/UM Annual Literary Festival honors women of writing

UM Annual Literary Festival honors women of writing

The 13th annual Lit Fest took place in the J.A. Brown Room of Carmichael Library and featured readings from four poets as well as Chris Holder, the winner of the Jeremy Lespi Fellowship. Photo by Jane Goodman.

On March 20, Carmichael Library hosted the 13th Annual University of Montevallo Literary Festival. This year’s theme was centered around women. Four poets read selections of their works, and the winner of the 2015 Jeremy Lespi Fellowship was announced.

Each year, the festival is hosted by Carmichael Library and the English Department. This year’s festival was held in the J.A. Brown Room.

Chris Holder, a senior double-majoring in English and music, won the Jeremy Lespi Fellow poetry contest with his poems “The Me-Loaf,” “Rampart Trees,” “O” and “A riddle:.”

Holder’s topics of poetry ranged from abstract and far-reaching to small and seemingly unimportant. His poem “O” addresses a delineation of pain that is peculiar to the South, while “A riddle:” is about plastic bags.

Jessica Jacobs was the first guest poet to read her work. She started with a description of her journey through learning about Georgia O’Keefe. O’Keefe’s romantic relationship and self-discovery intrigued Jacobs to the point that she read everything about O’Keefe, even letters between the poet and her lover.

A handful of Jacobs’ poetry was written while on her own journey of self-discovery. Each of her poems used abstract objects to detail life’s challenges and achievements. Typically, her selected poetry related to O’Keefe, but some was about her own personal maturing while alone in a desert cabin with no electricity, running water and only the company of her dog.

After a short break, Nikole Brown was ready with her poetry about her relationship with her grandmother. Brown called her book a novel of poems. “I don’t want to plagiarize, so I want to be clear. Any poem that starts with ‘Fanny says,’ is simply a collection of words that my grandmother Fanny shared with me,” said Brown.

She read with a calm and smooth voice, and each poem was filled with sincerity. Her poetry was raw and endearing, painting a picture of a grandmother from Kentucky that loved her deeply. She closed with a poem that asked the question, “What would Fanny say if she knew I was gay?”

Amy Lemmon was the third reader. Her poems focused on being the mother of a girl with Down Syndrome, losing her husband in a car accident and what it’s like to sleep without her husband by her side. Each poem was rich with heartfelt lessons about accepting life’s challenges and moving forward with the beauty in each of the challenges.

Cathy Wing was the fourth and last reader. Her poetry was abstract, ranging from a multitude of topics such as moths, science, whales and people. Wing was disconnected and scattered in her verbal communication style, but stayed completely focused in her writing style.

After the readings, each of the poets sat on a panel to answer questions and to sign books.

Jacobs encouraged the audience to “write about anything that inspires you, even if it’s bad writing.”

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