Writers’ Festival unites artistic minds

Creative souls will find a place to share their voice in the upcoming Writers’ Festival Jan. 6-9.

English Professor Dr. Audell Shelburne has directed the festival every year since 2003. Attendees this year may take part in a coffee house Open Mic in Shelton Theater, lectures and workshops in art, song writing, prose and poetry.

Alan Berecka started attending the festival after being accepted in 2000 to Windhover, a Christian literary journal.

“My poems first appeared in Vol. 5 of the Windhover. I was invited to read in that year …. I haven’t missed a festival since,” he said.

The Writers’ Festival is a place where he fine-tunes his craft.

“The chance to meet other writers and workshop with major poets (has) been central to my creative life and the development of my craft,” Berecka said.

In January, Berecka might read some poems from his collection The Comic Flaw.

“There’s a core group of us who have grown into a little family, along with the UMHB English and art faculty …. Every January I’m hauling up 77 North to Cameron and then on to Belton,” Berecka said.

He is looking forward to attending the readings and “to hearing all the familiar voices, hearing what everyone has been working on, and learning about other writers.”

Anne McCrady first attended the festival as a member of a panel of poets from the Poetry Society of Texas.

“Over the years, I have made so many wonderful friends. Now, I feel like I have become part of the UMHB Writers Festival family,” she said.

Attendees may sign up for a small-group master class taught by acclaimed writers. This year Myra McLarey will be teaching a prose workshop, and Kelly Cherry will teach a workshop on poetry. McCrady said she looks forward most to the master classes.

“It is an opportunity to have a skilled leader moderate a group of dedicated writers who share ideas about each other’s work, she said.”

McCrady is thankful for the annual festival.

“Every year I am amazed at the support and hospitality given to this event in terms of great speakers and wonderful sessions. Writing can be a lonely endeavor; it is affirming to be with other writers and to enjoy creative discussion,” she said.

Shelburne said students, faculty and staff may attend the festival for free. If they want to attend the dinners during the weekend, they need to talk to him to make reservations.

He said,“This festival offers a good opportunity for students and writers to meet others who want to improve their writing. It also gives people a chance to hear some great prose and poetry and to get feedback from other writers.”

Author: Evangeline Grace Ciupek

Evangeline Grace Ciupek is currently studying English at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and plans to graduate in May 2011. She joined The Bells staff Spring 2009. She is usually found reading enormous books assigned to her by professors, battling bugs in her parents' garden, playing acoustic guitar, or knitting the lone sock she's been working on since last Thanksgiving. While a career in journalism remains somewhat undesirable to her, Evangeline is grateful for the opportunity to improve her writing skills through involvement on The Bells staff. Her dream career would be that of a starving artist.

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