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Pee Dee Fiction & Poetry Festival to be held at FMU, Nov. 7, 8

The eighth annual Pee Dee Fiction & Poetry Festival at Francis Marion University will bring to campus five nationally known and award-winning authors on Nov. 7 and 8. The two-day festival will celebrate the works of Tom Franklin, Allison Joseph, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Evie Shockley and Jane Yolen.

The event is held in Cauthen Educational Media Center’s Lowrimore Auditorium and is free and open to the public. There will be readings, lectures and panel discussions for participants. A number of fiction and poetry topics will be covered and there will be opportunities for book signings.

This year’s authors provide a variety of voices in poetry and fiction, said FMU faculty chair and English professor Rebecca Flannagan, who, along with Dr. Jo Angela Edwins, organized the event with a committee of faculty members from the Department of English.

“These authors have written in varied genres, tackling themes of identity, historicity and social responsibility,” said Flannagan. “Some of the authors share commonalities but the festival strives to showcase diverse ways of looking at the world through writing.”

·       Franklin is a southern writer frequently compared with the likes of Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O'Connor, draws readers in with his expertly woven stories of crime and suspense. His most recent book, “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” (William Morrow), was a New York Times bestseller and reaped numerous literary awards, including the 2010 Los Angeles Times book prize, the 2010 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, the RT Reviewers' Choice Awards for Best Contemporary Mystery, and the United Kingdom's Crime Writers' Association's Gold Dagger Award.

·       Joseph lives in Carbondale, Ill., where she directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University. She serves as poetry editor of Crab Orchard Review. Her books include “What Keeps Us Here” (winner of the Ampersand Press Women Poets Series Prize and the John C. Zacharis Prize), “Soul Train” (Carnegie Mellon), “In Every Seam” (Pittsburgh), “Imitation of Life” (Carnegie Mellon), “Worldly Pleasures” (winner of the Word Press Poetry Prize) and “Voice: Poems” (Mayapple Press). Steel Toe Books published her most recent poetry collection, “My Father’s Kites,” in 2010.

·       Perkins-Valdez is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Wench” (Amistad), a startling piece of original fiction that tells the story of four enslaved black women in the years preceding the Civil War. Lauded by People as "a devastatingly beautiful account of a cruel past," Wench has drawn comparisons to Kathryn Stockett's “The Help” and Edward P. Jones's “The Known World.” A sought-after keynote speaker, Perkins-Valdez has addressed audiences at the Women's National Book Association, American Library Association, National Black Writers Conference, Santa Monica City Reads, and the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as the New School, Rhodes College, and the University of California at Riverside.

·       Shockley is the author of “the new black” (Wesleyan), which won the 2012 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Poetry; “a half-red sea” (Carolina Wren Press); two chapbooks; and a critical study, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (Iowa). Her poetry and essays appear widely in journals and anthologies. From 2007-2011, she co-edited the poetry journal jubilat. Recipient of the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize, Shockley is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

·       Yolen often called "the Hans Christian Andersen of America," is the author of more than 300 books, including “Owl Moon,” “The Devil's Arithmetic,” and “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight.” The books range from rhymed picture books and baby board books, through middle grade fiction, poetry collections, nonfiction, and up to novels, graphic novels, and story collections for young adults and adults. Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards--two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among others. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the Kerlan Award and the Catholic Library's Regina Medal, and named a Grand Master for both the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and the World Fantasy Assn.

The Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival originated in 2006 as the Pee Dee Fiction Festival, the brainchild of FMU President Luther F. Carter. Now an annual autumn event coordinated by members of the English faculty, the festival has expanded to include poets as well as fiction writers.

To learn more about the Pee Dee Fiction & Poetry Festival, go to



Last Published: May 30, 2014 2:18 PM
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