Annual Lions in Winter event to be held virtually via Crowdcast

Ryan Meyer, Staff Reporter

This year’s Lions in Winter event is on Thursday at 5 p.m. and will be held virtually over Crowdcast, a video conferencing platform.

Colleen Abel, an instructor of English at Eastern, said that she enjoys the virtual format because of how many events it has allowed her to attend and participate in.

“If I’m honest, I love the virtual format. I’ve been able to attend so many more readings this past year than I am ever able to in person. I don’t have to drive to Chicago or arrange for a babysitter,” Abel said. “It’s been a real silver lining of the pandemic, if such a thing exists. I love that anyone, anywhere, can register for our events and tune in. And thanks to Dr. Bess Winter, who figured out the tech platform we’re using, the transition to virtual has been pretty seamless.”

The literary festival is being spread out over the span of a few months in order to allow for the regulations that COVID-19 demands.

“One of the changes we made to accommodate the virtual setting for the festival is that Lions in Winter is taking place over the course of several months, instead of one day,” Abel said.

This year’s Lions in Winter is similar to those of the past in terms of proceedings, and Thursday’s will feature Joan Kane, an Inupiaq American poet

“We hosted fiction writer Brandon Hobson in December, we hosted Poet Laureate of the U.S. Joy Harjo in January, and we’re hosting poet Joan Kane in February. Like last year, our featured fiction writer[s], Hobson and Joan Kane, read and do a craft talk. One thing I’ve noticed from the past events is that the virtual events are still interactive, just in a different way.”

While Abel misses the camaraderie and socializing of past Lions in Winters, she acknowledges the advantages that hosting the event virtually provides those who may be hesitant to ask questions in an in-person environment.

“I miss having the community gathered together and able to get books signed and chat with the writers afterward in person, but I do think that the virtual format helps shyer people ask questions, which is nice,” Abel said.

Abel hopes that future events hosted by Eastern’s English department can keep positive aspects of the virtual format due to the possibilities and accessibility they present.

“I hope Lions in Winter, and all literary events, are able to retain some of the advantages that virtual events offer. It helps people who might not be able make in-person events; it’s more cost effective for attendees. So I hope going forward, when things return to normal, we remember those advantages. This year will definitely challenge us to think about what the possibilities are for the future.” There is no fee to register for the event and students can sign up at


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]