Nationally recognized authors visit DMACC for the 2016 Celebration of the Literary Arts Festival

Four nationally-acclaimed authors arrived in Iowa last week to take part in DMACC’s 2016 Celebration of the Literary Arts Festival.

The three-day festival, which started Monday, April 4 and finished Wednesday April 6, allowed students to meet and speak with professional published authors.

The festival was organized by Marc Dickinson, Professor of Creative Writing, Literature and Composition. According to the festival’s website, “Central to the festival is the idea that writers can be published and that one can indeed make a living as a professional writer or professional writer/faculty member.”

Acclaimed writers Matt Bell, Robin Block, Kevin Prufer, and Ada Limon pose for a picture following their reading Monday April 4 at Beaverdale Books during the 2016 Celebration of the Literary Arts Festival.

Acclaimed writers Matt Bell, Robin Block, Kevin Prufer, and Ada Limon pose for a picture following their reading Monday April 4 at Beaverdale Books during the 2016 Celebration of the Literary Arts Festival.

On Monday morning, the festival began with poets Kevin Prufer and Ada Limon sharing their work with a group of students at Urban Campus. Limon’s lyrical poems spoke toward female empowerment. Prufer’s free-verse, stylistic poems include critiques about modern American society.

Iowa writers, Tim Bascom and Ralph James Savarese visited the Newton Campus Monday to read for students and faculty there.

Monday night, Beaverdale Books was a highlight of the festival. In addition to student writers sharing their work, national writers were showcased and shared readings of their most current work. Following the reading these authors stayed behind and signed copies of their books.

On Tuesday, the festival continued at Boone, West, and Carroll campuses. National authors Matt Bell and Robin Black traveled to Boone. Iowa writers Magogodi Makhene and Paul Brooke visited West while Jennifer Knox and Meg Johnston were at Carroll.

Dickinson, who was at the Boone Campus Tuesday said that “[Bell and Black] did an hour long questions and answers session and we ran out of time because the students were asking questions and they were talking about the study of genre.”

According to Dickinson, a student suggested that colleges do not really promote genre writing, such as fantasy or mystery. To this, Bell and Black both agree that it is an important type of writing and they went on to explain what genre writing is and how it can be done well.

Dickinson said that both Bell & Black were impressed by the questions they received from students.

Wednesday was the last day of the festival, which finished with Matt Bell and Robin Black speaking and signing books on the Ankeny Campus. Additionally the spoken word poet who goes by the stage name Odd?Rod shared his work for students on campus.

The national authors spoke about their personal experiences writing, shared advice with students, and answered questions. Common refrains from all of the authors for students and aspiring writers were “expect rejection” and “keep writing.” To be a successful writer one needs to be persistent and just keep trying.

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