8th Annual Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival August 18th

Besides an open fire hydrant, there are few New York summer traditions that match the coolness of the Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival.  On August 18th at 3PM, young writers from NYWC’s free outdoor writing workshops will read alongside literary superstars Earl Lovelace, Tayari Jones, and Jessica Hagedorn at the Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival. The acclaimed CASYM Steel Orchestra will be on hand providing music for the day’s festivities. Like the Lit Fest on Facebook for updates, and read on for more information about this year’s participants and the history of the festival…

Drawing upon the rich and diverse literary history of Fort Greene Park and its surrounding neighborhoods, The Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival provides a means for self-expression and creativity for area young people, and builds community through arts and literature.  The young writers come from all over New York City, but specific outreach is made to economically disadvantaged communities, and many of the young people return to the workshops for many years.  The Lit Fest honors the power of the written word to build inclusiveness and give voice to the thoughts and experiences of everyone, not just the privileged and powerful.

Walt Whitman was instrumental in the park’s creation, and the writers Richard Wright, Marianne Moore and many others wrote in the park. Many of the past featured writers live in the neighborhood, so the Lit Fest helps reinforce the notion of Fort Greene as a literary community.

The free event will take place at the monument in Fort Greene Park and is open to the public.

Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival Participant Bios

Photo credit: Marion Ettlinger

Jessica Hagedorn is the author of Toxicology, Dream Jungle, The Gangster Of Love, and Dogeaters, which won the American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. She is also the author of Danger And Beauty, a collection of poetry and prose, and the editor of Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction. Her plays include Most Wanted, The Heaven Trilogy, and the stage adaptation of Dogeaters.  Hagedorn is presently editing Manila Noir for Akashic’s acclaimed Noir series. She teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at LIU Brooklyn. For more information, visit www.jessicahagedorn.net.


Photo Credit: Rayon Richards

Tayari Jones has written for McSweeney’s, the New York Times, and The Believer. Her first novel, Leaving Atlantareceived best of the year nods from The Washington PostThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Creative Loafing. Her second book, The Untellingwon the Lillian C. Smith Award from the Southern Regional Council and was a Target Breakout Book. And her most recent book, Silver Sparrow, was an O, The Oprah Magazine Best Book for 2011, a Library Journal Best Book for 2011, and the National Women’s Book Association 2011 Great Group Read.

Jones holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. She spent the 2011–2012 academic year at Harvard University as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, and in 2012, she was awarded a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit www.tayarijones.com.

Photo credit: Robyn Cross

Earl Lovelace was born in Toco, Trinidad, and has spent most of his life on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. He has been a journalist, been Writer-in-Residence at the University of the West Indies and at universities in the United States and Britain, and has given lectures, readings and participated in conferences internationally.

His books have been translated into German, Dutch, French and Hungarian, and his short stories have been widely anthologized. His books include While Gods Are Falling, winner of the BP Independence Award, the Caribbean classic The Dragon Can’t Dance, and Salt, which won the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize.  Is Just a Movie was published in 2011 in the UK by Faber & Faber and was published March 2012 from Haymarket Books.


CASYM is the acronym for the Caribbean American Sports and Cultural Youth Movement.  Since its inception in 1983 as a non-profit organization, CASYM has provided academic, recreational, social and cultural activities for young people in the Crown Heights, Flatbush and East Flatbush sections of Brooklyn.

CASYM Steel Orchestra is comprised of 90 young members between the ages of 7 to 21 and it is the most visible and successful aspect of CASYM’s program. The orchestra has performed throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean and with jazz legend Lionel Hampton, the Harlem Boys Choir, Calypsonian David Rudder and more. Recent achievements include the 1st place championship in the 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006 West Indian American Day Carnival Steelband Panorama Competition and 9th place in the 2000 World Steelband festival held in Trinidad and Tobago. In 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2011 the orchestra placed 2nd in the West Indian American Day Carnival Steelband Panorama Competition.

The Fort Greene Park Summer Literary Festival is presented by NY Writers Coalition, Akashic Books, the Fort Greene Park ConservancyGreenlight Bookstore, with additional support from Amazon.com and The Walt Whitman Project.

Sponsors include Amazon.com, the National Endowment for the Arts, Bay and Paul Foundations, Valentine Perry Snyder Fund, Kalliopeia Foundation, Meringoff Family Foundation, City Council Member Letitia James, Brooklyn Community Foundation, and Poets & Writers, Inc. through public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

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