May 16 to 19, our city is lit.
Greensboro Bound: A Literary Festival strikes up, with the opening reception at UNC Greensboro’s Weatherspoon Art Museum the evening of May 16, and an event with bestselling author Zadie Smith at the Elliot University Center on May 18.
The festival is a free, weekend-long series of readings, discussions, and events focused on books, writing, diverse voices from around the world, North Carolina’s literary traditions, and an inclusive community of readers from Greensboro and far beyond.
UNCG is one of the Greensboro Bound’s most prominent partners, with leading sponsorship from University Libraries, as well as support from the Office of the Provost, the Humanities Network and Consortium, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the faculty and alumni authors and musicians who are participating in the festival.
“Literary festivals are great moments to celebrate what we most admire in our culture and what issues are getting attention in terms of literary treatments,” said Dean of University Libraries Martin Halbert. “It’s an opportunity for the city to come together and explore different parts of our shared culture. The festival puts Greensboro on the map in a new way, and University Libraries is a very happy partner.”
Award-winning writer Zadie Smith will read from her work and join Halbert in a conversation at EUC’s Cone Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. on May 18.
Smith is the author of the bestselling novel “White Teeth,” which won numerous awards and was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. Her 2005 novel “On Beauty” earned the Orange Prize for Fiction, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United Kingdom. Her most recent published works are “Swing Time,” a novel, and “Feel Free,” a collection of essays that received the 2018 National Critics Circle Award.
“Zadie Smith is a remarkable author,” noted Halbert. “Her material is wide-ranging and really interesting in how it captures multiculturalism and different perspectives on how cultures come together.”
Tickets for the event’s main space are sold out, but free overflow tickets for seating in the EUC Auditorium are available on the event site, and attendees are invited to submit questions for the conversation.
From the preceding Thursday through the following Sunday, Greensboro Bound also offers many opportunities to hear and experience the work of UNCG faculty and alumni writers, and to celebrate literary culture through campus connections.
The kick-off party begins Thursday, May 16 at 5:30 at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and will feature the work of School of Art faculty member Sheryl Oring with her “I Wish To Say” project.
The fest continues Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m., as UNCG alumnus and bestselling author Wiley Cash ’02 MA participates in a conversation sponsored by PEN America, with music by alumna Laurelyn Dossett ’99 MS, at the Van Dyke Performance Space in the Greensboro Cultural Center.
Also Friday, at 9 p.m., School of Music faculty member Alejandro Rutty will perform with The Difficulties at Scuppernong Books.
The next morning, Saturday, May 18, at 10 a.m., Professor Emeritus in the MFA Program in Creative Writing Fred Chappell will appear with Jabberbox Puppets in “The Poet’s Menagerie” in the Van Dyke Performance Space.
Subsequent alumni literary readings and discussions include novelist Jamey Bradbury MFA ’09, young adult writer Leslie C. Youngblood MFA ’05, fiction and nonfiction writer Marianne Gingher ’74 MFA, and poet Jim Whiteside ’14 MFA.
Department of English faculty member Dr. Jennifer Feather will moderate a discussion, “Writing as Intersectional Feminism,” Saturday, May 18, at 12:30 p.m. at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum auditorium.
Catch work by School of Music faculty members David Holley and Alejandro Rutty in “The Showdown,” a 15- minute opera production written by fifth-grader Nevaeh White, Saturday, May 18, at 12:30 at the Van Dyke Performance Space.
Distinguished fiction writer and faculty member Michael Parker will participate in a conversation with Liza Wieland Sunday, May 19, at 12 p.m., in Triad Stage’s Upstage Cabaret.
University Libraries’ own North Carolina Literary Map project will host a table at the festival’s vendor space on the first floor of the Greensboro Cultural Center.
Sunday, May 19, UNCG alumna and Grammy-winner Rhiannon Giddens will appear in conversation with Ani DiFranco in the festival’s final event at Harrison Auditorium on the A&T University campus.
UNCG has been a central part of Greensboro’s literary culture for many decades, through the MFA in Creative Writing program, faculty and alumni work from many disciplines, Friends of the Library events, and other outreach, such as the UNC Greensboro Libraries Literary Award, last year presented to Scuppernong Books, where the Greensboro Bound festival originated.
“A university, particularly one like UNCG, provides not only support, but also intellectual and creative capital to the literary festival,” said festival coordinator Deonna Kelli Sayed. “We’re honored to have a relationship with UNCG Libraries and we’re also excited to kick off the festival at the Weatherspoon Art Museum and to include many faculty and alumni as essential voices and events in the festival programming. The partnership gifts the festival a well-rounded, dynamic voice.”
See the Greensboro Bound website for more events and details, including events for children and families.
Story by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography by Jiyoung Park and Martin W. Kane, University Communications, and Dominique Nabokov