4:38 AM / Sunday March 26, 2023

15 Apr 2012

The Free Library holds its annual Philadelphia Book Festival: April 16-21

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April 15, 2012 Category: Local Posted by:

Festival event photographs courtesy of Katie Riggan A celebration of reading and literacy, the sixth annual Philadelphia Book Festival takes place April 16-21, 2012, with evening Author Events at Parkway Central featuring world-renowned writers, including United States Poet Laureate Philip Levine; National Book Award winner Nikki Finney; Philadelphia Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez; and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author Robert Polito. Also on tap for this exciting six-day festival is Friday’s First Person StorySlam, where competing storytellers will expose their best mistaken-identity stories.


On Saturday, April 21—in conjunction with the Philadelphia Science Festival—science takes center stage in the Montgomery Auditorium. Enjoy an afternoon of lively talks from celebrated authors, such as bestselling science writer Dava Sobel on revolutionary astronomer Copernicus; a discussion of whale science, history, and policy with D. Graham Burnett; and a talk with Jonathan Haidt, award-winning psychologist and bestselling author of The Righteous Mind. Below is a partial list of events.


Nikky Finney | Head Off and Split Photo

Monday, April 16, 2012 at 7:30PM

Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students

Buy tickets online

Nikky Finney won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry for her collection, Head Off and Split, an intimate and intense dialogue with emblematic people and events in African American life. Praised for its exacting eye for uncanny and heartbreaking portraits, the book artfully enlivens figures ranging from civil rights matriarch Rosa Parks to a terrified woman abandoned on a rooftop during Hurricane Katrina. Finney is the author of three previous books of poetry, including On Wings Made of Gauze, The World Is Round and Rice. A professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky, she is co-founder of the award-winning multicultural group, Affrilachian Poets.


An Evening with Philip Levine Photo

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 7:30PM

Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students

Buy tickets online

Known for his “big-hearted, Whitmanesque poems about working-class Detroit” (New York Times), Philip Levine was named Poet Laureate of the United States in 2011. Levine’s early poems, often written in narrow, seven-syllable lines, are gritty evocations of the lives of working people, inspired by his work as a factory laborer: “I believed that if I could understand my life—or at least the part my work played in it—I could embrace it with some degree of joy, an element conspicuously missing from my life.” He remains a distinctly urban poet, and his recent poems are narrative, anecdotal elegies for a vanished working-class world. The author of 20 collections of poems, Levine has won nearly every major writing award, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.


Sonia Sanchez | An Evening with Sonia Sanchez Photo

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 7:30PM

“Sanchez has long been regarded as the city’s unofficial poet laureate. But now the job is truly hers,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer after acclaimed activist Sonia Sanchez’s appointment, at the end of 2011, as the city’s very first poet laureate. The recipient of numerous awards and the former Laura Carnell Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Temple University, Sanchez is the author of several plays, children’s books, and nearly 20 collections of poetry including the American Book Award winner, Homegirls and Handgrenades. Called “a lion in literature’s forest” by Maya Angelou, Sanchez uses black dialect as a poetic vehicle and writes elegantly on topics like bigotry, poverty, and drug abuse. Mayor Nutter has said of her new position, “Ms. Sanchez exemplifies the role a poet can play in helping to define a city and helping its citizens discover beauty.”


First Person StorySlam: Mistaken Identities Photo

Friday, April 20, 2012 at 7:30PM

Cost: $15 General Admission, $7 Students

Competing storytellers from Philadelphia and Detroit tell their best mistaken-identity stories.

A joint production of the Philadelphia Book Festival and First Person Arts.


Storybook Character Parade Photo

Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 12:00PM

Outdoor Stage

This year’s Storybook Parade will feature fan favorites Madeline, Toot and Puddle, the Berenstain Bear Kids, Ladybug Girl, Curious George, and Peter Rabbit. Storybook friends will meet fans and pose for photos.


The Cat’s Pajamas Photo

Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 1:00PM

Outdoor Stage

Described as “the most polished act in the Philly kids music scene” (Philadelphia Folksong Society Newsletter), The Cat’s Pajamas combine high energy children’s music with engaging dance routines, costumes, props, and puppetry, for a performance that entertains kids and parents alike.


Teddy Bear Picnic Photo

Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 2:00PM

Outdoor Stage

Join the Berenstain Bear Kids for songs, stories, and a snack!


A Storied Evening: A Family Fun Event at the Free Library

Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 5:00PM

After the Philadelphia Book Festival, head inside Parkway Central Library for A Storied Evening, an event for the whole family! This special ticketed event includes a storytime with master storyteller Charlottee Blake Alston, a high-tech, high-jinks scavenger hunt throughout the historic building, and dinner and conversation with acclaimed author Sara Shepard, whose Pretty Little Liars series has become a smash hit on television as well as on the book stands.


For more detailed information and ticket prices, call 215-814-3520 or visit:

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