The Third Annual Writers Weekend at Summerville, which begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 17, with a reading and signing by National Book Award-winner Phil Klay, is a literary event geared for writers.
Unlike the Sandhills Writers Series, which in the past has enjoyed a substantial budget and has targeted such luminaries as Ray Bradbury and Maxine Hong Kingston, the Writers Weekend at Summerville focuses on writers who are early in their careers or have recently started a new chapter in their career; writers who could connect with the current writing students and those the school is looking to recruit.
“The students are young, they’re full of enthusiasm and energy, and they really want to make writing a career,” said Assistant Professor Anna Harris, who is the director of the event. “So we wanted to put them in touch with people who remembered what that felt like, not people who had become successful and had lost touch with what it means to be an aspiring writer and a student writer.”
The ultimate intent, she said, is to grow the creative writing program, which has already expanded substantially over the last few years. The addition of several new classes, some course revisions, and some extra opportunities for student writers to work on and share their craft, has sparked so much interest that Harris said the department is in the process of hiring a creative nonfiction specialist who would teach workshops similar those being taught in poetry and fiction.
“One of the things that I think is atypical for an undergraduate creative writing program is the fact that we have a course called Literature for the Creative Writer,” Harris said. “It’s a literature class, but it’s geared for creative writing students and people who want to learn to think and read like a writer instead of reading like a critic.”
Writers and critics alike have both been vocal about their admiration for Phil Klay, a former Marine and Iraq War veteran who wrote “Redeployment.” As the only ticketed event of the weekend, the Friday night keynote is sure to be a popular one. Tickets are $16 and $28 depending on whether an audience member wants a paperback or hardcover copy of the book.
Proceeds will be shared between the Book Tavern, Augusta’s independent bookseller, and the Writers Weekend at Summerville.
Saturday, which has free events running from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., will feature a craft lecture by Klay and presentations by fellow writers Wiley Cash and Aja Monet, each of whom represents a different style of writing.
“We have a very eclectic, diverse group of people coming to campus, and that was international, because we’re trying to target a bunch of different populations,” Harris said.
And for those who like the informality of Saturday’s sessions, the Summerville Campus will be hosting the similarly structured Georgia Literary Festival the first weekend in November.
For more information and a complete schedule of events, click here.