The annual Carolina Mountains Literary Festival (CMLF) takes place Thursday, September 7, through Saturday, September 9, in Burnsville. The event is designed to support and celebrate literacy and the love of literature in the southern Appalachians by bringing together authors, readers of all ages, novice writers, listeners and learners. It includes more than 50 free author presentations and five low-cost writing workshops in fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry and playwriting.
“I can’t wait to see what people are up to with their work and to share some terrific master writers,” says nonfiction writing workshop instructor Marjorie Hudson, who is the author of Indigo Field.
The festival kicks off at Burnsville Town Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday with Telling Our Own Story: Cherokee Self-Representation in Contemporary Media. In this panel, audience members will hear from citizens of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who are contributing to the international movement for Indigenous self-representation in media through writing, podcasting, visual art and cultural perpetuation.
From 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday, authors will give free readings and discussions via 45-minute sessions in venues around Burnsville.
The authors’ books are sold throughout the festival at Burnsville Town Center, and there will be two opportunities each day to have books signed. The five writing workshops for practicing and aspiring writers are also offered Friday and Saturday for $35 each.
“The nature of short story telling is intense—a universe crammed into a handbag, and this workshop is going to feel that way,” says Here in the Dark author Meagan Lucas of her workshop titled Bottled Lightning: How Ideas Became Stories for Here in the Dark. “We are going to cover everything from finding ideas, to drafting, to revision, and subbing to publications; I’m going to share all of my best tips and tricks.”
At 7:30 p.m. Friday, the inaugural Appalachian Playwriting Festival begins at Parkway Playhouse. The festival continues through Sunday, September 10, and features staged readings of new plays that celebrate Appalachian culture written by three playwrights, including CMLF playwriting workshop leader Kyle Thomas.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, in the Burnsville Town Center Legacy Room, keynote speaker Jason Mott will participate in an intimate conversational program moderated by Avery-Mitchell-Yancey Regional Library director Amber Westall Briggs. Mott is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and 2021 National Book Award winner.
“Jason’s most recent novel, Hell Of A Book, is a story that goes to the heart of racism, police violence and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans, and America as a whole,” says CMLF board member Kelly Denton. “Having Jason as the keynote speaker this year brings our country’s long relationship with racism to the forefront of our conversation, which is where it needs to be.”
Most festival events are free and open to the public. Guests must register in advance for the Saturday night keynote and the writing workshops. For more information about the festival, visit CMLitFest.org.