Bangor Book Festival
October 13-14, 2017

Books transport us to tranquil lands in turbulent times and engage us in adventures when apathy takes hold …

The Bangor Book Festival starts a new chapter on Saturday, October 14th at the Bangor Public Library with Maine author talks and panels for all ages throughout the day.

We’re very excited to host such amazing literary talent this year! Our confirmed guests include:

L.E. Barrett, Sarah Walker Caron, Joan Dempsey, Gillian French, Fran Hodgkins, Carrie Jones, Jim Nichols, Bill Roorbach, Christine Burns Rudalevige, Aislinn Sarnacki, Matt Tavares, and Jen Waite.

“There’s always at least one surprise at the Bangor Book Festival,” said Bangor Public Library Director Barbara McDade. “A new author I hadn’t known about, a book that is a gem but hasn’t gotten big press, an new field I hadn’t explored. I find out about them by hearing an author speak at the Festival. The Bangor Book Festival also gives me the opportunity to hear the authors whose work has already grabbed my attention and reminded me why I fell in love with literature in the first place.”

All programs at this year’s Bangor Book Festival are free and open to the public.

10am • Fun in the Outdoors All Year Round
Aislinn Sarnacki

11am • Eating Local in Maine
L.E. Barrett, Sarah Walker Caron and Christine Burns Rudalevige

11am • Writing for Children, Expanding Minds
Fran Hodgkins

12pm • Visual Storytelling: Drawing for Children
Matt Tavares

1pm • Breaking Out in Young Adult
Gillian French and Carrie Jones

1pm • Getting Personal: How Memoir Brings Readers Closer
Jen Waite

2pm • Fictional Lives and the Characters Who Live Them
Joan Dempsey and Jim Nichols

3pm • Author Talk with Bill Roorbach

Don’t miss Friday night’s free screening of “I Know A Man … Ashley Bryan” at Husson University’s Gracie Theatre.

Friday, October 13
7pm • Light refeshments
7:30 • Showing of film (56 min in length)
8:30 • Q & A with film director Richard Kane

“I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan” is an inspiring new documentary by Richard Kane and Robert Shetterly about this 94-year-old creative wonder who skips and jumps in his heart like a child. Born in Harlem, schooled by the renowned artist Romare Bearden, and raised in the Bronx, Ashley was drafted out of art school into the segregated US army at age nineteen. He served in an all-Black battalion during World War II and preserved his humanity by drawing, stowing supplies in his gas mask. Ashley now lives on the remote Cranberry Islands, Maine, and has been using art his entire life to celebrate joy, mediate the darkness of war and racism, explore the mysteries of faith, and create loving community. He is a poet/illustrator of over 50 published children’s books, and makes magical puppets and sea glass windows from found objects inspired by his African heritage. The film explores his world from the time his father “was given the mop and the broom”, (a reference to the Gordon Parks photograph). He quotes Marian Anderson admonishing “to keep another down you have to hold them down, and therefore cannot … soar to the potential within you.” He spreads beauty through his linocut prints exhorting “Let My People Go”. His life story and the art he makes from this wellspring of experience is an inspiration to people of all ages.

Ashley is the recipient of three Coretta Scott King Awards, a NYC Public Library Literary Lion Award, and a 2017 prestigious Newbery Honor Award for his latest book Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life.

Here’s what you missed last year:

The 2016 Bangor Book Festival kicked off on Friday, October 14th at the Bangor Public Library with a special poetry reading event and music performance.

Friday, October 14

Poetry & Performance Festival Kickoff 7pm

Our festival kickoff begins at 7pm. Joining us are poets Leonore Hildebrandt, Christian Barter (current Acadia National Park Centennial Poet Laureate), Kathleen Ellis and Martin Steingesser (former Portland Maine Poet Laureate, 2007-2009). Following the reading will be a performance of the late Don Stratton’s On Immortality involving narration with singing and a jazz quintet. It is the last piece Don wrote before he passed away last spring, and it’s especially meaningful as the Bangor Public Library has archived many of his compositions in a special collection.

Saturday, October 15

Ghostbusting for Kids with Liza Gardner Walsh 1pm

Calling all amateur kid ghost busters! Join author Liza Gardner Walsh for a fun program featuring a short ghost story writing program and a hands-on ghost craft as we learn about her newest children’s book, Ghost Hunter’s Handbook. Then help conduct a ghost investigation in the library with Liza’s EMF detector and ghost radar app.

Writing the Truth: Nonfiction and History Panel with David BergquistTrudy Irene Scee and Brian Swartz 3pm

You can’t make this stuff up! Learn what goes into writing about nonfiction and researching the past with these published history authors. Q & A to follow.

All programs at this year’s Bangor Book Festival are free and open to the public. 


l-hildebrandtLeonore Hildebrandt, author of two poetry collections, The Work at Hand and The Next Unknown, has published poems and translations in the Cafe Review, Cerise Press, Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Poetry Daily, Poetry Salzburg Review, and other journals. Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she has received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. She was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Germany, Hildebrandt lives “off the grid” in Harrington, Maine. She teaches creative writing at the University of Maine and serves on the editorial board of the Beloit Poetry Journal.


chris-barterChristian Barter is the author of three books of poetry: In Someone Else’s House (winner of the 2014 Maine Literary Award), The Singers I Prefer (a Lenore Marshall Prize finalist), and Secret Evidence, winner of the Isabella Gardner Award from BOA Editions, forthcoming in 2017. His poetry has appeared in Ploughshares,The Literary Review, Epoch, Georgia Review, and The American Scholar, and featured on The Writer’s Almanac, Poetry Daily, and The PBS Newshour. He has been a resident fellow at Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony and a Hodder Fellow in poetry at Princeton University. For over 25 years, he has worked for the trail crew at Acadia National Park as a stone worker, rigger, arborist, equipment operator, and supervisor, and he is currently serving there as Centennial Poet Laureate.


kathleen-ellisKathleen Ellis has published five poetry collections: Narrow River to the North, Vanishing Act, Entering Earthquake Country, and Red Horses. She co-edited The Eloquent Edge: Fifteen Maine Women Writers. Her poetry and translations have appeared in The Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Café Review, Latin American Review, North American Review, and Rhino, among others. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Maine Arts Commission and Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize. Poems from her manuscript, Dear Darwin, were set to music and released as a Parma Recording CD, which was nominated for a 2025 Grammy Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of Maine and coordinates the annual POETS/SPEAK! at the Bangor Public Library.


martin-steingesserMartin Steingesser’s poems whisper, shout, and occasionally slam. He is the author of three books of poems, Yellow HorsesBrothers of Morning, and The Thinking Heart: the Life & Loves of Etty Hillesum, the latter based on Hillesum’s writings, composed and arranged for performance. The Thinking Heart toured New England and Europe, at the International Etty Hillesum Congress 2014, in Belgium, and at the Center for Dialog & Prayer, In Poland. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Ohio Review, PoetryEast, and Hanging Loose. He is also a member of the performance ensemble Off the Page: 2 Poets & a Musician. He was Portland, Maine’s first Poet Laureate from 2007-2009.


donOn Immortality
A Dialogue by George Santayana
Set to music by Don Stratton
Nancy Ellen Ogle and Rich Tozier, Narrators
Accompanied by Dan Barrett
And the Swingmatism Jazz Ensemble

An ancient Greek myth about the after-life turns out to have been true. A stranger who has recently died finds herself on a raft crossing the River Styx, being ferried along with other newly departed souls to the Island of Remembrance by the god Charon.
In this modern version of the myth, Santayana engages the departed soul in conversation with the gaunt ferryman, exploring issues of life and death. In Santayana’s view, truth is simply everything that has actually happened; as such, it is impossible for anyone to live in the present and, at the same time, live in the truth. On realizing this view, the stranger becomes liberated from previous notions about living and dying and is newly able to enjoy the phenomena of existence as they arise.

Don Stratton (1928-2016) was a teacher, composer and trumpet player of national acclaim. In 1976, Don’s “The Seasons in Maine” was performed by the Bangor Symphony at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., representing our State in the national bicentennial celebrations.

A Clark Terry protégé, Don was known as a trumpet player influenced by Bix Beiderbecke (as well as modern jazz trumpet players. Notably he blew with Phil Woods, Kenny Clarke), Elliot Lawrence and Claude Thornhill. His American Post-Forty Blues, for orchestra and solo trumpet is a perfect example of Third Stream Music. As Professor of Music at UMaine, Don created the 20th Century Music Ensemble, in which students enthusiastically performed a wide variety of jazz along with far out experimental works and lyrical compositions. Don’s music is archived in a special collection at the Bangor Public Library.

“There’s always at least one surprise at the Bangor Book Festival,” said Bangor Public Library Director Barbara McDade. “A new author I hadn’t known about, a book that is a gem but hasn’t gotten big press, an new field I hadn’t explored. I find out about them by hearing an author speak at the Festival. The Bangor Book Festival also gives me the opportunity to hear the authors whose work has already grabbed my attention and reminded me why I fell in love with literature in the first place.”


lizagardnerwalshLiza Gardner Walsh is the author of several books, including Ghost Hunter’s HandbookFairy Houses All Year, Fairy Garden Handbook, Where Do Fairies Go When it Snows?, Treasure Hunter’s Handbook, and Muddy Boots. She is a former children’s librarian, preschool teacher, high school English teacher, writing tutor, museum educator, and she holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College.


updated-photo-iiDavid H. Bergquist lives and writes in Hermon, Maine following nearly a fifty year career in education. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maine and a doctorate from the University of  Nebraska, he served for thirty years as a college administrator for Becker College, retiring in 2003 as Dean. He is an avid historian and frequently writes and lectures about World War II history. His first book, Prelude to Courage, An Air Warrior’s Journey of Faith, was published in 2011 by Heritage Books, Inc.


scee-trudy-at-schoodic-croppedTrudy Irene Scee is a freelance writer and historian. She holds undergraduate degrees in Forestry and History, a Masters of Arts in History from the University of Montana, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from the University of Maine. She has also studied engineering and anthropology, and has received a number of academic fellowships and awards. Her three most recent works, each published within the last year, are Moving the Earth, The Life and Work of Herbert E. Sargent; Public Enemy No. 1, The True Story of the Brady Gang; and Dancing in Paradise, Burning in Hell: Women in Maine’s Historic Working Class Dance Industries. Additional works are underway. Dr. Scee lives in the Bangor, Maine area.


brian-swartz-photoBrian Swartz, a veteran newspaper reporter and editor with more than 30 years’ experience, writes extensively about Maine history for various publications, including Discover Maine Magazine. A passionate Civil War buff, he publishes the weekly Maine at War blog. Author of the books An American Homecoming and Where Good Means the Best: 70 Years at Frank’s Bake Shop, Brian co-authored the book Legendary Locals of Bangor with Richard R. Shaw. Brian has just completed his Civil War epic, All That Time God was Busy Making Heroes, scheduled for publication in 2017.