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Early Spring Literary Festival to feature Illinois Poet Laureate

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Kevin Stein

Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein, a professor at Bradley University, will be featured in three events of the Early Spring Literary Festival.

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3/3/2011 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts & Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein will be among the writers featured at the Early Spring Literary Festival at the University of Illinois March 13-16.

Events, free and open to the public, are in the Author’s Corner of the Illini Union Bookstore, 809 S. Wright St., Champaign, unless otherwise noted. The festival is a part of the Carr Reading Series, sponsored by the creative writing program in the department of English.

Stein, the Caterpillar professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Bradley University, has won numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship and four Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards.

On March 14 (Monday), he will speak on “Poetry’s Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age” at 2 p.m., and at 4:30 p.m., he will read his poetry.

Stein also will participate in a performance of “Prayers for the People: Carl Sandburg’s Poetry & Songs” at Smith Memorial Hall, 805 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana, at 7:30 p.m. The musical and spoken-word performance echoes the lecture-recital style of Sandburg, a poet and author from Galesburg, Ill., who won three Pulitzer Prizes. The performance also will feature readings by Janice Harrington, a U. of I. English professor.

On March 15 (Tuesday) at 10 a.m., in a session called “Bearing Witness,” a panel of writers will discuss the use of memory as a resource for giving testimony to difficult histories.

Panelists: Sue William Silverman, whose history of sexual abuse and addiction formed the basis for her memoirs “Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You,” and “Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction”; Peter Orner, an award-winning novelist who has turned to nonfiction to document the oral histories of Zimbabweans living under the Mugabe regime as well as the stories of illegal immigrants; Cary Nelson, a U. of I. professor of English and of Jewish culture and society, who will share poetry of the Holocaust; and U. of I. English professor Philip Graham, who has written memoirs about living in Portugal and among the Beng of the Ivory Coast.

Orner and Silverman also will read from their books at 4:30 p.m. Orner’s 2001 short-story collection, “Esther Stories,” won numerous awards and was a New York Times Notable Book. Silverman’s memoir “Love Sick” became a Lifetime movie. She teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Also on March 15, at 2 p.m., a panel of writers and musicians will discuss the craft of writing about music, ranging from reviews to journalism to fiction. This session, dubbed “Liner Notes for MP3s,” will feature Dave Housley, the author of the short-story collection “Ryan Seacrest is Famous”; Jim Ruland, the author of the short-story collection “Big Lonesome”; Seth Fein, of the Nicodemus Agency; and Doug Hoepker, of Smile Politely, Champaign-Urbana’s online magazine.

Other events in the festival include readings by local authors, faculty members and winners of the 2011 student writing awards. Details are at

The Carr Reading Series is made possible by a gift from Robert J. and Katherin Carr.

The Sandburg event is also sponsored by the U. of I. Library, the School of Music and the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, which houses the Sandburg archives.

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