CULLOWHEE – Writer and wilderness advocate Rick Bass leads a field of acclaimed authors coming to Cullowhee to participate in Western Carolina University 's third annual Spring Literary Festival, set for Tuesday, April 5, through Thursday, April 7.

Bass will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. on April 7 in the auditorium of Western's Forsyth Building.

Sponsored by Western's department of English, the festival also will feature presentations by African-American poet Natasha Trethewey, Cherokee author Robert Conley, Southern writer Josephine Humphreys, plus James Brasfield, Mark Cox, Charlotte Holmes and Sarah Messer.

Included on the festival agenda is a performance of “All the Great Books (abridged)” by the Reduced Shakespeare Company at Western's Ramsey Regional Activity Center.

A Texas native often labeled “nature writer” by bookstores and critics, Bass is the author of 21 books of fiction and nonfiction, including a Sierra Club book released in 2004, “Caribou Rising,” his account of a caribou hunt with the Gwich-in people on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. His newest novel, “The Diezmo,” will be published in April by Houghton Mifflin.

Bass lives, works and hunts to provide most of his family's meat supply in the Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana, where he has been campaigning for almost two decades to obtain preservation status for the valley, one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Bass' works of fiction include “In the Loyal Mountains: Stories,” “Where the Sea Used to Be” and “The Sky, the Stars, the Wilderness: Novellas,” while his nonfiction books include “Winter: Notes from Montana,” “The Book of Yaak,” “Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had” and “The Roadless Yaak: Reflections and Observations About One of Our Last Great Wilderness Areas.”

Bass also will lead Western students in a fiction writing workshop during his visit on campus.

Trethewey will present a reading at 3:30 p.m. on April 7 in the theater of Western's A.K. Hinds University Center. She has received numerous prizes for her poetry, including the Lillian Smith Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. She is the author of three poetry collections – “Domestic Work,” “Bellocq's Ophelia” and the forthcoming “Native Guard.” She teaches at Emory University.

Conley, an enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma , has published 34 novels since 1986, and his poems and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. He is a member of the Western Writers of America and winner of Spur Awards for his novels “Nickajack” and “The Dark Island.” Conley will read from his work at 11 a.m. on April 7 in the University Center theater.

Charleston , S.C., author Humphreys is noted for her sensitive evocations of family life in the South. Her novels include “Dreams of Sleep,” which won the 1985 PEN/Hemingway Award presented by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation, “Rich in Love” and the historical novel “No Where Else on Earth.” Humphreys' reading, part of Western's Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions series, will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 6 in the recital hall of Western's Coulter Building.

Brasfield, a member of Western's faculty from 1984 to 1987, currently teaches in the English department at Penn State University. His poems and translations have appeared in publications such as The Southern Review, Antaeus, The Iowa Review and The Wallace Stevens Journal. His books include “The Selected Poems of Oleh Lysheha” (a translation with the author) and “Inheritance and Other Poems.” Brasfield will present a reading at 3 p.m. on April 5 in the University Center theater.

Cox, professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, has received many honors for his four books of poetry. His most recent work is “Natural Causes,” published through the University of Pittsburgh Press Pitt Poetry Series. Cox will read from his work at 10 a.m. on April 6 in the University Center theater, and also will lead a poetry workshop for Western students during his visit to Cullowhee.

A poet and fiction writer, Holmes teaches at Penn State University. She is a past recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, three Pushcart Prize nominations and citations for excellence in Best American Essays, Best American Stories, and the O. Henry Prize Stories Anthology. Holmes will give a reading at 11 a.m. on April 5 in the University Center theater.

Messer, a poet and nonfiction writer, is the author of “Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Continuously Lived-In House” and a book of poetry, “Bandit Letters.” Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, she is a professor of creative writing at UNC-Wilmington. Messer will read from her work at 3:30 p.m. on April 6 in the University Center theater, and also will lead a nonfiction workshop for students.

Seven writers, including Holmes, Messer, Brasfield, Cox and Humphreys, along with novelist Rick Boyer, Western professor of English, and Ron Rash, Western's Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies, will participate in a Writer's Roundtable at 2 p.m. on April 6 in the University Center theater.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company will bring its comedy act to Western's Ramsey Center at 7:30 p.m. on April 5 to present “All the Great Books (abridged).” The company has performed in the White House and at the Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center . The Western performance also is part of the university's Lectures, Concerts and Exhibitions series.

Admission to festival presentations are free, except for the Josephine Humphreys reading and the Reduced Shakespeare Company performance. Tickets for the Humphreys presentation are $3 for Western faculty and staff, and non-WCU students, and $5 for all others. Tickets for the Reduced Shakespeare Company show are $10 for Western faculty and staff, and non-WCU students, and $15 for all others. Western students with valid identification cards will be admitted free to the Humphreys reading and the Reduced Shakespeare Company performance.

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

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Last modified: Monday, March 21, 2005
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