Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Missouri Literary Festival
The Missouri Literacy Festival held last week was amazing. Held at Hammons Field and The Creamery Arts Center, speakers, poetry readings, panels on writing, and wordsmiths stretching across the arts participated in the three-day festival.
In conjunction for the National Endowment for the Arts, five organizations benefited from the proceeds of the festival. (They also worked very hard for two years to bring it about, chaired by Wm (Bucky) Bowman. Those organizations are The Springfield Regional Arts Council, Family Literacy Centers of the Ozarks, Ozarks Literacy Council, Springfield Public Schools Title 1 Program, and Writers Hall of Fame of America.
This year, The Big Read was Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the featured literary work, complete with a free CD and a Reader's Guide. Handy dandy journals were labeled with the event, available from a large Borders booth. Cynthia from Borders did a great job, pulling double-duty as this is Borders' National Teacher Appreciation Week with activities at Springfield, MO's Borders store.
Events for Kids were ongoing as were the bands playing for the setup in front of Hammons Field, a ballpark. Go, Cardinals! Childrens Writers abounded.
In the general Hammons Field area, writers of everything participated, readings ongoing, bands playing. Writers lined up along the Grand Concourse.
Buddy, a gorgeous well-behaved golden retriever (I hope I got that right) attended as a celebrity for PALs (Pets As Listeners). On the Grand Concourse children read to Buddy, who also visits schools and other places. I'd seen something about PALs, and was so glad Buddy was there to give more information.
Western writer Dusty Richards and Missouri Cowboy Poets (a genre in itself, I guess) presented programs. I enjoyed the cowboy guitar and songs, too. (In general, I just had a good time.)
Known uniquely as "The Romance Writer" I spoke on Romance Fiction As It Is Today in the Cardinals Suite, and signed books, of course. Met some long-time Cait London readers and they truly made my day. Thanks Mary Jo, Pam et al. Never hurts a writer to be asked for an autograph. :) Suzann Ledbetter Ellingsworth spoke a little later on Writing To Get Paid versus Writing for Money in the All Star Suite. Suzann is always a powerful speaker and interesting, too. Poet Lee Ann Russell's works were also available.
Several universities also held readings and manned info-booths.
U.S. Poet Laureate Bill Collins drew quite the crowd as did other poets. Laura Shapiro, author of the biography "Julia Child", provided culinary insights and what looked like great food at the Creamery, which is actually a renovated creamery serving as the center for the Arts Council. If you can visit, this is a terrific building and hosts The Creamery Writers.
And as a presenter, I visited the Cards real live Bull Pen :) And a real highlight for me was to learn more about Music Therapy. I wish we had it in all our schools. PALS and Music Therapy, two really good healing/nurturing offerings.
Please visit the Missouri Literary Festival and check out all the events and people who provided such a great offering in Springfield, MO.