The Annual Clemson Literary Festival began in a Creative Inquiry course taught by Creative Writing Professor Keith Lee Morris—and Professor and Editor-in-Chief of The South Carolina Review—Wayne Chapman in response to President Barker's call to make Clemson "the cultural center of the Upstate." Since its inception, the Festival has grown to include 16 events, all primarily organized by students, and is now recognized and supported by the City of Clemson. The Festival has brought over 50 nationally acclaimed writers to the Clemson area including Tom Bissell, Camille Dungy, Dave Eggers, Mark Halliday, David Kirby, Major Jackson, Rachel McKibbens and Rick Moody. Our visiting writers are National Book Award Finalists; New York Times Bestsellers; Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists; Women of the World Slam Poetry Champions; and editors at the nation’s top literary magazines.
The Annual Clemson Literary Festival helps make Clemson the cultural center of the Upstate by providing readings, panels, discussions and a book fair to an audience of all ages, free of charge. Unlike other literary festivals, the Annual Clemson Literary Festival prides itself on being accessible to the entire community and surrounding regions of South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Events are held both on- and off-campus; high school students are invited to partake in workshops; children participate in Family Day at the Arts Center; aspiring writers—students, faculty, staff and the general public—have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the craft and profession. Furthermore, the mission of the Annual Clemson Literary Festival is to give students agency in the direction and future of the festival.
The central organization of Festival events takes place within the Creative Inquiry course, now taught by Professors Jillian Weise and Keith Lee Morris,where students engage in organizing, coordinating, and planning every aspect of the festival, from reading broadly to choose which authors to invite, to managing festival finances. As a result, students gain real-world experience in advertising, editorial, event planning, graphic design, literature, photography, public speaking, publicity, videography and web design. More importantly, students not only immerse themselves in the work of contemporary, nationally-acclaimed writers, they also meet these writers and discuss the future of literature and publishing with them. The Creative Inquiry course (and the Festival associated with it) is an established, invaluable resource for aspiring student writers, offering experiences and knowledge they can only get through this course. Students in the course receive three hours of college course credit, allowing for more than an “extra-curricular” approach to festival organization.
Now entering its fifth year, the Annual Clemson Literary Festival will be a celebration of the Festival’s past, present and future. It is scheduled for Wednesday, April 11 – Saturday, April 14, 2012. Events will include a reading by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford, the Downtown Reading Series, the Book Fair and “Yart” (Yard + Art) Sale, the Roundtable on Writing and Publishing, The South Carolina Review/CEDP Reading Series, the Alumni and Student Reading Series, the Society of English Graduate Students’ Reading Series with Faculty, and the Open Mic Night at the Blue Heron. For younger audiences, the festival will offer Family Day at the Arts Center and School Day with workshops for local high school writing students. The festival is committed to being interdisciplinary and inclusive of any arts programming that wishes to be included.