The Write Stuff
This year's Fall for the Book Festival highlights alumni authors and promises something for everyone
By Colleen Kearney Rich, M.F.A. '95
Celebrating books - and both readers and writers - is becoming a regular practice at George Mason. From Thursday through Sunday, October 3 through 6, the fourth annual Fall for the Book Festival takes place entirely on the Fairfax Campus and promises something for the entire family.
A large part of the festival will take place in tents outside the Johnson Center and adjacent to the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, allowing festival goers to move easily from space to space. Indoor readings take place inside the Johnson Center in George's Restaurant, in Harris Theater, and at a number of other nearby venues. In addition to readings and panel discussions on the craft of writing, a street fair for the entire family on Saturday features music, face painting, storytelling by Voices in the Glen, a marionette show by Stephens Puppets, and a performance by InterAct Story Theatre.
Alumna Jean Renfro Anspaugh, B.A. '77, opens the festival on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the Washington Post tent. Anspaugh started collecting dieting tales as part of a graduate class project in personal narrative. She did her fieldwork in the dieting capital of the world - Durham, N.C. The tales she collected revealed a diet culture complete with its own values, aesthetics, work ethic, religious ethos, and language. Anspaugh holds an M.A. in folklore from the University of North Carolina.
Poet Jean Donnelly, B.A. '93, M.F.A. '95, shares the stage with Robert Sward and Niki Lee on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in George's Restaurant, as part of A Wondrous Night of Poetry. Donnelly's poetry has appeared in several journals, and Edge Books published a chapbook of her work, The Julia Set, in 1995. Her first full collection of poetry, Anthem, was selected by Charles Bernstein for the 2000 National Poetry Award Series, published by Sun & Moon Press in 2002. While studying at Mason, she cofounded So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art.
You can catch novelist Mark Winegardner, M.F.A. '88, twice on Saturday. At 11 a.m., Winegardner will take part in a panel discussion, Ways and Means of a Writer's Life, in the board room of Mason Hall. At 12:30 p.m. in the same room, he will read from his work. The author of Crooked River Burning, The Veracruz Blues, and That's True of Everybody: Stories, among others, Winegardner is the Janet Burroway Professor of English and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida State University. He has won grants, fellowships, and residencies from the Ohio Arts Council, Lilly Endowment, Ragdale Foundation, Sewanee Writers Conference, and Yaddo. His books have been chosen among the best of the year by the New York Times Book Review, New York Public Library, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Sun-Times, and his individual stories have been selected as Distinguished Stories of the Year by Best American Short Stories.
On Sunday at 1 p.m., Anthony Grooms, M.F.A. '84, will be reading in the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) tent in the courtyard by Mason Hall as part of a Places and Politics panel. His most recent book, Bombingham, was published to widespread acclaim last year and was issued in paperback this year. Grooms is also the author of a collection of poems, Ice Poems, and a collection of short stories, Trouble No More, for which he won the 1996 Lillian Smith Award for Fiction from the Southern Regional Council. He has received awards from the city of Atlanta, state of Georgia, the Breadloaf Writers Workshop, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Atlanta, where he teaches at Kennesaw State University.
Liam Callanan, M.F.A. '01, is part of the First Fiction Books panel on Sunday in the AWP tent at 11:30 a.m. In addition to teaching at Mason and Georgetown University, Callanan frequently reviews contemporary fiction for the New York Times Book Review and other publications. He is finishing his first novel.
Other writers appearing at the festival include Esmeralda Santiago, Jill McCorkle, Matt Klam, and E. Lynn Harris, among many others. The Fall for the Book Festival is presented by the Washington Post in cooperation with George Mason's College of Arts and Sciences, Barnes and Noble Bookstores, the Fairfax County Public Library, and AWP. For details, check out www.fallforthebook.org or call (202) 334-4740.