By Dasha Morgan-
This September 5 – 7th, the 14th annual Carolina Mountains Literary Festival is bringing a wide array of well known authors to Burnsville. Noted author Gail Godwin on her blog called last year’s festival: “A Summa Cum Laude Literary Festival.”
Whatever your reading preferences, there will be something for you. Throughout the three days, authors in fiction, poetry, memoir, non-fiction, and young-adult literature will be reading and discussing their works, all of which are free and open to the public.
The festival includes more than 50 events, such as readings, discussions, speeches, book signings and workshops, that take place at the library, town hall, town center, churches, restaurants and inns throughout Burnsville. Go to the Festival website cmlitfest.org to find authors who fit your reading preferences. There you can also read their bios, descriptions of the books they have written and the festival schedule.
All of the happenings tie to this year’s theme, On the Move: Stories of Migration, Immigration and Travel. “Our country is becoming more and more mobile,” says Kathy Weisfeld, festival chair. “People leave where they grew up, change jobs, come to our country and become citizens, so we thought it’s an appropriate theme for these times.”
The Festival will begin on Thursday night with a free performance, “My Grandfather’s Prayers,” by professional puppeteer, Lisa Sturtz. Red Herring Puppets uses shadow puppets, scrolling backgrounds, marionettes, digital composites and poetic text to tell the story of the director’s grandfather, a renowned tenor and Cantor. He fled Russia during the pogroms and again during the Hungarian White Terror to come to the United States. The performance explores Sturtz’s own ancestry, artistry, spirituality, the power of music and social responsibility. The performance is intended for adults and mature teens.
The Saturday night Keynote Speaker is the well known, Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain and Varina. Frazier’s novels paint stories of Appalachian heritage—and Cold Mountain, of course depicts the many hardships in this area during the Civil War. It won the National Book Award for fiction in 1997. The novel, which was Charles Frazier’s first, became a major best-seller, selling roughly three million copies worldwide.
It was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film of the same name in 2003. With Varina Frazier’s powerful fourth novel, he returns to the time and place of Cold Mountain, vividly bringing to life the chaos and devastation of the Civil War.
History buffs will enjoy reading and learning about history. They can hear authors of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and memoirs read and discuss events in US history. Andrew Lawler will speak about what is now known of the fate of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. For the Friday night banquet—alas sold out — Lawler will discuss his latest book, “The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke.” In 1587, 115 men, women, and children crossed the Atlantic, landing on Roanoke Island along what is now the North Carolina coast.
By the time a resupply mission arrived three years later, they had utterly vanished. But it was not until the nineteenth century that the story of the settlers grew into an unsolved mystery and wildly popular myth. Lawler explains how the 16th century tale of the missing Colonists remains relevant to Americans today.
Wayne Caldwell, a native of Asheville, will also be at the Festival. He is the author of two novels, Cataloochee and Requiem by Fire and has won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the WNC Historical Association and the James Still Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Around 400 people come over the 2 1/2 days. While the majority of attendees are from Western North Carolina, last year people from 63 zip codes attended. Malaprop’s Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Asheville, sets up a store at the Festival featuring books by the presenting authors, who do book signings twice a day. The 14th annual Carolina Mountains Literary festival is dedicated to the memory of Charles F. Price, the Festival co-founder. At the time of publication, the banquet, the writing workshops in memoir, non-fiction and poetry are sold out. There are seats available for the Saturday night Keynote with Frazier and in the fiction workshop.
Some of the featured authors this year are:
Jacqui Castle (Science Fiction Workshop)
Elaine Neil Orr
YOUNG ADULT FICTION
Lena Epps Brooker
Tessa Fontaine (Memoir Workshop)
Elaine Neil Orr
Tyree Daye (Poetry Workshop)
Jaki Shelton Green, NC Poet Laureate
Georgann Eubanks (Nonfiction Workshop)
Jacquelyn Dowd Hall
Mendy Knott- Mitchell Senior Center & Yancey Community Center
Bobbie Pryon- Blue Ridge Elementary School
Barbara O’Connor- Micaville & South Toe Elementary Schools
Allan Wolf- Harris Middle School
Jennie Liu & Joann O’Sullivan- Avery High School
Go to the Festival website cmlitfest.org to find specific information on the events being held.