October 07, 2010

SIUC literary festival highlights top authors

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The 2010 Devil’s Kitchen Literary Festival at Southern Illinois University Carbondale presents a smorgasbord of special guests for the poetry and story lover, or even for the merely curious.

The annual event, held this year Oct. 28-30, is, as always, free of charge and open to the public. This year’s events are in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library.

Grassroots, the SIUC Department of English undergraduate literary magazine, sponsors and organizes this event. Funding sources include the SIUC Fine Arts Activity Fee, the SIUC Creative Writing Program’s Visiting Writers Series and Crab Orchard Review, a national literary publication produced at SIUC.

Here’s what’s on the menu:

Oct. 28

8-9:15 p.m. -- Readings by Kate Daniels and Pinckney Benedict

9:15-10 p.m. – Festival reception, First Floor Rotunda, adjacent to the John C. Guyon Auditorium. The Department of English sponsors this event.

Oct. 29

10-10:50 a.m. -- Poetry Panel featuring Kate Daniels, Carl Dennis and Rhett Iseman Trull

11-11:50 a.m. -- Fiction Panel featuring Jennine Capó Crucet, Danielle Evans and Julie Schumacher

2-3:15 p.m. -- Readings by Carl Dennis and Julie Schumacher

3:15-4:30 p.m. -- Reception and book signing featuring all festival readers, First Floor Rotunda, adjacent to the John C. Guyon Auditorium

4:30-6 p.m.-- Readings by the 2010 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award Winners, Rhett Iseman Trull and Jennine Capó Crucet

Oct. 30

11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. -- Readings from the new Crab Orchard Review -- “Land of Lincoln: Writing about and from Illinois.” Featured readers are David Bond, Chad Simpson and Crab Orchard Review editors.

1:30-3 p.m. -- Readings by Adrian Matejka and Danielle Evans

SIUC’s own Pinckney Benedict most recently released his story collection, “Miracle Boy and Other Stories,” from Press 53. Other story collections include “Town Smokes” and “The Wrecking Yard,” and a novel, “Dogs of God.” Among his many awards are multiple Pushcart Awards, the O. Henry Award, Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artist grant from the Illinois Arts Council, Britain’s Steinbeck Award, Literary Fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and several others. He is co-founder of the Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop and is co-editor of the biennial anthology “Surreal South.”

Jennine Capó Crucet earned the 2009 Iowa Short Fiction Award with her debut collection, “How to Leave Hialeah.” She is also a recipient of the 2010 John Gardner Prize, the 2010 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award. Both the Miami Herald and the Miami New Times named her collection a “Best Book of the Year,” and the title story earned an O. Henry Prize. She has earned other awards, including a Breadloaf Writer’s Conference scholarship and a Winthrop Prize and Residency for Emerging Writers. She works for the One Voice Scholars Program in Los Angeles, where she counsels first-generation college-bound high school seniors.

Poet Kate Daniels is the author of several poetry collections, including “The Niobe Poems,” The White Wave (an Agnes Lynch Starrett Award winner) and, forthcoming this November from the Southern Messenger Poets series, “A Walk in Victoria’s Secret: Poems.” Other awards include the Pushcart Prize, Crazyhorse Prize for Poetry and the Louisiana Literature Poetry Prize. In addition to her own poetry collections, Daniels is editor of an anthology of poetry by Muriel Rukeyser and is co-editing a collection of critical essays on poet Robert Bly. She is associate professor of creative writing at Vanderbilt University.

Carl Dennis, professor and writer in residence at the University of Buffalo in the State University of New York system, is a prolific poet, with 11 collections to his credit and one volume on the craft of poetry. His most recent collection is “Callings,” released just last month by Penguin Books. Some of his other collections are “Practical Gods,” “Meetings with Time” and “Signs and Wonders.” His awards include a fellowship at the Rockefeller Study Center in Bellagio, Italy, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

Danielle Evans is assistant professor of creative writing and literature at American University in Washington, D.C. Her short story collection, “Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self,” is available from Riverhead Books as of last month. Her novel, “The Empire Has No Clothes,” is forthcoming. Her short work appears in such publications as Black Renaissance Noire, The L Magazine, The Paris Review and Callaloo, and in The Best American Short Stories 2008 and 2010, as well as in New Stories from the South.

SIUC alumnus Adrian Matejka is an assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at SIUC’s sister school, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He is the 2010 William and Margaret Going Award Endowed Professorship recipient at SIUE. He is also a two-time recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award. His first poetry collection, “The Devil’s Garden,” won the 2002 Kinereth Gensler Award from Alice James Books. His second collection, “Mixology,” is an NAACP Image Award nominee. He is poetry editor for the Sou-wester, SIUE’s literary magazine.

Julie Schumacher knows how to turn a class assignment into something bigger. Her first published story, “Reunion,” is included in Best American Short Stories of 1983. Now a professor in the creative writing program at the University of Minnesota, Schumacher also earned an award for her first novel, “The Body is Water,” which was an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year and a finalist for both the PEN/Hemmingway Award and the Minnesota Book Award. She also has a short story collection, “An Explanation for Chaos,” and four books for younger readers.

Rhett Iseman Trull received the 2008 Anhinga Prize for Poetry with her first published book, a poetry collection, “The Real Warnings.” She is this year’s Devils Kitchen Reading Award Winner in Poetry as well. She has awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, and poetry either published or forthcoming in such publications as The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review and Best New Poets 2008, among others. She is co-publisher of “Cave Wall,” a national literary magazine specializing in contemporary poetry.