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ETSU to host third annual Spring Literary Festival celebrating creative writing

Contributed • Apr 6, 2018 at 8:33 AM

The third annual Spring Literary Festival will be held at East Tennessee State University on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 10-11.

This two-day festival, sponsored by the “ETSU Celebrates Creative Writing” initiative and the Department of Literature and Language, features a variety of readings, presentations and workshops led by university faculty writers.

The Spring Literary Festival is designed for all members of the ETSU community and provides an opportunity for students to see and hear writers reading from and discussing their own work, according to festival director Dr. Jesse Graves, associate professor of English and poet-in-residence in the Department of Literature and Language. All events are free and open to the public.

“We hope that the Spring Literary Festival will help us reach students who already love to write, and especially those who may have an interest in writing, but who haven’t found their way yet into expressing that interest,” he said. “The real highlight of the first two festivals has been seeing our students so engaged with the writing workshops and craft lectures.”

The keynote speaker is celebrated Native American writer Joy Harjo, a recent recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Harjo will be featured in a public interview, conducted by Graves, on April 11 at 4 p.m. at the Reece Museum, and will deliver the sixth annual Jack Higgs Memorial Reading at 7:30 p.m. in the D.P. Culp University Center’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium, followed by a book-signing.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Harjo is a member of the Muscogee (Mvskoke) Nation. Her poetry has garnered many awards, including the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her books include “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings,” “Crazy Brave” and “How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems.”

Also a playwright and musician, Harjo has taught in numerous universities, performed at poetry readings and music events and released five albums of her original music. She currently holds the chair of excellence in Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

In addition to Harjo’s sessions, the festival will also feature afternoon writing workshops and presentations on poetry, young adult and fiction writing by noted guest authors Bianca Lynne Spriggs, Courtney Stevens, and Mark Powell.

Spriggs, an “Affrilachian” feminist poet, has won numerous awards and teaches English at Ohio University. Stevens is an educator and young adult novelist whose books explore gender and orientation experiences in the small-town South. Powell is an Appalachian State University faculty member and award-winning novelist whose work examines the spiritual and social implications of U.S. military and intelligence operations.

In addition, the festival will include the announcement of winners of the 2018 “Mockingbird” Awards and distribution of previous editions of “The Mockingbird,” ETSU’s student literary and art magazine, as well as readings of recent works by two faculty members from the Department of Literature and Language.

Dr. Michael Cody, professor of English and assistant chair for graduate studies, will read from his 2017 novel, “Gabriel’s Songbook,” in which a young musician/songwriter from the mountains of western North Carolina heads to Nashville to try his hand in the music industry, but “ultimately learns that his place in the world is back in the mountains.”

Dr. Felipe Fiuza, clinical assistant professor of Spanish and director of ETSU’s Language and Culture Resource Center, will share from his recent creative work.

With the exception of the Higgs Reading by Harjo on April 11, all Spring Literary Festival activities will take place in the Reece Museum. Books by the guest speakers will be available for purchase, provided by the ETSU Bookstore.

For a complete schedule of events and more details on the guest speakers, visit https://www.etsu.edu/cas/litlang/writingfestival.

For more information, contact Graves at 423-439-6674 or gravesj@etsu.edu. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

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