Paging readers: Literary Arts Festival booked in April

IowaWriterMapBy: Anna Duran

Bookworms and aspiring authors take note: the Literary Arts Festival is coming up the first week of April.

It is set to take place April 1-3. The winners of the creative writing contest, several Iowa writers, and four national authors will be reading from personal works at various campuses.

All the authors will be reading from their work, which is meant to expose students to a world they may not have access to in their ordinary life.

“In a classroom, you experience writing in a kind of vacuum. This shows there is an audience for writing and that it’s a real thing outside the four walls of a classroom,” said professor Marc Dickinson, who organizes the event.

The national writers are fiction authors Ron Carlson and Caitlin Horrocks, and poets Matthew Dickman and Aimee Nezhukumatathil. They are also all professors at universities.

“Meeting new students on various campuses across the country has allowed me to hear their stories and see the way they are making stories and offer what I can to that effort,” said Ron Carlson, from University of California Irvine.

The local and national authors selected are usually professors. This is one way to ensure a student-focused festival.

“We have these writers who are excited to come here. They love coming to the community college. It’s inspiring to see writers who have a pure enthusiasm for writing,” Dickinson said.

Enthusiasm has a tendency to wear off, and writing is a lengthy process prone to stagnation.

“Trust yourself. When it gets confounding, you must stay in the room and press on. The writer is the person who stays in the room,” said Carlson.

This is the eleventh year of the festival, which is held in the spring to coincide with the release of the student magazine, Expressions, produced at Urban Campus, and the announcement of the creative writing contest winners.

The festival is also a way to break down the stereotypes that typically swirl around authors and other literary types.

“People often think writers are kind of bookworms who aren’t social, or they’re highfalutin and snooty, and really the majority of writers are none of those things. They’re way more conversational and accessible than people think they would be,” Dickinson said.

The contest winners and all four national writers will be at Beaverdale Books on April 1 for a reading.

Dickinson chose Beaverdale Books in an effort to support a local business and the location allows the public and students from other colleges to attend.

“We aim to expose and demystify the whole process. We learn writing in theory, and here we can see it in application,” Dickinson said.

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