as a nanny and knew that wasn’t for her. As nannies watched their charges at the playground, Nandi heard many stories from others. Meanwhile, her English professor told her, “Nandi, you’re in the trenches with the nannies, you’re a great writer, people pay for this ethnographic research, and you have to write this story.”
It took her six months to write the first draft and a while of breathing before a critical look to revise. The writing process took three years in all. Her book is available on Amazon.
A flyer at her table also announced the 11th National Black Writers Conference scheduled for March at Medger Evers.
In Borough Hall and other nearby venues, countless other panels and dialogues with writers showcased the nearly 300 emerging, local, and internationally known authors who participated. Book signings took place following these events. Trinidadian-born author (10 published books!) and Hunter College professor Elizabeth Nunez was busy signing her newly published “Boundaries” after a panel at St. Francis College.
While a visitor here and there might have been spotted walking with an IPad, on this Sunday, electronic dissemination clearly took back burner. Actual printed-on-paper books and journals this day were in verdant abundance and authors were royalty of the day with their hard-copy published works.