Building on a long tradition of inviting distinguished writers to campus to read their works, teach, and talk with students, Agnes Scott College Annual Writers’ Festival began in the spring of 1972, with May Sarton as the headliner. A statewide writing contest for colleges and universities in poetry and fiction was the centerpiece of the event: the finalists’ works were published in the festival magazine and the visiting writers selected the prizewinners in each genre. Readings and workshops with the visiting writers rounded out the program, which was open to the public as well as to the campus community.
Today, the festival maintains these founding traditions along with some new features: creative nonfiction and dramatic writing were added to the contest in the 1990s, an alumna writer is on the program almost every year, and one of the visiting writers gives a one-credit workshop for Agnes Scott College students.
One such writer, acclaimed poet Joy Harjo, while on campus for two weeks in 2012, took a group of students to an Alabama reservation and introduced them to members of her tribe and shared their traditions and history. “Joy Harjo was incredible and innovative in her teaching methods. She would integrate dance and music with her poetry, and we even ended up dancing around a circle in the classroom to channel our energies,” said Sanidia Oliver ’13. “Not only was Joy an incredible poet and teacher, but we individually were able to connect with her in our own way. She invited all of us to an Indian Reservation in Alabama where she was performing on behalf of her grandfather who had fought there so long ago. It was an amazing opportunity.”
From Eudora Welty, Reynolds Price, Richard Wilbur, and Margaret Atwood, to Rita Dove, Jane Smiley, Tim O’Brien, John Updike, Anita Desai, and Junot Diaz, the festival has brought great writers to the college to inspire and challenge our students and our audiences. Join us!
For more information, visit our page on Agnes Scott College’s website.