Join hands with / the invisible / the disappeared / the forgotten / river flooding / the land nourished / the blooming mourning / the return of the beasts.
Writers from all walks of life – including Vanessa Angélica Villarreal, quoted above – will gather virtually over the next few weeks at Franklin & Marshall College’s annual Emerging Writers Festival.
The festival features a diverse range of online craft talks and readings, slated from Feb. 18 to March 5. Having canceled last year's festival due to COVID, organizers are excited to welcome back the proposed lineup of writers.
“We wanted to honor our invitations and to recreate a festival we had been so excited about,” said Erik Anderson, assistant professor of English and former festival director.
Featured writers include poets Tiana Clark and Villarreal, nonfiction writers T Kira Madden and Meghan O'Gieblyn, and fiction writer Martin Riker. Clark will begin the festival with a Feb. 18 craft talk (noon), followed by an evening reading with Villarreal (7:30 p.m.).
Started in 2002, the festival has grown into a hallmark literary tradition on campus. The collaborative effort between students and faculty brings some of the country’s most exciting new authors to F&M.
Below, Anderson discusses this year’s new virtual format.
What we can expect from this year's writers?
Representation is very important to us, and we work hard to make sure that the writers we invite to campus bring a wide variety of voices, perspectives, aesthetics and identities. This is a dynamic group of writers whose work engages with questions of race, class, gender, sexuality, language, immigration, religion and even ghosts.
How do you help foster connectivity and energy in a virtual festival setting?
The constraints of the virtual format are actually helping us get creative in terms of presentation and promotion. We're also able to open up our events to a much wider audience, including all of our far-flung alums. We hope some folks join us.
Anything else we should know?
One of the things we pride ourselves on is our ability to pick winners. If you look back at nearly 20 years of EWF, it's striking how many of the writers have gone on to achieve incredible things. We've just learned that this year one of our writers, Vanessa Angélica Villareal, has won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry. It's a real pleasure to see the writers we invite receive the validation they deserve.
The virtual Emerging Writers Festival begins Feb. 18 and runs through March 5. All events are free and open to the public. Learn more on the EWF website.