UNION — USC Union’s third-annual Upcountry Literary Festival closed on Saturday after two days filled with presentations from authors, poets, storytellers, playwrights and musicians.
The Upcountry Litererary Festival culminated with a keynote address from Hendersonville, N.C. native Robert Morgan. Morgan is a novelist, poet, biographer and short story writer who has taught at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. since 1971.
Along with prize winning novels, Morgan has also published many essays, short stories and poems. He utilizes Appalachian culture in both his poetry and style, even though he has lived the majority of his adult life in New York.
Morgan — an Academy Award winner in Literature — is best known for his books, “Gap Creek” and “Boone.” “Gap Creek” is a New York times Bestseller which was an Oprah’s Book Club featured selection in January 2000 and named Book of the Year by the Association of Appalachian Writers. It is about a poor young couple living in the Carolina mountains during the 1900s, the hardships they face and the strength of a young woman who refuses to give up. “Boone,” a national bestseller, comes strongly recommended as it tells the story of Daniel Boone, his complex character and his heroic life.
In addition to being the festival’s keynote speaker, Morgan was the recipient of the festival’s second William “Singing Billy” Walker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Letters.
The first Walker Award was given last year to author Fred Chappell, a teacher of Morgan’s, and festival organizer Professor Randy Ivey said Morgan was the natural recipient for this second Walker Award.
“The Walker Award is given to someone whose work reflects the best values of this area,” Ivey said. “He has excelled as a poet, biographer and author in the southern literary tradition.”
Ivey, who is an author himself, also presented during Saturday’s festivities by reading his short story “Vera Tuck: Memoir and Requiem.” The story won the York County Arts Council Award for Fiction in 2006 and was published this year by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.
Other presentations on Saturday included “The Keowee Waltzes,” as performed by Lucinda Shields and introduced by Karen Stokes, who presented on Friday and was the recipient of the 2013 Tandy R. Willis Award for Most Promising Writer. Children’s author Melinda Long also presented on Saturday, as well as fiction writers Thomas McConnell and Brock Adams.
Ivey said he already looks forward to next year’s festival which will be held March 21-22, 2014.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.