Western Carolina University


Image: Dorothy Allison Image: Rick Bragg
Dorothy Allison
Rick Bragg

Dorothy Allison, author of “Bastard Out of Carolina,” and Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, lead the field of acclaimed authors coming to Cullowhee to participate in Western Carolina University's fourth annual Spring Literary Festival, set for March 27-30.

Allison will read from her works at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, and Bragg will participate in a panel discussion at noon Thursday, March 30, and a book reading at 7 p.m. March 30. All three events will be held in the A.K. Hinds University Center Theater.

Organized by Western's department of English, the festival expands this year from three days to four and celebrates diversity with festival guests including slam poet Mayda Del Valle, humorous nonfiction author Ayun Halliday, Affrilachian Poets member Crystal Wilkinson and Appalachian novelist Silas House. The festival also hosts its first bilingual poetry reading with the work of Randall Watson and its first N.C. Poet Laureate's Panel composed of Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer, Mark Smith-Soto and Jaki Shelton Green.

In addition, the festival includes a performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” by the Shenandoah Shakespeare Company at Western's Fine and Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, March 28.

Allison's first novel, “Bastard Out of Carolina,” was one of five finalists for the 1992 National Book Award and has been translated into French, German, Greek, Spanish, Norse, Chinese and Italian and developed into a movie. She also wrote the New York Times best-selling novel “Cavedweller,” “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure,” which was made into an award-winning documentary, “Skin: Talking About Sex, Class and Literature;” and “Trash,” a collection of short stories. The Boston Globe proclaimed her “one of the finest writers of her generation.” Allison, a native of Greenville, S.C., is currently a visiting writer at Columbia College in Chicago.

Bragg, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter formerly with The New York Times, hit the best-seller charts with his first book, “All Over but the Shoutin,'” an account of breaking free from the poverty of his youth and finding success at the pinnacle of American journalism. His other works include “Somebody Told Me: The Newspaper Stories of Rick Bragg,” “Ava's Man,” “Hank Williams: Snapshots from the Lost Highway,” and “I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story.” Bragg is a writing professor at the University of Alabama.

“Students and people in the surrounding community have a wonderful chance to hear some of America's greatest writers – live – all in one place,” said Mary Adams, associate professor of English and festival director. “These writers represent different regions, genres and traditions. I hope people come away with new ideas for their own reading and writing.

“Most importantly, I hope that they come away with a changed sense of what ‘literature' means – not just written words by long-dead writers but something going on passionately in every medium and every setting – over the air-waves, in coffee houses, under bridges. It's about anything and everything, including the stuff happening in our lives every day,” Adams said.

All panel discussions and book readings are free and open to the public. Admission to the Shakespeare play performance at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, at the Fine and Performing Arts Center will be $5 for Western students, $7 for Western faculty and staff and $10 general admission.

Festival sponsors are the English department; Office of the Chancellor; Office of the Provost; Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions Series; Last Minute Productions; the North Carolina Arts Council; and Western's Women's Center, which is cosponsoring three writers and hosting a gender conference in coordination with the literary festival.

For more information, contact Western's English department at (828) 227-7264, e-mail Mary Adams at madams@email.wcu.edu or check out the festival Web site at http://www.wcu.edu/as/english/litfestival.

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Last modified: Friday, March 10, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Western Carolina University