The 2018 Coal City Literary and Book Festival: A Flop or A Test Run

Today marks the end of the 2018 Coal City Book And Literary Festival. I attended the event yesterday. I am reluctant to criticize the organizers for the poor arrangements and the haphazard publicity, because I like to play fair. At least they took the initiative to organize an event for writers. Still, I can’t get over the fact that all they did was invite five bookstores to set up stands along the corridors. And I must commend the booksellers for doing their best to make the literary event worthwhile.

I have attended a good number of literary events. Take the Port Harcourt City Literary Festival, for instance. It was the talk of the continent both offline and online. Writers from all over the world came to either teach or learn at creative writing workshops, publishers displayed their books at the book fair and there were lectures pretty much every three hours.  There were also writing residencies, essay, poetry and short story contests for budding and professional writers.

Now I was expecting that the organizers of the Enugu Literary and Book Festival would at least have lectures or conferences. And I hope that wasn’t too much to expect, but still…

In my disappointment, I forgot to take pictures of the parents who, like my husband and I, had brought their children to buy books and other educational accessories. In fact, I wondered if there was anything worth capturing at all. It didn’t matter that my children were having a good time flipping through the pages of the books on display. I was happy that they were slowly imbibing the book culture, but that didn’t stop me from frowning at the missed opportunities.

Writing about it now, all I can think about was what one of the booksellers had said: “This edition is just a test-run.” And she was right. But perhaps the billboard advert should have stated that fact. “A Test Run of The Coal City Literary Festival.” If they had been honest from the start, I wouldn’t have expected too much.

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