The 2013 Leimert Park Village Book Fair (LPVBF) will celebrate another year of bringing a world-class, unrivaled literary event to the City of Los Angeles on Saturday, June 29, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thousands of book lovers, families, and fans of all ages will converge on the Vision Theatre back lot in historic Leimert Park to celebrate the written word. There will be over 150 celebrity readings, book signings, writing workshops, panel discussions, poetry readings, stage performances and musical performances during this day-long festival. The Festival was founded by Executive Director Cynthia E. Exum. To continue the legacy of the Fair, James A. Baldwin (August 2, 1924-December 1, 1987), novelist, playwright, poet and social critic who was chosen as the Literary Honorary for his brilliant work that lives on. In prior years, for example, LPVBF hosted Pulitzer Prize winners Isabel Wilkerson and Douglas Blackmon; world renowned poet Nikki Giovanni; California Poet Laureate, Al Young; and award winning writers/poets Ishmael Reed, Eric Jerome Dickey and Ruth Forman. (www.leimertparkbookfair.com).
I interviewed Conney D. Williams, published poet and Coordinator/Manager of the Poets Salon. He is "jazzed" about the solid line up of poets who will read their work, for example, Tchikonsase Aje, Billy Burgos, Michael Datcher, Peter Harris, Gerda Govine Ituarte,Teresa Mei Chuc, S. Pearl Sharp, Hiram Sims, Imani Tolliver, Conney D. Williams and Mariano Zaro. He describes the Fair as a wonderful cultural experience that incorporates the entire village dotted with historic places, for example, Eso Won Books, World Stage Performance Gallery and the KAOS Network. Conney said that the Fair attracted over 5,000 attendees last year. He serves as the Artistic Director of the World Stage where writing workshops are held every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. He will read at 11:30 a.m. at the Book Fair.
Published writer Michael Datcher creates essays, memoirs, plays and fiction. He believes that the Fair offers visitors an opportunity to see the impact of literacy and intellectual achievement on display in performance by Black artists living, working and thriving in Los Angeles. He knows that the Book Fair provides a true understanding of the diversity of black anthology and ideology through art, books and poetry. He described reading his body of work as a way to articulate and expand a complex Black experience while dealing with politics, gender, race, love and economics. Michael acknowledged that all writing is a kind of story telling that exercise various muscles to find a connective tissue between essays and memories to gain insight into the human condition as a Black male in America. He gladly proclaimed that the Book Fair reminds us of how beautiful we are which fosters a high level of discourse to help us fall back in love with Black intellect. Michael recently completed his first novel, Amativus. Michael will read at 5:00 p.m.
Peter J. Harris is an award winning poet and was a presenter at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. He said that the Book Fair is wonderful, consistent and has grown into an institution seven years later. He will read 'Poetic Pep Talks' from the new Gritt Tuff Play Book: Hard Core Wisdom for Young People as part of The Black Man of Happiness Project at 4:00 p.m., during the Book Fair. He co-wrote the Play Book with his brother Glenn Harris, Emmy Winning D.C. Sportscaster. Both are graduates of Howard University and D.C. public schools. Peter knows that there is ferment violence, uncertainty and difficulty that challenges Black men to find creative ways not to hurt each other. He insists that there is no way of getting around this parallel history and that some men climb out of that experience, come around, break circuits and seek insulation and education to heal themselves. He said that the Project seeks answers to a simple provocative question, What is a happy Black man? This leads to other questions that go deeper. For example, What makes you happy? What did it feel like? and Who were the people involved who made you happy? When he probes the issue of a happy Black man many are "startled into silence." Upon recovery, they admit this is a first for them because no one had ever asked those types of questions. Peter understands that it is imperative to provide quiet opportunities for men to talk about taboo issues.
He acknowledged that the gift and benefit that arise from the answers help to foster an inspirational humanizing way to interact with Black men and to hear their individual voices whether they live in Altadena, Compton or Bel Air. He considers himself lucky to have great men as friends who assisted him to find a vocabulary for all this "stuff." Peter said he refuses to be non verbal. He knows that one's individuality helps to rebuild communities, for example, to bring sanity, expand safe places for our kids and to garner satisfaction as we move through our lives. He realizes that finding a pulse and rhythm to life helps us to decelerate and find an oasis, internal space, to hear our voices—to leave a "vocal fingerprint." Peter believes that in this way society can hear our eloquence when we speak what we hear. He will read at 4:00 p.m. at the Book Fair. For additional infor, check out: www.blackmanofhappiness.com and Facebook.
Join all of us at the Book Fair on Saturday, June 29 from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. for a memorable and invigorating experience. The Poetry Salon reading line up and much more is available at www.leimertparkbookfair.com. I will be reading from my first book of poetry, "Oh, Where is My Candle Hat?" at 12:30 p.m. For more information go to www.poetryartbookstation.com.