Writers take center stage at WCU

WCU will host the annual Spring Literary Festival from Monday, March 22, through Thursday, March 25. The photograph representing the festival this year is “Frames” by Herman Goustin, from the WCU Fine Art Museum collection, a gift of the Goustin estate.

WCU will host the annual Spring Literary Festival from Monday, March 22, through Thursday, March 25. The photograph representing the festival this year is “Frames” by Herman Goustin, from the WCU Fine Art Museum collection, a gift of the Goustin estate.

A diverse panel of authors whose work includes fiction, memoirs, poems, plays and children’s literature will be featured during the Spring Literary Festival, Monday, March 22, through Thursday, March 25, at Western Carolina University.

All events are free and open to the public, and authors will sign works after each reading.

Among the authors set to read during the eighth annual festival are Chitra Divakaruni, whose work explores women’s issues; slam poet Patricia Smith, who chronicled the devastation of Hurricane Katrina; and Jill McCorkle, a novelist and short-story writer and professor of creative writing at N.C. State University.

In addition to McCorkle, other authors scheduled to appear who write about North Carolina or Appalachian culture are Dennis Covington, whose “Salvation on Sand Mountain” chronicles the practice of snake handling; and Silas House, a novelist and playwright who also contributes to Americana and roots music magazine No Depression and crafts press kit biographies for country music performers.

“The writers of the 2010 festival were selected to dovetail each other in interesting ways,” said Mary Adams, festival director and WCU professor of English. “These links and correspondence will provide our audiences with an inspiring range of perspectives on important issues.”

With the exception of Smith’s reading (to be held in the recital hall of the Coulter Building), all events will take place in the A.K. Hinds University Center theater. A full schedule and artist biographies follow.

The Spring Literary Festival reflects WCU’s commitment to the humanities and its focus on bringing the arts to the mountains. Sponsors are WCU’s Visiting Writers Series; the English department; the Lectures, Concerts and Exhibition Series; the Office of the Chancellor; the Office of the Provost; the Division of Student Affairs; and the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching.

For more information, contact Adams at 828-227-3270 or madams@wcu.edu.

Following is a complete schedule:

Monday, March 22

Noon: Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poets
Catherine Carter, WCU professor of English and Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for the western region, will present the work of three emerging poets.

4 p.m.: John Amen, Susan Davis and Carole Boston Weatherford

John Amen

John Amen

Susan Davis

Susan Davis

Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford

Amen has authored three collections of poetry and released two CDs of folk and folk rock. He is founder of The Pedestal, a literary magazine. Davis’ poetry has appeared in journals including The Paris Review and The Antioch Review. Her long career in public radio includes a role as senior producer of “The State of Things” on WUNC-FM. Weatherford has written 35 books of poetry, nonfiction and children’s literature and is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Caldecott Honor Medal. She teaches at Fayetteville State University.

Jill McCorkle

Jill McCorkle

7:30 p.m.: Jill McCorkle

Novelist and short-story writer McCorkle is a professor in the creative writing program at N.C. State University. Five of McCorkle’s eight works have been named New York Times notable books, and her story “Intervention” is in the most recent edition of “The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction.” Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, Oxford American, Southern Review and Bomb Magazine, and her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Southern Living, Real Simple and The American Scholar.

Tuesday, March 23

4 p.m.: Silas House

Silas House

Silas House

House, writer-in-residence at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, is a novelist, playwright and author of creative nonfiction. He is a contributing editor for No Depression magazine, where he has written about performers including Lucinda Williams, Nickel Creek and Buddy Miller, and has written press kit biographies for Kris Kristofferson and Leann Womack. His honors include finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize and winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, Appalachian Book of the Year and the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Dennis Covington

Dennis Covington

7:30 p.m.: Dennis Covington

Covington has authored five books, including nonfiction, a novel and the memoir “Salvation on Sand Mountain,” a finalist for the 1995 National Book Award. His work has appeared in many periodicals and has been widely anthologized and translated. He is a native of Birmingham, Ala., and now lives in western Texas, where he teaches creative writing at Texas Tech University.

Wednesday, March 24

Cleopatra Mathis

Cleopatra Mathis

4 p.m.: Cleopatra Mathis

Mathis, of Greek and Cherokee descent, was born and raised in Ruston, La. She has published six books of poems, and her work has appeared in anthologies, textbooks, magazines and journals, including “The Best American Poetry” of 2009, The New Yorker and American Poetry Review. Since 1982, Mathis has been a professor of writing at Dartmouth College.

Chitra Divakaruni

Chitra Divakaruni

7:30 p.m.: Chitra Divakaruni

Divakaruni is a prolific and multifaceted writer. Her latest novel, “One Amazing Thing,” is the story of nine people trapped by an earthquake, and other works include books of poetry, a collection of short stories, the retelling of an ancient Indian epic and a children’s novel. Her work has been published in more than 50 magazines, included in more than 50 anthologies and translated into 17 languages. Divakaruni volunteers on issues of literacy and ending domestic violence.
 

Thursday, March 25

Nahid Rachlin

Nahid Rachlin

4 p.m.: Nahid Rachlin

Rachlin’s memoir, “Persian Girls,” prompted Time magazine to write, “If you want to understand Iran, read Nahid Rachlin.” She is author of four novels and a collection of short stories, and reviews she has written have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post and Newsday. She teaches at the New School in New York and a variety of summer writers conferences.

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith

7:30 p.m.: Patricia Smith (event to be held in recital hall of the Coulter Building)

Smith is the author of five volumes of poetry. Her “Blood Dazzler” chronicles the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. As a four-time winner of the National Poetry Slam, she is the most successful slammer in the competition’s history. She also has performed on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam,” and her poetry has earned her the Chautauqua Literary Journal Award and a Pushcart Prize. Smith has written literature for children and nonfiction and has performed three one-woman plays.