For literary festival, show must go on

Mallory Kutnick, Campus Reporter

Despite multiple roadblocks, the fifth annual Lions in Winter literary festival will run on schedule Friday and Saturday at the Doudna Fine Arts Center and Booth Library.

The lack of state funds left Eastern’s ability to sponsor the festival up in the air, but with the help of other donors, Doudna came through in the end, LIW co-director Charlotte Pence said.

In addition, Pence’s return from teaching in Harlaxton, England left little time to plan, co-director Daiva Markelis said.

Less than a week remained before the festival’s opening when a family emergency forced guest speaker and nonfiction writer Jerald Walker to back out, Markelis and Pence said. They successfully booked Dionne Irving, another nonfiction writer, to fill in the time slot Walker had vacated.

“I love (Walker’s) essays,” Pence said, “so personally I would have liked to have heard him, but hopefully he can come another time. He said he definitely would like to.”

As the date edged closer and closer, Markelis said she grew nervous at the lackluster ticket sales and registrations. Last year’s festival attracted a crowd of over 130, while approximately 70 students had registered for this year as of Wednesday afternoon, and she was unsure the numbers would grow.

Registration will remain open Friday for anyone wishing to purchase tickets at the door. One ticket provides access to all panels, readings and craft talk workshops, some of which are open to the public. But an additional ticket must be purchased for those who wish to attend blue grass and rap group Gangstagrass’ concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday or breakfast Saturday.

The concert will follow a 5 p.m. reading in the Doudna Lecture Hall by keynote speaker Laura van den Berg, author of post-apocalyptic novel “Find Me.”

“People love her books,” Pence said. “The idea with the keynote is you want to have someone hopefully that other people have heard of and would be excited to see.”

Saturday’s schedule will begin with breakfast and a book fair at 9:30 a.m., followed by a children’s story hour and craft talks, including mystery writer Erica Wright’s talk “Where to Hide the Body: Starting a Mystery.”

Van den Berg will host a craft talk at 11 a.m., and lunch will be served at noon. Three more craft talks will follow, and the festival will end with an editors’

panel, readings by undergraduates and visiting writers, a book signing and a reception.

“This is definitely a festival where we hope that community members and students and other faculty, too, really talk to the writers, ask them questions during the craft talks and get inspired with their own writing,” Pence said.

Registration and schedule details can be found at


Mallory Kutnick can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]