Established and emerging authors of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction will discuss and read from their works at Western Carolina University during the 12th annual Spring Literary Festival from Monday, March 31 to Friday, April 4, in Cullowhee. All events are free and open to the public and held in the A.K. Hinds University Center theater, unless otherwise noted.
• The Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poets Series featuring Richard Chess will be at noon March 31. The series will also feature student poets Samuel Fox from WCU, Patrick Bahls from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Teleia Tollison from Spruce Pine and Grace Wester from Odyssey Community School.
• Historian/writer David Cecelski will lead a discussion at 4 p.m., March 31. Cecelski is the author of “The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War.” His work centers on history, race and culture in the American South. Cecelski has been honored with awards including the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavis Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights.
• Pulitzer Prize-nominated Mexican-American author Luis Alberto Urrea will read from his works at 7:30 p.m., March 31. His focuses include poetry, fiction and nonfiction. A winner of the Lannan Literary Award and Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize, Urrea uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph in his writing.
• Appalachian poet Ron Houchin will present at 4 p.m., April 1. Houchin, whose published poetry collections include “The Man Who Saws Us in Half,” has been a recipient of the Poetry Book of the Year from the Appalachian Writers’ Association.
• A tribute to the late Robert Conley will be at 7 p.m., April 1. Conley was WCU’s Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies before his death on Feb. 16. The tribute will be followed at 7:30 p.m. by a presentation by Native American author Linda Hogan. Conley, who was a registered tribal member of the Cherokee Nation, authored poems, short stories, nonfiction and more than 80 books ranging from The Cherokee Encyclopedia to award-winning Westerns. Hogan, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her novel “Mean Spirit,” writes books, poetry and essays, and has a special interest in exploring environmental issues and indigenous spiritual traditions and culture in her work.
• Donna Glee Williams and Charles F. Price will present at 4 p.m., April 2. Williams’ first novel “The Braided Path” was released in March and grew out of her award-winning short story that appeared in the anthology “The Year’s Best Science Fiction.” Price has authored historical fiction and nonfiction works ranging from “Hiwasee: A Novel of the Civil War,” set in Western North Carolina, to a book about a terror outbreak in 1863, set in Colorado.
• Fiction writer Jill McCorkle will present at 7 p.m., April 2, in the Community Room at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva. McCorkle has had five works named New York Times notable books. Her most recent novel, “Life After Life,” was released in November.
• Fiction writer George Singleton will present at 4 p.m., April 3. A Southern author who has written collections of short stories and three novels, Singleton was recipient of the 2011 Hillsdale Award for Fiction by The Fellowship of Southern Writers.
• Award-winning authors Column McCann, Ron Rash and Lisa Consiglio will hold a presentation about their work with the organization Narrative 4 at 7:30 p.m., April 3 in the Coulter Building at WCU. Narrative 4 is a global organization that seeks social change through encouraging diverse people to share stories in a way that builds empathy and understanding. McCann is the Irish-American author of “Let the Great World Spin” and “TransAtlantic,” and co-founder of Narrative 4. Rash is the WCU Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture and author of acclaimed books including “Serena,” “One Foot in Eden,” “Saints at the River” and “The World Made Straight.” Consiglio is the executive director and co-founder of Narrative 4.
• On April 4, there will be several presentations in the University Center theater by more than a dozen authors from the WCU community. Faculty and staff members who will present at 10 a.m. are Mary Adams, Catherine Carter, Deidre Elliott, Rosemary Peek and Rash. Alumni writers and artists presenting at 11 a.m. will be Anna Browning, Josh Crawford, Caroline Holland and T.J. Holland. Alumni authors presenting at 1 p.m. are Sue Ellen Bridgers, George Frizzell, Dawn Gilchrist-Young, Leah Hampton and David Joy. Students will present at 2 p.m.
Festival sponsors include WCU’s Visiting Writers Series, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences, ACE series, Parris Distinguished Professorship, Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs and the Jackson County Public Library and North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. The project also received support from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.
www.litfestival.org or www.wcu.edu or 828.227.3926
A writer looking at a blank page is a like a painter staring at a fresh canvas, a sculptor facing a block of clay or a woodworker holding a chunk of wood. The desire to grab words from thin air and construct them into sentences, notions and ideas comes from an internal fire to describe human emotion and situation. It is a calling, one that picks its creators when the time and place is prime. Writers are messengers, connecting the unknown cosmos to an everyday modern reality.
Western Carolina University will be once again play host to an array of writers during the 12th annual Spring Literary Festival, which runs March 31 through April 4. The event is a celebration of the written word, where finely-aged veterans intermingle with the young faces of future generations eager to find their voice. It is a bountiful cross-pollination, one crucial to the perpetuation of the craft.
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