USC Union will be the host of the annual Upcountry Literary Festival this year on Friday, March 22nd, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm and Saturday, March 23rd, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. The two-day event will showcase a number of nationally and regionally known authors, poets, and musical artists. This year, the festival will also add a writing workshop and an open mic night. The event is free to everyone and will be held in the auditorium at USC Union’s Main Building. A full schedule and participant list is posted on USC Union’s website (uscunion.sc.edu) located under Experience. For more information, please contact Randy Ivey at (864) 424-8057 or email email@example.com.
Thursday, March 21, 7:00pm-8:30pm
The Literary Festival will host a workshop with presenting author, Maureen Ryan Griffin on Thursday at the Union County Historical Museum at 127 West Main Street. The workshop, “Writing Personal and Family Stories”, will educate the audience on telling your own truth, preserving family history, writing for and about your family, and the art of memoir. Our life stories are a precious legacy. Putting them in writing is a gift to all who know and love us – they can be treasured and enjoyed for generations to come. If you are interested in writing family or personal life stories – of adventure, transition, love, loss, or triumph, as well as lovely everyday moments from times past or the present – come learn easy, enjoyable tools and techniques for retrieving, recording, and arranging them. This workshop is free and suitable for writers of all levels.
Friday, March 22, 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Val Nieman is the author of four novels: To the Bones; Blood Clay, a novel of the New South, which was honored with the Eric Hoffer Prize in General Fiction; a novel about the Rust Belt of the 1970s, Survivors; and her first book, Neena Gathering, reissued in 2012 as a classic in the post-apocalyptic genre. A fourth book, Backwater, is now in submission, and research for a new novel included a month hiking solo in Scotland. Her third poetry collection, Leopeard Lady: A Life in Verse, debuted in October with a reading at the Coney Island Museum. Her second poetry collection, Hotel Worthy, appeared in 2015 from Press 53, and poems from that book were nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best Short Fictions of 2016, where the title poem was a finalist. She is also the author of Wake, and a collection of short stories, Fidelities. She was a 2013-2014 North Carolina Arts Council poetry fellow, and has received an NEA creative writing fellowship as well as major grants in West Virginia and Kentucky. Her awards include the Greg Grummer, Nazim Hikmet, and Byron Herbert Reece poetry prizes. Nieman graduated from West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte. A former newspaper reporter and editor, she now teaches creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University and at venues ranging from the John C. Campbell Folk School to WriterHouse.
Gibert Kennedy earned a B.A. from East Carolina University and B.S. in electrical engineering from University of Tennessee. He retired from a career in the nuclear industry in 2015. He has a bookselling business in Aiken, SC. that specialized in South Carolina and Civil War history. He was the editor of A South Carolina Upcountry Saga: The Civil War Letters of Barham Bobo Foster and His Family, 1860-1863. He currently lives in Aiken, S.C. with his wife.
Mary Gregory Dillard, a graduate of Benedict College, grew up on a farm in Union County and married her high school sweetheart, Samuel Dillard, who is now deceased. As the cover of her first published work “Finding Betsyanna” states: “Memories from her childhood overflow into her writing.” In the tradition of Maya Angelou, Dillard is a multi-genre author whose works are rich with “real life.” Dillard is a graduate of Sims High School and Benedict College and she writes both fiction and nonfiction books. Her first two books were children’s books, “Finding Betsyanna” and “Jeepers Creepers! the Squirrels are Coming.” However, it has always been her desire to write books for young adults and adults. Dillard said she writes about what she likes best–the people who live in the south. It is this rich southern culture that motivates her to create novels about style, people of color, landmarks and southern hospitality, that has provided the setting for her adult novels: “Broad River Gems, ” “Beneath the Mountains” “Days of My Youth,” “The Man in the Arena,” “Where the Maypop Grows” and many others.
Randy Ivey has taught English at the University of South Carolina since 1990, starting out as an adjunct instructor. He has also taught at the main campus in Columbia, the USC Union operation in Laurens, and at Spartanburg Technical College, now SCC. On eight occasions he has been named USCU’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year: 1996, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2018. He is the author of a new novel, Where the Streets Are Paved With Gold, three story collections, The Shape of a Man, The Mutilation Gypsy, and A New England Romance, and a book for children, Jay and the Bounty of Books. Twice he received the SC Fiction Project Award for the short story, in 2004 and 2007. He has published nearly 100 stories, poems, essays, and reviews in journals, magazines, and anthologies in the United States and in England, including The South Carolina Review, Emrys Journal, The Charleston Post and Courier, Modern Age, and Appalachian Heritage. He is at work on a new novel set in an upcountry South Carolina nursing home.
Maureen Ryan Griffin is an award-winning poetry and nonfiction writer. Her work has appeared in many publications such as The Charlotte Observer, Chelsea, and The Texas Review to name a few. She is the author of Spinning Words into Gold, a grief workbook entitled I Will Never Forget You, and her latest book of poetry, Ten Thousand Cicadas Can’t Be Wrong. She will be awarded the 2019 Upcountry Literary Festival Appreciation Award.
Patricia Moore Pastides, first lady of the University of South Carolina, is a successful public health professional, the author of three books, an accomplished cook and an advocate for many worthy causes. In addition to her role as first lady, which includes hosting events for the university throughout the year, health is her top priority. She is a member of the university’s Board of Visitors and is an adjunct faculty member in the university’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, where she teaches the course Healthy Mediterranean Cooking. Moore-Pastides has also served as a director and planner for several health care organizations. She enjoys promoting health and wellness throughout the various USC campuses and the region.
Freddie Vanderford & the Mill Billy 3 will perform on Friday of the event. Freddie Vanderford a local favorite, is well-known for his love of blues and his famous harmonica. Starting in his teenage years, Vanderford befriended Piedmont Blues harpist, “Peg Leg” Sam Jackson and was captivated by the unique sound of Piedmont Blues. “Peg Leg” taught Vanderford the harmonica licks that formed the foundation of Piedmont Blues after realizing the young teen’s talent. Vanderford continues the tradition and passes on the knowledge that he was taught. In May, 2010 he was awarded the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for maintaining and sharing the tradition of the Piedmont Blues harp. The trio consists of: Freddie Vanderford – Harmonica/Vocals, Shane Pruitt – Guitar/Vocals, and Brandon Turner – Guitar/Vocals
Bobbie Ann Mason was raised on her family’s farm in western Kentucky. She earned her B.A. in English at the University of Kentucky in 1962, her M.A. at the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1966, and her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut in 1972. Her first short stories were published in The New Yorker during the 1980s renaissance of short story. Mason’s first book of fiction won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was nominated for the American Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She received an Arts and Letters Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is former writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky. She will be awarded the 2019 William ‘Singing Billy’ Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Letters from the Upcountry Literary Festival.
Open Mic Night, Friday March 22nd, 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Sponsored by the Union County Arts Council and USC Union Literary Festival
Open Mic Night will be held at the Union Arts Council at 116 East Main Street following the Literary Festival. This event is free and open to the public. Meet & Greet will be held from 5:00-6:00 and the mic will be open 6:00 – 8:00. Everyone is encouraged to attend and especially to participate! Wine and cheese will be served during the event.
Saturday, March 23, 9:00am – 1:00pm
Dana Wildsmith’s new collection of poems, One Light, is forthcoming from Texas Review Press in fall of 2018. She is the author of five collections of poetry, the novel Jumping, and environmental memoir, Back to Abnormal: Surviving with an Old Farm in the New South, was a finalist for the Georgia Author of the Year. Wildsmith has served as Artist-in-Residence for Grand Canyon National Park and Everglades National Park, Writer-in-Residence for the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and she is a Fellow of the Hanbidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. Wildsmith teaches English Literacy through Lanier Technical College.
Tom McConnell’s work has appeared in the Connecticut Review, the Cortland Review, Shenandoah, Birmingham Arts Journal, Calabash, Yemassee, the Emrys Journal, the Charleston Post & Courier, Crossroads: A Southern Annual, Writing Macao, and Ars Medica among other publications. His awards and prizes include an artist’s grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the South Carolina Academy of Authors Fiction Fellowship, the Hackney National Literary Award for the Short Story, Porter Fleming Awards for Fiction, Essay, and Drama, the South Carolina Fiction Project, the H.E. Francis Award, and the Hardagree Award for Fiction. His lectures and readings have taken him to Istanbul, Berlin, and the Sorbonne in Paris. His collection of stories, A Picture Book of Hell and Other Landscapes, was published by Texas Tech University Press in 2005 and nominated for the PEN/Bingham Award and the John Gardner Award for Short Fiction. Educated at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and at the University of Georgia, he is professor of English at the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg. A Fulbright Scholar in the Czech Republic for 2005-2006, he taught American literature and creative writing at Masaryk University.
Worthy Branson Evans was born in 1971 and is a current resident in Columbia, SC, but has also lived in Sumter, SC. He is the author of Green Revolver (USC Press, 2010). He is a poet, artist, freelance writer, and communications specialist for a Medicare contractor. He attended high school at James Island High School and works as a freelancer at Freelancer for College of Charleston Alumni Magazine.
Christine Sixta-Rinehart is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of South Carolina Union, a Palmetto College campus. She earned her PhD from the University of South Carolina in 2008. Her research interests include international terrorism, female terrorism, and security and counterterrorism. Her first book Volatile Social Movements and the Origins of Terrorism: The Radicalization of Change was published in December 2012 by Lexington Books. Her second book, Drones and Targeted Killing in the Middle East and Africa: An Appraisal of American Counterterrorism Policies was published by Lexington Books in December 2016. Her third book, Sexual Jihad: The Role of Islam in Female Terrorism will be published in late 2018 by Lexington Books. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tally Johnson is a graduate of Spartanburg Methodist College and Wofford College with degrees in history. He attended graduate school in history at Winthrop and is employed at the Chester County Library. Johnson is the author of four books on South Carolina ghosts. Ghosts of the South Carolina Upcountry (2005), Ghosts of the South Carolina Midlands (2007), and Ghosts of the Pee Dee (2009), all for the History Press and Civil War Ghosts of South Carolina (2013) for Post Mortem Press. He is also a storyteller, having appeared at school and libraries and sci-fi conventions all over the Southeast.
Charles Dodd White is a writer who lives in eastern Tennessee. He is a recipient of the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for excellence in Appalachian Literature, a Jean Ritchie Fellowship from Lincoln Memorial University, and an individual artist’s grant from the North Carolina Arts Council. He is author of the novels, In The House Of Wilderness, A Shelter Of Others, Lambs Of Men, and story collections Sinners Of Sanction County. He is also editor of the contemporary Appalachian story anthologies, Degrees Of Elevation and Appalachia Now. His work has appeared in Red Holler: Contemporary Appalachian Writing, Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia, Appalachian Heritage, The Louisville Review, North Carolina Literary Review, The Rumpus, Tusculum Review and others. He is an Associate Professor at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is represented by Christopher Rhodes of The Stuart Agency.
Jesse Graves published his first collection of poetry, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, with Texas Review Press. The book was awarded the 2012 Weatherford Award in Poetry from Berea College, Book of the Year in Poetry Award from the Appalachian Writers’ Association, and the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry Writing from Cornell University, and Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee. He is an Associate Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at East Tennessee State University.
Rieppe Moore is a poet from Richland County, South Carolina, with a BS in Humanities from Columbia International University. He lives in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Unicoi, Tennessee, with his wife, Cherith. Currently, he is enrolled in the undergraduate English program at East Tennessee State University, where he pursues an MA in English as he continues to practice homesteading and animal husbandry in his free time.
Lee Lawing won the Young Playwrights Festival competition in Winterhaven, Florida with his play, Doll. Other productions include Prosperity at the 17th Annual Playwrights Award at Wichita State University in 1991 and Delivering Dad at the DramaRama Festival in San Francisco in 1997. A Murder of Crows was selected as the best drama at the WIT 2015 Kauai Shorts 10-Minute Play Festival and his show Twice was a part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival in 2016. Lawing’s short play The Chorus Awaits Its Cue! was a part of the anthology Off the Rocks, published December 2016. WIT selected his play Trinkets for Jenkie as part of their 2017 festival. Lawing will be participating in the William Inge Center for the Arts in May 2018 where his one act play, Blue Kauai, will be read.