Although this is the sixth year for the Great Salt Lake Book Festival, it is beginning a new chapter. From its former home at Westminster College, it is moving to the Salt Lake City Library, 210 E. 400 South. The kick-off for the event, which runs Thursday evening through Sunday, is a special screening of "Dances With Wolves," starring Kevin Costner. It will take place Thursday at the nearby Broadway Cinema, 7-10 p.m. Michael Blake, the film's screenwriter and the author of the original novel, will offer commentary and discussion. (Tickets, $3 each, are required.)
The headliner this year is Sandra Cisneros, internationally known Chicana poet, novelist and author of short stories, who wrote the best-selling novel, "The House on Mango Street," an account of her childhood in a tough Chicago neighborhood — and her most recent, "Caramelo," an epic tale based on her family's journeys from Chicago to Mexico City. Her collection of short stories, "Woman Hollering Creek," has been highly acclaimed. Her poetry collections include "Bad Boys" and "My Wicked, Wicked Ways." Cisneros will read from "Caramelo" on Sunday, at 4 p.m., in the auditorium. (Come early — the auditorium seats only 350.)
Cisceneros will also read from her work in the Salt Air Room at the University of Utah Student Union, Monday at 9:45 a.m.
On Friday, panel discussions, readings, storytelling, bookmaking demonstrations, workshops and booths with booksellers of new, used and rare volumes, will begin at 10 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sunday hours are noon to 5:30 p.m.
There are 35 presenters this year, more than ever, including many national figures as well as local authors, who will talk about their fiction, nonfiction, poetry or children's literature. The best news is the book festival is free. Planned once again by Jean Cheney and the Utah Humanities Council, it has a reputation for excellence.
The theme is "Finding Your Place."
"Salt Lake is home to many people with many different backgrounds, all trying to find their place in the community," Cheney said. "The festival is not only a place to celebrate reading, it is a place where you can come together to understand many cultures and appreciate diversity through literature."
Other presenters include:
Lois Lowry, author of more than 20 novels for young adults and twice a Newbery Award-winner, is best known for "The Giver," "Find a Stranger," "Say Goodbye," "Number the Stars" and "A Summer to Die." She approaches controversial topics such as mental illness, cancer, adoption, the Holocaust and futuristic societies.
Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Tribe and award-winning poet, has written "The Woman Who Fell From the Sky," "In Mad Love and War" and "Secrets from the Center of the World." She has also written children's books and numerous essays. Her band, "Poetic Justice," in which she plays saxophone, has a new CD, "Letter from the End of the Twentieth Century."
Pamela Munoz Ryan has written more than 25 books, many of them award-winners, for young adults and children. Her picture books include "Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride" and "When Marian Sang." She describes herself as "Spanish, Mexican, Basque, Italian and Oklahoman."
Alexander Shurbanov, distinguished Bulgarian poet, literary critic, translator and professor of English, has published five volumes of poetry, including "Frost-Flowers" and "A Place for Man." He has done critical studies of Marlow, John Donne and George Herbert.
Other presenters include Hector Ahumada, poet; Marilyn Arnold, novelist; Doug Alder, historian turned novelist; Nancy Campbell Allen, historical novelist; Ken Brewer, Poet Laureate of Utah; Ann Cannon, author of 10 books for children and young adults and a columnist for the Deseret Morning News; Robert Carter, historian; Chris Crowe, young adult novelist; Angela Dean, architect; Danielle Dubrasky, poet; Gary Ferguson, naturalist; Judith Freeman, historical novelist; Manny Garcia, memoirist.
Also discussing books will be Madelyn Garrett, U Rare Books Curator; Michael Gills, short story writer; Greg Gordon, naturalist; Melody Graulich, specialist in literature, art and culture; Jennie Hansen, fiction writer; Robin Hemley, non-fiction writer; Jorge Iber, historian; Dawn Marano, literary consultant; Ellen Meloy, naturalist writer; Lee Modesitt, fiction writer; Kent Nelson, fiction writer; Jeffrey Nichols, historian; Michael Nordenstrom, storyteller; Ken Rand, fiction writer; Donald Revell, poet; Jenifer Sinor, non-fiction writer; Dorothy Allred Solomon, memoirist; Tony Weller, president, Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore; David Woolley, historical novelist; Brooke Young, historian; and Gerard Yun, conductor of Southern Utah University's concert choir.
As in previous years, a book hospital will be available for book repair, and a puppet show, "The Princess and the Pea," will be performed by the Utah Puppet Players. (Saturday, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) There will be poetry slams for all ages, a presentation in letterpress printing and paper making, a silent book auction and prize drawing.
(For more information, check the insert in today's paper — it contains the full program. Also go online www.utahhumanities.org or call 359-9670)
If you go . . .
What: The Great Salt Lake Book Festival
Where: The Salt Lake City Library, 210 E. 400 South
How much: Free