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FMU to hold Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival, Nov. 6-8

FLORENCE, S.C. – For those looking to get in a bind, the book festival held annually at Francis Marion University is the place to be. Six nationally known and bestselling authors and their avid readers will descend upon the university Nov. 6-8 at the third annual Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival, which is free and open to the public. 

The three-day festival will celebrate and promote literature and reading with renowned authors Ethan Canin, Sara Gran, Dorianne Laux, Valerie Martin, Tom Perrotta and Robert Wrigley. There will be readings, lectures and panel discussions with programs for mature audiences. A number of fiction topics will be covered and there will be opportunities for book signings. In addition, there will be screenings of films based on novels by Canin, Martin and Perrotta. 

The event will offer dynamic and personal interactions between readers and authors as they share the joy of reading,” said FMU English Professor Ed Eleazor who is organizer of the event along with a committee consisting of a number of faculty members from the English Department.


            About the authors:

Canin enrolled at Stanford University, first majoring in engineering and then earning his undergraduate degree in English. In 1982, he joined the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Two years later, he left Iowa and applied to Harvard Medical School. During his first year, he wrote a book that was published two years later. Canin then took a seven-year break, traveling to South America before again settling in San Francisco. 

Finishing his medical degree in 1991, Canin began an internal medicine residency at the University of California in San Francisco. He continued to write and practice medicine, but following the publication of “The Palace Thief,” he decided to refocus his professional life and concentrate on writing.  

In 1998, Canin joined the Iowa Writers’ Workshop faculty. Author of two collections of stories, “Emperor of the Air” and “The Palace Thief,” and three novels, “Blue River,” “For Kings and Planets” and “Carry Me Across the Water,” he is also director of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. With two friends, Canin started the Writer’s Grotto in San Francisco - an office of 19 writers and filmmakers. He and his wife, Barbara, have two daughters and live in Iowa City.

 Gran is the author of the novels “Dope,” “Come Closer” and “Saturn’s Return to New York,” in addition to many stories, pamphlets, missives and other publications. Before making a living as a writer, Gran had endless jobs, primarily with books, working at bookstores like Shakespeare & Co., the Strand, Housing Works and selling used & rare books on her own. Born in Brooklyn in 1971, Gran moved to New Orleans in 2004 and to California in 2007.  

Laux is the author of three collections of poetry from BOA Editions Ltd., “Awake” (1990), introduced by Philip Levine, “What We Carry” (1994), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and “Smoke” (2000). She is also co-author, with Kim Addonizio, of “The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry” (W.W. Norton, 1997). Her fourth book of poems, “Facts About the Moon,” was published by W.W. Norton in fall of 2005. 

Her work has been published in numerous magazines and she is the recipient of countless awards. Among them are a Pushcart Prize for poetry, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Laux is an associate professor and works in the University of Oregon’s Creative Writing Program. She lives in Eugene, Ore., with her husband, poet Joseph Millar, and her daughter Tristem.

Martin is the author of three collections of short fiction, most recently “The Unfinished Novel and Other Stories,” and seven novels, including “Italian Fever,” “The Great Divorce” and “Mary Reilly,” the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story told from the viewpoint of a housemaid, which was filmed with Julia Roberts and John Malkovich, and the 2003 Orange Prize-winning “Property”. She is also the author of a non-fiction work about St. Francis of Assisi, “Salvation: Scenes from the Life of St. Francis.” She resides in upstate New York.

 A Yale graduate, Perrotta studied writing under Thomas Berger and Tobias Wolff before moving on to teach creative writing at Yale and Harvard. During this period, he began work on the stories that would comprise his first release, “Bad Haircut.” He had finished two more novels including “Election” before “Bad Haircut” was finally picked up by a publisher in 1994. “Election” (1998) was made into the much-beloved film starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. The theme of ordinary people trapped in lives they never imagined runs throughout Perrotta’s novels. Success for his characters is always just out of reach, and the world is always just outside of their control. Characters that seem destined for success serve as foils to the true protagonists, constant reminders of the unfairness of life. 

Perrotta’s razor-sharp observations of the human condition are often side-splittingly funny, and the compassion he exhibits in his writing makes even the most ostensibly unlikable characters sympathetic. He does not create caricatures; his novels work because he has a basic understanding that life is complex, and everyone has a story if you take the time to listen.  

Wrigley collections of poetry include “Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems” (Penguin, 2006); “Lives of the Animals” (2003); “Reign of Snakes” (1999); winner of the Kingley Tufts Award, “In the Bank of Beautiful Sins” (1995); winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award and Lenore Marshall Award finalist, “What My Father Believed” (1991); “Moon in a Mason Jar” (1986); and “The Sinking of Clay City” (1979). 

His work has also been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Wrigley’s awards and honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho State Commission on the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine, the Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Theodore Roethke Award from Poetry Northwest, and two Pushcart Prizes. From 1987 until 1988, he served as the state of Idaho’s writer-in-residence.         

Wrigley lives with his wife, writer Kim Barnes, and their children, on the Clearwater River in Idaho. He is the director of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Idaho.      

For more information on the Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival, contact the Department of English at 843-661-1371 or visit the festival’s website at

#43 /10-6-08


Last Published: November 5, 2008 6:00 PM
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