The new year kicks off with the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. The 14th annual festival is Jan. 15-20 at Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach.
The festival features top poets at numerous ticketed public events, including readings, talks, interviews, panel discussions and more. Nine workshops will be offered for which applications are required. Special guest poet will be Coleman Barks, considered to be the world’s leading expert on 13th century poet Rumi, the founder of Sufism — as well as the likely namesake of one of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s twins.
Other poets leading workshops include Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Chard deNiord, Beth Ann Fennelly, Ross Gay, Rodney Jones, Phillis Levin, Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Tim Seibles. Individual conferences will be led by Lorna Knowles Blake, Sally Bliumis-Dunn and Nickole Brown. Slam champion Elizabeth Acevedo and performance poet Aja Monet will host an event. A special tribute to the late poet Thomas Lux will be held at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 20.
For more information about the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, visit palmbeachpoetryfestival.org.
Books for brunch, lunch
Book With Brunch sounds pretty clear. You have brunch and discuss a book and, in this case, help raise money for the Broward Public Library Foundation. Caren Neile opens the 2018 series discussing her book “Florida Lore: The Barefoot Mailman, Cowboy Bone Mizell, the Tallahassee Witch and Other Tales” at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 25 at ArtServe, 1350 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The event is free to foundation members at the $50 level and above; $25 for nonmembers. For reservations, visit bplfoundation.org/book-with-brunch or call 954-357-7382.
Author and entrepreneur India Hicks will be the guest at the library foundation’s LitLUNCH at 11:15 a.m. Feb. 2 at the Mary N. Porter Riverview Ballroom, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. A former fashion model, Hicks is the author of “Island Life,” “Island Beauty” and “Island Style.” She also was a bridesmaid to Lady Diana Spencer at her wedding to Prince Charles, so there is bound to be at least one question about the upcoming Prince Harry and Meghan Markle nuptials. Tickets are $75; visit bplfoundation.org/LitLUNCH-2018 for more information.
LitLUNCH is a kickoff for the foundation’s annual Literary Feast, which is scheduled for May 4 and 5.
Erica Jong’s new fear
It seems hard to believe that Erica Jong’s novel “Fear of Flying” will celebrate its 45th anniversary in 2018. This 1973 novel seems rather tame by today’s standards but at the time it was controversial for its portrayal of female sexuality and was credited for developing the second wave of feminism. “Fear of Flying” has never been out of print and has sold more than 30 million copies in 42 languages. Jong has written more than 25 published books of fiction, non-fiction, memoir and poetry. Her latest novel is “Fear of Dying.” The multi-award winning Jong will discuss her work at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 2 at Florida Atlantic University’s University Theatre, 777 Glades Road. Tickets are $20; visit fauevents.com or 561-297-6124. Jong’s event is presented by FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters and the Palm Beach Book Festival.
‘Butterflies’ named library’s Big Read
The Big Read is a community-wide reading program with panels, workshops and discussions focused on one book. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, Broward County Library's Big Read 2018 is “In the Time of the Butterflies” by award-winning author Julia Alvarez. In addition to the usual events, the library system has scheduled a variety of film discussions, visual arts workshops, Dominican Republic cultural programs such a merengue and bachata dance workshops, and other programs to be held at various Broward libraries during January and February. A limited number of free books are available through the Florida Center for the Book; details, including a listing of Big Read events, at broward.org/library/read.
A novel of courage, love and political oppression, “In the Time of the Butterflies” is based on the lives of the four Mirabal sisters, three of whom were killed for participating in underground efforts to overthrow Rafael Leonidas Trujillo's three-decade-long dictatorial regime in the Dominican Republic. First published in 1994, the novel was made into a movie in 2001. A work of historical fiction, “In the Time of the Butterflies” held a personal connection for Alvarez, whose family fled the Dominican Republic a few months before the sisters’ assassinations.
Jeffery Deaver still terrifies
Thriller master Jeffery Deaver makes a rare South Florida appearance to discuss “The Burial Hour,” his latest adventure with forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme.
Deaver was the editor for the short story collection “A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime,” which includes one of his stories as well as works by Loren D. Estleman, Carolyn Wheat, John Lutz, Jeremiah Healy, and Toni L.P. Kelner. As a writer, Deaver produces some of the most terrifying — and highly entertaining — thrillers. But don’t be too frightened. As a speaker, he peppers his talks with a wry sense of humor. Deaver will discuss his work at 7 p.m. Jan. 19 at Murder on the Beach, 273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach, 561-279-7790, murderonthebeach.com.
Judge turns cases into fiction
Frederic Block handled a number of high-profile cases during his 23 years as a federal judge. He practiced law for 34 years before he was appointed to the federal district court bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton. Block uses some of those cases, including the Crown Heights riots, to give an insider’s view to the criminal justice system in his first novel, “Race to Judgment.”
Block, who lives part-time in Fort Lauderdale, weaves in prison conditions, mistreatment of prisoners and the stop-and-frisk practice. He calls his novel “reality fiction” in telling the story of Ken Williams, an African-American born in the Brooklyn projects who rises to become a famous district attorney determined to free two African-Americans wrongly imprisoned murder. Block also is the author of the nonfiction “Disrobed: An Inside Look at the Life and Work of a Federal Trial Judge,” about how decisions are made on the federal bench.
Block will discuss “Race to Judgment” at 8 p.m. Jan. 9 at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, 305-442-4408, and at 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at Murder on the Beach, 273 Pineapple Grove Way, Delray Beach, 561-279-7790, murderonthebeach.com. Block also will be one of the authors scheduled to appear at Sleuthfest, the nationally known writers’ conference, March 1-4 at the Embassy Suites, 661 NW 53rd St., Boca Raton. Visit sleuthfest.com for more information.
Novel explores Palestinian-Israeli conflict
The Diane & Barry Wilen Jewish Book Festival continues with Joel Feiss discussing his novel “Desert Pawn,” set against the backdrop of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Orlove Auditorium, David Posnack Jewish Community Center, 5850 S. Pine Island Road, Davie. Tickets are $10; call 954-434-0499, ext. 336, or visit jccbooks.com. Feiss is a practicing gastroenterologist/internist in Plantation.
The writing life
Coral Springs resident Joyce Sweeney discusses her career as an author and poet and how she coached 36 of her writing students to publication during the meeting of the Pen Women, Fort Lauderdale branch, at 11:30 a.m. Jan 11 at Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill, 3115 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Cost is $25; call 954-812-1860.
Deadline for submissions February events is Jan. 20.