October 26, 2005

Authors to discuss works during literary festival

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill -- Scores of writers will read and discuss their works this week when a student literary magazine at Southern Illinois University Carbondale plays host to the Devil's Kitchen Fall Literary Festival.

The three-day event, which begins Thursday, Oct. 27, will include narrative and poetry readings as well as panel discussions by writers. Grassroots, the SIUC Department of English undergraduate literary magazine, sponsors the program, which is free and open to the public.

Chris Evans, a senior in Creative Writing and Philosophy at SIUC, helped organize this year's event, the fourth such festival. He said attending will enrich literature lovers.

"You'll get the literary experience of hearing someone actually read their own work, which is much different than simply reading it yourself," Evans said. "And there'll be a great sense of community there. You'll be surrounded by writers and just about the entire English department will be there. "

Two of the writers scheduled to appear, Mary Troy and James Richardson, are past winners of festival awards. Richardson, a professor of English and creative writing at Princeton University, was the first winner of the festival's Reading Award in Poetry while Troy, who teaches creative writing and directs the master of fine arts program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, received its first Reading Award in Prose.

Another writer, Benjamin Percy, is returning to his roots for the festival. Percy taught courses at SIUC while earning his master of fine arts degree in creative writing.

Among the other writers scheduled to appear are:

• Dean Bakopoulos, author of the novel "Please Don't Come Back from the Moon," published this year by Harcourt and a February Book Sense Pick. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has a master of fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He was a Tennessee Williams scholar at the Sewanee Writers' Conference and lives in Madison. He is now the executive director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council.

• Tayari Jones, author of the novels "The Untelling," published by Warner Books in April 2005, and "Leaving Atlanta," a coming-of-age story set during the city's infamous child murders of 1979-1981. Jones was in the fifth grade when 30 African-American children from the neighborhoods near her home and school were murdered. She received the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post both listed it as one of the best of 2002. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, the University of Iowa and Arizona State University. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she teaches Creative Writing.

• A. Loudermilk, a native of Southern Illinois and winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award for his new collection, "Strange Valentine," published this fall by Southern Illinois University Press. He is the author of "The Daughterliest Son," a chapbook that won the 2001 Swan Scythe Press Chapbook Contest. He teaches poetry at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.

The festival will take place in the SIUC Student Center Auditorium. The schedule of events is as follows:


• 4 -5 p.m. – Readings by Benjamin Percy & A. Loudermilk.

• 8-9 p.m. – Readings by Dean Bakopoulos & Aimee Nezhukumatathil.


• 10-10:50 a.m. – Poetry Panel Discussion featuring A. Loudermilk, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, James Richardson, Jason Sommer and Rebecca Wee.

• 11-11:50 a.m. – Fiction Panel Discussion featuring Dean Bakopoulos, Tayari Jones, Benjamin Percy, Mary Troy and David Wright.

• 2-3:10 p.m. – Writers' Roundtable Discussion featuring all festival readers.

• 4-5 p.m. – Readings by David Wright and Rebecca Wee.

• 8-9 p.m. – Readings by Mary Troy and James Richardson.


• 2-3 p.m. – Readings by Tayari Jones & Jason Sommer.

Providing cultural outreach is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.