Western Carolina University’s English Department will hold its 19th annual Spring Literary Festival, beginning Tuesday, April 6, with the first virtual event starting at 7 p.m. and featuring Sugar Run author Mesha Maren in a livestream conversation. The event is free and open to the public and can be accessed at LitFestival.org.
“We want the festival to open up the literary world to attendees,” says festival director Jeremy Jones. “We aim for students and others to hear from writers who are writing about and from the region we live in—like Mesha Maren—and to listen to voices from places very different from our own.”
The festival will feature 12 writers of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, graphic novels and young adult fiction in daily events through Thursday, April 15. Among them are National Book Critics Circle award winner Edwidge Danticat and finalist Camille Dungy, New York Times Bestseller Jeff Sharlet and Latino International Book Prize winner Chantel Acevedo. In addition to Maren, Appalachian writers include Leah Hampton, Jesse Graves and enrolled member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. Many of the writers will electronically drop into classes throughout the week to meet with students and discuss their work.
“Sometimes, especially for students, the word literature can sound walled-off and old, as if books that matter were only written by dead people and then canonized by stuffy men in long robes,” says Jones. “The festival presents a living, breathing experience to explore the vibrancy of the literary world—important books are still being written and new ways to tell stories are still being invented.”
The Spring Literary Festival grew out of Western Carolina University’s Visiting Writers Series, the oldest such series in the state, and it aims to showcase writers from the region and across the country for residents of the mountain region.
For more information about the WCU Spring Literary Festival’s events, including visiting writers, times and locations, visit LitFestival.org.