WCU Broadens Literary Horizons

var uslide_show_id = “ad6615f9-5b82-4fc7-ac08-71d7d1cfb3ad”;var slideshowwidth = “350”;var linktext = “”;WCU students came to listen to visiting authors as they read thrilling, heart-warming, and inspiring excerpts from their greatest works at the Sixth Annual Spring Literary Festival from April 7-10, 2008.

Mary Adams, festival director and associate professor of English, said that it was a collaborated effort to get the authors to WCU’s literary festival.

“Some authors were recommended by the state poet laureate Kay Byer, and some were friends of the faculty,” Adams said. “Pat Conroy’s niece goes here. So, we were able to get him to come.”

Adams said that authors from all over the country send letters requesting to be visiting authors at WCU’s literary festival, but only a few are selected based on the that year’s theme.

Guest authors at WCU’s Sixth Annual Literary festival included novelists Lee Smith, Ron Rash, Dagoberto Gilb, Pat Conroy, Russel Banks, Gloria Vando; poets Thomas Lux, Joseph Bathanti, Sarah Lindsay, Carolyn Beard-Whitlow; and off-Broadway actress Barbara Bates Smith.

Lindsay Godwin, a junior at WCU, said that she has attended every literary festival since she has been at Western. Godwin was present at Lee Smith’s introduction to her novel, On Agate Hill, and the performance of the novel by Barbara Bates Smith and Jeff Sebens in the Coulter Auditorium on April 7 at 7:30 p.m.

“I’ve read a lot of Lee Smith’s works, and I’ve enjoyed her writing,” Godwin said.

During the introduction to her book On Agate Hill, Lee Smith told the audience why she started writing.

“I loved to read and write,” Smith said. “I started to write because I couldn’t stand to see my favorite books to end.”

Godwin not only enjoys attending the literary festival events, but also thinks it is a great thing for the campus.

“It gets the community involved,” Godwin said. “It incorporates authors that students have read and the students actually get to see the authors.”

According to Adams, the literary festival has been at WCU since the 1970s. She said that the literary festival was originally called “Visiting Writers Series,” which brought individual authors to WCU separately. Later, the dean of the Honors College suggested changing the series into a festival to bring the visiting authors to WCU in one collected time. The literary festival has been at WCU for six years, and will hopefully continue for the next generation to enjoy.