Literary Festival events are ‘alive and kicking’ this April


Hannah Brooks, Features editor

For readers, writers, and literature enthusiasts alike, the Mercyhurst English department has a meaningful opportunity for you. The longtime tradition of the Literary Festival is underway and set to continue on through the rest of the month.  

Whether you are an English major, literature connoisseur or just a student looking for some fun events to attend, the Literary Festival certainly has some offerings that you just might enjoy. 

The festival started out on April 2 with a speech from author Marie Benedict.  

The event included the initial talk with Benedict which included her backstory of going from a ten-year career as a lawyer to being a successful author, a question-and-answer session and ended with a book signing, giving the audience the opportunity to have their books signed by Benedict.  

Tables were set up throughout the lobby, one offering a few of Benedict’s books for sale. Benedict has authored a number of award-winning books, including The Personal Librarian, The Other Einstein, and Carnegie’s Maid. Books were available for guests to purchase at the event. 

The second event was a celebration of music, mainly in the folk genre, celebrating musicians who produced music prior to 1982 and are “still alive and kicking,” fitting with the name of the celebration.  

The event included performances by Jim Tometsko & Friends, Clint Jones, Jimmy Cuneo, Brittany Barko Krugger, Kevin Sullivan, and additional performances by Mercyhurst students.  

The event is described by Jeffrey Roessner, professor of English, as being “fairly informal,” though lots of fun and gives the Mercyhurst community a chance to get on stage and make music with each other. 

The next event will take place on April 21 and will be a speech by Liberian-American poet Patricia Jabbeh Wesley.  

The event will feature a speech from Wesley, followed by a workshop the next day which English students are invited to attend.  

Wesley is a prominent poet, having authored several popular books such as Becoming Ebony, The River is Rising and When the Wanderers Come.  

Wesley, in addition to being an award-winning poet and author, is also a human rights activist, anti-war advocate and prominent literary scholar.  

This event will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Taylor Little Theater and all students are both invited and encouraged to attend. 

The final event will celebrate the creative works of Mercyhurst students – this will be the unveiling of Mercyhurst’s longtime and well-known literary magazine, Lumen.  

Every aspect of the magazine from the cover, artwork inside and the creative works, are produced by Mercyhurst students.  

This year’s editors-in-chief were Ash Carr and Emma Coppolo, who worked along with designers Megan Perusek and Sydney Dietz.  

The cover and works will be unveiled to the public at 7:30 p.m. on April 28 in the Taylor Little Theater.  

In addition to the official unveiling, students will also be awarded both for their works and for the P. Barry McAndrew critical literature essay award.  

The entire month of events is overseen by the English department at Mercyhurst, with Dr. Jeffrey Roessner coordinating most of the events. Roessner says that the event is a great experience for all students to enjoy and features prominent literature in society. 

“We bring terrific, engaging writers to campus to speak about their work and their careers. It’s 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,” Roessner said.  

“Literature is not sealed in the covers of a dusty book, it is a vital presence, commenting on issues that matter to us all.” 

The rest of the month is geared towards appreciation of inspiring literature.  

Be sure to head over to the Taylor Little Theater on April 21 to attend Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s speech – and then head back a week later, on April 28 to appreciate the literary works of your fellow Mercyhurst classmates with the official Lumen unveiling and awards ceremony.