The five writers at the 33rd annual Literary Festival will give the audience a look into their creative minds. Two of those writers will share their thoughts in lectures at Alden Library.
The festival will begin April 11 and run through April 13. Each of the five authors will give a reading and a presentation related to their works.
Each year, the creative writing department invites fiction and non-fiction authors and poets to share their thoughts with the Athens community. Writers this year include fiction writer Mary Gaitskill, nonfiction writers Geoff Dyer and Aisha Sabatini Sloan, and poets Alan Shapiro and Rosanna Warren.
David Wanczyk, special projects coordinator in the English department, said about four years ago parts of the festival moved to Alden Library, thanks to a welcome from Scott Seaman, dean of the Libraries. Wanczyk works with lorraine wochna, subject librarian for the performing arts, English and literature, to plan the yearly event. wochna works to coordinate the event, purchase the writers’ works for the Libraries and promote the event.
“The [festival] helps me build our collection around writers that represent the interests of the Creative Writing program,” she said. “Attending the [festival] is a very spontaneous experience; you don’t know what you are going to hear. I, and I think other people too, almost always learn something new. It opens people’s minds up to writers who they might not hear about every day.”
On April 13, at 11 a.m. in the 1951 Lounge on Alden Library’s fourth floor, Mary Gaitskill, an novelist and short story writer, will give her lecture and non-fiction writer Aisha Sabatini Sloan will follow. Visit the Literary Festival’s events page for the full listing of lectures and presentations, as well as for biographies of the writers.
“The writers are all favorites of the creative writing program…” said Wanczyk. “We pick a blend of authors who we think will be intriguing in different ways. It will be something to entice a lot of different readers and writers.”
Although both wochna and Wanczyk said they expect the audience to be mostly creative writing and English students, they added the festival is an opportunity for all students to engage with influential modern writers, all of whom have published multiple works.
Wanczyk said even though the lectures are spread out over three days in different locations, attending all the sessions allows the audience to make connections among the writers.
“[The writers] kind of build on each other’s presentations,” he said. “So people who come to multiple events will see the creation of knowledge—not just the imparting of it. You see the literary spirit building and intellectual friendships budding in front of your eyes…audience members are a part of that…You will see extensive notetaking, drawing arrows between what this writer said and what another writer said. It is one of the best parts of the festival.”