Updated: Feb 1
Have you ever wanted to invite a writer to dinner? Some of the best and brightest writers in Alabama want you to welcome them into your home through this year’s virtual Monroeville Literary Festival on March 4 – 6.
The Monroeville Literary Festival is a project of Coastal Alabama Community College and is in its second year of rebranding from its former name, the Alabama Writers Symposium. Guests can expect the same high quality of writers as last year’s program, though this year is online due to Covid-19. Last year’s program, held in early March before the Covid-19 shutdowns, improved upon the previous Symposium’s attendance with a 40% increase. Alisha Linam, Director of the Monroeville Literary Festival, says, “We were so grateful to have that last ‘moment in the sun’ once we realized that it would be a long time before anyone could again meet at such gatherings. The Festival committee and Coastal Alabama are excited that technology allows us to still ‘bring’ writers to Monroeville. Even though the Festival can’t go forward as we originally planned, we are glad to create this continuity.”
This year’s slate of featured writers includes the creators of the Pulitzer Prize shortlisted podcast White Lies, which investigates the 1965 murder of Reverend James Reeb in Selma. Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace are faculty members in the School of Journalism at the University of Alabama and investigative journalists for National Public Radio. Their multi-year investigation revealed the existence of an additional eyewitness to the crime, as well as confirmed the participation of another person who never came to trial. They will speak on Saturday, March 6, at 10am.
Fans of suspense and crime novels should tune-in to the program on Saturday at 2pm to hear Joshilyn Jackson discuss her forthcoming book Never Have I Ever. This highly anticipated book has been included on numerous summer reading lists by national news outlets and has been selected as a SIBA Okra Pick.
Writers and artists who have struggled with productivity during troubling times, including the Covid-19 pandemic, will be interested in a Healing the Healers writing workshop with Salaam Green on Thursday, March 4 at 10am.
Local history buffs may be interested in Mike Bunn’s session on his new book The Fourteenth Colony, a history of British West Florida during the Revolutionary era. Bunn is currently the Director of Historic Blakeley State Park in Spanish Fort, and will be speaking on Friday, March 5, at 10am.
The program will also include sessions with the Alabama State Council on the Arts's Literary Arts Fellows, and nightly award ceremonies for the recipients of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer, the Eugene Current-Garcia Award of Alabama’s Distinguished Literary Scholar, and the Truman Capote Prize for Distinguished Work in the Short Story. Attendees to the awards sessions will be encouraged to dress in their finest attire or pajamas and settle in with their favorite beverage to toast the recipients.
Local and up-and-coming writers of all genres are also welcome to participate by joining the virtual 15 Minutes of Fame stage. Video links of 15 minutes or less should be submitted to MonroevilleLiteraryFestival@gmail.com by February 19 at 5pm. Winners will be announced and posted to the Monroeville Literary Festival website and social media during the week of February 22.
All sessions are free thanks to the generous support of Coastal Alabama Community College, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Alabama River Cellulose, Mr. George Landegger, and Ms. Dianne Lawson Baker. A complete schedule and registration for the Zoom sessions may be found at www.MonroevilleLiteraryFestival.com .