NARROWSBURG, NY — If you love the world of books, do not miss the Deep Water Literary Fest. It takes place from Friday, June 17 to Sunday, June 19, and is a gathering of literary luminaria at …
NARROWSBURG, NY — If you love the world of books, do not miss the Deep Water Literary Fest. It takes place from Friday, June 17 to Sunday, June 19, and is a gathering of literary luminaria at various venues within Narrowsburg.
Aaron Hicklin is the founder of Deep Water Literary Fest and the owner of One Grand Books in Narrowsburg. “This is our third nonvirtual festival,” he said. “We held our first in 2018, another in 2019 and a virtual festival at the end of 2020.
“I grew up in the United Kingdom, and there’s almost not a town of any size that doesn’t have a book festival,” Hicklin said. “I wanted to spice it up and add elements that elevated the experience for visitors.”
So the festival opens Friday evening with a neon light installation by artist Moonsign, followed at 5:30 p.m. with an opening appearance and discussion by the actress and author Melissa Gilbert. Well known for her role as Laura Ingalls in the TV series “Little House on the Prairie,” Gilbert will read from her new memoir, “Back to the Prairie,” where she tells of leaving Hollywood for a Catskills cottage with her husband, actor Timothy Busfield. She will also talk with actor and festival co-producer Lucy Taylor. This event takes place at Krause Recital Hall at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, 37 Main St.
Each festival has had a theme. Previous themes were “The Odyssey,” and “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.” This year, the event centers around “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. There will be performances based on the story, and panels featuring notables from the literary world.
The first panel, American Gothic, starts at 7 p.m. Friday at the Tusten Theatre on Bridge Street.
Booker Prize-winning author Marlon James (“A Brief History of Seven Killings”) will tackle big topics with Leila Taylor, author of “Darkly: Blackness and the America’s Gothic Soul.” They will discuss the relationship between Gothic narratives, fictional monsters and the history of American slavery. “This is Marlon’s third time here,” Hicklin said. “We are honored that he chooses to return.”
Friday at 10 p.m., guests are invited to 108 Main St. for a Festival Cabaret of poets, comics and punk rockers, featuring Jubi Arriola-Headley, Paul Legault, Ryan Ward & Kenny Luck, and The Basic Bitches.
Saturday, June 18, at 2 p.m., two authors will explore the subject of “Horse Power and the Equus Effect.” Courtney Maum, author of the memoir, “The Year of the Horses,” a chronicle of healing, joins Halimah Marcus, executive director of digital publisher Electric Literature and the editor of “Horse Girls,” in a discussion moderated by Melisse Geula.
“What I love is that it’s an intersectional festival,” Maum said. “All kinds of makers take part: photography, an allusion to film as well as authors.” She’s excited to take part in the panel discussion, where she will go over what she describes as the power and meaning of horses through history. “Anyone who has taken solace in animals, I hope, will come out to this panel,” Maum said.
Maum has written novels before, but “The Year of the Horses’’ is her first foray into memoir. “My ‘characters’ are actually real people, and I needed to get permission to include them in the book; that led to having hard discussions with people,” she said.
As for the festival itself, she said, “It feels like a return home. If I had to offer advice to someone who’s never attended, I’d say, ‘Come ready to make new friends.’”
On Saturday, June 18, at 4 p.m., the celebrated author Joyce Carol Oates will be joined by poet Laurie Sheck, author of “A Monster’s Notes,” and Susan Wolfson, professor of English at Princeton University and author of “The Annotated Frankenstein.” They will discuss the topic of monsters and mothers, relating the story of Mary Shelley, Shelley’s elopement at 16 with the married Percy Bysshe Shelley, and her authorship of “Frankenstein.” It will be preceded by a showing of the short 1910 film “Frankenstein.” This not-to-be-missed event will be held at the Tusten Theatre.
Other panels Saturday and Sunday include a conversation with artist William Wegman, of Weimaraner-photo fame, at 1 p.m. on June 18 at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance; “The Art of the Memoir,” 1 p.m. on June 19 at the Tusten Theatre; Joyce Maynard, “A Writing Life,” at 2:30 p.m. on June 19 at Krause Recital Hall.
A very special presentation, “A War Lexicon: Stories From Ukraine,” is set for 4 p.m. June 19 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 31 Erie Ave. All proceeds from that presentation will go to Ukrainian refugees.
“It’s a series of fragmentary short stories, garnered from Ukrainian refugees gathered at the Lviv train station,” Hicklin said. As described on the festival website, “the stories have a quality of fable in which heartbreaking experiences are interspersed with moments of humor. Translated from the Ukrainian into English by Taras Malkovych, these stories will be presented by actors, residents of Narrowsburg, and some (pre-recorded) guest readers including Tilda Swinton and Alan Cumming.”
Woven within the weekend are workshops, puppetry theater and the Fête Arts’ world-premiere performance of “Olaf and His Girlfriend,” based on one of Ann Petry’s celebrated short stories. This is the festival’s only event with a set-price ticket. The rest of the events are either free of charge or have suggested donations.
For more information and to reserve a ticket to a panel, reading, performance or presentation, visit deepwaterfestival.com.
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