Although the Ohioana Book Festival (taking place on April 23, 2016 in downtown Columbus, Ohio, USA) was celebrating its tenth anniversary, this was my first time at the event. Sponsored by the Ohioana Library Association, the Ohioana Book Festival featured authors from all over the state – a record number this year at 120. Like The Columbus State Writers’ Conference, there were multiple workshop sessions with several choices in each time slot. Rather than being hands-on as they were at the Writers’ Conference, however, these tended toward author and poet panel discussions.
I attended a discussion called “The Power of Words: Poetry,” with poets Michael J. Rosen, Maggie Smith, Alison Stine, Jacqueline Woodson, and Amit Majmudar, Ohio’s first poet laureate. It was standing room only as we leaned forward to glean the wisdom and experience of these amazing poets.
I also attended “How We Write, What We Write,” a panel of authors sharing their idiosyncratic habits of writing. This panel featured Jill Bialosky, Mark Dawidziak, Amanda Flower, Leah Stewart, and Robin Yocum. These authors – all successful and prolific – found inspiration and discipline to write in a myriad of ways.
In addition to other panel and roundtable discussions, Ohioana also provided space and activities for children and teens, a vendors’ room and book fair of the authors selling (and signing) their books, and “Poetry in the Plaza,” featuring short readings by nine Ohio poets.
I’d recommend the Ohioana Book Festival to anyone interested in books, writing, or things Ohioan. It was a thrill to see so many authors from Ohio, with such a vast array of genres, styles, and voices. As I stated previously, I hope that this festival does not occur in tandem with The Columbus State Writers’ Conference in future years.