Weekly Thoughts on Celebrating the Writers’ Festival’s Fiftieth

wf1.jpg

Happy spring, everyone! Everything in Decatur is blooming, which means that the Writers’ Festival is just around the corner. I hope you’re getting as excited as we are! Did you see Claudia Rankine and Jericho Brown in the Times’ 125th Book Review retrospective? Rankine was a Festival Guest in 2017, and Brown has visited Agnes Scott in our Writer’s & Scholars series more than once. I also love that the Academy of American Poets is featuring Poetry & Environmental Justice as its March 2021 theme for the Poetry Coalition. This emphasis was inspired by Linda Hogan’s “Map” (Hogan was a Festival Guest in 2005); the AAP also celebrates Richard Blanco’s “Complaint of El Rio Grande” (Blanco was a Festival Guest in 2016 and Kirk Writer-in-Residence in 2016).
Something to Celebrate:Congratulations to Jacqueline Goldfinger (Festival Guest 2021, 2018, and 2021) for her play, Babel, which is a finalist for the 2021 LAMBDA Literary Award for Drama! So exciting! 
Agnes Scott alum Courtney Faye Taylor ’15 (Taylor was a finalist in the Writers’ Festival Contest in 2015) was featured in Hallmark’s Mahogany Uplifted & Empowered Collection for her beautiful work. 
Something to Do:There are a number of fantastic events this week–here are a few to keep you busy:

Something to Read:Tiana Clark’s, the featured Georgia Poetry Circuit guest on the Wednesday of the Writers’ Festival, has a new essay titled “Treacherous Joy: An Epistle to the South” in Nashville Scene. And, ASC’s Reem Farqui, whose new book will launch on the Tuesday of the Writers’ Festival, has this fabulous story in the Alumnae Salon. 
This week, I looked back at Writers’ Festival Magazines from 1986-1990. As you’ll see on our website, some of the details are missing. If you can fill in the blanks for us, I hope you’ll reach out! That said, here’s what I loved from the magazines during these years:

  • 1990
    • “sunday,” by Anjail Ahmad and, in the 1989 magazine, “the birdwatcher”
    • Marianne Schaum’s poem “Cartesian Dualism”—the turn in the fourth stanza will stay with you!
    • Megan Sexton’s poem “The Meaning of Bones,” about the mothers of the disappeared
    • Leigh Kirkland’s story “Announcement of a Camera for Sale,” about photography and videography and the relationship between art and ephemera includes this in its first paragraph: “With no guiding vision, no moral position behind the camera, the pictures should have held only the most basic configuration of partiers. An essential part of the equation should have been missing.” I couldn’t put the story down!
  • 1989
    • Tim Richardson’s poem “Realizing,” wherein the speaker is surrounded by nature (“maybe we stop to notice a / groundsquirrel busy with leaves” and “we stand onsciously quiet and aware / of ourselves strangely vulnerable in this place”)
    • Nicole Sarrocco’s poem “Bear Island” and its devotion to egrets
    • The haunting epistolary story “Housewarming,” by Amanda R. DeWees (another I couldn’t stop reading!)
  • 1988
    • Dorothy Sussman’s story “Beyond the Life of the Town” (and also the poem “What Love Can Come To, For No Apparent Reason” in the 1987 magazine, and the poem “At Clairmont Lodge” in the 1986 magazine)
    • As someone who spent their formative years in Texas, Katherine Hester’s “Galveston Before and After Hurricanes” was especially poignant
    • Trish Rucker’s “The Need for Maps,” which includes a fabulous epigraph from Sylvia Plath
  • 1987
    • Linda Florence’s poem “Tiger Swallowtail” pieces together quilting and memory and objects
    • Theodore Worozbyt, Jr.’s “And,” about growing vegetables (which we are doing at my house—including an experiment with tomato seeds, some of which spent some time on the International Space Station [and hence are called “space tomatoes” around here]); see also his poem “The Fifth Force” in the 1986 magazine
    • Keith Hulett’s astounding “Souvenir”
  • 1986
    • There is a note from the editors with this issue concerning Victoria Wood’s story, “Tips,” which indicates that the story was eligible for the prize in fiction but, because it had so recently been published in Agnes Scott’s literary magazine Aurora, it wasn’t going to be reprinted in the Writers’ Festival Magazine so soon after its initial appearance. Unfortunately, the English Department doesn’t have a copy of the 1986 issue of Aurora; if you do (or if you know someone who does), we would love to see it!
    • We do have, though, Reginald Abbot’s lovely poem “Sylvia Redux,” on re-reading Ariel
    • Elton Manzione’s story “Shadow People,” about the Viet Nam War—a concern that appears in stories from the first issue of the Writers’ Festival Magazine
    • And Julie Kalendek’s “Pictures, All of Him,” a fascinating story. 

The calendar of this year’s Writers’ Festival weeklong celebration of events can be found at <https://calendar.agnesscott.edu/50th_annual_writers_festival>.There are a lot of events and we are so glad to be able to share the past, present, and future of the Festival! We will be using the hashtag #ASCWritersFestival on social media and this space to upload photos
Have a wonderful week!