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Literary Festival Kicks Off at CAC Friday

The annual Turner Cassity Literary Festival will kick off at the Cultural Arts Center on Friday.

Cultural Arts Center
Cultural Arts Center

The Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville/Douglas County presents the Turner Cassity Literary Festival on July 12, 13 and 14 at the Cultural Arts Center in order to provide aspiring writers an opportunity to develop their writing skills and prepare their works for publication under the guidance of expert and experienced authors as well as to honor poet Turner Cassity whose work and dedication to literary excellence in Georgia inspires this and their endeavors.  All writers 18 years old or older are eligible and encouraged to participate. Featured authors include Tony Burton, Ranger, GA; Evelyn Coleman, Tallahassee, FL; Evan Guilford-Blake, Stone Mountain, GA; Philip Levin, Long Beach, MS; and Cassie Premo Steele, Columbia, SC.

The 2013 festival schedule opens with a reception on Friday, July 12, from 6 until 8 p.m., with kick off keynote speech by the Georgia State Poet Laureate Judson Mitcham. On Saturday, July 13, there will be four sessions of workshops offered on various topics led by the festival’s featured authors during the morning and afternoon, a boxed lunch provided by Fabiano’s Deli and Pizzeria, and an evening with readings by workshop participants and a special performance of Jack Helbig’s “Thinking of Her Made Him Think of Her,” the winning verse play from a national competition selected from 39 scripts submitted to the 2013 festival from writers who live and work in 16 states and three foreign countries.  On Sunday, July 14, the Cultural Arts Center will be open to the public for the Rocky Road Ice Cream Social, hosted by the Douglas County Historical Society with refreshments provided by Cold Stone Creamery, from 3 until 5 p.m. Sunday featival activities also include a keynote  address by Philip Levin, readings by and a panel discussion with the featured authors as well as readings and book signings. Books, literary magazines, and a special commemorative broadside of Turner Cassity’s poem, “New Horizons,” printed in a limited edition print by Douglas County-based artist Mariana Depetris will be on sale throughout the festival weekend.

The fee to participate in the full festival including the Friday evening reception, three Saturday workshops, the boxed lunch on Saturday, Saturday evening performances, and Sunday discussion and readings is $40 per person ($35 for CAC members). For Saturday only, the fee is $30 per person ($25 for CAC members) including lunch. Guest lunches are available at $10 per person.  Individual critiques on Saturday are offered for an additional $25 per one-on-one session, but writing samples must be submitted in advance.  Non-festival participants may attend the Saturday evening performance and readings for $7 per person ($5 for CAC members). The Sunday afternoon readings, ice cream social,  and book signings are free and open to the general public.      

 “The second Turner Cassity Literary Festival last year was a huge successs and made possible not only by an anonymous contribution from the family of Turner Cassity, but also by Georgia Highlands College, the University of West Georgia School of the Arts, West Georgia Technical College, South Arts (formerly known as the Southern Arts Federation), and the Georgia Humanities Council,” stated CAC director Laura C. Lieberman. “We are delighted that this year most of those sponsors and supporters have returned to fund our third writers’ workshop weekend in Douglasville, which is now clearly West Georgia’s premiere literary festival.  We are very grateful for their support and so pleased to be able to encourage local writers and to honor such an important Southern poet again this year. We are especially delighted that this year in addition to five outstanding authors from throughout the Southeast, Georgia’s poet laureate will join us in celebrating the value of literary engagement.”

Poet, playwright and short-story writer Turner Cassity earned fame for his prolific publication of formal poetry. His verse is known for its wit, humor, stringent satire, and iconoclastic views, as well as for its musicality. Allen Turner Cassity was born on January 12, 1929, in Jackson, Mississippi.  Raised a Calvinist, he grew up in Jackson and Forest, Mississippi. He attended Millsaps College in Jackson, graduating in 1951, and then enrolled at Stanford University in Stanford, California, earning a master's degree in English in 1952.  Cassity also received a master's degree in library science from Columbia University in 1955. In 1962 Cassity accepted the position of librarian in the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University in Atlanta, from which he retired in 1991. He co-founded the Callanwolde Readings Program with poet Michael Mott. Cassity began writing poetry at age fifteen. His books include Watchboy, What of the Night? (1966); Steeplejacks in Babel (1973); a verse play Silver Out of Shanghai (1973); Yellow for Peril, Black for Beautiful (1975); The Defense of the Sugar Islands (1979); Phaëthon unter den Linden (1979); Keys to Mayerling (1983); The Airship Boys in Africa (1984); a verse play The Book of Alna (1985); Hurricane Lamp (1986); Lessons (1987); a book-length poem To the Lost City, or  the Sins of Nineveh (1989); Between the Chains (1991); The Destructive Element: New and Selected Poems (1998); No Second Eden (2002); and Devils and Islands (2007), for which Cassity received the Georgia Writers Association’s Georgia Author of the Year Award. He also received the Levinson Prize for Poetry, Michael Braude Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

Cassity considered himself a southerner yet disagreed with the notion that Southernness is merely a "literary convention," since such a convention can no longer describe modern southern life. Rather than continuing the myths of a tragic and guilt-ridden South evoked by William Faulkner and. other writers, Cassity's poetry implies that southern writers can and should reinvent their language and subject matter.  Considered by poet and critic Dana Gioia to be perhaps the "most brilliantly eccentric poet in America," Cassity continued to use traditional literary form to express his complex and imaginative vision until his death. He died in Atlanta on July 26, 2009, and was buried in Forest, Mississippi.

More about the 2013 writers workshops

TONY BURTON

“Sensual Writing – Not What You May Think” 

Participants will explore how to employ all of the senses, and those of the reader, in creating stories that connect with, engage and move the reader in a variety of ways.  Attendees will perform hands-on writing exercises that engage their own full range of senses and discuss the results.

 

Evelyn Coleman

“Write or Die Boot Camp for Young Adult Fiction”

Workshop participants will be overwhelmed and exhausted from learning so much –will be excited that they finally have a handle on all the tools and tricks needed to successfully publish, and they will feel confident that they can write a bulge-out-your eyes query letter, select the right agent, and submit work to the best publishers. They will feel giddy from the knowledge that their writing will be filled with renewed passion, commitment and most importantly the fortitude to wrestle the paper mill needed to get work completed.

EVAN GUILFORD-BLAKE

“The Basics of Playwriting”

This workshop will explore what a writer needs to know to sit down and get started: playwriting’s five basic rules plus how to create believable characters, write interesting dialogue and format your manuscript. There will be an in-class exercise and lots of handouts to take home.

 PHILIP L. LEVIN

“Self-Publishing for Everyone”

Publishing has undergone a revolution. In 2009 more than 75 percent of all books published were self-published. Dr. Levin, with 14 self-published books, will describe the process for production, from small chapbook runs to professional quality multi-thousand book publication including local print-shop booklets, Amazon’s Create Space books, and foreign-printed library-quality hardcovers.  Topics include ISBN numbers, copyright, pricing. marketing and consulting with graphic designers for photo-books and covers, and recording professionals for audiobooks.

CASSIE PREMO STEELE – Poetry is the Path”

Poetry is the path to peace and wisdom -- and the seed of all good writing. In this workshop, author and creativity coach Cassie Premo Steele will guide participants through fun, easy and innovative exercises to show how poetry can be a powerful path for each individual on the writing road.

More about the 2013 Featured Authors

State poet laureate Judson Mitcham’s work has been widely published in literary journals, including Poetry, Harper’s, Georgia Review, Hudson Review, and Southern Review. He has been the recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as a Pushcart Prize. He is the only writer to win the Townsend Prize for Fiction twice.  His most recent book is A Little Salvation: Poems Old and New, published by the University of Georgia Press.  Mitcham taught psychology at Fort Valley State University for 30 years, and he currently teaches writing at Mercer University in Macon. In May of 2012 Mitcham was named poet laureate of Georgia by Gov. Nathan Deal, and he was recently elected to the Georgia Writers’ Hall of Fame.  

Award-winning playwright Jack Helbig is a writer, journalist, and teacher living near Chicago. He has written several musicals, including The Girl, The Grouch, and The Goat (written with Mark Hollmann) and several plays including Kitten with a Whip, The Five Floating Princesses, and a new adaptation of the Russian fairytale Baba Yaga. He and Chicago songwriter Gregg Opelka have also collaborated on two translations of operettas, a pair of one acts by Jacque Offenbach,  My Night at Jacques', and a new modern translation of Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois, with his wife, Sherry, his  daughter Margaret, and very energetic puppy named Sammy.

A native of Gordon County, Georgia, Tony Burton has written poetry, fiction and non-fiction for more than fifteen years. His published works include two mystery novels, a collection of paranormal/horror stories, and short fiction in seven anthologies.  He has published articles on the craft of writing in Writer’s Journal magazine and Reflection’s Edge. Burton has been a presenter at many literary events including the Harriette Austin Writers’ Conference in Athens, GA (twice), Killer Nashville (twice), and Murder in the Magic City in Birmingham, AL. He was the 2008 First Place winner of the Public Safety Writers’ Association’s “Published Short Story- Fiction” competition. His titles include Luck of the Draw (serialized), Writing Visual Dialect in Fiction, Parents Like Us, Cheaters Never Win, The Cuckoo Clock Caper, Not so Silent Night, On Call,  and A Knife In the Devil’s Hand.

An Edgar-nominated, award-winning author, Evelyn Coleman writes across genres from picture books to young adult and adult novels. Her adult thriller, What a Woman’s Gotta Do, received much critical acclaim. Her most recent book introduces a mystery for American Girl’s latest doll, Cecile, titled Cecile’s Cameo Necklace. Coleman’s Freedom Train and the American Girl doll Addy’s mystery, Shadows on Society Hill, have also garnered rave reviews. Coleman’s work was selected by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. James Earl Jones and Amber Rose Tamblyn read Coleman’s picture books, Be a Drum and White Socks Only on storylineonline.net.  Coleman was a recent honoree of the Ashley Bryan Children’s Conference and the recipient of DeKalb Public Library’s Trail Blazer Award. She is the 38th Annual Georgia Author of the Year, awarded for Children and Young Adult Literature in 2002.

Playwright Evan Guilford-Blake has had more than 40 plays for adult and young audiences produced internationally. Collectively, they have won 38 playwriting competitions including Ireland’s most prestigious competition, the Eamon Keane Award. He is the only playwright to have won the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival contest twice and the Georgia Theatre Conference competition three times. As a writer of fiction, he has had work published in numerous print journals and anthologies as well as online, won eleven short story contests and has twice been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Noir(ish), his first novel, was published by E. P. Dutton.  A member of the Atlanta Writers Club, Guilford-Blake is also a “Distinguished Resident Playwright Emeritus” at Chicago Dramatists, the acclaimed playwrights’ theatre where he has been involved for 20 years. 

The son of an author and an editor, Philip L. Levin has been writing all of his life. His first novel, Inheritance, made the best seller list twice, selling out its first edition in three months. He has published two charming children’s fables -- Consuto and the Rain God includes photographs shot on site in China illustrating a tale based on Buddhist folklore, and Ndovu the Elephant features his photographs of Kenya. As editor of the Gulf Coast Writer Association (GCWA)’s magazine, Magnolia Quarterly, he provides editing tips and publishing contacts for hundreds of readers and contributors. Levin often presents lectures and seminars on writing; his topics include “The Short Story,” “Writing your first novel,” and “Self-Publishing.”  Levin’s short stories have been published in many anthologies including the Red Dog Writers in Jackson, GCWA anthologies, and several on-line magazines.

Since receiving her doctorate in Comparative Literature and Women's Studies from Emory University in 1996, Cassie Premo Steele has published hundreds of poems, short stories and essays as well as nine books including two volumes of poetry published by Unbound Content, This is how honey runs (2010) and The Pomegranate Papers (2012), and a scholarly study of trauma and poetry, We Heal From Memory, Palgrave (2000). As a writing and creativity coach, Steele has more than two decades of experience teaching in university and community settings. Her coaching practice emphasizes mindfulness, meditation, journaling, and emotional awareness to help clients achieve their writing and career goals while living a life of calm and balance.

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