Writer's Block

Black Book Fair carries on with a name change and an impressive lineup

Former teacher Sharon Draper has earned the 2004 Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award for her new book for teens, The Battle of Jericho.



A change in identity hasn't deterred the soul of THE MARK L. PASTOR BLACK BOOK FAIR. By renaming the weekend-long event, organizers sought to honor one of the fair's founders. In 1990, Pastor, along with friend Bomani Tyehimba, extended their business, Artistic Apparel, to create this literary celebration. Reaching out to the community, Promoting African American Culture & Arts (PACA), which now helms the fair, promotes literacy by featuring African-American authors, educators and lecturers. The refined result crosses color lines and literary genres. The subjects aren't always pleasant, but prove wholly relevant. For historical perspective, FIRPO WYCOFF CARR examines a little known portion of time with Germany's Black Holocaust, 1890-1945. Through Carr's research, he reveals the startling atrocity of how emaciated Africans were used for medical experiments and tortured in German concentration camps. BRANDON MASSEY hides in a different Dark Corner of the universe. Horror, yes, but of the fictionalized variety.

Well, at least we hope. It's one of those small town tales where everything feels perfect on the surface, but peel away the white picket fences and something evil lies beneath. The terror boils over with In My Bedroom, DONNA HILL's novel of the emotional and psychological effects of rape and incest long buried in one woman's mind. Other national authors fitting in appearances are DEVONE HOLT (Hip Hop Slop: The Impact of a Dysfunctional Culture), DEXTER JEFFRIES (Triple Exposure: Black, Jewish and Red in the 1950s) and YASMIN SHIRAZ (The Blueprint for My Girls). Workshops, lectures and family programming accompany the three-day experience. Hours for the fair are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at the Harmony Community School, 1580 Summit Road, Roselawn. 513-731-4500. ...

Among those providing local representation at The Mark L. Pastor Black Book Fair is SHARON DRAPER. By earning a King, Draper is a queen among the regional set. Her latest effort for the younger set, The Battle of Jericho, an insightful look into the problems and pressure of hazing for high school students, is a recipient of the 2004 Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award. It's not Draper's first accolade, having garnered awards for many of her literary efforts stretching back to 1993. In 1997, Draper was named National Teacher of the Year. Draper's role as teacher imparted wisdom on her writing as she sought to find suitable texts that proved relevant for her students. In addition to her appearance at the fair, Draper will also visit Barnes & Noble at Newport on the Levee at 4 p.m. Thursday to discuss her work and her ongoing dedication to students. 859-581-2000. ...

Students at UC have a rare opportunity to see an array of intriguing authors via the ROPES LECTURE SERIES, now in its fifth year. Of course, students are not the only ones permitted for these enlightening discussions which, this year, focus on "Language of Imperialism: The Cultural Dimensions of Conquest." At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, SUSAN HEGEMAN, author of Patterns for America: Modernism and the Concept of Culture, will present "Culture/ Globalization" in Room 427 of the Engineering Research Center. 513-556-3906. ...

Valentine's Day brings poetry, but there's a way to steer clear of cheesy Hallmark verse. TRAINED MONKEY PRESS peels away with a release of two books of contemporary poetry: BRET C. DUNCAN's Transmissions Through a Porous Medium and ROBERT BARTUSCH's Three and a Half Flat Tires. Duncan's luscious words give credence to original visions of time-tested poetic themes, while Bartusch opts for a schizophrenic hodge-podge of the irreverent through quick, hit-'em-hard verses. A release party, beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday at Newport's Southgate House, features music by Heevahava and The Standard. Of course, readings by the featured poets are also on the agenda as is an open mic segment. Cover charge is $5. 859-431-2201.

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