A few years ago, a group of professors in the English department came together and decided ETSU needed a creative writing minor. This would allow students who have an interest in writing and English to study those subjects and incorporate it with something else like biology or business.
This new minor inspired Jesse Graves, an associate English professor and ETSU’s poet in residence, to organize the university’s first annual Creative Writing Festival.
The festival spans over two days — Tuesday, April 12 and Wednesday, April 13 — with most events and activities taking place in the Reece Museum.
Several writers with East Tennessee ties are a part of the festival, whether it be a writing workshop, a reading or both.
“We wanted to invite writers who are good teachers and communicators of the craft, ” Graves said.
One of the writers participating in the festival is Kingsport native and author of six bestselling novels, Lisa Alther. She will be doing a reading along with a question and answer session at 7 p.m. on April 13 in the Ball Hall auditorium with a book signing to follow.
Poet and songwriter R.B. Morris will also do an evening of poetry and music with Graves at the Willow Tree Coffeehouse at 8 p.m. April 12 for $5. This is the only event with a charge.
There are a variety of sessions, including writing workshops for poetry and fiction.
The poetry workshop, which is at 1:45 p.m. April 12, will be hosted by poet and social practice artist Stephanie Pruitt. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and was named in Essence Magazine’s “40 Favorite Poets.”
Pruitt is also giving a presentation titled “No Starving Artist: Crafting a Life and Living with Your Art” at 11:30 a.m. April 13.
The fiction workshop is with Kingsport native and author Robert Gipe at 12:30 p.m. April 12.
Graves said these workshops will include writing advice and prompt exercises to help writers get a jumpstart on their next piece of work.
There will also be a songwriting panel at 10 a.m. April 13 featuring Dana Gillian, R.B. Morris and ETSU’s own Ed Snodderly and Michael Cody.
For those that are interested in a creative writing minor, there will be a “Meet Your Professors” panel at 3 p.m. April 12.
“That session will also focus on how creative writing is incorporated into various disciplines,” Graves said.
Professors and students will also have an opportunity to shine at the festival. The welcome and introduction will announce the winners of this year’s ETSU literary and art magazine, “The Mockingbird,” at 10 a.m. April 12 in the Reece Museum.
Faculty members that have creative writing work that has been recently published will present that work at 2:45 p.m. April 13. Those faculty members include Thomas Burton, Catherine Pritchard Childress, Scott Honeycutt and Fred Waage.
The festival will conclude with Alther’s book signing and “The Mockingbird” distribution at 8 p.m. April 13.
“We are hoping the festival appeals to all students,” Graves said.
For more information on the festival, email Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Department of Literature and Language office in Burleson 103.