WILKES-BARRE — Wilkes University is launching its new celebration of writers and writing, dubbed LitFest, with a reading and book signing by National Book Award Winner Colum McAnn.
Held June 20-24, LitFest is sponsored by the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing as part of the program’s residency. Plans call for most events to be held outdoors on the Fenner Quadrangle, with the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts as the location if it rains.
McCann will hold a reading and book signing Thursday, June 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., joined by National Public Radio book critic and memoirist Beverly Donofrio. That event will also feature food trucks and booths selling books from program publishing partners Etruscan Press, Books by Hippocampus, Kaylie Jones Books and Northampton House Press. Barnes and Noble will also sell books by the guest readers and by program faculty and alumni.
This marks the return of in-person residency for the program at the University Campus. The June 2020 and January 2021 residencies were held virtually. Program director said plans all for making LitFest an annual event each June.
“We are eager to share writers and their writing with the community. It seems especially appropriate to begin what we hope will become an annual tradition this year, as we emerge from the pandemic,” Hicks said in a media release. “We invite community members to join us and enjoy an evening of readings outdoors on the University’s lovely campus.”
All events are free and open to the public:
• Sunday, June 20, 7 to 8 p.m.: Nonfiction and Fiction. Readings by J. Michael Lennon, Nancy McKinley, and Taylor Polites.
• Tuesday, June 22, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Fiction and Poetry. Readings by David Hicks, Kaylie Jones, and Phil Brady.
• Wednesday, June 23, 7 to 8 p.m.: Playwriting Night in the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center. Short readings of plays by the Wilkes playwriting faculty, including Jan Quackenbush with I Love Jack Kerouac, Gregory Fletcher with Force-Fed Bronze, and Nicole Pandolfo with Canadian Tuxedo
•Thursday, June 24, 6:30 to 8 p.m.: Keynote reading by Colum McCann with special guests Maureen Corrigan and Beverly Donofrio.
McCann authored seven novels and three short story collections. His most recent novel, “Apeirogon,” published in 2020, received strong reviews. “Let the Great World Spin” won acclaim including 2009 National Book Award, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, the International Impac Award 2011, a literary award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as several other major international literary prizes. In 2017 McCann was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
His fiction has been published in over 40 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Tin House, Bomb among others. He has written for The New York Times, the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, Die Zeit, La Republicca, Paris Match, the Guardian, the Times and the Independent. McCann is the co-founder of the non-profit global story exchange organization, Narrative 4, and teaches in the M.F.A. program at Hunter College. He lives in New York with his wife, Allison, and their family.
Corrigan is a book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air and is The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University. She wrote “So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures” and a memoir, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading!” She is also a reviewer and columnist for The Washington Post’s Book World and served as a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.
Donofrio has published three memoirs: the New York Times bestseller, “Riding in Cars with Boys,” which was made into a movie; “Looking for Mary,” a Barnes and Noble Discover pick; and “Astonished.” Her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Marie Clair, More, Allure, Spirituality and Health, The Village Voice, Huffington Post, Slate, as well as many anthologies. Her picture book, Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary, was named by Publishers Weekly one of “10 Children’s Books that Never Get Old.” Its sequel, Where’s Mommy? was chosen by The New York Times as one of the top ten children’s book of 2014. Her essays can be found in numerous anthologies, including “How Does That Make You Feel, True Confessions from Both Sides of the Therapy Couch,” published by Seal Press in 2016. She teaches memoir-writing workshops around the country and is currently at work on a memoir and a novel. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University.