Cormac McCarthy Literary Festival

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The Cormac McCarthy Literary Festival celebrates authors preserving culture, sparking conversation and weaving tales in Appalachia. This three day festival, November 1st-3rd, 2019 will showcase local and regional authors, celebrate local history and Blount County Public Library's Centennial, and have activities for the whole family to engage with East Tennessee’s unique literary history.

Kidwell McCarthy Mosaic 2 Library
The festival is named after Cormac McCarthy to highlight his time in Blount County and also a piece of public art he made in 1971 while living here. This seven-ton Aztec-inspired mosaic was originally sited in downtown Maryville, but relocated to the library property in July 2000, during construction (and renovation of the downtown streetscape).

​Confirmed Authors

Ron Rash

Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times bestseller Serena and Above the Waterfall, in addition to four other prize-winning novels, The Cove, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; four collections of poems; and six collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other Stories, which was a finalist for the 2007 PEN/Faulkner Award. Rash twice received the O. Henry Prize and teaches at Western Carolina University.

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Sharyn McCrumb is an award-winning Southern writer, best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains, including the New York Times Best Sellers, The Ballad of Tom Dooley, She Walks These Hills and The Rosewood Casket. ​Her books have been named New York Times and Los Angeles Times Notable Books, and her current novel, The Unquiet Grave, is a well-researched history of West Virginia’s Greenbrier Ghost. The Unquiet Grave was selected by the Georgia Library System as the 2017 selection for North Georgia Reads; the All Conference Read for the West Virginia State Library Conference; the West Virginia Featured Book at the West Virginia Book Festival; and a featured alternate by the Literary Guild.

Amy Greene
Amy Greene’s first novel Bloodroot (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) was a New York Times and National Bestseller and a New York Times Editor’s Choice pick. In 2010, Greene won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Fiction. Her second novelLong Man (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014) was a Washington Post Top Book of the Year. In 2016 Greene won the Willie Morris Award for Southern Literature, The Judy Gaines Young Award, and was inducted into the East Tennessee Literary Hall of Fame. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times and Glamour Magazine, among other publications. In 2012, Greene was awarded a fellowship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She has lectured and conducted workshops across the country.
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Frank X. Walker, a native of Danville, Kentucky, is the first African American to be named Kentucky Poet Laureate. Walker has published ten collections of poetry, including Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, which received multiple awards.  A lover of comics, Walker curated “We Wear the Mask: Black Superheroes through the Ages”. Walker recently returned to the world of visual art with a collection of new and early multimedia works, “Black Star Seed: When Mi Cyaan Find Di Words” which was on exhibit at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington.
Walker coined the term “Affrilachia” and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets, subsequently publishing the much-celebrated eponymous collection. His honors include a 2004 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry, the 2008 and 2009 Denny C. Plattner Award for Outstanding Poetry in Appalachian Heritage, the 2013 West Virginia Humanities Council’s Appalachian Heritage Award. Walker is the founding editor of pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture and serves as Professor of English and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. 

Lin Stepp

Lin Stepp is a native Tennessean, businesswoman and educator. A New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon best-selling international author, Lin now has sixteen published books, including her twelve beloved Smoky Mountain novels set in different locations of the Tennessee and North Carolina mountains, as well as a Smoky Mountain novella in one of Kensington’s Christmas anthologies. In addition, Lin’s first novel in a new Edisto Trilogy recently released, set on the South Carolina coast. Lin and her husband also write regional guidebooks, including a Smoky Mountain hiking guide and a Tennessee state parks book.  Stepp’s latest 2019 releases are The Interlude, set in the Greenbrier and Pittman Center of the Great Smoky Mountains and Claire at Edisto set at Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Lin enjoys keeping up with her readers on Facebook, Twitter, and through her monthly blog on her website at: www.linstepp.com


Stacey Peebles

Stacey Peebles is the Marlene and David Grissom Associate Professor of English and Director of Film Studies at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. She is the author of Welcome to the Suck: Narrating the American Soldier's Experience in Iraq (2011) and Cormac McCarthy and Performance: Page, Stage, Screen (2017), and editor of the collection Violence in Literature (2014).  She has been editor of the Cormac McCarthy Journal since 2010, and is Vice President of the Cormac McCarthy Society. With Ben West, she is co-editing the collection Approaches to Teaching the Works of Cormac McCarthy. Her other research areas include contemporary war stories, the Western, and superhero films.

SAFTA (Sundress Academy for the Arts) Workshop, "Writing from Marginalized Voices in Appalachia." Writing the "Other" Appalachia: To define Appalachia solely by the coalminers or bootleggers we see on TV is to erase the vast majority of people who live in our region. Whether it's LGBTQIA folks, people of color, climate activists, artists, or radicals, Appalachia is a region of diverse ideas and complicated histories. To tell one's story is an act of political subterfuge, undermining the common narrative of our region told to us through national news outlets and entertainment that are often devoid of its complexity. This workshop will center on telling these stories through poetry or nonfiction focusing on the belief that the personal is political.

Presenters of SAFTA:

Nik Buhler is a queer, Appalachian native living in Knoxville, Tennessee. Their work has appeared in Pheonix Literary Arts Magazine and Crab Fat Magazine. When they're not writing new poems and essays with the help of their cat, Nik can be found at Firefly Farms annoying sheep and chicken into loving them back.

With origins in Manila and growing up in Knoxville, TN, Arlynn Dunn is interested in the intersections of poetry, speculative nonfiction, and amplifying representation of transnational adoptees in the context of the Asian American diaspora. A full time pediatric occupational therapy assistant, Arlynn uses down time to grow as an emerging poet and reader, engage in community advocacy, and is frequently spotted at spoken word events or diving nose first into books and sometimes flan at La Esperan.

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Susan Beckham Zurenda worked as a newspaper features reporter, taught English for 33 years, and now works as a book publicist for Magic Time Literary Publicity. Her fiction has won regional awards including Alabama Conclave First Chapter Novel Prize, Carolina Woman Magazine Fiction Contest, The Southern Writers Symposium Emerging Writers Fiction Contest, two-time winner of the Jubilee Writing Competition, two-time winner of The South Carolina Fiction Project, and the Porter Fleming Writing Competition. She has published stories and nonfiction pieces in various journals, including five stories accepted in 2018. Susan’s debut novel, tentatively titled Bells for Eli, has been accepted for publication by Mercer University Press.

Go to the Cormac McCarthy Literary Festival schedule of events website page here and you may also go to the library's Facebook Event page to check for updates!

Made Possible by Festival Partners:


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The Cormac McCarthy
Literary Festival is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, 
an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.