Bookstock lights up Woodstock with famous authors, rising stars, wild-eyed radicals and jazzy laureates

Vermont poet GennaRose Nethercott is just one of the literary lights at Bookstock

Lovers of words — written, spoken, sung and slammed — will find plenty to love today, Saturday and Sunday as Woodstock's annual Bookstock literary festival gears up in venues in and around town. 

Poet Patricia Smith. Peter Dressel photo.

This year's lineup features a dizzying array of talent, with national names like Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo and poet Patricia Smith, New England stars like filmmaker Jay Craven and journalist Yvonne Daley and the talented Vermont high school students who will stage their original one-act plays. 

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Find the full schedule at the Bookstock website. Here are some highlights: 

Self-portrait by Vermont cartoonist Jeff Danziger

On Friday at 1 p.m., Vermont poets GennaRose Nethercott (who could resist a name like that?) and Neil Shepard will read. Nethercott wrote The Lumberjack's Dove, chosen by Louise Gluck as a winner of the National Poetry Series. All day Saturday, Nethercott will write custom poems-to-order for attendees on a 1952 Hermes Rocket typewriter. 

Also on Friday, cartoonist Jeff Danziger and writer Bill Mares will talk about their book, The Full Vermonty, a collection of Vermonters' responses to the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. Spoiler alert: They did not find a state filled with unvarnished reverence. 

If you're bursting with verse at day's end, show up at the Artistree Community Arts Center in nearby South Pomfret for the All Ages Anything Goes Poetry Slam. The invitation reads: "Not just poets, and not just original work: Comedians, Musicians, Magicians, Martial Arts, Choral Groups Invited!" The spontaneity, loosely organized by Geof Hewitt, begins at 7 p.m. 


Author Richard Russo. Elena Seibert photo.



Saturday is Bookstock's biggest day, with best-selling novelist and memoirist Richard Russo leading off events with a 10 a.m. reading at Town Hall Theater. Russo will read from The Destiny Thief, a collection of pieces about his life as a writer, reader, teacher and friend. Among the topics: how a strangely placed toilet made him reassess the role humor plays in art and life. 

Vermont journalist Yvonne Daley

Also on Saturday, veteran journalist Yvonne Daley will read from Going Up the Country: When the Hippies, Dreamers, Freaks and Radicals Moved to Vermont. Daley was one of those travelers, moving here in 1967 and then going on to a successful career as a writer for the Rutland Herald, Boston Globe and Washington Post. 

Vermont high school students will stage their one-act plays Saturday afternoon

Poetry slam fans won't want to miss Patricia Smith, author of seven books of poetry and four-time individual champ at the National Poetry Slam, who will perform at 2 p.m. But try to spend at least some time checking out the one-act play readers by talented Vermont high school students from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday. 

U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky teams up with musicians for PoemJazz

Saturday night, head over to Town Hall Theater to catch 3-time U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky teaming up with special guest Los Lorcas for PoemJazz, an exploration of the way in which poetry and jazz intersect. "In jazz, as in poetry, there is always that play between what's regular and what's wild," says Pinsky. 

Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven

Sunday brings more readings, music and talks. At 2 p.m. Vermont indy filmmaker Jay Craven will debut his new work, Wetware, based on the novel by fellow Vermonter Craig Nova. The subject: A near-future in which people who've fallen on hard luck apply for genetic modifications for jobs nobody wants to do. And if that reminds you of the White House's current immigration policy, well, you must be one of those Vermont radicals. 

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