This Week in Celebrating the Writers’ Festival

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Good morning, everyone. This week, The New York Times’ A. O. Scott profiles Tilile Olsen in his essay series, The Americans, in which he makes the case that Olsen’s work epitomizes something essential about American literature. Having recently read Yonnondio and remembering the awe I felt reading and teaching “I Stand Here Ironing,” he’s absolutely right! It’s a marvelous profile that details some of the challenges Olsen–and many women writers, in particular–have faced managing familial responsibilities with writing. Olsen was a Writers’ Festival Guest in 1987.
Writers’ Festival folks are always doing something cool and important! (Have you noticed?) Suzan-Lori Parks (Writers’ Festival Guest 2007) is back in the news for her work with the NatGeo miniseries GeniusAretha, which is now streaming on Hulu. For fans of comics, Benjamin Percy (Festival Guest 2012) has been busy writing for Marvel: specifically, the villain Carnage and the X-Man Wolverine.
Novelist (and 2013 Festival Guest) Gish Jen wrote this week about the surge in violence against Asian Americans, specifically following the hate crimes in Atlanta. Her essay focuses on what she sees as generational differences in how Asian Americans have responded to the marked increase in anti-Asian/American violence and, as I have come to expect from her work, provides an invaluable perspective and opportunity for historicization. You can hear Gish Jen at this year’s Writers’ Festival, as we will be featuring the Q&A session featuring Jen, Anjail Rashida Ahmad, and Cristina Garcia, on Tuesday, April 6, at 4:30 p.m. (Please click on the title of the event and then click “register here” in order to receive access to the event. See more on our WordPress Site.)
Something to Celebrate:Our wonderful Bookstore, Charis, has been nominated for Bookstore of the Year by Publisher’s Weekly! We absolutely agree–Charis is the best! Congratulations! Check out their Virtual Book Booth celebrating the Festival, too–you’ll certainly find new things to read.
Something to Do:

  • On Tuesday, March 30, Charis will be hosting the launch of Melissa Febos’ new book, A Celebration of Girlhood, at 7:30 p.m.
  • Fab Friday in Decatur happens this week! On Friday, wear your mask and join Charis at their pop-up event and other Decatur businesses for an opportunity to browse (and congratulate them in person!). 
  • While you’re browsing, head over to Dancing Goats Coffee Bar in Decatur! Dancing Goats is providing a special drink for the Writers’ Festival 50th Anniversary called “Thyme for Coffee.” It is a shaken iced espresso drink with honey, lemon, and thyme. Purchase this drink to be entered in the Dancing Goats giveaway where you can get a copy of a book by Rita Dove or by Tiana Clark. This anniversary drink will be available April 2 – April 9. Enjoy!
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  • Write a Golden Shovel poem, the form whose rules were invented by Terrance Hayes (2014 Festival Guest) inspired by the works of Gwendolyn Brooks and featured this week in the At Home section of the New York Times. Since I have been motivated by all things Writers’ Festival, here is my ode:
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Send yours! We’d love to see it!
Something(s) to Read:In one week, we will be kicking off this year’s Writers’ Festival! Join the members of Agnes Scott’s faculty as we reminisce about Festivals past on Monday, April 5, at 6:30 p.m.(Please click on the title of the event and then click “register here” in order to receive access to the event. See more on our WordPress Site.) To prepare, I recommend looking back at these recollections from Dr. Christine Cozzens, Charles A. Dana Professor of English and Dean of the College, as we marked the Festival’s 40th anniversary.
And we look at the Festival’s first magazines, our records grow thinner. We look forward to hearing from you if you have some of the missing magazines or information about the contest winners! 

  • 1985
    • Unfortunately, this is one of the years that we do not have a magazine! If you do, would you scan a copy for us? Or, if you’re willing to part with it, we would love to add it to our archives.
  • 1984
    • Poetry from Theodore Worozbyt—“Anniversary” and “The Thin Man Theme”
    • h. bodner’s poem “IF/THEN/ELSE” was striking in its engagement of early computer technology and memory
    • The postmodern poetics of Stanley Keen’s “Jumbo” are fascinating!
  • 1983
    • Robyn Perry was much featured in these years! In this magazine, check out the poems “The Three Candles (a painting by Chagall)” and “The Geographer (a painting by Jan Vermeer).” Perry’s work is also featured in the 1984 magazine—poems “Tower of London” and “Mangos,” and the story “Yakanaka”—and the 1982 magazine—with the poem “The Wedding Party.”
    • Tyree Harris’ story “The Pirate I Found on My Porch” makes incredible use of first-person narration (as does “P. BOELKE, MARVEL-BUILDER,” in the 1982 magazine).
    • “The Lawrence Tree: Figure Ground,” by Anne Richey, is something I haven’t stopped considering since I encountered it!
  • 1982
    • David Bruce Denholtz’ poems “To Awaken In Two Places Distant As An Animal” and “FIST OF A HEART” are excellent, and
    • you won’t want to miss Jane Zanca’s story, “Ruby May Not” (or the story “Timepiece,” in the 1983 magazine). Zanca was a Writers’ Festival guest in 1987 and in 1990).
    • Ginny Herren’s poem, “Vital Records,” is also fabulous.
  • 1981
    • This is the first, stand-alone Writers’ Festival Magazine!
    • I loved reading Janeice Ray’s poem “Desertion of a Garden” (and her “The Ties of Home” in the 1982 magazine)
    • There are a lot of ekpraistic poems in these issues and I especially liked Jane Quillman’s “The Old Masters” as a different angle on that kind of writing (she also has “Blank Pillow” and “Uncle Charles” in the 1980 magazine)
    • Carol Colbe’s poem “A Scent of Guilt”
  • 1980
    • This is the last year that the Writers’ Festival Magazine was published as a special issue of Aurora, Agnes Scott’s literary magazine.
    • Cynthia Evans’ poem “Heart”
    • Robin Wagner’s story “Problems that Arise Because I Don’t Sleep As Late As He Does” is excellent
    • Rebecca Burtz’ war story “The Jumping Order”

Have a wonderful week!