Celebrated authors help make Clemson a literary destination
Despite its name, the Clemson Literary Festival is more than an academic endeavor. It is a time for characters of all kinds to learn in a fun, relaxed environment about the craft of literature.
“Unlike traditional festivals, which usually involve stuffy lecture halls, Clemson’s provides more of a personal experience,” said festival co-director Keith Morris. Participants interact in the friendly atmospheres of local food establishments and engage in one-on-one discussion.
This year’s three-day bonanza of readings, workshops and other events, like Literary Trivia, will bring in writers from across the U.S. beginning March 25 through the 27. The festival will feature a Pulitzer Prize winner, editors of celebrity authors and internationally recognized writers.
A Pulitzer Presentation
This year’s headline author for the featured reading is Adam Johnson, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Orphan Master’s Son.” He currently works as an associate professor at Stanford University, and is a past recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His other works include a short-story collection, “Emporium,” and a novel, “Parasites Like Us.” His stories have appeared in Harper’s magazine, The Best American Short Stories and Esquire.
“It will be a memorable experience, and it’s a rare opportunity to talk personally with an author who’s reached the pinnacle of literary success,” Morris said.
When and Where: From 8-9 p.m., Thursday, March 26 in Brackett Hall, room 100.
For a multi-speaker event, attend the Editing and Publishing Panel happening on Thursday. Contributors include Brigid Hughes, an editor at A Public Space, Ben George, senior editor at Little, Brown & Co. and Betsy Teter, the executive director and editor-in-chief of Hub City Press, a regional publishing company.
“This panel represents an excellent opportunity to hear from editors of all different backgrounds and experience,” Morris said.
George edits for Edith Pearlman, author of “Binocular Vision” and the winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as for many other well-known authors. He co-founded Lookout Books, where he was also the editor of the literary journal Ecotone.
Hughes, besides editing for the acclaimed literary journal A Public Space, works as a contributing editor at Graywolf Press. She has also worked as an editor of The Paris Review.
Teter is the founder and director of Hub City Press in Spartanburg, a successful independent publisher. She also manages a community bookshop and diverse literary programming. Her organization runs The Writers House residency program.
Those interested in publishing, editing and the publication process can take valuable insight from this discussion forum.
When and Where: 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. March 26 in the Academic Success Center, room 118.
Authors Educating Authors
A major milestone in the progress of the festival is the Young Writer’s Workshop. Specifically for Upstate high school students, the event is sponsored by Duke Energy, which donated $5,000 to help the festival expand to serve younger communities. It’s a closed event designed to focus on these high school writers.
“It’s a great chance for these students to explore their interest in writing and talk to people who’ve been very successful in their own careers,” Morris said.
Daniel Wallace, author of “Big Fish,” the book from which the Oscar-nominated film came, will discuss his career and the future possibilities for the 100-plus students. Other poets and writers will work with them in small groups, teaching and encouraging these students to explore their potential as authors.
Turning the Page
Organizers hope this year’s event will continue to promote Clemson as a fun destination for both authors and festival audiences. They already look forward to adding more opportunities and revamping events as they seek to make a land grant university a cultural capital.
All the events will provide a thought-provoking and entertaining experience for attendees wanting to explore beyond their general education literature requirement. The new perspectives that each author brings will give something to everyone now and in the future.