• Monday, June 24, 2024

Attention, Bookworms and Bibliophiles: The Greater Roxbury Book Fair is Back!

Discover the vibrant literary scene of Roxbury at the Greater Roxbury Book Fair: local authors, workshops, and more!
on May 16, 2024
Attention, Bookworms and Bibliophiles: The Greater Roxbury Book Fair is Back! | Frontlist

For the second year in a row, Roxbury will dedicate a day to the literary arts when the Greater Roxbury Book Fair comes to the Boston Public Library's Roxbury branch. The free event will once again allow community members to interact with today's local and nationally renowned authors while also honoring the past by commemorating a little-known historical event.

"We had been talking for a while about the need to just have a book fair where local authors are really highlighted and put out there for the community to know about," said Akunna Eneh, the program and community outreach librarian for the Roxbury branch, explaining the motivation behind the first iteration of the fair.

"And we wanted ways to kind of celebrate the literary history in the neighborhood that's there but doesn't really get promoted as much."
The book fair is just Roxbury's second, but the neighborhood has a long history and a vibrant literary scene, according to Eneh, who is organizing the event. One only needs to look at the community members who have started bookshops, such as Frugal Bookstore, the only Black-owned bookstore in Boston, and the now-defunct Jamaicaway Books.

Eneh cited other examples of the neighborhood's literary roots, including the bygone Nubian Square book sales, where local authors would sell their self-published works, as well as visits to the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library by well-known authors and poets such as Sonia Sanchez during the 1990s resurgence of Black-authored books.

This history is reflected in the book fair, which was organized by The American City Coalition, a nonprofit focused on neighborhood regeneration projects, in collaboration with Roxbury Main Streets, Frugal Bookstore, and the library.

On Saturday, May 18 from 12-5 p.m., attendees will be treated to a plethora of book-related activities and engagements. Visitors can participate in story times with authors like Raúl the Third and Candelaria Silva-Collins, comic-book writing workshops with Comics in Color, and poetry workshops with Boston residents Abria Smith and Arthur "Art" Collins.

There will also be author chats, a cameo appearance by Roxbury resident Ekua Holmes, and keynote lectures by Ibram X. Kendi and Jacqueline Woodson, the latter of whom visited the library years ago and gave a remarkable talk, according to Eneh. Those who need a break from reading can participate in an ice cream-making activity (registration needed).

Although rain drove the fair indoors last year, the first book fair was a success, she said.

"People had such a great day seeing authors, and we had some young authors as well — that was a huge hit," she stated. "It was incredibly enjoyable. I expect this year to be just as enjoyable, if not more so.

She stated that the organizing team intends to make the book fair an annual event due to its importance in the community.

According to Eneh, Nubian Square is a rapidly changing neighborhood, and sometimes residents "feel like they're losing grip on the history and culture of the neighborhood." Programs such as the book fair help to address this perception while still preserving the neighborhood's uniqueness.

"It encourages young people who are here now, or kids of parents who have been here forever … to feel the same about our history and culture and about preserving it, about spreading it," she stated. While the neighborhood is changing, Eneh believes that seeing different generations come together to learn from one another "keeps our community together."

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