Amherst College to hold inaugural LitFest this weekend

By Brendan Deady

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)
(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

A number of magazine editors and writers who’ve received the literary industry’s highest accolades, from Pulitzer Prizes to National Book Awards, are flocking to Amherst College’s inaugural “LitFest 2016” this upcoming weekend.

The literary event, held from March 3 to 5, is celebrating the “extraordinary literary life (of Amherst) by bringing to campus distinguished authors and editors to share and discuss the pleasures and challenges of verbal expression, from fiction and nonfiction, to poetry and spoken-word performance,” according to the college’s website.

The three-day event kicks off with a conversation with Angela Flournoy and Lauren Groff, who is an Amherst College graduate, Thursday night at the Johnson Chapel. Groff is the author of four books, her latest, “Fates and Furies,” was a finalist for the National Book Award. Flournoy, a graduate from the prestigious Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop, just published her first novel, “The Turner House,” which was also a finalist for the National Book Award.

The event continues the following day, where Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist of “The Amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” will host a reading and Q&A session Friday night. A poetry slam featuring Amherst College students is scheduled to close out the night.

The following morning Stacy Schiff, also a Pulitzer winner, will join Mark Bowden, the award winning investigative journalist and author of “Black Hawk Down”, for a discussion in Valentine Hall.

The literary weekend was coordinated by “The Common”, a literary journal based at the college, which has featured many of America’s prominent writers since its inception in 2011. The event is also celebrating two new partnerships between the College and the MacDowell Colony and the National Book Foundation.

The MacDowell Colony, whose chairman of the board is Chabon, is an artistic community where aspiring artists and writers gather to develop major works. Its been awarded with the National Medal of Arts for its artistic contributions by fostering the growth of some of the 20th century’s greatest American creative minds, according to the colony’s website.

“LitFest 16” also marks a new partnership between Amherst College and the NBF; the college will now be a major center of operations for the NBF in the Northeast. The partnership, according to the college’s website, will bring recipients of the National Book Award to Amherst more frequently and establish a bond between the foundation and the college’s faculty.

The literary event is free and open to the public.

Brendan Deady can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @bdeady26.