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Unbound Book Festival Reaches Last Chapter with Friday Keynote


Unbound Book Festival is holding its last panel Friday night. The festival has brought together authors from all around the world for discussion of literature and poetry since 2016.

Unlike previous years, where the event was held over one weekend on Stephens College’s campus, this year it started on January 19. Unbound has held livestreamed panels nearly every Tuesday and Thursday for the past three months since. More than 60 authors called in from across the world to talk about representation in publication, the changing world of young adult fiction and how authors got their debut novels published, among many other topics. These panels were held over Zoom and simultaneously livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

Last year’s Unbound was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Festival director and owner of Skylark Bookshop Alex George said he’s thankful for everyone who was able to tune in for each of the events during this unusual festival in an unusual year.

“It’s been different in a number of ways,” George said, “but it’s also been inspiring to watch people figure out how to make this work, and people have been incredibly supportive. We’ve been absolutely staggered by the number of people who have watched the Unbound events over the last three months.”

George also said going online and spreading out the events allowed Unbound to solve a problem that many festivalgoers have had since it first started: too many panels to see in one weekend.

“People would often come up to me and say, ‘I’d really like it if I could clone myself and go and see multiple events at once’,” George said. “This year, it struck me that one thing we could do for folks would be to at least finesse that problem by spreading out the events over all of this time so, in theory, one person could actually watch every minute of every event and not miss a thing.”

George said next year’s panels may be filmed so people can go back and watch ones they missed. He also said he’s looking forward to being in-person again, as it allows for more personal interactions between attendees and authors.

“It’s not just about the events itself, but also the festival as a whole,” George said. “The authors participate in their panels, but they’re also just in the audience, they wander around the campus. We always make sure to invite people who are warm and nice and willing to talk to people.”

Video archives of each panel can be found on Unbound’s website. The keynote, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Tracy K. Smith and Jericho Brown, will be held on April 23 at 7 p.m.