English department to celebrate poetry, prose at literary festival

Roger Coda
Pages of opened book

The inaugural Fredonia Literary Festival, a celebration of poetry and prose at SUNY Fredonia – presenting local authors and organizations along with memorial readings honoring four Department of English faculty members – will become a part of Go Big Blue Day on Saturday, April 29, in the Williams Center.

“We want to showcase the many faces of the Fredonia writing community, from student organizations to faculty readings to performances of poetry and songs. This is a great way for the writing community to come together and highlight all that we do and all that makes writing at Fredonia distinctive,” said Department of English Assistant Professor Michael Sheehan.

All events are free and open to the public. Attendees are free to come and go as they wish throughout the day-long festival.

“We will be honoring these four late English faculty members, and the students will be choosing readings that honor their favorite authors and the teaching legacies of these professors,” noted Dr. Christina Jarvis

“We will be honoring these four late English faculty members, and the students will be choosing readings that honor their favorite authors and the teaching legacies of these professors.” - Dr. Christina Jarvis

“We're aiming to bring together current and prospective students as well as campus and community members through the Fredonia Literary Festival,” said Department of English Associate Professor Bruce Simon.

Two faculty members and alumni that include Buffalo’s inaugural Poet Laureate, Jillian Hanesworth,’15, will give poetry readings beginning at 6 p.m. in the Blue Lounge. Ms. Hanesworth is a community activist and founder of Literacy Freedom, LLC. Music performers that include current students and recent alumni will perform at 8 p.m.

The festival coincides with the rollout of the university’s new B.A. in Writing and commemoration of April as National Poetry Month, and Go Big Blue Day, a reception for incoming accepted students.

“By incorporating goals and traditions from the Al Dunn Day of Poetry and Prose, we want to welcome families, friends, and former students of Fredonia English faculty, past and present, to join in this vibrant and diverse celebration of the power of language and image in the 21st century!” Dr. Simon remarked. The Albert Dunn Day of Poetry and Prose was a celebration of literature and a fundraiser to endow Albert Dunn scholarships and book awards through the Fredonia College Foundation.

“We've received input from family members on favorite authors, and we are thrilled that many of them will be in attendance,” said Dr. Jarvis. “It will also be a great chance for family members to meet some of the students who have received awards given/endowed in Mac Nelson's and Al Dunn's name.” Many of the family members have given generously for awards and scholarships through the foundation.

The festival opens with a book fair at 10 a.m. in the Multipurpose Room, featuring local authors, campus and community organization, such as Writers’ Ring and the student literary magazine The Trident, and a book sale conducted by Sigma Tau Delta, the Fredonia chapter of the international English Honor Society.

“This literary festival is a much bigger event,” commented Jarvis, who will welcome guests at the memorial readings and celebration in the adjacent Blue Lounge at 4 p.m.

Brief tributes will be made by Simon to: Dr. Albert Dunn, who taught Victorian, Romantic and Russian literature, at 4:10 p.m.; Dr. Malcolm “Mac” Nelson, who taught Shakespeare and a wide range of British literature courses, 4:30 p.m.; Dr. Stephen Warner, who taught American literature, 4:50 p.m.; and Colin “Tom” Craig, who taught English 101, Drama and Film, and Novels and Tales, 5:10 p.m. Students enrolled in ENGL 400: Senior Seminar will help facilitate the readings.

Students will choose readings that honor their favorite authors and the teaching legacies of these professors, Jarvis said.

The festival is supported by the Carnahan Jackson Fund for the Humanities and Mary Louise White Fund, both established with the Fredonia College Foundation. It is co-sponsored by the Department of English, Mary Louise White Visiting Writers Series, Writers@Work, Writers' Ring, Sigma Tau Delta, The Trident literary magazine and the English Senior Seminar.

You May Also Like

Simon recognized for faculty leadership

Marketing and Communications staff

Dr. Bruce Simon of the Department of English was the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award from SUNY University Faculty Senate in April.