Thursday ends Literary Festival with “The Becky Show,” Ammons and Flynn

The final day of the 10th annual Spring Literary Festival at Western Carolina University had three events take place: “The Becky Show,” Shirlette Ammons and Nick Flynn.

Rebecca Hardin-Thrift wrote and starred in her show that explored the idea of being “trash” while growing up in the small town of Belmont, located near Charlotte.

Dressed in a patterned dress with a black sweater, Hardin-Thrift performed a hilarious one-hour skit about her different family members and their antics. Hardin-Thrift’s genuine Southern accent and storytelling caused laughter throughout the show.

“Sweet iced tea is the elixir of trash,” she explained at the beginning of her show. She continued, “What does it mean to be trash? … Real trash is busy because being poor is a full-time job.”

Sipping on a glass of sweet tea, Hardin-Thrift started the story with the backgrounds of her parents and continued through several generations and extensions of her family tree. There were hilarious stories of quips her mother said, heartbreakers like physical violence and warm moments of joy.

The event was not the entire show that Hardin-Thrift usually performs, and she stated that material is continually added to the script.

“They just keep doing stuff,” she said of her family. “They’re busy.”

Hardin Thrift’s performance at WCU was the first showing of her work in the south. For now, “The Becky Show” is only a stage show, but Hardin-Thrift is excited about its future.

Nick Flynn, memoirist, playwright and poet, presented his works to a large group of fans and students in the Coulter Recital Hall that night at 7:30 p.m.

Introduced by Dr. Elizabeth Heffelfinger from WCU’s Department of English, Flynn took to the stage to read from his poetry collections, his memoirs and to discuss the movie, “Being Flynn,” adapted from his award-winning memoir, “Another Bulls— Night in Suck City.”

Flynn began his presentation by reading from a yet-to-be-released book exploring his days roaming the set of the movie “Being Flynn,” while a slideshow of pictures the author took on-set played in the background.

The author also discussed topics like his thoughts on Julianne Moore’s portrayal of his mother, and the bittersweet impact that returning to a 70’s-styled home had on him.

Flynn then read from his first collections of poems, “Some Ether,” selecting the poems, “Bag of Mice” and “Father Outside,” before reading from his memoir.

During the Q&A session at the end, topics ranged from healing and art to the differences between his memoir and the movie based on it.

Flynn said, “I don’t think creating art is healing, but it is gnarly, dangerous and potentially harmful.”

Flynn enlightened fans on movie topics, such as the choice of title “Being Flynn,” which was not his. He also discussed the fictional love interest at the shelter, and also the dozens of different movies that could have been adapted from his memoir.

After the Q&A, Flynn left the audience with, “Artists need three things that I’ve based off a similar Buddhist practice: community with other artists, the daily practice by reading everyday and the text that you create.”

Flynn’s memoir, “Another Bulls— Night in Suck City,” won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award, was shortlisted for France’s Prix Famina and has been translated into 14 languages. He is the author of a play, “Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins.” His poetry collections include “Some Ether” and “Blind Huber,” for which he received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress.

Recently, Flynn published his third poetry collection, “The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands,” and another memoir, “The Ticking Is the Bomb.” Flynn teaches at the University of Houston and spends the rest of the year in (or near) Brooklyn, N.Y.

(Note from the Editors: We were unfortunately unable to review the Shirlette Ammons event. She read her poetry in the Coulter Auditorium at 4 p.m. on Thursday.)