Ohioana Book Festival April 29-May 1 will be a virtual event

Before the 16th edition Ohioana Book Festivala virtual event, kicks off April 29, a live (and online) broadcast on April 23 will address the impact of two years of pandemic.

“Stories of COVID-19”, featuring Kent, Ohio, poet David Hasler and Columbus writer and activist Donte Woods Pointes will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, at the McConnell Arts Center, 777 Evening St., Worthington. The free event will be hosted by David Weaver, executive director of the Ohioana Library which presents the festival.

Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, is the author of “Dear vaccine: global voices speak out about the pandemic“, and the Woods-Spike book is”So. Long. : Unfinished goodbyes with the children of COVID-19.” Their discussion will focus on how times of crisis, including wars and pandemics, cause hardship, but can also stimulate creativity in the arts.

The event is a prelude to the Ohioana Book Festival, which will be presented virtually for the third year. The event will take place from April 29 to May 1. 110 authors from Ohio representing all areas of the state and all literary genres will participate in the festival. Thirty-four of them are from Columbus and Franklin County.

More than 5,000 people are expected to attend the festival, Weaver said.

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In 2020, when the festival was forced to go virtual due to the pandemic, around 4,500 people attended, slightly more than attended the live event in 2019. In 2020, the virtual festival attracted 5,000 people, including book enthusiasts from 11 states outside of Ohio.

Next year, when the festival is set to return to a live event from April 29, 2023, Weaver said it intends to offer online programming to accompany the live events. The 2023 festival is scheduled to take place at the main library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Among the authors appearing at this year’s virtual event are young adult author poet George Bilgere Sharon Draper, Carol M. Genshaft (“Raggin’ On”), young adult authors Margaret Peterson Haddix and Mindy McGinnischildren’s author and illustrator Terri Libenson (creator of this year’s Ohioana Festival poster), Aimee Nezhukumatathil (“World of Wonders”), novelist Thrity Umrigar and Wil Haygood, appearing at the festival for the first time. Haygood’s most recent book is “Colorization: !00 Years of Black Films in a White World”.

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The program will include round tables, readings, children’s activities and an online book fair. All events are free. For more information and a timetable, go to www.ohioana.org.

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Joseph K. Bennett