Dozens of local and national authors were in Burlington over the weekend to showcase their work at the inaugural Green Mountain Book Festival.

Organizer Barbara Shatara said the festival was sparked by the pandemic as a way to get people out of their homes to enjoy local literature. The weekend included author meet and greets, used book sales and writers’ workshops.

“We really want to build a community of readers,” Shatara said. “Books, storytelling, are really important parts of the fabric of society,” she said. “It’s a way of understanding our world, it’s a way of understanding ourselves, it’s an opportunity for us to build community with one another.”

Ruth Ozeki, an American-Canadian author and filmmaker, was the headliner of the festival. Event sponsors included Burlington City Arts, the Fletcher Free Library, and Phoenix Books.

Angela Patten, an Irish poet who’s lived in Vermont for many years, showcased her poetry Sunday. She focuses on narrative poetry, and enjoys writing about people and nature.

“I still think it’s a very small audience for poetry because it’s an acquired taste, but it requires a little more patience. I think hearing poetry read aloud is a great way to appreciate it,” Patten said

The festival board also decided to host the event during banned book week, and passages from banned books were read at an open mic. Shatara says, “storytelling is an important part of humanity. When you censor those, those stories don’t get out to the people who really need them.”

The board of directors hopes to bring the Green Mountain Book Festival back in 2023.