Home Entertainment UntitledTown Book Festival to Feature Hip-Hop Activism, United ReSISTERS and More

UntitledTown Book Festival to Feature Hip-Hop Activism, United ReSISTERS and More

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A child raises a hand at an RL Stine reading at UntitledTown 2018. Photo by Kara Counard and courtesy UntitledTown.

UntitledTown Book and Author festival started as an idea in a coffee shop just three years ago. Today, it’s grown to a festival with more than 115 free workshops, presentations and author signing events. Last year more than 5,000 people attended.

The festival, which starts April 25,  is open to all ages and has many workshops focused on youth. Rebecca Meacham, co-president of the festival and director of creative writing at UW-Green Bay, said UntitledTown has writing workshops for all writing levels.

“There is a unique appetite for a book festival in Northeastern Wisconsin,” she said. “And we are it.”

The events are concentrated in downtown Green Bay and within walking distance of each other; however, there is trolley transportation available.  Authors, educators and activists lead the workshops and discussions.

On Sunday, April 28, the United ReSISTERs, a group of local Somali refugee women, will have a reading and discussion from their premier book, “The First Winter.” This compilation of stories, poetry, art and personal letters documents their experiences and focuses on empowerment and identity.

The 12 authors of the book range from ages 15 to 25. One of the authors was in class at a Green Bay public high school when her teacher mentioned UntitledTown festival. The author shared that experience with a festival board member.

Children participate in a writing workshop at UntitledTown2018. Photo by Kara Counard | Courtest UntitledTown

“My teacher was telling my class about Untitledtown. We learned about all of the wonderful authors who would be there and all the great books we can learn about if we go,” she said, according to a post on the festival’s Facebook page. “Then she told us about a group of young local Somali women who wrote a book and would be there presenting … I got to tell the whole class, ‘Hey, that is me! I am a United ReSister! You can come to UntitledTown and come hear me speak!’ Then the whole class got excited and congratulated me. I hope they come!”  

“The First Winter” also includes foreword by a United Nations Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Somalia, Bahame Tom Nyanduga, as well as a foreword by Ifrah Mansour, a Somali, refugee, Muslim, multimedia artists and educator.

Another game-changing event is the Hip Hopportunity and Raptivism panel discussion on Friday, April 28. Organized and moderated by UntitledTown board member Derrick Holt, the panel will discuss what hip hop activism looks like today and how hip hop’s historical roots lie in community organizing and activism.

Originally proposed by local rapper and spoken word artist Cujo Swaddle King, Holt, who is a hip hop educator, wanted to broaden the panel to include more voices. Finding artists and activist from Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay the panel is an exciting new edition this year.

“And everyone really loves the name,” said Meacham.

Panelist include Cujo Swaddle King, co-founder of Art Hop Collective; James Gavins, the performing arts director at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Green Bay; Karen Reece Phiffer, president of Urban Community Arts Network and Lewis Lee, the Milwaukee Portal Curator for Shared Studios.

Photo by Kara Counard .

If you are an activist, a writer who doesn’t know how to shape your story, an illustrator or a experienced publisher, there is an event for you, Meacham said. The goal of the festival is for people to make lasting connections they may not have made before.

“UntitledTown is a destination that lasts year long [and through] the entire United States,” said Meacham.

Don’t miss some of the other UntitledTown Book and Author Festival Highlights:

Hip Hopportunities & Raptivism

Panel discussion about hip hops roots in activism and how embedding meaning into writing can be a meditative tool for self-growth.

Friday, April 28. 4 – 5:30 p.m.

We need Diverse Books

Panel discussion on the need for more diverse representation in books.

Saturday, April 27. 10-11 a.m.

An Afternoon Reading with Jamie Ford

Saturday, April 27. 12-1:30 p.m.  

The New York Times Best selling author does a reading from Love and Other Consolation Prizes.

Cartoneras Book Making Workshop with Carolina Espinoza

Saturday, April 27. 12 – 1:45 p.m.

Bilingual workshop on the art of book making and publishing known as Cartoneras. Started in Latin American, the new publishing technologies are seen around the world. Carolina Espinoza walks guests through the process and the movement.

Multi-Media Origins Stories: A Boys & Girls Club Showcase

Saturday, April 27. 4-5:30 p.m.

Film makers, graphic designers, hip hop performers and dancers from the Boys & Girls Club show off their talents.   

An Evening with Walter Mosley

Saturday, April 27. 7 – 8:30 p.m.

Author of more than 43 critically acclaimed books famous for mysteries like the Easy Rawlins series. During this event Mosley discusses book John Woman.

Andrea Gibson Performance and Poet

Winner of the first ever Woman of the World Poetry Slam will put on a spoken word performance.

Saturday, April 27. 7 – 8:30 p.m.

The Story of Act 31: How Native History Came to Wisconsin Classrooms

J.P Leary discusses his book and  the history and impact of Act 31 which requires all Wisconsin students to learn about the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of Wisconsin’s federally recognized tribes.

Sunday, April 28. 10 – 11 a.m.

The United ReSISTERs Reading and Discussion

The United ReSISTERs, a group of young Somali-women, refugees read from their premier book “The First Winter.”

Sunday, April 28. 10 – 11 a.m.

For a full list of events and schedule go to https://2019.untitledtown.org.

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