Celebrate the 21st annual Literary Festival

Eva Mihelich, News editor

Each year, the Mercyhurst English Department hosts a Literary Festival that celebrates both outside literary works and those within the campus community.

Students have plenty to look forward to with the 21st annual Literary Festival events.

You do not have to be an English student to attend these events. In fact, English Professor Jeffrey Roessner, Ph.D. encourages all students to attend.

“We try to pick writers that appeal to the student body. Our first reader this year has all that kind of pop culture appeal. He’s written all kinds of non-fiction works about popular topics, including superheroes and detective fiction. I think that all those things he’s written should have some appeal for students,” said Roessner.

This year, the featured author is Brad Ricca. Ricca has written a wide variety of genres and media.

He is known for his great nonfiction books that appeal to a wide audience. Some of his standout books are “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” and “Olive the Lionheart.”

His most recent work is titled “True Raiders,” which is about the untold story of Monty Parker, who headed a secret 1909 expedition to find the fabled Ark of the Covenant just outside of Jerusalem.

Ricca will speak on Wednesday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall.

The second event is an evening of songs titled “21st Century Songwriters” which will take place on Thursday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in Luke’s Landing.

This event will feature selected Mercyhurst faculty, alumni and friends, along with featured guest Jim Tometsko and his band. The songs will have a special focus on influential singers from the 21st century, ranging from Britney Spears to Tom Petty.

The final event will be on Thursday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre. This event is the unveiling of the 2023 edition of the Lumen and an awards ceremony.

Lumen is a student-produced multimedia magazine that is revealed at the end of the Literary Festival each year.

This has been a prized Mercyhurst tradition for even longer than the Literary Festival has been going on. Getting a publication into the Lumen is a selective process, so the reveal at the end of the festival is one of celebration and appreciation.

Roessner notes that the unveiling of the Lumen is something that he looks forward to each year because even he does not see the final product until the Literary Festival.

He also hopes that students will especially try to attend this event. “The Lumen is made by students, and for students, so I would hope that students would come to the final event to support their peers,” said Roessner. At the final event of the Literary Festival, cash prizes will be awarded to students who submitted various creative and critical works.

Following this presentation, there will be an open mic event. “The open mic afterwards is always a treat because you never know what people are going to read or what’s going to happen,” Roessner said. “It’s a really fun atmosphere, and most students have never read before on a large stage like that, so it has a kind of formal element to it that adds a kind of electric charge to the event.”

Roessner added that you do not have to be featured in the Lumen to participate in the open mic. Any students who want to share something, whether it is a piece they wrote, a piece someone else wrote, or even a stream of their own thoughts, are encouraged to attend and take the mic.

First created by Roessner and former Mercyhurst English professor Ken Schiff, Ph.D., the purpose of the Literary Festival is to bring renowned writers to campus to share their experiences with students and to host creative writing workshops with people who have real-world advice to share.

Consider attending one or all of the events. They are a great way to enrich your appreciation of literature, to gain knowledge from an experienced author and to support your fellow peers in their creative pursuits.