UNION — USC Union will be the host to the seventh annual Upcountry Literary Festival this year on Friday, March 24 from 1-5 p.m. and Saturday, March 25 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Main Building Auditorium.
The two day event will showcase a number of nationally and regionally renowned authors, poets, and musical artists as part of the free public event.
The USC Union Campus Shop and Bookstore will be open during regular hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) and a special time on Saturday during the Festival (9 a.m.-1 p.m.) to purchase books that will be presented at the festival.
Literary Festival Presenters
The Upcountry Literary Festival is honored to announce the keynote speaker this year will be Dr. Kelly Cherry, who will also be presented our William “Singing Billy” Walker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Letters. Dr. Cherry is a poet and novelist whose work includes “Augusta Played,” “The Life and Death of Poetry,” and “Dr. Joyce Brothers and Me,” among many others. Her work is accessible, humorous, and “serious” in that most engaging way. Along with other numerous awards and honors, Dr. Cherry was named Virginia’s Poet Laureate by their Governor Bob McDonnell in 2010 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2016.
Ellen Malphrus is an associate professor of English, at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Her teaching interests include fiction, poetry, creative writing, and courses in Southern Literature and American Literature. Her novel, “Untying the Moon,” was awarded the 2016 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Great Santini Fiction Prize.
Jay Mims is a Carolina native who tends to refer to himself in third person. He accidentally adopted his neighbor’s cat, whom he named Eartha Kitty, has a love-hate relationship with a lizard named Bob, and may have adopted a second cat named Meowthezar. Jay’s roommate is a passive-aggressive Dalek named Steve. He writes books and is far funnier on Facebook than in real life, and is getting the hang of Twitter. Jay writes lighthearted murder mysteries revolving around everyone’s favorite private investigator, Dan Landis.
Maureen Ryan Griffin is an award-winning poetry and nonfiction writer. Her work has appeared in many publications such as The Charlotte Observer, Chelsea, and The Texas Review to name a few. She is the author of “Spinning Words into Gold,” a grief workbook entitled “I Will Never Forget You,” and her latest book of poetry, “Ten Thousand Cicadas Can’t Be Wrong.”
Bull Street: A Play by Lee Lawing will receive a Literary Festival Appreciation Award this year. His new play, “Bull Street,” inspired by a friend’s dream, will be performed by the USC Union Players at the Literary Festival. The play is set at the former South Carolina State Hospital on Bull Street which allowed Lawing to created two characters who were well rounded. The play is “…a story that was more thoughtful that just a retelling of a dream,” he said. Lawing won the Young Playwrights Festival competition in Whinterhaven, Florida with his play “Doll.” Other productions include “Prosperity” at the 17th Annual Playwrights Award at Wichita State University in 1991; “Delivering Dad” at the DramaRama Festival in San Francisco in 1997; and “A Murder of Crows” was selected as the best drama at the WIT 2015 Kauai Shorts 10-Minute Play Festival in August 2016.
Tally Johnson is a graduate of Spartanburg Methodist College and Wofford College with a degree in history. He attended graduate school in history at Winthrop. He is employed at the Chester County Library. He is the author of four books on South Carolina ghosts. Ghosts of the South Carolina Upcountry (2005), Ghosts of the South Carolina Midlands (2007), and Ghosts of the Pee Dee (2009), all from the History Press and Civil War Ghosts of South Carolina (2013) for Post Mortem Press. He is also a storyteller, having appeared at schools and libraries and sci-fi conventions all over the Southeast.
Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner are both local favorites. Vanderford is well-known for his love of blues and his famous harmonica. Starting in his teenage years, Vanderford befriended Piedmont Blues harpist, “Peg Leg” Sam Jackson and was captivated by the unique sound of Piedmont Blues. “Peg Leg” taught Vanderford the harmonica licks that formed the foundation of Piedmont Blues after realizing the young teen’s talent. Vanderford continues the tradition and passes on the knowledge that he was taught. In May, 2010 he was awarded the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for maintaining and sharing the tradition of the Piedmont Blues harp. Also on stage with Vanderford is Pacolet native, Brandon Turner. He has been playing with Vanderford since his early teens and is known for his superior guitar work. Turner co-produced Vanderford’s first solo album, “Greasy Greens.”
Barbara Marthal is owner Stories-U-Like, Inc and she provides seminars on the use of storytelling, literature and music in the classroom. She is a Civil War re-enactor, an active member of the Tennessee Society Order of Confederate Rose and a member of the Confederate Belles. She concentrates on giving voice and face to Antebellum American people of African descent and to provide a glimpse into the daily lives of slaves.
Melody Porter and Joey Holland will present as “New Voices of the Literary Festival.” Melody is the GIS tech for the City of Union and her focus is on romance novels. Joey went back to school in order to become a better writer and wants to write a novel with strong autobiographical overtones.
Beckee Garris tale “The Yehasuri the Little Wild Indians”, was published in Trickster: Native American Tales” A Graphic Collection. It is the first graphic anthology of Native American trickster tales to be adapted into comic form.
Randy Ivey has taught English at the University of South Carolina since 1990, starting out as an adjunct instructor. On six occasions he has been named USCU’s Distinguished Teacher of the Year: 1996, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2013. He is the author of a new novel, “Where the Streets Are Paved With Gold,” two story collections, “The Shape of a Man” and “The Mutilation Gypsy,” and a book for children, “Jay and the Bounty of Books.” Twice he received the SC Fiction Project Award for the short story, in 2004 and 2007. He has published nearly 100 stories, poems, essays, and reviews in journals, magazines, and anthologies in the United States and in England, including The South Carolina Review, Emrys Journal, The Charleston Post and Courier, Modern Age, and Appalachian Heritage.
Ray McManus grew up in South Carolina in a working class, Irish-American family that taught him, “the value of keeping things real by looking at them slant.” Years later, he received his MFA in poetry and Ph. D. in Composition and Rhetoric at the University of South Carolina. His book, “Red Dirt Jesus,” was selected as the winner of the Marick Press Poetry Prize in 2010. Marick Press is a literary publisher that awards the best work by poets around the world. He has also won the South Carolina Academy of Authors Fellowship, South Carolina Academy of Authors, James Dickey Writing Award in Poetry and many more. His other book, “Driving Through The Country Before You Are Born,” was published by USC Press in 2007.
Jim Clark was born in Byrdstown, Tennessee. He is the Elizabeth H. Jordan Professor of Southern Literature and Dean of the School of Humanities at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina. His books include “Notions: A Jim Clark Miscellany”; two collections of poetry, “Dancing on Canaan’s Ruins” and “Handiwork”; and he edited “Fable in the Blood: The Selected Poems of Byron Herbert Reece.” His work has appeared in The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, and Denver Quarterly, among others. He has released two solo CDs, “Buried Land” and “The Service of Song,” and three CDs with his band The Near Myths.
James Everett Kibler is a novelist and poet that was raised in upcountry South Carolina. He renovated his 1804 plantation home and it serves as the subject of his book, “Our Fathers’ Fields: A Southern Story.” His poetry has been honored by the Poetry Society of South Carolina and in 2004 he was awarded the Jefferson Davis Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also been presented the Fellowship of Southern Writers Award for Nonfiction in 1999 and the Southern Heritage Society’s Award for Literary Achievement. He enjoys gardening and researching Southern history and culture.
David Shields is Distinguished Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of South Carolina. His books are about early American literature, the history of food, and performing arts photography.
Ronni Lundi, a famed expert on Southern cooking and culture has been presented many honors for her passion and involvement in Southern food and culture. She was a founding member of the Southern Food Alliance, a group that documents and studies the diverse food cultures of the American South, and they awarded her a SFA Lifetime Achievement Award. In her first book, “Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken: The Heart and Soul of Southern Country Kitchens” she displays her love of food, country and bluegrass music. It was named one of the six essential cookbooks about Southern food by Gourmet magazine, and is one of her many award-winning cookbooks.
The event is free to everyone and will be held in the auditorium at USC Union’s Main Building. A full schedule and participant list will be posted on the USC Union website. For more information, please contact Randy Ivey at 864-424-8057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.