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Second Annual Book Festival Grabs Award Winning Writers

Rebecca Hoyt, M.F.A. '99 director of Fall for the Book.

If hearing an author's voice can tell us a lot about them--where they're from, if they're nervous, if they're as witty as their books--imagine what meeting them can tell us. George Mason and the City of Fairfax celebrate books and their authors between September 21 and 24 with Fall for the Book, Northern Virginia's second annual community-based book festival.

Readings, storytellers, discussions, lectures, workshops, and exhibits highlight local and national writers of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and children's literature on Mason's Fairfax Campus and throughout the City of Fairfax. Fall for the Book is unique because it is planned by, and for, the community. Local organizations sponsor and host festival events, and with the Washington Post as a major sponsor, this year's festival is expected to be bigger and better.

Among the writers scheduled to appear at the 2000 festival are Newbery Medal-winning children's author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Carolyn Kizer and Henry Taylor, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss, financial writer Ric Edelman, best-selling novelists David Baldacci and Connie Briscoe, and critically acclaimed writers Stephen Dunn, Sharon Olds, Lorrie Moore, and Howard Norman. A handful of regional poets also will participate in the festival, including George Mason faculty members Carolyn Forche, Eric Pankey, Jennifer Atkinson, and Susan Tichy.

In addition to the traditional author readings and book signings, festival attendees will also find expert book appraisals (a very popular event last year!), poetry slams, roving storytellers, writing workshops, and costumed characters and puppet shows for children. Like last year, alumni will be an integral part of the festival.

Modeled after the Virginia Festival of the Book, held each year in Charlottesville, the idea of a festival for Northern Virginia began with Randolph Church, a long-time George Mason supporter and former rector of the George Mason Board of Visitors. English professor and author Stephen Goodwin then took on the project with the help and financial support of the College of Arts and Sciences and its dean, Daniele Struppa. Things really took off when Goodwin brought alumna Rebecca Hoyt, M.F.A. '99, on board as festival director.

Though planned in a very short amount of time, 1999's Fall for the Book was a hit. Not only did the festival feature well-known authors, such as radio personality Diane Rehm, author Deborah Tannen, novelist Elizabeth Berg, and poet Forrest Gander, but faculty and alumni showcased their talents during readings as well.

Chris Fow, M.F.A. '93, who works for the City of Fairfax, coordinated one of the festival sites in the city, where poets Leslie Bumstead, M.F.A. '94, and Jean Donnelly, M.F.A. '95, were part of an experimental poetry presentation. Wendi Kaufman, M.F.A. '97, Robyn Wright, M.F.A. '00, and Caroline Kettlewell, M.A. '95, read from their published works on campus. Stacey Freed, M.F.A. '90, Gwyn McVay, M.F.A. '98, Kelly Joyner, M.F.A. '98, and Oscar Bennett, M.F.A. '91, shared the podium with current creative writing students as part of an M.F.A. student/alumni reading. Bennett read from his new book, The Colored Garden, which was published by Laughing Owl Press in February of this year. For more information about the festival, check out the Fall for the Book website at To find out more about volunteer opportunities or to get on the festival mailing list, contact Hoyt at (703) 993-3986 or


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