For Triad readers, writers and bibliophiles, the time has finally come.
Over the course of three days, starting Friday and running through Sunday, May 20, Greensboro will host its first festival of authors, independent publishers and books at Greensboro Bound: A Literary Festival. More than 50 events, workshops and panels with at least 70 authors will take place over the three days.
Greensboro Bound aims to set itself apart from other book festivals and fairs, featuring panels and workshops ranging from religious and mental-health writing and appearances from gender-fluid, Muslim and feminist authors.
Whether voracious reader or aspiring author, the weekend will offer every element of what a literary festival should, with a unique look at North Carolina authors and presses. With so much going on, here are a few events festival attendees need mark on their schedules.
Lee Smith and Michael Parker, Van Dyke Performance Space, Saturday, 10 a.m.
Author Lee Smith converses with novelist and short-story writer Michael Parker. Smith is the author of 13 novels, four collections of stories, and a memoir, including the bestsellers Oral History, Fair and Tender Ladies and The Last Girls. A Virginia native, Lee Smith’s works are often set in the Southeast and concern themes ranging from coming-of-age and heroic, to darker tragedies of poverty and broken homes. Smith has earned countless awards and accolades because of her unique vision of Southern culture and gritty, poverty-stricken female characters. In her novel The Last Girls, Smith approaches the page with a complex and layered story of friends rafting down a river and unveils each character’s story and history with grace and poetic charm, something that has made her a giant in modern Southern literature. This event is unique at Greensboro Bound and offers the opportunity to hear about the authors’ histories, writing processes, and difficulties and successes over their decades-long careers.
Ray Morrison, Krystal Smith and Steve Cushman, Greensboro Historical Museum, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
For lovers of short stories, a panel featuring writers Ray Morrison, Krystal Smith and Steve Cushman will be held at the Greensboro History Museum. Morrison’s short-story collection In a World of Small Truths, published by Winston-Salem-based Press 53, is arguably one of the finest story collections to come out of North Carolina in recent years. Morrison’s stories explore the bizarre and dark underbelly of the South, with prose that channels William Gay and Barry Hannah but with a voice excitingly fresh. Discussing matters from the masterful art of the short story to developing voice on the page, this panel is prime for readers and writers alike.
Kevin Powers, International Civil Rights Museum, Saturday, 7 p.m.
The headlining author for Saturday is acclaimed, bestselling author Kevin Powers. Powers is the author of The Yellow Birds, finalist for the National Book Awards, and most recently A Shout in the Ruins, from which he will read and discuss with the audience. A former US Army veteran, Powers is a masterful writer of immense vision, grit and talent. Powers’ latest novel spans more than 100 years, from antebellum era to the 1980s, and tells the story of generations of inhabitants living on a plantation near Richmond, Va. The novel, like Powers’ previous works, examines the United States’ brutal history of violence and exploitation. Powers’ works challenge readers to reckon with the United States’ bloody past. Held at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, this reading and discussion is a rare chance to hear from one of America’s leading literary voices.[pullquote]For a full list of events and schedules, visit greensborobound.com.[/pullquote]
Over the course of the weekend, there is much to see and read. And yet Greensboro Bound has made each event extremely accessible for attendees. All events of the festival are free (except for Nikki Giovanni’s appearance, which is sold out) and the events of each day are staggered and in close proximity to each other. The way to build a strong, united community of readers and writers is by creating an environment of joy and openness, and Greensboro Bound aims to do just that.
The chance to see such powerful and masterful writers at work is rare and should not be overlooked.