By Stephanie Gogul
Since 1986, the Spring Literary Festival has featured some of the world's finest and most distinguished writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. This year's festival, which takes place May 6 through 8, features a "dream team" of authors who will present readings of their work, visit classes and give lectures while on campus.
This year's featured authors are Peter Ho Davies, David Shields, Maggie Nelson, Kim Addonizio and David Kirby. Each author will give two public events during the three days.
"The visiting writers and their personalities are what shape the event," said Kevin Haworth, who coordinates the festival. "We hope that the writers will be a window into the really exciting and interesting creative work going on in the wider world."
One of the most exciting aspects of the festival, Haworth said, is its spontaneity. That results, in part, from the fact that event organizers do not ask the writers to identify the topics of their lectures or readings.
"Part of the tradition of the festival is to show up and discover what the writers have to say," Haworth said. "We like people to come and immerse themselves in literature for three days and soak it all in."
Davies' work has appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers, and his short fiction has been anthologized in "Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories." His novel, "The Welsh Girl," was listed as one of the best fiction books of 2007 by The Boston Globe. He currently directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan.
Shields' newest nonfiction book, "The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead," published in February 2008, became a New York Times bestseller. He authored eight previous books. His essays and stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines including the New England Review, New York Times Magazine and Yale Review.
Nelson is the author of "The Red Parts," a nonfiction book about her family and criminal justice, and a critical study, "Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions," as well as four books of poetry. She was the recipient of a 2007 Arts Writers grant from the Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. She is currently on the faculty of the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts.
Addonizio is the author of four poetry collections including the National Book Award finalist "Tell Me," a short-story collection and two novels. Addonizio's awards include two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a Commonwealth Club Poetry Medal and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award. Her most recent book "Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within," is an instructional book on writing poetry.
Kirby is currently the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University and the author or co-author of 29 books, including collections of poetry and literary criticism. His work has won numerous awards, including four Pushcart Prizes, the James Dickey Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation. His book "The House on Boulevard St." was nominated for the 2007 National Book Award in poetry.
Ten events will be held throughout the three-day festival. All events are free and open to the public.
"This is by far the most high-profile literary event in Athens each year, it's a terrific opportunity for both students and community members alike," Haworth said.
The festival is sponsored by the Program in Creative Writing in the Department of English and funded by the College of Arts and Sciences with support from Arts for Ohio. For more information visit http://www.english.ohiou.edu/sp/litfest/