Anabranch Workshops

2019 marks the first year that the Alabama Book Festival is being incorporated into a larger celebration of Alabama humanities. As a result, we're offering special programming on Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12 before the festival takes off on Saturday April 13.

But first things first: what the heck is "Anabranch"?

From the Alabama Humanities Foundation website:

"Anabranch gets its name from the definition itself: 'A section of a river or stream that diverts from the main channel or stem of the watercourse and rejoins the main stem downstream.' Just as the stream eventually comes together again, the vision behind the literary Anabranch is 'a connected Alabama where people communicate freely about big ideas that can and will improve quality of life for people in Alabama and beyond.'

When Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF) began thinking about the possibilities for creating a second signature event, the decision to focus on Alabama’s rich literary legacy marked a natural choice.

In a state known for Pulitzers, playwrights, poets and novels, AHF is collaborating with stakeholders of the Alabama Book Festival to create Anabranch, planned for April 11 – 13, 2019 in Montgomery. The vision behind Anabranch is 'a connected Alabama where people communicate freely about big ideas that can and will improve quality of life for people in Alabama and beyond.”' Its mission, according to AHF Executive Director Armand DeKeyser, is to 'introduce all Alabamians to new experiences that will deepen their interest in and excitement for literature and the humanities.'”

Here are the great Anabranch events leading up to the Alabama Book Festival. All events are free but due to limited seating do require preregistration.

Thursday April 11


Capri Theatre, 1045 E. Fairview Avenue

5:30-7:00 pm. To reserve a seat PLEASE CLICK HERE 


Join us for Opening Night of Anabranch: Alabama’s Celebration of Literature and the Humanities, in conjunction with the 14th annual Alabama Book Festival. Kick off Anabranch with two distinguished Alabama natives—Imani Perry and André Holland—

who will discuss their respective careers and Alabama roots, along with thoughts about 200 years of statehood and the usefulness of the humanities to Alabama’s future.

Imani Perry (born in Birmingham) is an interdisciplinary scholar of race, law, literature, and African American culture. She is currently the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. Author of five books, Perry has published numerous articles on law, cultural studies, and African American studies as well. One of her most recent books, Looking For Lorraine: The Radiant And Radical Life Of Lorraine Hansberry, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and won the 2019 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. As if that those kudos weren't amazing enough, this recognition recently happened:

André Holland (born in Bessemer) is an actor and producer. Recipient of accolades for his performance as Kevin in the Academy Award- winning film Moonlight, Holland is also well known for his work as sportswriter Wendell Smith in 42 (2013), as activist Andrew Young in Selma (2014), as Principal Jenkins in A Wrinkle in Time (2018) and, most recently, as the lead actor in High Flying Bird (2019). Holland is also well known for television roles in The Knick (2014–2015) and American Horror Story: Roanoke (2016). On stage, Holland has starred in August Wilson's play Jitney (2017) on Broadway and in London in the Globe Theatre's production of Othello (2018).

All events held in Whitley Hall, Troy University Montgomery Campus, 231 Montgomery Street
All sessions are free of charge. To reserve a seat PLEASE CLICK HERE

1. The Clotilda and Africatown – 9:00am – 12:00pm, Room 140/41 Whitley Hall

In 1860, long after the United States outlawed importation of enslaved laborers, 110 men, women, and children from Benin and Nigeria were captured and brought to Mobile aboard a ship called Clotilda. This workshop will introduce participants to the story of the Alabama-based ship and the geographic and cultural origins of the West African captives aboard it.  In addition, participants will learn about Africatown, the home that the captives created for themselves, its present-day challenges and opportunities, and efforts to document the community over time.


2. Writing for Young People I: Irene Latham and Charles Waters – 10:00 -11:00am, Room 318 Whitley Hall

How can children’s literature introduce beginning readers to sensitive cultural issues of diversity and difference? Join collaborators Irene Latham and Charles Waters as they describe how they collaboratively created Can I Touch Your Hair? (2018), a dialogue for young people about the inevitable “mistakes” we make when learning about people unlike ourselves. Told in a series of poems by two fifth-grade friends paired on a school project (their names are Irene and Charles, of course!), this beautifully illustrated book is a celebration of listening, learning, and appreciating what’s unique about others. According to The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Literature, Can I Touch Your Hair? encourages children to “negotiate points of friction both racial … and personal” by discovering both what's a commonality and what's a complementarity in their experiences. Both Irene and Charles will discuss their solo work as well and offer audiences tips on writing and publishing for children.



3. Writing for Young People II: Bethany Hegedus – 11:00am - 12:00pm, Room 318 Whitley Hall

How can children’s literature teach young people about important historical figures? This is a question for both educators and aspiring authors of books for children, and Austin, Texas, writer Bethany Hegedus has a lot of great answers! For Alabama audiences, Bethany is best-known as the author of Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird (2018), a perfect introduction that prepares beginning readers for discovering the 1961 classic by narrating how its Monroeville author discovered the power of language at any early age. Bethany has also co-authored two picture books about Gandhi with the iconic figure’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, that examine issues of nonviolence and conservation. She’ll also preview her forthcoming book on Maya Angelou, Rise!: From Caged Bird to the Poet of the People, discussing how a world-changing life can be distilled down to important lessons for inspiring children and parents alike.


4. Alabama Story / Alabama Shakespeare Festival – 1:30 – 4:30pm – Gold Room (2nd Floor)

Sixty years ago, a librarian named Emily Reed added “The Rabbits’ Wedding,” a children’s picture book, to the state’s collection. This workshop, offered by Alabama Shakespeare Festival, will introduce participants to the little-known true story on which a play called Alabama Story is based.  The play unfolds as a lesson on censorship, prejudice, and the power of books. Drawing from history, theater, and communication studies, participants will examine the play and related texts. Teachers will develop innovative, curriculum-appropriate assignments for their students.

5. Young Adult Writing I: Randi Pink – 1:30-2:30 pm Room 318 Whitley Hall

Writing for adolescents is far from kids’ stuff! Books about growing up have long addressed important social issues about individuality, fitting in, personal responsibility, friendship, and racial differences. Randi Pink has been one of the bravest YA authors in the South when it comes to exploring sensitive concerns. Her first novel, Into White (2016), asks what happens when a black girl wakes up one day to discover she’s suddenly white. From that provocative gambit, the book goes on to map the journey young people must take to accept and celebrate what’s beautiful about themselves. Randi’s forthcoming novel, Girls Like Us (this September), promises to spark even more conversation; it’s about unplanned pregnancy and the effects it has on both young women and families. Join Randi for a no-holds-barred conversation about whether YA literature should take on controversial issues and help adolescents come to grips with real-world problems and perils.



6. Young Adult Writing II: S. F. Henson – 2:30 – 3:30 pm Room 318 Whitley Hall


Described as a “teen American History X,” S. F. Henson’s Devils Within recently won the Alabama Library Association Young Adult Award with the gripping and timely story of a teenaged white supremacist desperately trying to disassociate himself from the hatred and violence that he was raised to wreak upon the world. The psychological need to outgrow prejudices instilled in young people poses an artistic challenge: how does a writer chart that emotional evolution realistically, without that vital change in character seeming like wishful thinking? Join Sarah (as we know her) as she talks about shaping plot points and character development in ways that offer readers maps for reflecting upon their own experiences with racism.


** Pursuant to AHF SUPER Teacher workshop guidelines, Alabama K-12 educators are eligible to receive CEUs and reading materials free of charge, as well as a stipend to cover the cost of a substitute teacher.  For more information, call 205.558.3992.