Literary Festival sets stage in April

Hannah Brooks, Features editor

Come one, come all! Mercyhurst’s annual Literary Festival begins in April. Exciting events will take place throughout the entire month, celebrating and emphasizing on literature of successful writers, including that of some of Mercyhurst’s very own creative writing. This event is one that you will not want to miss.

The festival will kick off promptly at the beginning of the month, with a presentation from author Marie Benedict. She is not only a lawyer with more than ten years of experience in the legal field, but also a talented and successful author. Some of Benedict’s works include “The Other Einstein,” a historical novel telling the story of Albert Einstein’s first wife; USA today bestseller “Carnegie’s Maid” and New York Times bestseller “The Only Woman in the Room.” These are just a few examples of the works of Benedict, with many more of her novels becoming bestsellers. The talk will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 2 in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.

The next event will be a celebration of music entitled “Alive and Kicking: A Musical Celebration.” This performance will include Jim Tometsko & friends, Jimmy Cuneo, Brittany Barko Krugger and Kevin Sullivan, along with other Mercyhurst students. The event will feature works of songwriters, mainly in the folk genre. Per the event description, the organizers are “gathering to play music of survivors: those who recorded their first song before 1982 and who are still going strong today.” Those in attendance can also expect renditions of classics from well-known writers such as Neil Young, Pete Townshend, Gordon Lightfoot and more. This event will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12 in the Taylor Little Theater.

Setting the stage on Thursday, April 21 will be Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, professor of English, Creative Writing and African Literature. Wesley is the author of numerous critically acclaimed books, including “Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems” and “When the Wanderers Come Home.” Wesley’s work typically explores the Liberian civil war and Liberian and Grebo cultures, in addition to advocating for women. Wesley has won a number of awards, including a World Bank Fellowship, a Crab Orchard Award for her book Becoming Ebony, and the 2016 Wise Woman Literary Arts Award.

Jeffrey Roessner, professor of English and associate dean of Hafenmaier College, explained that all of the featured speakers and performers are intended to inspire students and hear about the careers of several creative writers. “We bring terrific, engaging writers to campus to speak about their work and their careers. It is an excellent opportunity for students to get to hear from well-known authors who make literature come alive and speak to us in the here and now,” said Roessner. “The folk music performance is also fun for faculty, staff and students to take the stage and make music together at a fairly informal event.”

The fourth and final event will be the official unveiling of the Lu-men, Mercyhurst’s student-produced creative arts magazine. Students of English and Arts design the entire layout of the magazine, from the cover, to the pages-both the artwork and creative writing pieces inside-as well as music and dance performances which are available on the website. This year’s editors-in-chief Emma Coppolo and Ash Carr, and designers Megan Perusek and Sydney Dietz, have been working hard all semester to put together the publication which will be revealed on April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Taylor Little Theater. In addition to the official un-veiling, various awards will be given out, including the P. Barry McAndrew writing awards for the year’s three best pieces of creative writing and the best critical literature essay by students. After the unveiling and awards, students will be invited to read their works aloud during an open mic session.

“We recognize the inspiring achievements of a new generation of writers, designers and artists. It is a nice reminder of how talented our students are,” Roessner said.

The events are free of charge for all students, and all are encouraged to attend. Attending is a fantastic way to get to appreciate some of the creative works put out by fellow students and show support, as well as learn more about the careers of successful authors. For more information about any of the events in the Literary Festival, reach out to Roessner or Greg Brown, Ph.D. for more details.