Smile Politely

C-U’s first Early Spring Literary Festival

Having grown up in Champaign-Urbana, I’ve become relatively immune to the lofty claims staked to this professor or that invention. Just recently I was asked by a very excited stranger, who I was serving a bottle of beer to, if I had known that the LED had been created right here, in Champaign-Urbana(?!). I responded as respectfully as I could: by feigning ignorance and letting him provide me with a short history of the light emitting diode’s relationship to the nice big buildings just north of Green street.  And I have to say that I was annoyed by his this little unsolicited solliquy until it occured to me that I too must sound like him when I begin to drivel on about how wonderfully lucky we are to share our community with such talented members of the greater literary community. So naturally, I was excited to hear that the U of I’s Creative Writing Program would be hosting a literary festival aimed at engaging local consumers of the literary arts.

“The Early Spring Literary Festival is the result of conversations within the Creative Writing Program about how to create more occasions for intellectual and creative exchange between devoted readers and writers in the community-at-large,” Audrey Petty, director of the CW program, told me earlier this week. “We started with the idea of creating panels, talks, and readings that would feature Creative Writing faculty. We soon improved upon this plan, expanding our roster to include an even wider range of voices from within as well as outside of campus.  This is the Creative Writing Program’s first festival of this sort; as such, we’re keeping to a modest time-frame this week.”

A modest time frame with high aspirations.  Here is the three day schedule for the University of Illinois’ first annual Early Spring Literary Festival:


Monday March 15th | Author’s Corner | Illini Union Bookstore

11-12:15: Panel discussion: “The Next Decade in Book Culture: The Rise of the E-Book.” Jane Ciabattari, Philip Graham, Harriett Green (University of Illinois Library), Martin Riker (Dalkey Archive Press)

2-3:15: Panel discussion: “Some Critical and Practical Issues in Translation Studies.” Elizabeth Lowe, Patricia Phillips, Anastasia Lakhtikova, Reinhard Mayer

4:30: Reading: Eileen Favorite and Jane Ciabattari


Tuesday March 16th | Author’s Corner | Illini Union Bookstore

11-12: Presentation: Jane Ciabattari, The Art of the Book Review

3-4:15: Panel discussion: “The Truth of the Matter: On Creative Nonfiction and Literary Journalism.” Christopher Benson, Jabari Asim, Audrey Petty, Steve Davenport

4:30: Reading: Manuel Martinez and Bayo Ojikutu


March 17th | Author’s Corner | Illini Union Bookstore

11-12:15: Panel discussion: “Independent Publishing.” Aaron Burch (Hobart), Peter Cole (Keyhole), Zach Dodson (Featherproof Books), Jacob S. Knabb (ACM: Another Chicago Magazine)

2-3:15: Panel Discussion: “Where We’re At: Ninth Letter on Writing the Midwest.” Ashley Booth, Aaron Burch, Dana Burchfield, Brian Kornell, Micah Riecker. Jodee Stanley, moderator.

4:30: Reading: Philip Graham, LeAnne Howe, Jabari Asim, Michael Madonick


A lot to pack in over a three day span, but if you can slip away from work for an hour or two, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.  And if you can’t, let not your heart be troubled — Audery made sure to point out that the department is “looking forward to hosting another, slightly more expanded festival next year.”

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