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Ishion Hutchinson headlining literary festival
Ishion Hutchinson

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s Department of Literature and Language will hold “ETSU Celebrates Creative Writing” Spring Festival, presenting visiting and campus writers, on Tuesday, April 11, and Wednesday, April 12. The public is invited to attend. All sessions are free and will be held in Reece Museum.

The festival will feature two events with Dr. Ishion Hutchinson, the Cornell University professor whom the New York Times has called “Jamaica’s best new poet.”  

Hutchinson recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry for his 2016 volume, “House of Lords and Commons.” He is also the author of the poetry collection, “Far District” and has received numerous awards for his work. Dr. Hutchinson has been invited to read his work at Harvard University, Poetry International Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and a residency at Oxford University in support of “House of Lords and Commons.”

The festival begins at 10 a.m. on April 11 with an introductory session, which will showcase the announcement of awards for student contributors to the latest issue of the ETSU literary and arts magazine, “The Mockingbird.”

A fiction writing workshop at 12:45 p.m. will feature Robert Gipe, a Kingsport native and author of the novel “Trampoline,” winner of the 2016 Weatherford Award in Fiction from the Appalachian Studies Association. He is executive producer of the Higher Ground series of community performances in Harlan, Ky., and director of the Appalachian Program at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland, Ky.

At 1:45 p.m., Darnell Arnoult will lead a Poetry Writing Workshop. Writer-in-residence at Lincoln Memorial University, Arnoult is the author of the novel “Sufficient Grace” as well as “What Travels with Us: Poems” and “Galaxie Wagon: Poems.” She is the recipient of the Mary Frances Medal for Arts and Letters and was named 2007 Tennessee Writer of the Year.

At 2:45 p.m., Amy Wright will offer a Non-fiction Writing Workshop. Wright is the author of “Everything in the Universe” and “Cracker Sonnets.” She is also nonfiction editor of Zone 3 Press and coordinator of creative writing at Austin Peay State University. Her work has been awarded with an Individual Artist Grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission, a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and two Peter Taylor Fellowships to the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop.

The first day of the festival will conclude with the Gerald Manley Hopkins panel discussion at 3:45 p.m. The event will feature Daniel Westover, author and associate professor of English at ETSU, and William Wright, author and editor of more than 20 volumes, including “Specter Mountain” and the forthcoming “New & Selected Poems.” Westover and Wright are co-editors of the recent anthology, “The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagement with Gerard Manley Hopkins.

On April 12, a public reading will get things started, featuring Arnoult, Gipe, Amy Wright and William Wright, at 10 a.m.

At 11:30 a.m., Arnoult will present on poetry while Gipe will present on fiction at 1:30 p.m. Amy Wright will present on non-fiction at 2:45 p.m. and Dr. Jesse Graves, ETSU’s current poet-in-residence, will hold a public interview with keynote speaker Ishion Hutchinson from 4-5 p.m.

The two-day event culminates with the 5th annual Jack Higgs Memorial Reading at 7 p.m. when Hutchinson will read from his works and hold a question-and-answer session. A closing reception will take place immediately following.

For further information, contact Graves at 423-439-6674.
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