September 13, 2016

War story author headlines Fiction & Poetry Festival

War story author headlines Fiction & Poetry Festival

Marine veteran Phil Klay, whose riveting exploration of the emotional trauma inflicted by combat in Iraq and Afghanistan vaulted him onto the New York Times Bestseller List,  is the headliner for the 10th annual Pee Dee Fiction and Poetry Festival at Francis Marion University.

The annual two-day festival will be held on campus Nov. 10-11. It features panel discussions and book signings by the authors. It is free and open to the public. The festival also plays an integral role in fall classes at FMU. Works by the participating authors are taught in select classes. Students then have an opportunity to meet with the authors in special workshops and discussion groups.

Klay will be joined at the festival by award-winning authors Angela Flournoy, Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Catherine Pierce.

FMU faculty chair and English professor Rebecca Flannagan organizes the event with a committee of faculty members from the Department of English. She says this year’s event will be a momentous one.

“We are excited to have fiction writers Phil Klay and Angela Flournoy whose award-winning books will be taught in our composition and literature classes,” says Flannagan. “Our poets Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Catherine Pierce will be featured in creative writing and literature classes, as well. We have a great line-up of young writers whose works will resonate on both the personal and political level.”

Redeployment (The Penguin Press) is a collection of short stories that takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his book, Klay explores the complex feelings of brutality, faith, guilt, and fear that a soldier experiences during war, while also revealing the isolation and despair that can accompany a soldier’s homecoming. Redeployment won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2015 Chautauqua Prize.

Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. Klay received his MFA from Hunter College.

Flournoy’s debut novel, The Turner House, was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times notable book of the year. The novel was also a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and an NAACP Image Award. She is a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree for 2015.  Flournoy is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received an undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. She has taught at the University of Iowa, The New School and Columbia University.

Nezhukumatathil is the author of three poetry collections: Lucky Fish (2011), At the Drive-In Volcano, and Miracle Fruit (2003)–all from Tupelo Press. Her most recent chapbook is Lace & Pyrite, a collaboration of nature poems with the poet Ross Gay. Nezhukumatathil is a professor of English at State University of New York-Fredonia, where she teaches creative writing and environmental literature. Nezhukumatathil will be the Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi’s MFA program in creative writing in 2016-17.

Pierce is the author of The Girls of Peculiar, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Prize, and Famous Last Words, winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. She co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University. Pierce earned her B.A. from Susquehanna University, her M.F.A. from Ohio State University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. She now lives in Starkville, Miss., where she is also an associate professor.

For more information on the authors and events at the Festival, go to the Festival online at