UNION — USC Union will be the host to the sixth annual Upcountry Literary Festival this year on Friday, March 18 from 1-5 p.m., and Saturday, March 19 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 their regular hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) to purchase books that will be presented at the festival. They will also open on Saturday of the festival from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Friday, March 18, 1-5 p.m.
• 1:05-1:25 p.m. — Lisa Hammond
Hammond is a Professor of English at USC Lancaster. She won the 2006 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2007 with her chapbook of poetry, Moving House. Her poems have appeared in The South Carolina Review, Southern Poetry Review, English Journal and many more.
• 1:25-2:20 p.m. — Jay Mims
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.
• 1:50-2:20 p.m. — James Tate Hill
Hill is the author of Academy Gothic (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2015), winner of the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel. Fiction editor for the literary journal Monkeybicycle, his stories and essays have appeared in Literary Hub, Story Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, and The Texas Review, among others. He holds graduate degrees in creative writing from Hollins University and the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where he served as fiction editor for The Greensboro Review. Originally from West Virginia, he lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lori. Find out more at jamestatehill.com or follow him on Twitter @jamestatehill.
• 2:25-2:45 p.m. — Tally Johnson
Johnson is a graduate of Spartanburg Methodist College and Wofford College with degrees 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 school and libraries and sci-fi conventions all over the Southeast.
• 3-3:45 p.m. — Freddie Vanderford & Brandon Turner
Vanderford, a local favorite, 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, 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.”
• 4-4:45 p.m. — Keynote Speaker: Dr. Shelby Stephenson
The Upcountry Literary Festival is honored to announce the keynote speaker this year will be Dr. Shelby Stephenson.
After leaving the farm for college, Stephenson graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (B.A. 1960) where he also studied law, University of Pittsburgh (M.A. 1967), University of Wisconsin-Madison (Ph.D. 1974), and worked as a radio and television announcer, salesman, right-of-way agent, and farmer. He was professor of English and editor of Pembroke Magazine until his retirement in 2010.
The state of North Carolina presented him with the 2001 North Carolina Award in Literature. And he has received the Bellday Poetry Prize, the Oscar Arnold Young Award, the Zoe Kincaid-Brockman Award, the Brockman-Campbell Award, the Bright Hill Press Chapbook Prize, and the Playwright’s Fund of North Carolina Chapbook Prize. He was installed as North Carolina’s eighth Poet Laureate by Governor Pat McCrory in 2015. He is the Literary Festival’s recipient of the William “Singing Billy” Walker Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Letters. His recent book is a reissue, Fiddledeedee, Press 53.
Saturday, March 19, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
• 9:05-9:25 a.m. — Ray McManus
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.
• 9:30-9:50 a..m. — Mark Powell
Powell is the author of four novels, most recently The Sheltering, the bronze medalist in the International Publishers Awards and the Florida Book Awards. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Breadloaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and in 2014 was a Fulbright Fellow to Slovakia. A graduate of the Citadel, the University of South Carolina, and Yale Divinity School, he is an associate professor and the Heman fellow at Stetson University where he directs the Low-Residency MFA Program.
• 10-10:40 a.m. — New Voices Segment: Colie Touzel and Connie Bull Stillinger
Touzel was born and raised in Conway, South Carolina, but loves to travel as much as possible. She received her Associates in Arts from USC Union with Highest Honors and is currently working on her Bachelor’s degree from USC Upstate as an English major. Colie doesn’t know exactly what she wants to do with her degree, except continue on to grad school, with a focus in creative writing, or wherever life takes her. She loves her dog, Torrence more than anything and is known for telling the occasional corny joke. (the dog isn’t, she is). She aspires to be an inspiration to others, like many of the professors at USC Union, and now Upstate, have been for her.
Stillinger is a 2014 graduate of Converse College with a BFA in Creative and Professional Writing. She does freelance professional writing for various non-profits and medical facilities and works as a Medical Technologist in a critical access hospital. Her creative work has been featured on The Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. She has been published by The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, South 85 Literary Journal and Concept Literary Journal.
• 11:15-11:35 a.m. — Karen Stokes
Stokes has been an archivist with the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston for twenty years. She is the co-editor of Faith, Valor, and Devotion: The Civil War Letters of William Porcher DuBose, and A Confederate Englishman: The Civil War Letters of Henry Wemyss Feilden, both published by the University of South Carolina Press. She is also the author of three non-fiction books published by The History Press: South Carolina Civilians in Sherman’s Path, The Immortal 600, and the newly released Confederate South Carolina. Belles: A Carolina Love Story, inspired by the wartime letters of South Carolinians, was her first venture into historical fiction. She was a past recipient of the festival’s Tandy R. Willis Award for Most Promising Writer. Her newest work of fiction is a historical novel entitled Honor in the Dust.
• 11:40 a.m.-12 p.m. — Daniel O’Shields and Robert Grady
O’Shields is a retired psychotherapist who has practiced in his home state of South Carolina, Colorado, and Utah. He earned a Ph. D. in Counseling Education from the University of South Carolina. Upon his retirement he resettled to his home state and began writing as an avocation. In addition to being the co-author of the new book, Busted Until Christmas, he has written a novel dealing with coming-of-age on the Union Mill Village entitled, Where Have You Gone Ted Williams?. A short story, An Ordinary Man, was published by The Bethlehem Writer’s Roundtable, and articles have been published in Sandlapper, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Watching Backyard Birds, Birds and Blooms, as well as other magazines. In addition Daniel O’Shields has authored several plays for Boogaloo, including, Murder on Apple Road. He and his wife Kathy live in Union.
Grady is retired from Union County Schools after 34 years of service. Of those 34 years, 17 were in the classroom with the remainder serving as Job Placement Coordinator at Union County Career & Technology Center. He has had numerous articles published in technical magazines and journals, including Tech Directions and Home Shop Machinist. He obtained his BA from University of South Carolina; major in History. He has a life-long interest in all things railroad. He currently lives in Union with his wife, Vicki. Since retirement, most of his time has been spent playing in his backyard shop, researching the BU-C railroad, gardening, and most importantly, spending time with his grandchildren.
• 12-12:30 p.m. — Randy Ivey
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. His latest work is a novel, Those Who Knew Him, which is now beginning to market.
• 12:30-12:50 p.m. — Jim Clark
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.
The Upcountry Literary Festival is free to everyone and will be held in the auditorium at USC Union.
The festival and USC Union would like to thank their sponsors: The Switzer Foundation, City of Union, and The Humanities Council.
A full schedule and participant list can be found on USC Union’s website: http://uscunion.sc.edu
For more information, please call Randy Ivey at (864) 424-8057. You can also follow the festival on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/upcountryliteraryfestival
This story was submitted by USC Union.