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15th Annual Boston Book Festival Held in Copley Square

The Boston Book Festival (BBF) is an annual celebration in Copley Square of reading and writing that aims to inspire and enrich the community.

On October 14, the BBF welcomed over 200 authors and moderators across 70 panels ranging from nonfiction and fiction to kids and young adults. Headliners included New York Times bestselling authors, award winners and social commentators. 

Attendees were in for a day of reading and discussion, book signings and workshops, a street fair featuring dozens of local vendors as well as publications, live music, food trucks and more. 

In a time when access to critical literature is being threatened, it is more important than ever to remind people of the rich and diverse stories that exist and continue to be published. 

One panel, titled “Memoir: Reproduction Rights, Where Personal is Political” featured authors Felicia Kornbluh and Hannah Matthews. 

Kornbluh, author of “A Women’s Life is a Human Life: My Mother, Our Neighbor, and the Journey from Reproductive Rights to Reproductive Justice,” spoke of the power of grassroots activism when it came to fighting for reproductive rights.

“Roe [v. Wade] is the floor, not the ceiling,” they said. 

Matthews, author of “You or Someone You Love: Reflections from an Abortion Doula,” expressed how vital it is to reduce the stigma around abortion and continue advocating for universal reproductive justice. 

“The only expert on any given abortion is the person having it,” she said. 

Through her writing, she hopes to educate others and create more compassion in the world for people that are considering or that have gone through an abortion. 

Another notable panel was on “Haitian Literature in the U.S. The Intersection of Migration + Translation.” This talk featured lecturer Charlot Lucien, 2014 Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges and founder of Trilingual Press Eddy Toussaint. 

The group discussed how translated Haitian literature remains an obscure genre in America, despite its emergence in the Caribbean. 

Lucien talked about how to address both American and Haitian cultures, “a longing for justice and solidarity.” 

Georges referenced John Keene’s 2016 work “Translating Poetry, Translating Blackness,” in calling for a need for newer perspectives in the works that are being translated.

She said that the constant telling of Haiti’s suffering is rendering the whole of stories about the nation irrelevant, that the genre is in danger of becoming a single-story. However, she made it clear that other stories about Haiti do exist, they just have not been translated into English yet. 

Outside, dozens of volunteers in red shirts directed attendees in all different directions. Stephanie Montano, a student at UMass Boston had heard about the opportunity to volunteer in a mass email sent by her school. 

“I wanted to volunteer last year but I wasn’t able to, so when I got the email, I signed up because I like reading books.” 

Khadi Faye, a Cambridge resident, attended last year and knew she wanted to volunteer this time around. Her favorite part was getting to meet the authors, especially Rick Riordan who was the Kids Keynote speaker this year. 

Other notable headliners were YA author Chloe Gong, nonfiction writer Haley Cox Richardson and poets Oliver de la Paz and Diannely Antigua.

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