Published On: Thu, Mar 13th, 2014

WCU Literary Festival to be held March 31-April 4

CULLOWHEE – Established and emerging authors of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction will discuss and read from their works at Western Carolina University during the 12th annual Spring Literary Festival from Monday, March 31, to Friday, April 4.

All events are free and open to the public and held in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center unless otherwise noted.

New at the festival this year will be a day dedicated to WCU authors on April 4 in honor of the yearlong celebration of the university’s 125th anniversary.

Also, the festival will feature a presentation on Thursday, April 3, by award-winning authors about their work with Narrative 4, a global organization that seeks social change through encouraging diverse people to share stories in a way that builds empathy and understanding.

Presenting about experiences and possible opportunities with Narrative 4 will be Colum McCann, Irish-American author of “Let the Great World Spin” and “TransAtlantic,” and co-founder of Narrative 4; Ron Rash, who supports Narrative 4 and is the WCU Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture and author of award-winning books including “Serena,” “One Foot in Eden,” “Saints at the River” and “The World Made Straight”; and Lisa Consiglio, executive director and co-founder of Narrative 4.

“There’s something for everybody at this year’s festival,” said Pam Duncan, assistant professor of English and event director.

The festival kicks off at noon March 31 with the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poets Series featuring Richard Chess and student poets Samuel Fox from WCU, Patrick Bahls from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Teleia Tollison from Spruce Pine and Grace Wester from Odyssey Community School.

Then presenting at 4 p.m. will be David Cecelski, author of “The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War.” A historian and writer who centers on history, race and culture in the American South, Cecelski has been honored with awards including the Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavis Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights.

That evening at 7:30 p.m. Mexican-American author Luis Alberto Urrea will read from his works, which include poetry, fiction and nonfiction. A winner of the Lannan Literary Award and Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize, Urrea uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph in his writing.

On Tuesday, April 1, Appalachian poet Ron Houchin will present at 4 p.m. Houchin, whose published poetry collections include “The Man Who Saws Us in Half,” has been a recipient of the Poetry Book of the Year from the Appalachian Writers’ Association.

Then at 7 p.m., the festival will host a tribute to the late Robert Conley, who was WCU’s Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies before his death on Feb. 16, followed by a presentation by Native American author Linda Hogan at 7:30 p.m. Conley, who was a registered tribal member of the Cherokee Nation, authored poems, short stories, nonfiction and more than 80 books ranging from “The Cherokee Encyclopedia” to award-winning Westerns. Hogan, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her novel “Mean Spirit,” writes books, poetry and essays, and has a special interest in exploring environmental issues and indigenous spiritual traditions and culture in her work.

On Wednesday, April 2, Donna Glee Williams and Charles F. Price will present at 4 p.m. Williams’ first novel, “The Braided Path,” was released in March and grew out of her award-winning short story that appeared in the anthology “The Year’s Best Science Fiction.” Price has authored historical fiction and nonfiction works ranging from “Hiwasee: A Novel of the Civil War” set in Western North Carolina to a book about a terror outbreak in 1863 set in Colorado.

That evening, fiction writer Jill McCorkle will present at 7 p.m. in the community room at the Jackson County Public Library in Sylva. McCorkle, whose work has been described as balancing “the fine line between the comedic and the tragic,” has had five books named New York Times notable books. Her most recent novel, “Life After Life,” was released in November.

On April 3, the festival returns to campus with fiction writer George Singleton presenting at 4 p.m. A Southern author who has written collections of short stories and three novels, Singleton was recipient of the 2011 Hillsdale Award for Fiction by The Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Then at 7:30 p.m. in the recital hall of the Coulter Building on campus, McCann,  Rash and Consiglio will present about Narrative 4. The presentation also is part of the Arts and Cultural Events Performance Series at WCU.

On April 4, the festival will feature presentations throughout the day in the University Center theater by more than a dozen authors from the WCU community. Faculty and staff members who will present at 10 a.m. are Mary Adams, Catherine Carter, Deidre Elliott, Rosemary Peek and Rash. Alumni writers and artists who will present at 11 a.m. will be Anna Browning, Josh Crawford, Caroline Holland and T.J. Holland. Alumni authors presenting at 1 p.m. are Sue Ellen Bridgers, George Frizzell, Dawn Gilchrist-Young, Leah Hampton and David Joy. Students will present at 2 p.m.

Festival sponsors include WCU’s Visiting Writers Series, Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences, ACE series, Parris Distinguished Professorship, Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs, and the Jackson County Public Library and North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. The project also received support from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

Visitors may park in any spaces not designated as special-use. For directions to campus, go online to For more information, visit, “like” the WCU Spring Literary Festival on Facebook, send an email to or call Duncan at 828-227-3926.