The Monroe County Museum is honored and excited to announce itself as the new host of the Monroeville Literary Festival. Previously the Alabama Writers Symposium under the direction of Coastal Alabama Community College, the event changed names in March 2020 to reflect the shift from academic conference to community festival.
Past Festival director Alisha Linam Bowen says, “Coastal Alabama’s vision for this event for a number of years has been to see the Monroeville community have a stake in what could become the signature literary tourism event in Alabama. We are thrilled to remain a major partner and to provide any support needed during this transition.”
“The Museum is a natural home for the Monroeville Literary Festival,” explains Monroe County Museum Executive Director Wanda Green. “Housed in the courthouse made famous by To Kill a Mockingbird and newly designated a National Historic Landmark, the Museum is proud to have this opportunity to take on an event that will further cement Monroeville’s status as the Literary Capital of Alabama.”
Scheduled for March 4th & 5th, 2022, the Festival will include an opening reception with food, drink and live music, writing workshops, author readings, book signings, panel discussions, booths for publishers and self-published writers, a used-book sales tent, local artists and activities for children. Presentations of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer and the Truman Capote Prize for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of Literary Non-Fiction or the Short Story will both continue as highlights of the Festival. The Festival will end on Saturday night with a musical performance in our world famous courtroom. Attending authors and performers will be announced at a later date.
Since Monroeville’s inaugural event in 1998, participating writers and scholars have included Fannie Flagg, Rick Bragg, Kathryn Tucker Windham, Mark Childress, Cynthia Tucker, Carolyn Haines, Winston Groom, Sena Jeter Naslund, Brad Watson, Mike Stewart, Daniel Wallace, Jeanie Thompson, Kirk Curnutt, Don Noble, Mary Ward Brown, Warren St. John, Sue Brannan Walker, Wayne Greenhaw, George Plimpton, Sonia Sanchez, Tom Franklin, Sonny Brewer, Gin Phillips, Michelle Richmond, John Hafner, Watt Key, Ace Atkins, Yaa Gyasi, Lauren Denton, Sean “Sean of the South” Dietrich, Irene Latham, Joshilyn Jackson, Patti Callahan Henry and dozens more.
The transition of the event from the College to the Museum has also coincided with the selection of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer changing hands. The award selection was previously coordinated by the Alabama Writers’ Forum, but will now be chosen by a committee selected by the Festival leadership. This year’s committee includes newly selected Poet Laureate of Alabama Ashley M. Jones, Dr. James A. Crank of the University of Alabama, Dr. Zanice Bond of Tuskegee University, Frye Gaillard of the University of South Alabama, Kerry Madden Lunsford of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, writer and former Monroeville citizen Philip Shirley, and Alisha Linam Bowen of Coastal Alabama Community College. The award will continue to be supported by George Landegger, and the criteria will remain that it be awarded to a living Alabama writer of note. Nomination letters may be submitted to MonroevilleLiteraryFestival@gmail.com prior to November 1.