SIU to host 11th annual Little Grassy Literary Festival

By Grace Schneider, Staff Reporter

SIU is set to host the 11th annual Little Grassy Literary Festival on Wednesday, April 10 through Friday, April 12.

The festival is free and open to the public and will feature readings and panels from several poets and novelists including Amina Gautier, E.C. Belli, Leila Chatti, Alice Bolin and SIU alumnus Josh Woods.  

“It’s great with this festival because some students don’t [like reading and writing],” Mary Ardery, festival coordinator and graduate student studying creative writing, said. “We try to pick some [authors] that would appeal beyond the audience of just reading and writing.”

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The event schedule also includes book signings, sales and readings from SIU creative writing students.

Ardery said she hopes the festival can bring together not just the writing community at SIU but also the mass media and communications community through different focuses on visual media.

“It’s great when you can have this intermingling of all walks of life” Jeff Wolf, a graduate student helping organize the festival, said. “It’s really one of the things that I always hope will happen, and I’m always cautiously optimistic that we can get people from the community to come to these events, enjoy themselves, and leave feeling inspired.”

SIU has been hosting Little Grassy for 11 years now. Josh Woods, an SIU alumnus and one of the participating authors, said he remembers attending it while at SIU.

“I always left Little Grassy feeling inspired with new ideas to go write about,” Woods said.

Woods said he was honored to present at the festival and he was extremely excited to return to SIU and sit on a panel.

“You have some great professors and staff members in the creative writing program down there at SIU,” Woods said. “But sometimes it’s good to get your ideas in front of someone else.”

Wolf also said the networking and inspiration which come from the festival are important.

“It’s hard being a young artist because you already have that taste that you know what’s good,” Wolf said. “It takes a while for your own abilities to catch up to it. Just the inspiration of hearing their words, that makes you want to go write.”

Sharon Harris-Johnson, Jackson County treasurer, and her husband Dennis Johnson will also be attending the festival in honor of their son, Joseph Johnson, a former SIU student.

“They have donated money to the festival this year in honor of their son [who] passed away,” Ardery said. “He was a student here and was a writer. So that’s really cool that they feel that this festival is a good way to honor their son.”

The Joseph D. Johnson Memorial Reading by Paige Lewis will be the final event of the festival on Friday.

For more information and a full schedule of events please visit the Little Grassy Literary Festival Facebook page.

Staff reporter Grace Schneider can be reached at [email protected]

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