I recently attended the yearly Literature Festival at Ohio University and was, as always, thoroughly inspired. This was the first time I’d been in several years and it was so great to be back, for the event as well at the locale. I love Athens. It’s such a wonderful, eccentric, little college town and the OU campus in Athens is absolutely beautiful. It was a small group this year, but I think that made it somewhat even more enjoyable.
Opening night we were treated to reading from Marie Howe and Dorothy Alison. While I’m not one for poetry, I did enjoy her reading and was surprised to find that I was actually aware of her work. We’d read one of her more popular poems, “What the Living Do,” in an English class I’d had previously. Dorothy Alison, however, was the treat of the night! I’ve never read anything of hers, but I’d heard of her novel, Bastard Out of Carolina. She read a piece from her current WIP and it was amazing. She completely won me over and I ended up purchasing the above mentioned book.
The next morning we began the day with lectures from Ms. Alison and Charles Johnson. After her reading, I really couldn’t wait to hear what else Ms. Alison had to say. To sum it up, she insists that we be wicked and write for our rage!! Charles Johnson was just as motivating and left me dying to take his writing “boot camp.”
After the events we explored Athens, heading up to the Kennedy Art Museum which is located inside the old Athens Asylum. I’m always blown away by this place and would love to spend a night there ghost hunting. After all, Athens is one of the most haunted places in the world. We visited the asylum’s cemetery and I showed the others where the old tuberculosis unit used to be. Sadly, this historical building was torn down some time ago. Later that night it was time for the next set of readings. Up to bat, Brian Doyle and Robert Pinsky! Pinsky combined his poetry with music and it was really neat to see how it fit together. It was definitely a first for me. Brian Doyle’s reading and presentation was so very emotional. Yes, I shed tears, and it wasn’t the first time his work has made me cry. He truly is a very spiritual, emotional, and amazing human being.
While all of the authors were amazing and very inspiring, I have to say that Brian Doyle and Dorothy Alison were my favorites. But I noticed a common message with all of the writers, and it’s one that I completely agree with. To be any kind of a writer, one MUST READ!!! They all talked about different students who want to be writers, but don’t read, for various reasons. I think my favorite reason was “I want to develop my own voice.” Well, duh, knucklehead. Reading other peoples’ work isn’t going to steal your voice, but it will sure as hell help your craft. You don’t read other authors to be like them. You read them to be inspired, to learn from them, and for the sheer joy and pleasure of it. All I can do is just shake my head at the thought of someone who wants to be a writer not being a reader. The thought is just inconceivable to me.
Anyway, I returned home, totally rejuvenated in a writerly sense and am ready to tackle the beast that is Sunstone Covens 2 and the anthology stories for W3’s next anthology. In the meantime, here are a few more pics from my little trip. Enjoy!!