First-ever event to feature national, state and local authors
APPLETON (Dec. 6, 2007) — Three noted national authors are among the first writers to confirm their attendance at the first-ever Fox Cities Book Festival, which is planned for April 17-19, 2008, at several venues throughout the Fox Cities.
“I am so excited that the Fox Cities is hosting a book festival. Books are vitally important to all of us. Reading not only gives us pleasure, it also brings the outside world to us,” said Ellen Kort, Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate from 2000-04 and book festival co-chair, during the announcement this morning at the Paper Discovery Center. “Our goal is to connect readers and writers and celebrate the pure joy of reading.”
The three national authors who have already committed to participating in the Fox Cities Book Festival are:
- Billy Collins, one of America’s best-selling poets, who served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-03
- Naomi Shihab Nye, internationally-known poet and author of books foradults, young adults and children
- Charles Baxter, author of the award-winning “The Feast of Love” and other noted works
Kort said other well-known authors – national and regional – will be added to the event’s line-up in the coming weeks.
Besides the national authors, state and local authors will also be featured at the Fox Cities Book Festival. The events will be held at various locations throughout the Fox Cities, including schools, libraries, colleges, coffeehouses and other open-to-the-public venues. A book fair featuring numerous publishers will also be held April 19 at City Center Plaza in Downtown Appleton.
“While serving as Poet Laureate of Wisconsin, one of my goals was to create a book festival for the Fox Cities, but I had to put it on the back burner because of time constraints. I am delighted that the seed has blossomed into this amazing book festival,” Kort said. “It’s a community wide event for everyone.”
Books connect people together, said Leota Ester, who is co-chair of the book festival committee. “The Fox Cities Book Festival’s purpose is to remind everyone how much fun it is to read a good book. It will be a time to appreciate the authors who write them as we listen to them tell their stories, ask them questions about how they write them and have a chance to talk with them,” she said. “Books are the way we tell our stories, the way we have new and different experiences and are an important way we learn. The festival will celebrate books, their writers and their readers.”
A recent study sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts reported Americans are reading less, and reading less well. The Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence Study found that less than one-third of 13-year-olds read on a daily basis – that is 14 percent lower than two decades ago. In addition, the study discovered reading among 17-year-olds has dropped by half in the past two decades.
“Literacy is essential to our lives. We have done a great job in the Fox Cities where literacy can play an important role,” Kort said. “The book festival will promote the importance of reading and writing.”
Val Wylie, president of the Fox Cities Book Festival Board of Directors and director of the Paper Discovery Center, said the key to getting the festival off the ground was bringing the right group of people together.
“As the planning for the event grew, we kept pulling in more and more people. It is truly a community collaboration,” she said.
In addition to the Fox Cities, other Wisconsin cities hosting book festivals include Milwaukee, Eau Claire, Edgerton and Madison.
The Fox Cities Book Festival is made possible by a number of public and private donors, including: Lawrence University, the Appleton Education Foundation, the Fox Valley Library Council, a project grant from unrestricted funds within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, a project grant from the Ellen Kort Literary Arts Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, a project grant from the Frank C. Shattuck Community Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin.
For more information on the Fox Cities Book Festival, please visit www.foxcitiesbookfestival.org.