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Book Festival

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    Library Director: Lina Podles
E-mail the Library Director
Hoboken Public Library
The Hoboken Public Library's First Book Festival

Local Festival Authors Included:

David Cogswell Lana Rose Diaz Jon D’Amore, Joe Del Priore
Ona Gritz Jacqueline Hallenbeck
Roxanne Hoffman  Kate Kaiser Caren Lissner Lenore Look Arturo O. Martinez
LaTia McNeely-Sandiford
Ibou Ndoye  James Pustorino Kerry Rubin Dawn Raffel Jack Silbert Aaron Starmer  John J. Trause Laryssa Wirstiuk Thomas F. Yezerski Christina Ziegler-McPherson

David Cogswell is a writer based in Hoboken, N.J., who has written tDavid Cogswellhousands of articles on travel, business, politics and the arts for various publications, including The Hoboken Reporter, The Hudson Current, The Jersey Journal, Travel Weekly,, Downtown,, and Democratic Underground.   As a travel writer and business reporter in the travel industry, Cogswell has gained a global perspective, traveling to variety of other places around the world, including China, Russia, India, Antarctica, Latin America, Europe, Africa and the US.   Cogswell was the co-owner of Rogers & Cogswell Bookstore and BlackWater Books in Hoboken during the ‘80s and ‘90s.  He is the author of four books, including Chomsky For Beginners, Existentialism For Beginners, Zinn For Beginners and Unions For Beginners, and has contributed to several sections in other books, including Fortunate Son, The Making of an American President, by J.H. Hatfield; Ambushed: The Hidden History of the Bush Family by Toby Rogers; and America’s Autopsy Report, by John Kaminski. 

Lana Rose Diaz is a wordsmith, Jersey Girl, and paramour of cLana Rose Diazoncrete and trees. She has been writing poetry and short stories for over two decades and performing as a spoken word artist since 2000. Her work has been featured on sites including Embrace the Positive and Jersey City Independent. As a journalist, she has written for the Hudson Reporter, Jersey City Magazine, Palisade Magazine, and 07030 Magazine. Guerilla Poet Tree is her first published collection of poetry.   A graduate of Lehigh University with a background in business and community development, Lana has produced a variety of artistic and cultural events in the region. She currently hosts Wordsmithing Wednesdays at Steam Café in downtown Jersey City.

Jon D’Amore was first published at 10. A story he’d written about Jon D'Amorethe Civil War was transformed into a mimeographed book and distributed throughout the county school system. He went on to write for the school newspaper.  During that time the pre-teenager also began studying the guitar, leading him to hone his love and knowledge of music and the art of composing. By his mid-20s Jon was traveling cross-country as a musician.  While touring during the 1970s, he was also a feature writer for New Jersey’s 3rd largest newspaper, The Passaic Herald News, simultaneously allowing him to enjoy the best of his favorite worlds; Playing rock & roll and writing.  In 1985, Jon found a different side of life. He said, “Goodbye and it’s been a slice!” to the music business and got a job in the corporate world.  By 1999, another change was about to take place. For more than two decades Jon knew that within him there was the desire and ability to write, it’s just that New Jersey wasn’t the place to do it. So he drove to Los Angeles…and stayed.  He started writing as soon as he arrived and didn’t stop until the manuscript and screenplay for The Boss Always Sits In The Back were completed.  Since then, Jon’s written and co-written several screenplays and articles, and is currently co-writing the screenplay “The Chess Club” with famed Disney director, Brad Raymond.  Jon still resides in California where he writes all the time… and continues to wait for the check that’s supposedly in the mail.

Joe Del Priore began writing for publication in 1982.  He has had Joe Del Prioreover five hundred pieces published.  He attended Rutgers Newark and has a BA in English.  He taught school for six years and retired from the Post Office in 2007.  He is a member of The Writer Group of Montclair, For the Love of Words Writing Group, Poetry Critique Group of Montclair, Red Wheelbarrow Writer's Group, and Fair Lawn Critique Group.  His books include the Switchblade Stories Series: Twilight People (2010), Plowed In (2012), Dancing on Lava (2013), and The Story Eaters (June 2013).  He has a poetry collection Bacon Bits (2010).  He reviews books for Indie Reader and Foreword Reviews

Ona Gritz is the author of two children's books, Starfish Summer (Ona GritzHarper Collins, 1998) and Tangerines & Tea, My Grandparents & Me (Harry N. Abrams, 2005), and a chapbook of poems, Left Standing, (Finishing Line Press, 2005.)  Her collection of poems, Geode, was selected as a finalist for the 2013 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Prize and has just been offered publication by their press. Ona's essays have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including More, New York Family Magazine, and The Utne Reader. She is a columnist for the online journal, Literary Mama.

Jacqueline Hallenbeck is a Poet-in-Transit and the author of Jacqueline HallenbeckPoem-atic, her first collection of poetry.  Her poems have appeared in The Jersey City Independent, Current/The Hudson Reporter, The Hudson Independent, Afterword, SpeedPoets, Turbulence, Sprout, Almiar/Margen Cero and Ecuatoriano, among others. Her work is also included in two anthologies, Prompted, An International Collection of Poems and Stand Our Ground, Poems for Trayvon Martin & Marissa Alexander. Chapbooks include “Poetry is…”, “Poesía es…”, “Faith in the City”, “Random Poetry (these bullets don’t hurt)” and “Tine after Tine.”

Roxanne Hoffman, a  graduate of NYU Stern School of Business, wRoxanne Hoffmanorked on Wall Street for many years. She now answers a patient hotline for a New York home healthcare provider. Her words can be found, on and off the net, in Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, The Fib Review, Hospital Drive, Lucid Rhythms, Mobius: The Poetry Magazine, The New Verse News, The Pedestal Magazine and Shaking Like a Mountain; the 2005 indie flick Love and the Vampire; and several anthologies including The Bandana Republic: A Literary Anthology by Gang Members and Their Affiliates (Soft Skill Press), Love After 70 (Wising Up Press), and It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure (Harper Perennial). She runs the small literary press Poets Wear Prada with poet, fiction writer and translator John “Jack” Edward Cooper. Her elegiac poem "In Loving Memory" was illustrated by Connecticut artist Edward Odwitt and published in 2011.  A chapbook titled “Stolen Moments” was published in 2006 to accompany a spoken word CD from Poetry Thin Air.

Kate Kaiser, who also writes as Kate of Hoboken, is being listened Kate Kaiserto more and more as a writer/playwright/ performer with a unique and passionate voice, writing of families and friends and connecting the present with the past.  Kaiser's current book, Letters to my Mother (But Really for My Father), earned high praise from Kirkus Reviews, calling it "deeply touching" with an "endearingly honest voice" and comparing the author to NY Times bestseller Anne Lamott.  Kaiser, who is preparing to publish two more narrative non-fiction books - Learning to Drink Coffee in China and Love Sex Death Betrayal - won Fiction Fix's Issue 9 Editor's Choice Award. She was also nominated for the 2011 Pushcart Prize and the 2011 Sundress Publication's Best of the Net Award.

Caren Lissner published her humorous first novel, Carrie Pilby, Caren Lissnerabout a 19-year-old overeducated college grad, in 2003. It is now being made into a film (check out the campaign on!) She also serves as the editor of the Hoboken Reporter.

Lenore Look is the author of the popular Alvin Ho series, as well as Lenore Lookseveral acclaimed picture books, including Henry's First-Moon Birthday and Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding, both of which received three starred reviews and were named ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Books. Her latest picture book is Polka Dot Penguin Pottery.

Arturo O. Martinez, a native of South Texas, has lived in Hoboken fArturo O. Martinezor 36 years. He spent more than 40 years in journalism—as a reporter, editor, critic and columnist. For 30 years, he occupied several positions with The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, the last 20 as Entertainment and Features Editor.  He compiled a book of essays and poetry for the Hoboken Library on the World Trade Center tragedy, Nine-Eleven: Hoboken Remembers, published by Weill Publishers of Hoboken. He is the author of the novel Pedrito’s World. Martinez has been a member of the Hoboken Library’s Board of Trustees for ten years, having served two two-year terms as president. He is also a member of the Hoboken Elks and the Holy Name Society at St. Francis Church.

LaTia McNeely-Sandiford
is an Entrepreneur, Author, Motivational LaTia McNeely-SandifordSpeaker and Confidence Coach. She and her husband own and operate two independent companies, Lions Vision Productions, LLC, a multi-media production company that produces motivational media for women and RDS Maintenance and Repair Services, LLC, a home repair and remodeling company. She completed her Master’s in Social Work degree in 2002 at Rutgers’s University.  For the past eighteen years, until December 2010, LaTia has been a change agent in the field of Social Services. She's held various executive positions in leading agencies such as Jersey City Housing (Mid-City Apartments), Urban League of Hudson County, Hudson County CASA, Girls and Boys Town of Newark, and St. Timothy’s Boy’s Residential center in Orange, New Jersey. She's led agencies to success by initiating grass roots programs, expanding existing programs and restructuring deteriorating programs. Her professional accomplishments and accolades are many. However, she is most proud of the impact she's made mentoring at-risk youth and empowering women. LaTia shares her story in her published memoir, Burdens in My Backpack, and soon to be published success manual Road to Wholeness: Success Strategies Manual scheduled for publication in 2013. Her company, Lions Vision Productions will produce one of its biggest projects to date, Burdens in My Backpack, the documentary in late 2013, followed by other productions. Photo Credit: Mallika Malhotra of Mikifoto.

Ibou Ndoye was born in West Africa's most progressive capital city, Ibou NdoyeDakar, Senegal.  Glass-painting artist Ibrahima Ndoye, commonly known as "Ibou,"  has combined modernism and traditionalism to create a style unique to himself. Ibou began his career as a painter in the late 1980s and painted several murals in the suburban city of Pikine. Some of Ibou’s murals were selected to appear in a French-produced documentary in 1990.  In the 90s Ibou entered and renovated the world of glass painting and began exhibiting his work around Africa and Europe in local and internationally touring shows. The Biannual of African Art hosted in Dakar regularly accepts Ibou’s work for exhibition in a show titled "The Salon of Glass Painting." Now Ibou resides in Jersey City, New Jersey, and regularly exhibits his art both locally and internationally in addition to holding glass painting workshops at libraries and schools. Ibou Ndoye creates beautifully primal, vibrant books of images that spring from his West African roots and reflect all the bustling energy of his experience of the NYC area. His books include Forms of Faces: New Drawing Series and TAAROU ADAA (a Wolof (Senegal) phrase that means "the beauty of art or culture").Both are reproductions of unique books on cardboard made in 2011 created with stencil cut-outs, acrylic and latex paints and drawing materials. 

James Pustorino is an artist and arts organizer in the NY/NJ area. As Director of VJames Pustorinoictory Hall Inc., he publishes books of artists' works and produces exhibitions  and public art projects in lower Manhattan and Jersey City involving hundreds of area artists, as well as directing many projects for students and developmentally disabled artists. He has taught Art and art appreciation to children ages 4 to 18 at OLC school and administrated Victory Hall afterschool progams from 2000-2007, provided the Jersey City Museum's Saturday art program, 2007-09 and created and run an international art exchange between Jersey City Public School students and students in Cotagaita Bolivia.  Currently, he is directing the launch of Victory Hall Drawing Rooms, a ten room arts-pace in Jersey City.  He is the author of the children’s book A Thousand Sparrows illustrated by Jill Pustorino.

Dawn Raffel’s most recent book is The Secret Life of Objects, Dawn Raffelwhich was on Oprah’s summer reading list for 2012 as well as O Magazine’s list of best memoirs. The San Francisco Chronicle called it "a lean, brilliant, playful memoir,” and The Chicago Tribune called it "luminous.” She is also the author of In the Year of Long Division (a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Authors pick), Further Adventures in the Restless Universe, which Vanity Fair called “as sharp and bright as stars,” and Carrying the Body, of which USA Today wrote, “Raffel’s writing snatches the breath out of your body.” She has lived with her family in Hoboken for 20 years and is on the board of the Friends of the Hoboken Library. Photo Credit: Claire Holt.

Kerry Rubin is a senior producer at CNN for Anderson Cooper 360. She the coauthor of Midlife Crisis aKerry Rubint 30. Rubin has two children. She lives in Hoboken.



Jack Silbert is a writer, editor, internet-radio DJ, and frequent emcee. He is the Jack Silbertauthor of several books, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, New York Press, New Jersey Monthly, Weird NJ, and many other publications. Jack was a longtime editor at Scholastic Classroom Magazines. He has been a proud resident of Hoboken since 1994. His books include Oh Sandy: An Anthology of Humor for a Serious Purpose, Honest Abe’s Guide to Presidential Elections, The Big Book of Sharks, Honest Abe’s Funny Money Book, The Modern Con Man: How to Get Something for Nothing, American History Comic Books, Santa in Space, and Math Mysteries.

Aaron Starmer is an author of three children's novels and a Aaron Starmercontributor to numerous travel guidebooks. His first novel, DWEEB (Random House, 2009), is both a middle-school prison-break yarn and a mystery involving mind-control, standardized testing and hamburgers. His follow-up, The Only Ones (Random House, 2011), is a science-fantasy fable about the last innocent kid on earth and the village of children he convinces to build a giant machine out of scraps of an amusement park. He is currently finishing work on The Riverman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014), the tale of a boy who must decide whether to believe the wild stories of a girl who claims to visit a parallel universe where a nefarious being called the Riverman is stealing the souls of children. In a previous life, Aaron worked for many years as an editor for an online bookseller and as an operations director for an African safari outfitter. He lives with his wife in Hoboken, which he has called home for the last fourteen years.

John J. Trause, the Director of Oradell Public Library, is the author John J. Trausemost recently of Inside Out, Upside Down, and Round and Round, the chapbook Seriously Serial, and Latter-Day Litany, the latter staged Off-Off Broadway. His Eye Candy for Andy: 13 Most Beautiful… Poems for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His translations, poetry, and visual work appear internationally in many journals and anthologies, including the artists' periodicalCrossings, the Dada journal Maintenant, the journal Offerta Speciale, the Uphook Press anthologies Hell Strung and Crooked and –gape-seed-, and the Great Weather for Media anthology It’s Animal but Merciful. He has shared the stage with Steven Van Zandt, Anne Waldman,Karen Finley, and Jerome Rothenberg, the page with Lita Hornick, William Carlos Williams, Woody Allen, Ted Kooser, and Pope John Paul II, and the cage with the Cumaean Sibyl, Ezra Pound, Hannibal Lector, Andrei Chikatilo, and George “The Animal” Steele. He is a founder of the William Carlos Williams Poetry Cooperative in Rutherford, N. J., and the former host and curator of its monthly reading series. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize (2009 – 2011).  Photo Credit: Michaelangelo Di Nonno.

 Laryssa Wirstiuk is a writer and college writing instructor living in Jersey City, NJ. Laryssa WirstiukShe earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, College Park, where her short story “Welcome to America” won Honorable Mention in the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction judged by nov­elist Joan Silber. When she’s not writing, Wirstiuk enjoys cooking and eating vegan food and playing with her miniature dachshund Charlotte Moo. The Prescribed Burn is her first book.

Thomas F. Yezerski has written or illustrated sixteen books for cThomas F. Yezerskihildren, usually about family and history, and always with humor and heart. He has lived in Hoboken for five years. He wrote and illustrated Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), during the twelve years he lived in Rutherford, New Jersey. A story of the surprising history and fascinating ecology of North Jersey’s infamous urban wetlands, the book earned a Cook Prize Honor and was named a New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2011 and New York Public Library’s Best Non-Fiction Books of 2011.

Christina Ziegler-McPherson has a Ph.D. in United States history Christina Ziegler-McPhersonfrom the University of California, Santa Barbara, specializing in immigration and social welfare policy. She teaches American history at the Harry Van Arsdale, Jr. Center for Labor Studies at Empire State College (SUNY) and does historical research for Heritage Research Center (Missoula, MT). She has lived in Hoboken for the past eight years.  Her  publications include Immigrants in Hoboken, One-Way Ticket, 1845-1985 and Americanization in the States: Immigrant Social Welfare Policy, Citizenship, and National Identity in the United States, 1908-1929.




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