The participating writers may be emerging, but the Emerging Writers Festival (EWF) itself already has emerged. Capping several months of celebrating its 10th anniversary, the EWF hosted five visiting writers and dozens of students, faculty members and alumni April 13-15.
Hosted by the Department of English and Philadelphia Alumni Writers House and supported by Richard ‘50 and Edna Hausman P’85, the festival featured promising American writers Jason Fagone, Elyse Fenton, Grace Krilanovich, Alex Taylor and Henry Wolfe.
Earlier in the spring, the College invited a series of former emerging writers— Brock Clarke, Meghan Daum and Major Jackson—to speak in recognition of the festival’s 10th year.
A group of 10 F&M students and seven faculty members organized the event, led by co-chairs Jeff Steinbrink, Alumni Professor of English Literature and Belles Lettres, and Kerry Sherin Wright, director of the Writers House and adjunct assistant professor of English.
“The festival has invited people who have gone on to become very successful,” Wright says. “But the festival proper recognizes these same writers when they’re still relatively new to their careers. The students get to work with writers with whom they can identify, and the writers find the same is true about the students.”
Working with these writers directly was a particular highlight for the students, especially the 10 on the EWF planning committee who shadowed the writers during their stay in Lancaster, answering questions and learning more about the paths they could take in their future careers.
“To me, it’s so much better interacting with writers than seeing them on stage,” says Connie Renfrow ’12, who shadowed Fenton. “In a way it validates my efforts as a creative writing major to realize that successful writers have the same real-life and authorial struggles that I do. “
“This is an exciting moment,” Steinbrink says of the festival’s anniversary. “The best thing for me has been the way EWF gets students involved with each other and with the writers. A lot of students catch fire at EWF.”