This time of year is known for writing conferences and festivals. In the first three months of the year, literary festivals happen all over the world. Here are a few highlights of the late winter/early spring festival season.
The Jaipur Literature Festival in Jaipur, India, broke its previous attendance record when around 330,000 people showed up this past January. The festival, known for hosting political sessions, focused a lot on the idea of freedom of expression, a subject of anxiety for many Indian liberals. Some of the notable writers who attended and spoke included Margaret Atwood, Aleksander Hemon, and Thomas Piketty.
Pakistan’s famous literary festival, Lahore Literary Festival, attracted many attendees over the course of its two days. The festival, which took place on Feb. 20 and 21, has been described as becoming “a forum for the exchange of liberal thought across the Muslim world.” Speakers included outspoken Egyptian-American feminist Mona Eltahawy and author of A Case of Exploding Mangos, Muhammad Zia ul Haq.
Writefest is a new literary festival hosted by Writespace in Houston, Texas. The festival aims to focus on new and emerging writers, billing itself as “a festival for emerging writers led by writers and literary journal editors.” It took place on Feb. 22 through Feb 28 at Silver Street Studios in Houston.
Media Diversified has organized the first UK literary festival for writers of color. It took place between Feb 26 and 28 in London. Events at the festival focused on addressing the question of what it means to be a writer of color in this century.
Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, is hosting its first annual three-day festival by the name of LitFest that begins March 3. The festival has come as a result of the rapid growth in the past five years of the school’s literary magazine, The Common. LitFest will include Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Michael Chabon and Stacy Schiff, among other writers. The festival is free and open to the public.
The sixth annual Berkshire Festival of Women Writers will take place from March 12-20. The festival works to create spaces for women of all ages and backgrounds to share their experiences and improve their writing. Some of the events include a brunch talk, a reading by Monument Mountain High School students and a spoken word workshop. This year, organizers expect to have around 1,000 attendees.
Emily Ramser is an undergraduate studying English, Creative Writing, and Religion at Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing, and is expected to graduate in May of 2017. Some of her inspirations include Thornton Wilder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Bhanu Kapil, Andrea Gibson, Gabriel Gudding, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Gail Simone, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Check out her black out poetry collection I Forgot How to Write When They Diagnosed Me. You can find more of her work at her blog.