April 14, 2010

SIUC to host Little Grassy Literary Festival

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Little Grassy Literary Festival returns to Southern Illinois University Carbondale April 22-23.

The event, presented by the Graduate Writers Forum, is in its second year. The festival features readings, a panel discussion, and a book signing. All events are free and open to the public. All events are in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library unless otherwise noted. Here is the schedule.

April 22

• 3-4:30 p.m. -- Readings by Todd Hearon and Jennifer Richter

• 6:30-8:30 p.m. -- Readings by Ben Percy and Drew Perry

April 23

• 10-11 a.m. -- Writers Panel Discussion with David Clewell, Carolyn Forche, Ben Percy and Drew Perry

• 11 a.m.-noon -- Reading by David Clewell

• Noon-1 p.m. -- Book signing and reception, Morris Library, first floor rotunda

• 1-2 p.m. -- Reading by Carolyn Forche

David Clewell is the new poet laureate for Missouri, and director of the creative writing program at Webster University. A prolific poet, Clewell has seven collections of poems published, including his most recent “The Low End of Higher Things” and two book-length poems. His awards include the Pollak Poetry Prize and the Lavan Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Clewell teaches poetry workshops and coordinates Webster’s Visiting Writer Series.

Carolyn Forche is the Lannan Foundation Endowed Chair professor of English at Georgetown University. Her translation of Claribel Alegría’s poetry led to a Guggenheim Fellowship and a visit to Alegría’s native El Salvador, where she worked as a human rights advocate. Forche has four collections of her own poetry, including “Gathering the Tribes,” her first published collection and the winner of the Yale Younger Poets Award. Other awards, for other collections, include the Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets, Los Angeles Times Book Award and three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others.

Todd Hearon is one of the newest poets represented in the Crab Orchard Series on Poetry, published by SIU Press, with the March 2010 release of his poetry collection “Strange Land.” Hearon also writes prose fiction and plays, and has past experience with theater when he lived in the Boston area. He’s known at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he is a member of the English department faculty, for his banjo playing.

Benjamin Percy is a SIUC alumnus. He earned his master of fine arts degree from SIUC, and now teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Iowa State University. He also holds a faculty position with the low-residency program at Pacific University. Percy is the author of “The Language of Elk,” “Refresh, Refresh” and numerous short stories anthologized in such collections as “Best American Short Stories” and “Poe’s Children: The New Horror.”

Drew Perry launched his first novel, “This Is Just Exactly Like You,” this year to critical praise and a busy book promotion tour. His fiction appears in such publications as Black Warrior Review, Atlanta Magazine, and New Stories from the South, among others. He is a member of the English department faculty at Elon University in North Carolina.

Poet Jennifer Richter has a new poetry collection, “Threshold,” published this year by SIU Press and the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry. The publisher describes her book as “a searing portrait of healing, the courage it takes to bridge the gulfs that divide, and the wonder of the ties that bind.” Richter is a Wallace Stegner Fellowship recipient, and earned a Jones Lectureship in Poetry at Stanford University. She teaches poetry in elementary school in Oregon.