More than forty authors will appear at this Saturday's 21st Annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading. While some of them will come from around the country, a number with ties to the University of South Florida will have a much shorter trip to the USF St. Petersburg campus.
Times Book Editor Collette Bancroft, who assembles the roster of authors, calls the university "a rich resource of talent,” adding that by inviting local authors, the Festival truly becomes a community event.
“(It's) not just (that) we can get these writers who live in New York or wherever,’ but we’re also eager to bring you writers who live here, who teach here, whom you can get to know, meet them at the Festival, know about their work and just see that that’s something that really adds to the Tampa Bay community’s cultural atmosphere,” Bancroft said.
Here are some highlights from three members of the USF Department of English who will be presenting their work at Saturday's Festival.
“Writing is such a solitary act, most of the time it’s just us and the computer or the notepad, just us being alone, but this is an opportunity for us to meet readers and thank readers really for picking up our work and taking a look at it.”
“Why I love this Festival, it is a celebration of reading, and it’s something that we don’t really talk about nowadays is the art and joy of reading, and reading is really what got me to become a writer. Reading is this connection to this other world, this other place, and I think that’s worthy of celebration.”
“I like when writers in the audience ask questions about the process of writing the book. So it’s really fun to be able to share that because writing is such a lonely kind of solitary activity, so when people ask you, ‘Well how did you come up with this idea?’ it’s always fun to share that.”
“I do find that (local) aspect of it really fun because people will step out of the audience I haven’t seen in years, you never know who’s going to show up.”
Phillip Sipiora will talk about his relationship with writer Norman Mailer and read from a collection of Mailer essays, Mind of an Outlaw, that Sipiora edited and wrote the preface for. Sipiora is also editor of The Mailer Review and on the board of the Mailer Society.
“His essays are so rich over so long—more than six decades—and I think that they reveal an intellect at work that is both exceptionally powerful and relevant, not only to the time when he wrote those essays, but to our contemporary times.”
“Mailer’s legacy is very important to me and I would like to nourish that legacy—I try and do it in my teaching at the University and in public appearances such as the Festival. So if I can play some small role in enhancing interest in Mailer, I will be happy.”
The 21st Annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading is Saturday, October 26, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at USF St. Petersburg (140 7th Ave. S). Admission is free. To see a schedule of when authors will speak and sign their books, click here.