Another Successful Festival

Thank you to everyone for another successful Writers’ Festival! We had amazing turnouts at each event, great audience questions, and lots of books signed. Thank you to everyone who came out to support the Festival and hear our amazing guests.

Agnes Scott Finalists’ Reading

Tuesday April 5, 2016

Festival Guest Q&A Session

Thursday, April 6

Patrick Phillips’ Reading

Thursday, April 6

Claudia Rankine Reading and Contest Winner Announcement

Thursday, April 6

Kayla Miller Reading

Friday, April 7

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Finalist Workshop with Guest Writers

Friday, April 7

2017 Guest Writers

Three distinguished authors will be on campus April 4-7, 2017, for Agnes Scott College’s 45th Annual Writers’ Festival, the oldest continuous literary event in Georgia. The 2017 visiting authors are poet Claudia Rankine, writer and poet Patrick Phillips, and Agnes Scott alumna writer, poet Kayla Miller ’11.

Claudia Rankine


Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. For Citizen, Rankine won the Forward Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (Citizen was also nominated in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award’s history to be a double nominee), the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the NAACP Image Award. A finalist for the National Book Award, Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. She lives in New York City and teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.

photo of writer Patrick PhillipsPATRICK PHILLIPS

Patrick Phillips is the author of a book of nonfiction, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America (W. W. Norton 2016), and three poetry collections. His most recent, Elegy for a Broken Machine was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry; his two earlier collections are Boy and Chattahoochee. He is also the translator of When We Leave Each Other: Selected Poems of Henrik Nordbrandt. A Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Phillips’ work has appeared in many magazines, including Poetry, Ploughshares, and The Nation, and his honors include the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Lyric Poetry Award from the Poetry Society of America. Phillips lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Drew University. Phillips will teach the one-credit, one-week creative writing seminar associated with the Writers’ Festival.


photo of writer Kayla Miller

Kayla Miller earned her BA in English Literature-Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College in 2011 and her MFA in Fiction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2016. She is the author of the chapbook See & Be Seen & Be Scene, winner of Five [Quarterly] ’s chapbook competition, and a recipient of the Talbot International Award to write in Spain. Her work has appeared in the journals The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg ReviewTahoma Literary Review, and HOLD: a journal, among others.

2017 Writers’ Festival Events

We are very excited about this year’s distinguished guests, and we hope that you join us for one or more of the public events listed below.
Please note that each of these events are free and open to the public, with no ticket required.

Reading by Agnes Scott Student Finalists in the Writers’ Festival Contest
Tuesday, April 4, 5 p.m.
Luchsinger Lounge, Alston Campus Center

Q&A With Claudia Rankine, Patrick Phillips, and Kayla Miller `11
Thursday, April 6, 1 p.m.
Luchsinger Lounge, Alston Campus Center

Reading by Patrick Phillips
Reception and book signing to follow
Thursday, April 6, 4 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts

Reading by Claudia Rankine 
Reception and book signing to follow
Thursday, April 6, 8 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts

Reading by Kayla Miller ’11
Reception and book signing to follow
Friday, April 7, 2 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts



2016 Agnes Scott College Writers’ Festival Guests

The forty-fifth annual Agnes Scott College Writers’ Festival will be held April 7-8, 2016. This year we will have three distinguished guest writers on campus to speak to the public: Richard Blanco, Dani Shapiro, and Charleen McClure.

blanco_pressimage1Richard Blanco is the fifth inaugural poet in US history—the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban-exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work. He is the author of three poetry collections: Looking for the Gulf MotelDirections to the Beach of the Dead, and City of a Hundred Fires; and two memoirs: The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey.

shapiro_author11-200x270An acclaimed literary novelist and nonfiction writer, Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of three memoirs, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life (2013); Devotion; and Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy. Her five acclaimed novels include Family History and Black & White, both of which are in development as feature films.


charleen mcclureCharleen McClure is a young poet currently residing in New York City. She was born to Jamaican parents in London, England and later immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Agnes Scott College with a Bachelor’s in English-Literature, she moved abroad to teach in Spain on a Fulbright scholarship. Since moving to New York City, she’s become part of the Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon and has participated in various Cave Canem workshops. Her work has been published in African Voices magazine.

Please join Richard Blanco, Dani Shapiro, and Charleen McClure for the following events:

Q & A with Richard Blanco, Dani Shapiro, and Charleen McClure ’10
Thursday, April 7, 1 p.m.
Luchsinger Lounge, Alston Student Center

Reading by Dani Shapiro
Reception and booksigning to follow
Thursday, April 7, 4 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts

Reading by Richard Blanco
Reception and booksigning to follow
Thursday, April 7, 8 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts

Reading by Charleen McClure ’10
Reception and booksigning to follow
Friday, April 8, 2 p.m.
Winter Theater, Dana Fine Arts

All of these events are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there.

Writers & Scholars: Professor Charlotte Artese

On Wednesday, October 14, Professor Charlotte Artese will present on her new book Shakespeare’s Folktale Sources (University of Delaware Press, 2015). This Writers & Scholars event will take place at 7 pm in the Luchsinger Fireplace Lounge of the Alston Campus Center at Agnes Scott College.

Shakespeare’s Folktale Sources argues that seven plays—The Taming of the Shrew, Titus Andronicus, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Merchant of Venice, All’s Well that Ends Well, Measure for Measure, and Cymbeline—derive one or more of their plots directly from folktales. In most cases, scholars have accepted one literary version of the folktale as a source. Recognizing that the same story has circulated orally and occurs in other medieval and early modern written versions allows for new readings of the plays. By acknowledging that a play’s source story circulated in multiple forms, we can see how the playwright was engaging his audience on common ground, retelling a story that may have been familiar to many of them, even the illiterate. We can also view the folktale play as a Shakespearean genre, defined by source as the chronicle histories are, that spans and traces the course of Shakespeare’s career.


Please join us to discuss this groundbreaking work!

Interview with Guest Writer, Jennifer Bartell ’05

The 44th Annual Writers’ Festivals is finally here! Now that our guest writers are here, let us welcome back alumna writer, Jennifer Bartell ’05.

Jennifer Bartell graduated from Agnes Scott with a degree in English-Literature & Creative Writing, focusing in poetry and nonfiction. She initially left Agnes thinking she wanted to be a nurse; however, she quickly found herself going back to what she knew best–writing. Landing various jobs in newspaper reporting and teaching, it wasn’t until several years later that Bartell went back to school. Last year, in 2014, Bartell graduated from University of South Carolina in Columbia with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. She currently teaches at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina.

Agnes Scott Writers’ Festival: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Jennifer Bartell ’05: I’ve always been attracted to words and reading, but I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I was thirteen years old and started writing poetry.

One year I told my mom I wanted a typewriter for Christmas, a little electric type writer. And at that point she knew that I was doing a lot of writing. Horrible horrible writing, but I was writing. You have to start somewhere!

Writers’ Festival: When was your first work published, and what was that experience like?

Bartell: I guess it was one those young American poetry anthologies in middle school or high school. I remember feeling very proud of my work and had this desire to want to get published again. But I didn’t really take publishing seriously until I got into a MFA program. I don’t know why it took me so long to take poetry seriously.

Before I went into the MFA program, I was working on a poetry project (that I have since abandoned) and getting a manuscript together for publication.  But I wasn’t actively sending work out to be published. And I think that just came from being a novice and not knowing a lot about the field.

Writers’ Festival: Would you suggest that students try to start getting published while they’re in college?

Bartell: I would say that young writers need to focus on the craft and focus on the process more than the product and publication. Of course, publication is what you ideally want to be working toward. But I think a lot of young writers get caught up in writing what is publishable without really exploring who they are as an individual and a writer. Focus on developing the craft, read as much as you can, read as widely as you can, and all of the other stuff will fall into place.

Sending stuff out to publishing companies or presses, depending on where you’re sending it, can get really pricey. There’s nothing wrong with supporting presses, but you really need to be sure in your work before you send it out. A lot of people, including myself, send work out prematurely. It’s not where it needs to be. And of course it doesn’t get published! It’s not really good. Not yet.

Who are you as a writer? What are the topics you typically write about?

Bartell: I’m still growing and evolving as a woman and a writer. Writing poetry is a journey, and I say that because of the experiences I’ve been through in the past ten years. I graduated from Agnes Scott in 2005 and then, the next year my mother died. I worked and had various jobs, and when I went back to school, my dad died. So, a lot of that influences my writing. I write a lot about my parents, grief, and loneliness.

And so, I don’t want to say that I use poetry as catharsis, because poetry has to be more than that, but I would say that writing about these experiences is how I have maintained some sanity. Reading poetry, writing poetry, and revising, revising, revising poetry has helped me to figure out a lot of things that would otherwise be very difficult to process.

If you have more questions you’d like to ask, there will be a Q & A session with guest writers, Chris Abani, Tracy K. Smith, and Jennifer Bartell ’05 on Thursday, March 26th at 1pm in Luchsinger Lounge.