A mighty thanks to all who came out to the 2017 Center City Literary Festival! The day was filled with puppetry, storytelling from authors Shelby Bach, Tia Capers, Janaka Lewis, B. Edward Swift, and Connie Williams, literary-themed arts and crafts, and lots of happy young faces! In the evening, we kicked off with a lively reception and then heard some fantastic readings from our authors Nikky Finney, Eduardo C. Corral, Dustin M. Hoffman, and Bryn Chancellor, all of which reminded us of the importance of literature in our lives.
Here is what one attendee shared afterward:
“The whole experience delivered such a surprise gift—I hadn’t expected to be so deeply moved. The writers reconstituted my writing will—threw buckets of water my way—and reminded me how dehydrated I’d become. The presenters reminded me that language is how we reconnect with ourselves. When we make the effort to articulate those pieces that make us uniquely human, our words “ping” others. Collectively we learn that we’re not alone—we get “re-membered.” Isn’t that a big part of what writing’s all about? Nikky spoke of how writers “save” something. I know that last night saved a part of me.”
We couldn’t agree more. Thanks to all—participants, audience, and organizers—for creating such an experience.
We’re also pleased to welcome to the daytime lineup B Edward Swift, author of The Adventures of Aha Jones children’s book series, and Connie Williams, author of Emily’s Blues, Green, and the new Jon and Lale’s Dance. The day’s fun children’s activities will include creation stations, a scavenger hunt, and more!
We are thrilled to welcome Nikky Finney, Eduardo C. Corral, Dustin M. Hoffman, and Bryn Chancellor for our 2017 evening lineup! Join us for a fabulous evening of poetry, fiction, Q&A, food & drink, and much camaraderie.
Here’s a little more about the authors:
Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the civil rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff’s Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history. Finney has authored four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985). The John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina, Finney also authored Heartwood (1997), edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split, was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.
Here is Finney delivering her searing National Book Award acceptance speech:
Eduardo C. Corral is a poet and the son of Mexican immigrants. His first book, Slow Lightning, was selected by Carl Phillips as the 2011 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. Corral has also been the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from Poetry Magazine, and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. His poems have appeared in Ambit, Beloit Poetry Journal, New England Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and Poetry. He has served as the Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Creative Writing at Colgate University and as the Philip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University. He currently works as an assistant professor in the M.F.A. program at North Carolina State University. In 2017-18, he will be a Hodder Fellow at Princeton, when he plans to research and write a sequence of poems informed by the life and the work of visual artist Martín Ramírez.
Here is Corral reading his poem “In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes”:
Dustin M. Hoffman is the author of the story collection One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist (University of Nebraska Press), winner of the 2015 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. He spent ten years painting houses in Michigan before getting his MFA in fiction from Bowling Green State University and his PhD in creative writing from Western Michigan University. His stories have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Phoebe, Puerto del Sol, Fourteen Hills, Witness, Quarterly West, The Journal, Gargoyle, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Indiana Review, and a bunch of other neat places. He lives in South Carolina and teaches creative writing and literature at Winthrop University.
Here is a brand new story from Hoffman, “In this Room I Make Red,” published in Witness. Read more about Hoffman and read more of his work at http://dustinmhoffman.com/
Bryn Chancellor’s debut novel, Sycamore, is forthcoming from Harper (May 9, 2017). Her story collection When Are You Coming Home? (University of Nebraska Press) won the 2014 Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and her short fiction has appeared in Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Phoebe, and elsewhere. Other honors include the Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award in fiction, and literary fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. A native of California raised in Arizona, she earned her M.F.A. in fiction from Vanderbilt University and is an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
We’re still finalizing our daytime lineup and schedules, but we’re excited to welcome Shelby Bach, Tia Capers, and Janaka Lewis.
Shelby Bach grew up reading every book she could find and writing stories in battered notebooks. She also rarely came home with a clean shirt and had a lot of accidents that ended with a hunt for Band-Aids. Nowadays, she writes on her laptop rather than in a notebook, but not much else has changed. She is the author of the Ever Afters series, which includes OfGiants and Ice, Of Witches and Wind, Of Sorcery and Snow, and Of Enemies and Endings. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Tia Capers is an award-winning poet and freelance author of Delicious Rainbow Thoughts, The Soul of a Butterfly, Nadia’s Jewelry Box, Nadia’s Loose Tooth, and Nadia’s Green Day Festival, the last book to be released in her Nadia’s Adventures series of children’s books. Tia is also the author of Nadia’s Coloring & Activity Book. She is a Miami, Florida native and currently resides in North Carolina with her family. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). When not writing, Tia facilitates her KLEENE Spirit Writing Workshops and volunteers in the local elementary schools and other organizations in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. She has enjoyed sharing her children’s books with thousands of children throughout the country and looks forward to sharing them with children world-wide. She is co-owner of Heart-Head Publishing.
Janaka Bowman Lewis is the author of the children’s books Bold Nia Marie Passes the Test and Brown All Over. Dr. Lewis also is assistant professor of English at UNC Charlotte, where her research interests include African American literature of the nineteenth century (specifically narrative studies), and African American women’s writing. She is a native of Augusta, Georgia and a graduate of Duke University and Northwestern University.
B Edward Swift,is the author of The Adventures of Aha Jones children’s book series and co-chairs a youth mentoring program in Charlotte, North Carolina. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, his background is in engineering and he has over 10 years of project management experience. Through his work with youth, he recognized a need for children to have early exposure to and reinforcement of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Educational (STEM) disciplines. Working with educators and parents, he developed his vision of Aha Jones into a character that would inspire interest in STEM among culturally diverse children. Swift is a member of the Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA), which advocates quality education for young children.
Connie Williams is the author of Emily’s Blues, Green, and her newest, Jon and Lale’s Dance. A former instructor of English Composition and Rhetoric at UNC Charlotte, Williams wrote Emily’s Blues to show young readers how she became “unstoppable” in getting an education—going from poverty to a professional educator. She is the recipient of the Arts and Science Council Emerging Artist Award for her book and has presented readings and facilitated many writing workshops. A native of Monroe, North Carolina, Williams is a wife, mother, grand and great- grandmother. She graduated from Cal State University, Northridge (B.A. Degree), and the University of North Carolina, at Charlotte (M.Ed. Degree). She resides with her husband in North Carolina.