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September 19, 2006

Women’s Book Festival isn’t limited to books

“What do women want?,” Freud asked with a famous sigh. Some of the most admirable of them want to write. This weekend, those will be celebrated with a festival and luncheon. Sallie BinghamThe inaugural Kentucky Women’s Book Festival runs Friday and Saturday at Spalding University. The university is already blessed by having Kentucky poet laureate Sena Jeter Naslund on faculty. She’ll get the festival off to a strong start with the talk “Creating Strong Women.” The schedule for the two days that follow includes a parade of all sorts of writing talent: playwrights and poets; memoirists and romance novelists; children’s authors; writing coaches; songwriters; and booklovers who organize reading groups. Signings by more than two dozen participating authors and opportunities to chat with authors are spread out throughout the two days.Though the list of Kentucky authors brought here for individual readings is impressive, it’s the breadth of panel discussions that sets this program a cut above what might’ve been expected. Devoted readers, aspiring writers and those who want to expand their literary horizons can hear veterans trade stories on their experiences and share pointers on their expertise. Panels include “Name Your Poison,” which (hopefully you’ve guessed) deals with mystery plotting. The rewards, challenges and limitations of free-lance writing will get a good going-over on Saturday morning. The evolving appeal and stylistic opportunities of historical writing also gets its own panel.Sena Jeter Naslund The playwright’s panel is bringing in actors to show how such work goes from inspiration to stagecraft. Among the individual sessions is a presentation on how development of a local magazine has brought greater understanding of disability and civil rights issues. Friday late afternoon will feature a talk by feminist scholar bell hooks, followed by a reception at Spalding Mansion. Saturday afternoon will include a talk by Carol Besse of Louisville’s own Carmichael’s Bookstore.One of the premier events of the festival is a luncheon featuring Sallie Bingham, who’ll read from her acclaimed novel “Cory’s Feast” as well as lead discussion along the theme of “Woman Writer as Exile: Going Away, Coming Back.” The luncheon, scheduled for noon Saturday at First Unitarian Church (809 S. Fourth St.), is available for $25 and requires registration. If you want to join in for this event, make an inquiry quickly (www.kwbf.info is the best place to start), as reservations are set to close around the time this issue hits the streets. Contact the writer at tlx@aol.com