March 28, 2014

Little Grassy Literary Festival is April 16-18

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Little Grassy Literary Festival at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, bringing established and up-and-coming authors to campus, is a rite of spring for many in the university’s creative writing program. 

The annual festival features readings, panel discussions, and book signings. Students in the creative writing Master of Arts program organize the event, including selecting guest writers.  The readings and discussions are for anyone who enjoys literature.  This year’s event is April 16-18. 

Readings are in the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library with receptions in the first floor rotunda.  The public is invited. 

The panel of authors includes two whose poetry collections are part of SIU’s Crab Orchard Series in Poetry as First Book Award winners. Tarfia Faizullah won the award in 2012 with her collection entitled “Seam.”  The guest final judge who selected her book, Chad Davidson, is also part of the literary festival with a new collection of poetry,  “From the Fire Hills.”  He was a First Book Award winner in 2002 with his collection, “Consolation Miracles.” The books are all available from SIU Press. 

Here is the festival schedule: 

April 16

  • 8 p.m. -- poetry reading by Adrian Matejka.

April 17

  • 11 a.m. -- poetry panel featuring Chad Davidson, Tarfia Faizullah, and Adrian Matejka.
  • 2 p.m. -- poetry readings, featuring Davidson and Faizullah.
  • 3:30 p.m. -- book signing
  • 5 p.m. -- prose readings, featuring Roxane Gay and Alex Shakar.

April 18

  • 11 a.m. -- fiction panel featuring Gay and Shakar. 

Davidson, a professor of English at the University of West Georgia, is also the author of “The Last Predicta,” also from SIU Press. He has also written books about writing, including “Analyze Anything: A Guide to Critical Reading and Writing.” 

Faizullah calls upon her own family’s history for her first poetry collection.  Her awards include a Ploughshares Cohen Award, Fulbright Fellowship, Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Kenyon Writers’ Conference. 

Gay’s most recent novel, “An Untamed State,” is forthcoming this spring and has already garnered favorable attention.  Gay’s other books are “Ayiti,” and “Bad Feminist: Essays.”  She is included in several anthologies, among them “The New Black: A Neo-Noir Anthology” “The Best American Short Stories 2012.” 

Matejka is an SIU alumnus of the master of fine arts in creative writing program and the author of several collections of poetry.  “Mixology” is part of the 2008 National Poetry Series.  Other collections include “The Big Smoke,” and “The Devil’s Garden.”  He is an assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington. 

Shakar is the author of several novels, including the multi-awarded “Luminarium,” which was a Booklist Editor’s Choice Award and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction.  He also wrote “Savage Girl,” and the story collection, “City in Love: The New York Metamorphoses.”