November, 2012 – Miami Book Fair International


November, 2012 – The Miami Book Fair International Come to Town


By Marla E. Schwartz


Book lovers everywhere have reason to cheer because Miami Book Fair International is near




MBFI 2012 poster by Rosa Naday and Children's Alley poster by Daniel Kirk.
MBFI 2012 poster by Rosa Naday and Children’s Alley poster by Daniel Kirk.




The 29th year of this exceptional book fair located on the Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade College in downtown Miami and takes place November 11-18, 2012. MBFI is the largest and finest literary gathering in America and is the premier event of The Center for Literature and Theatre at MDC. More than 350 authors will be reading and discussing their work. The IberoAmerican program will present an array of Spanish-speaking literary voices from around the world, including Homero Aridjis (Mexico), Mayra Santos Febres (Puerto Rico), Abilio Estévez (Cuba-Spain) and Santiago Roncagliolo (Perú).


Back again this year is the fall edition of The Miami Writers Institute, with workshops taught by novelist Margot Livesey, literary agent Kimberly Witherspoon, and award-winning author Teresa Dovalpage with a workshop in Spanish, among others. Also, Children’s Alley activities include theater, arts-and-crafts, storytelling and readings by children’s book authors. It will expand its children’s programming with Generation Genius Days, a component for toddlers, children, tweens and teens exploring reading and writing, storytelling, art-making, music and theater.






MBFI images Tom Wolf; Isabel and Ruben Toledo; Sandra Cisneros; Lemony Snicket; Junot Diaz; Chris Hayes; Manny Diaz; Dr. Brian Weiss and Amy E. Weiss

More than 250 publishers and booksellers will exhibit and sell books during the weekend Street Fair, including a really great booth sponsored by the South Florida Writer’s Association with members’ published books for sale. Also the antiquarians, whose showcase of signed first editions, original manuscripts and other collectibles unites book fair aficionados from all over the world. Some of the fair’s details are still being worked out – but here is a basic outline of what you can expect … which includes presentations by local authors/poets, celebrities, married couples and other family duos, literary icons, Florida Book Award winners and National Book Award Finalists. As you can see – it’s a sizzling affair.



MBFI images - Ann Lamott; Homero Aridjis; Thane Rosenbaum; Bill O'Reilly; Andrew McCarthy; Molly Ringwald.
MBFI images – Ann Lamott; Homero Aridjis; Thane Rosenbaum; Bill O’Reilly; Andrew McCarthy; Molly Ringwald.

The fair begins with an Inauguration Ceremony (Auditorium) at 5 PM, followed by an Opening Cocktail Reception and then kickoffs with its popular Evening’s With program (this really is the fair’s keynote speakers, so to speak) features many notable authors: Unless otherwise noted, all Evenings With presentations are $10 and tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets are still needed to enter free events. To purchase tickets, visit Tickets go on sale Nov. 5.


v      Sunday, November 11: Tom Wolfe, Back to Blood: A Novel, 6 PM (Chapman).


v      Sunday, November 11: Isabel & Ruben Toledo, Roots of Style: Weaving Together Life, Love and Fashion, in conversation with Judith Thurman of the New Yorker, 7 PM (Freedom Tower).


v      Sunday, November 11: Tom Wolfe documentary by Miami-based Oscar Corral, Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood, 8 PM (Auditorium). {If you haven’t caught this documentary on WLRN, this is a perfect opportunity to view it.}


v      Monday, November 12: Lemony Snicket, Who Could That Be at This Hour? (All the Wrong Questions), 4 PM (Auditorium). {FREE}


v      Monday, November 12: Junot Diaz, This is How You Lose Her {Nat’l Book Award Finalist}, 6:30 PM (Auditorium).


v      Monday, November 12: Chris Hayes, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, 8 PM (Chapman).


v      Tuesday, November 13: Mirta Ojito, in conversation with Plum TV CEO Nicholas Lemann, 6:30 PM (Auditorium).


v      Tuesday, November 13: Sandra Cisneros, Have You seen Marie?, 6:30 PM (Chapman).


v      Wednesday, November 14: Dr. Brian L. Weiss and Amy E. Weiss, The Transformational Healing Power of Past-Life Memories,6:30 PM (Chapman).


v      Wednesday, November 14: Jeffrey Toobin, The Oath: The Obama White House vs. the Supreme Court,8 PM (Chapman).


v      Thursday, November 15: Opening of the Paraguay Pavilion,6 PM.


v      Thursday, November 15: Robert Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson {Nat’l Book Award Finalist}, 6:30 PM (Chapman).


v      Thursday, November 15:  Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First:  Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, 8 PM, (Chapman)


v      Friday, November 16:  Emma Donoghue, Astray, 6:30 PM, (Chapman)


v      Friday, November 16: Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood at a Time, 7:30 PM, (Freedom Tower) {FREE}


v      Friday, November 16:  Alan Ryan, On Politics: A History of Political Thought: From Herodatus to the Present, in conversation with Robert Weil, Executive Editor – W.W. Norton & Company, 8 PM, (Chapman)


v      Friday, November 16: Literary Death Match, Bardot, 3456 North Miami Ave., Miami, 10:30 PM.


The Literary Death Match was created by Opium magazine’s founding-editor Adrian Todd Zuniga (he’s also a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer) in 2006 and now is takes place all over the world. Basically it consists of four writer’s reading installments/episodes of their work in two rounds, with winners advancing to a final round that really has nadda to do with literature – yet it’ll have you believin’ it does as the contestants are judged by novelists. Admission is only ten bucks.


MBFI images – Brad Meltzer; Tim Dorsey; Robert Pinksy; Michael Hettich and Robert Pinsky.



If you’re into checking out the written word of celebrities, there will have plenty on tap, including: Dave Barry, Nate Berkus, Tim Dorsey, Anne Lamott, Brad Meltzer, Andrew McCarthy, Bill O’Reilly, Camille Paglia, James Patterson, Molly Ringwald, Thane Rosenbaum, R. L. Stine, Mark Vonnegut (in case you’re wondering, Mark is the son of late-writer Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. and his first wife, Jane Cox – and was named after Mark Twain) and Naomi Wolf. Also, to help you complete your Vonnegut fix, Dan Wakefield will be reading from his book, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters.


Kathi Kamen Goldmark and the Rock Bottom Remainders perform at MBFI. Images by Marla E Schwartz.



The exact schedule as to when each author will be presenting his/her work isn’t available at press time, so I urge you to go to get all the information you need. You can even choose all the author’s you’d like to see and plug it into a schedule and wah-lah – your schedule is prepared for you ahead of time, which makes it very easy to navigate the fair.


This being said … some of the author’s do have their scheduled readings ready for you to attend.


For example:


Ann Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential PrayersIn this book (Riverhead Books, $17.95) Lamott explores the profound and universal realm of prayer by investigating how these fundamental prayers can guide us through difficult times, offer solace, embrace gratefulness, and celebrate awe in the light of pleasures both large and small. “. . . Nothing short of salve for tired souls.”—Los Angeles Times. Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Some Assembly Required, Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as several novels. (Sun., Nov. 18, 1pm, Auditorium).


Brad Meltzer (South Florida-based author) presents an inspiring collection of heroes from whom daughters can learn to lead a fulfilling and impactful life. Heroes for My Daughter (Harper, $19.99) brings together the stories of fifty-five remarkable people from across time and from all walks of life, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Amelia Earhart, Anne Frank to Randy Pausch, Theodore Roosevelt to Lucille Ball, Rosa Parks to the passengers on United Flight 93. Meltzer is the New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate, and six other bestselling thrillers. He’s also the host of the TV show Brad Meltzer’s Decoded on The History Channel. His newest novel, The Fifth Assassin, which is about a serial killer who’s imitating the four assassins who’ve successfully killed the President of the United States, will be released in January 2013. (Reading with Erin McHugh and Julie Klam: Sat., Nov 17, 12pm Batten, Rm. 2106). For more information – go to


The Stranger Within Sarah Stein (Texas Tech University Press, $19.95) by Thane Rosenbaum (raised in Miami/lives in New York City) presents a modern-day Alice in Wonderland in which a young girl from a broken home discovers a magic portal under the Brooklyn Bridge that teaches her about the Holocaust and 9/11. In spite of the subject matter, the story manages to maintain what the Los Angeles Times terms, “. . . a bright fairy-tale aspect, a kind of ‘Willy Wonka’ meets ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” Rosenbaum is the author of the novels The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible. (Sun., Nov. 18, at 2pm, Room 116. Reading with Malin Alegira, Border Town #3: Falling Too Fast). For more information – go to


Dave Barry (Miami-based a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and columnist)whose most recent book is entitled Lunatics (a comedy about two dads on the lam written with Alan Zweibel) in conversation with Seth Reiss &Will Tracy, The Onion Book of Known Knowledge. (Sat., Nov 17, 10am Chapman) This book is packed with valuable information such as the life stages of an Aunt; places to kill oneself in Utica, New York; and over 1500 more entries spanning all 27 letters of the alphabet. Reiss is head writer at The Onion.


Other interesting pairings include the already mentioned married couple Isabel and Ruben Toledo, Cuban-American/New York-based fashion designers – there’s also the local father/son duo Norman Van Aiken (a renowned chef) and Justin Van Aiken presenting their book, My Key West Kitchen: Recipes and Stories; local father/daughter duo Dr. Brian E. Weiss and Amy E. Weiss also presenting their already mentioned book during the popular Evening’s With program. They requested submissions from people relating to past-life experiences and received more than 400, so they narrowed their choices and grouped them into various universal life lessons such as grief and fear.


Local writers John Dufresne, Denise Duhamel, Michael Hettichand Geoffrey Philp will beat hand to speak for the SWEAT Broadsheet Collaboration a project that teamed up 46 artists and 40 participating writers interested in the intersection of their respective genres centered on the theme of “sweat,” partly in homage to South Florida’s tropical climate and partly as a nod to Sweat Records, the beloved store in Little Haiti where the group’s first meeting was held. This inspiring partnership will be on display at MDC’s Wolfson Campus Centre Gallery from Friday, Nov. 2 through Friday, Dec. 21. Dufresne and Duhamel will be holding their reading and panel discussion on Saturday, November 17 at 3:30 PM in the Centre Gallery.


Many more local favorites will be making appearances this year, including authors such as: Lynne Barrett, Magpies; Edwidge Danticat, So Spoke the Earth; Steve Forman, Boca Daze (Tor/Macmillan); James Grippando, Need You Now (Harper); Myriam Marquez (born in Havana, raised in Miami, works for The Miami-Herald), Guillermo Martinez (an Argentine novelist and short-story writer) teamed up to write Cubans: An Epic Journey: The Struggle of Exiles for Truth and Freedom and Les Standiford, Desperate Sons: Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, and the Secret Band of Radicals Who Led the Colonies to War.


And if you love poetry and you missed Kevin Young’s brilliant appearance at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival a few years ago, you can find him at MBFI this year reading selections from his book The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink. Poet, Cherie Clark, is a Professor of Literature and Writing at MDC who earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Miami. She’s the Deering Estate’s alumni Literary Artist-in-Residence, has a new poetry book – “Charles Deering Forecasts the Weather and Other Poems” which is a verse narrative that fictionally reconstructs the life and landscape of early 20th Century industrialist Charles Deering.Campbell McGrath, who teaches creative writing at Florida International University, will be reading from his book In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys: Poems. McGrath has been recognized by some of the most prestigious American poetry awards, including the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Academy of American Poets Prize, a Ploughshares Cohen Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, and a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award.” In 2011 he was named a Fellow of United States Artists.


There’s been an unconfirmed report that Robert Pinsky, a Long Beach, NJ native who represented his hometown in poetry at last year’s fair as one of the poets in the book New Jersey Noir, will be making an appearance again this year. Pinsky served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1997 to 2000. He’s the author of almost two-dozen collections of poetry and critically acclaimed translations, including The Inferno of Dante Alighieri and The Separate Notebooks by Czesław Miłosz. He teaches at Boston University and is the poetry editor at Slate. In 2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published his work Selected Poems and in 2012, Circumstantial Productions released the CD, PoemJazz with Laurence Hobgood. The Favorite Poem Project was one of his top priorities as Laureate in which he encouraged people recite and submit their favorite poem aloud on audio/video-tape in order to utilize them to commemorate the millennium.


He also appeared in concert combining his love of poetry and music into an unforgettable performance at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival a few years ago.


And MDC’s very own poet extraordinaire Professor Michael Hettich, who was at the fair last year reading from his manuscript, The Measured Breathing for which he won the prestigious 2011 Swan Scythe Press Poetry Chapbook Contest – is back again this year – as one of the already mentioned venerated writers of the SWEAT Broadsheet Collaboration.


Additionally, both Pinsky and Hettich took the time to sit down and answer a few questions in private interviews about their work. Here are a few interesting excerpts from these interviews.


                                                            MICHAEL HETTICH Why do you love poetry and when did you become interested in poetry?


Michael Hettich: I’ll go with the second question first. I distinctly remember the first time I realized I needed to write poetry and that was in a class in my sophomore year of college – creative writing class when the Professor gave us a poem by Cesar Vallejo called Black Stone Lying On A White Stone and it’s a poem which the speaker says ‘I will die in Paris, on a rainy day, on some day I can already remember. I will die in Paris – and I don’t step aside’. And it had this power to me at this moment like 18-years-old or so, like nothing I’d ever read before. It has this somewhat surrealistic take on life but it wasn’t so surrealistic that it wasn’t grounded. It had this fundamental grounding in reality that spoke to me like nothing else had ever spoken to me before; in that moment I thought that I’m going to do this kind of work. So, for the next four or five years I was single-minded in my determination to read everything and just write and write and write. That’s how I started.


The thing that I think poetry gives us that no other literary form does is a sense of a sensibility of the writer that is both absolutely individual but also opens up into what it means to be a human being – what it feels like to be a human being in this moment of history. So when we read poetry from a hundred years ago we’re in that moment with that person – feeling the air and the texture in a way that doesn’t have to be characterized or narrated. There’s nothing else but that experience and it moves much more quickly, it thinks by images and juxtaposition and all these things to me that make poetry something like secular prayer, something like moments of awakening – unlike any other art form I’ve come across. I also think another answer to that is it’s not something that one chooses or really considers it’s just that it’s the way I can most nearly articulate those things that I need to articulate. I could answer it in even more detail going back to when I was younger and my father used to sit me on a couch in the winter and read poems to me – but reading poems I completely couldn’t understand at all like T.S. Eliot, sp my sense of poetry was that you don’t need to understand it, it’s a very intimate experience, it’s surrounded with love. It was a nurturing kind of time – but the idea that you didn’t need to understand what you were hearing – it was irrelevant.


You can find more information on Hettich’s work at


                                                            ROBERT PINSKY


AW.COM: I admire the way you combine music with poetry – when did you get the idea to combine the two art forms?


Robert Pinsky: I started off as a musician in my teens. {He’s a former saxophonist.} My ambition in my late teens and early twenties was to be a jazz musician so something about it was always in my head but then it went away for a long time and my friend Charlie Simic {who also served as a U. S. Poet Laureate, from August 2007 to July 2008} whose brother Milan was a jazz booker and he booked Charlie and me into the Jazz Standard in New York and that was the beginning.


AW.COM: How much does growing up in Long Beach, NJ still inform your poetry today?


RP: It’s very important to my sense of America as it really begins with my sense of Long Branch. Certainly one of my happy memories of Washington was when the Library of Congress had this party for me during my poet laureate thing and Congressman Frank Pallone from Long Branch, whose family knew my family, said ‘you really can’t understand Robert’s poetry if you don’t know about Long Branch’ and I loved it. And he talked about the ethnic groups – the Italians and the Jews and the Irish and the black people and the kind of town it was and how being a resort town puts it in a different relation to the rest of the country; there’s the summer people and the natives; and my family had been in the town for awhile and my grandfather, Dave Pinsky, had a bar and it was the bar where all the cops drank – and it was across the street from City Hall and the police station – he knew everybody. His protégé Joel Purcell had worked for him during Prohibition – my grandfather was also in the liquor business then, too – and Joel went on to become Chief of Police – so I felt I had a place in the town. Growing up there remains important to me and to my sense of how you do and don’t fit into a community, goes back to my life in Long Branch. My other grandfather, Morris Eisenberg, washed the windows on stores downtown and was also a part-time tailor. My aunts and uncles and cousins and parents all attended Long Branch High School, as did my brother and I.


AW.COM: It’s important, I think – as poets – when writing –one cannot help but reflect upon the time and town where one grew up.


RP: Yes. Everybody’s experience is different and I had a very unusual experience of it that I often think was really the equivalent of growing up in the South because of that awareness of the past and which families you come from. And Long Branch is a very historic place. A lot of Presidents came there; there’s a great Winslow Homer Museum of Fine Arts in Boston – Homer covered Long Branch for Harper’s Magazine – and Long Branch was the summer resort where more upper class people went to Newport, RI or Saratoga Springs, NY in the 1880s, the show business people went to Long Branch. So Long Branch was basically was where the idea of celebrity of invented.


AW.COM: Does being in South Florida remind you at all of where you grew up?


RP: Somewhat. Somewhat – but in the fact that the season’s are flipped … this is a winter resort and that was a summer resort. Long Branch was not profoundly Caribbean – although there was a Puerto Rican feeling in Long Branch. It’s different – but some things are similar. My brother lives here – and there’s an ocean here.


One major change to the fair this year will be the absence of the Rock Bottom Remainders as its beloved founder, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, best known for her novel And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You, passed away a few months ago from an aggressive form of breast cancer. Goldmark named the band after the booksellers’ term for books that haven’t been able to sell so they’re offered at a deep discount. Band members included her husband Sam Barry, brother-in-law Dave Barry and many literary luminaries such as Stephen King, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Mitch Album and Ridley Pearson. It became an author’s rite of passage to perform with this band that was formed in 1992. The band, on the date of its 20th anniversary, played their final show at the American Library Association’s conference this past June. Obviously, this band is irreplaceable, but World Stage performances Friday through Sunday will showcase a talent of rock, jazz, folkloric and Mexican music. Check the fair’s website for scheduling information.


Admission to the fair is free, Friday, November 18th. Saturday and Sunday, November 19th and 20th, admission is $8 for adults. Admission for teens 13 to 18 and seniors over 62 is $5. Children 12 and under are free.


Marla E. SchwartzA Toledo, OH native, a graduate of Kent State, Marla E. Schwartz is a Senior Writer for Miami Living Magazine, afreelance writer for Lighthouse Point Magazine and the a cultural arts columnist for Her photographs have appeared in these publications, in many Ohio periodicals, as well as in The Miami Herald, The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post. She has had numerous plays published and produced around the country. Her short play, America’s Working? was produced in Los Angeles at both the First Stage and the Lone Star Ensemble theater companies, in Florida at Lynn University and at an Off-Broadway playhouse in NYC. Her piece, The Lunch Time Café, was a finalist for the Heideman Award, Actors Theatre of Louisville. Please check out the re-prints of her interviews with authors Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson and Dexter novelist Jeff Lindsay in the October 2010 issue #2 and Chris Bohjalian in the April 2011 issue #3 of Duff Brenna’s ServingHouse: A Journal of Literary Arts at You can contact her at