The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith will host the Southern Literary Festival from March 30 – April 1 on campus, an event offering workshops, readings, and master classes in a wide variety of genres to undergraduate students from colleges and universities across the region, in addition to readings from nationally-acclaimed authors that are open to the public.

Highlighting the festival are eight authors who will serve as guest speakers. Speakers include Geffrey Davis, author of “Revising the Storm,” which won the A. Poulin Poetry Prize; John Gosslee, publisher of Fjords Review and author of two poetry collections, “Out of Context” and “When it’s Midnight Here, it’s Sunny Elsewhere”; Jamey Hatley, 2016 Prose Fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts; Kelley Jennings, author of “Broken Slate”; Sandy Longhorn, award-winning author of the poetry collections “The Alchemy of My Mortal Form,” “The Girlhood of Prairie Myths,” and “Blood Almanac”; Leslie Jill Patterson, winner of a Texas Commission on the Arts fellowship and a 2012 Embrey Human Rights Fellowship; Courtney Miller Santo, author of novels “The Roots of the Olive Tree” and “Three Story House;” and Giuseppe Taurino, whose work has appeared in the literary magazines Epoch, American Short Fiction, Green Mountains Review and New South.

Founded in 1937, the Southern Literary Festival is an organization of southern colleges and universities that promotes southern literature. Students representing more than 20 universities from five states will attend the conference, where awards will be written for top poetry, prose and literary magazines published by students from attending schools.

The Southern Literary Festival is held at a different host institution each year. UAFS was asked to host the festival after its literary magazine, Applause, placed first in the festival’s literary magazine category at the festival two years ago. UAFS students have attended the conference in previous years, where they have consistently won awards for creative writing.

Dr. Christian Gerard, associate professor of English at UAFS and secretary of this year’s planning committee for the festival, said the university was honored to host the event.

“The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith's hosting of the 2017 Southern Literary Festival has created the opportunity for UAFS students, faculty members, and several student organizations to work together to bring eight nationally-renowned writers to campus, along with students and faculty members from member schools for two days of readings, workshops, and literary arts fellowship,” Gerard said. “The festival will hold events open to the public on campus and across town as we showcase the best in southern writing and create the opportunity for the university and the greater Fort Smith community celebrate the arts culture we are all actively working to promote.”

Dr. Carol Westcamp, associate professor of English at UAFS and President of the Southern Literary Festival, said the festival’s author readings will be beneficial for the public.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the public to come listen to acclaimed authors read and speak about their works,” Westcamp said. “It’s also a chance to show support for the students whose works have won prizes at the festival by watching them receive their awards and listening to them read their works.”

All events that are open to the public will be held in the Gardner Lecture Hall, located at 5316 Grand Ave., with the exception of the Applause party March 31. Events open to the public are:

Thursday, March 30

  • 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.: Honorable Mention student readings.

  • 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.: Author Reading: Giuseppe Taurino and John Gosslee.

Friday, March 31

  • 9:15 a.m.-10:15 a.m.: Author Reading: Leslie Jill Patterson and Geffrey Davis.

  • 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: Author Reading: Courtney Miller Santo and Sandy Longhorn.

  • 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.: Author Reading: Kelly Jennings and Jamey Hatley.

  • 6:30 p.m.-11:00 p.m.: Applause party and late night open mic, located at 913 Garrison Ave. in Fort Smith.

Saturday, April 1

  • 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.: First Place Winners Readings

For more information about the festival, contact Westcamp at 479-788-7533 or or Gerard at 479-788-7560 or


About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Through a small campus, dedicated professors, and the university’s unique bond with its community, students at UAFS are able to do more in the areas they are passionate about, both on- and off-campus, in a way that prepares them for post-graduate success. To find out how you can do more at UAFS, visit


Article by John Post, Director of Public Information
Date Posted: 
Friday, March 17, 2017
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