Second Annual Lit Fest at Wilkes University Honors Juneteenth and Black Writers

by Web Services

A week-long celebration of writers and writing at Wilkes University will include a night in recognition of Juneteenth and the impact of Black writers. The second annual Lit Fest, sponsored by the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing, is being held from June 18 to 23 as part of the program’s annual June residency.

Readings on Sunday, June 19 are a celebration of contemporary Black writers affiliated with the Wilkes program. Readers include alumnus Andre Carter, author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, published in 2022, and Wilkes faculty member Laurie Jean. Jean’s memoir, Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul was named one of the best nonfiction books by black authors by The Root online magazine and was a finalist for the Library of Virginia People’s Choice Award for Nonfiction.

Additional highlights from Lit Fest include:

  • “Journey of the Book” with young adult romance writer Nisha Sharma and sci-fi novelist Ken Liu on Saturday, June 18.
  • A staged reading of an original play by playwright/performer and Wilkes faculty member Christine Renee Miller on Wednesday, June 22.
  • An evening with National Book Award finalist Tim Seibles, novelist Morowa Yejide, fictionist/essayist Ru Freeman and New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot on Thursday, June 23.

All events will be held under a tent on the University’s Fenner Quadrangle, with a rain location in the Henry Student Center ballroom at 84 W. South St. Food trucks will be on site and attendees are welcome to bring chairs or blankets for a casual evening in celebration of the written word.

All LitFest events are free and open to the public. More information at


7 p.m.       Journey of a Book: An interview with young adult romance writer Nisha Sharma and sci-fi novelist Ken Liu on the publication of their new books, followed by short readings and book signings. 


6 p.m.       Juneteenth: Readings and Book Signings by Contemporary Black Writers

                  6 p.m.        Music and food

                  6:30 p.m.  Laurie Jean, memoir

                                    Shanta Lee Gander, poetry

                                    Felice Belle, poetry

                                    Andre Carter, novelist

Christopher John Farley, YA


4:30 p.m. Readings with Wilkes Alumni

                  Jen Bokal, Jackie Fowler, Suzanne Ohlmann, Barb Taylor

7 p.m.       Readings from Wilkes Faculty

                  David Hicks, J. Michael Lennon, Taylor Polites,  Nancy McKinley


7 p.m.       Readings from Wilkes Faculty

                  Taylor Polites, Robert Mooney, Kaylie Jones, Phil Brady


7 p.m.        Staged readings of original plays of Wilkes Faculty

                  Christine Renee Miller and Gregory Fletcher


7 p.m.       Featured Readings

                  Morowa Yejide, novelist

                  Ru Freeman, stories/essays

                  Margaret Talbot, New Yorker journalist

                  Tim Seibles, poet

About the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing 

The mission of the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing is to educate students in the craft, community and career of seven areas of study — fiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, creative nonfiction, publishing and spoken word — through a commitment to excellent mentorships, publishing opportunities and industry-specific internships. The program offers a nationally ranked graduate creative writing experience where students and faculty find the writing support, community and market opportunities to become lifelong, productive, professional writers.

The Graduate Creative Writing program is offered in two formats. In the low-residency format, students learn online during the project semester and usually attend eight-day in-person residencies each January and June. For the weekender program, students learn online and attend four online weekend class sessions each term as well as one in-person residency during the program. Learn more at

You may also like