Check out what’s in store for the 2019 festival!

22 Mar 22 Mar 2019 Friday, 22 Mar 2019 23 Mar 23 Mar 2019 Saturday, 23 Mar 2019
  • 7:00 pm

    Keynote Address and Southern Truth Award Celebration

    Deckle Edge Literary Festival welcomes award-winning author Dorothy Allison as the keynote speaker and recipient of the second annual Deckle Edge Literary Festival Southern Truth Award. Allison will speak at the Booker T. Washington Auditorium at the University of South Carolina on Friday, March 22nd at 7 pm in an engagement sponsored by the USC Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

    Allison is the author of Trash (1988), a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories, the multi-award winning Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), Cavedweller (1998), which became a New York Times bestseller, and more. She has written for the Village Voice, Conditions, and New York Native and won several Lambda Awards. Bastard Out of Carolina was a finalist for the National Book Award, the winner of the Ferro Grumley Prize, was translated into more than a dozen languages and became a bestseller and award winning film directed by Anjelica Huston. Allison is a recent inductee into the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

    A native of Greenville, SC, Allison’s writings frequently reference the class struggles and social alienation she experienced as a child growing up gay, impoverished, and the first child of a 15-year-old unwed mother in the conservative SC upstate. Bastard Out of Carolina also details the sexual abuse she endured throughout childhood at the hands of her step-father. The New York Times Book Review calls the book, “As close to flawless as a reader could ask for.”

    Allison will be awarded the Deckle Edge Literary Festival Southern Truth Award on Friday evening, March 22nd. The Southern Truth award, whose first recipient in 2018 was Nikky Finny, is awarded to a Southern author whose body of work exemplifies the complexity of the South’s history, celebrates the gifts of the South’s diverse peoples, and enhances the narrative of the South by focusing on the progress we make and the continued work before us.

  • 4:00 pm - 4:50 pm

    Historic Columbia @ Deckle Edge

    Historic Columbia staff will discuss the challenges and achievements of its recent public history efforts, including the reinterpretation of the Hampton-Preston Mansion, which explores the lives of all the people who once lived there, and the upcoming launch of City of Women, a co-partnership with WREN that celebrates the lives and legacies of the city’s remarkable women.

  • 3:00 pm - 3:50 pm

    State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love

    Editor Aida Rogers leads a conversation on writing about place, featuring contributers to State of the Heart Vol. 3 Kendra Hamilton, Kristine Hartvigsen, and Jane Zenger.

  • 4:00 pm - 4:50 pm

    Wild, Wonderful ‘n Wacky: The Birth of an Anthology

    Sandy Richardson will lead the panel through a discussion on the joys and woes of creating an anthology including what to do, what NOT to do, soliciting submissions, to pay or not to pay, making difficult choices, critiques and edits, finding a theme, structuring the book, and marketing. Panelists will chime in from their perspectives of the critique and editing processes. Time permitting, each panelist will read excerpts from their published pieces included in Wild, Wonderful ‘n Wacky, South Cackalacky. The audience is encouraged to ask questions throughout.

  • 4:00 pm - 4:50 pm

    The Soul of a Nation: The Life and Times of James Arthur Baldwin

    Today’s leading artists and critical thinkers continue to return to the wisdom of James Baldwin. Raoul Peck’s I am Not Your Negro (2017) and Barry Jenkins’ feature-length film If Beale Street Could Talk (2019), reveal and ever-growing public infatuation.

    As an artist and thinker, Baldwin is celebrated for his social commentary, eloquent oratory skills, and literary sophistication. His views on race, whiteness, American and western histories, aesthetics, religion, and the human condition quickly established him as a literary institution and indispensable fountain for generations of thinkers and doers.

    In this public conversation, poet Monifa Lemons and philosopher Nathaniel Naomi Simmons-Thorne, will contend with the intellectual’s magnanimous body of work, and grapple with his haunting prophecies for Today’s America.

    Presented by The Watering Hole

  • 4:00 pm - 4:50 pm

    Voices from the Rural Project: Unconventional Documentary Storytelling Techniques and Methods

    Join us for a conversation about documentary methodology and storytelling in the Rural South with three filmmakers from the 2019 Indie Grits Labs Fellowship. Each filmmaker will share their experiences developing short documentaries over the nine months as a part of the Rural Project. The conversation will explore perspective, voice, ethics, experimental structures, narrative arcs, and working with youth.

  • 3:00 pm - 3:50 pm

    The Metronome of Verse

    Singer/songwriter Lang Owen, and Poets Ann-Chadwell Humphries and Al Black explore the connectivity of rhythm and words.

  • 2:00 pm

    Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy

    Pat Conroy Literary Center Excutive Director Jonathan Haupt in conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker, her son and fellow writer John Connor Cleveland, historian Alexia Jones Helsley, and novelist Bren McClain.

  • 9:30 am - 5:00 pm

    Saturday Grid Schedule

  • 3:00 pm - 3:50 pm

    Border Rovers: Women Fabulists Writing in the South

    Over the past few decades, writers have begun to blur the boundary between “literary” and “genre,” challenging the primacy of “realism” with innovative forms of fabulism. Today, a rich array of women writers use fantasy, fables, fairy tales, horror, and sci-fi tropes to voice complex aspects of gender, sexuality, class, and race. This panel will explore ways that contemporary female writers living in the South invent radical new forms of lyricism and storytelling to contend with the complexities of identity in an increasingly interconnected world.

  • 3:00 pm - 3:50 pm

    Going to School in Black and White

    Cindy Waszak Geary and LaHoma Smith Romocki discuss the experiences that inspired Going to School in Black and White: A Dual Memoir of Desegregation.


    The school careers of two teenage girls who lived across town from each other – one black, one white – were altered by a court-ordered desegregation plan for Durham, NC in 1970. This plan thrust each of them involuntarily out of their comfort zones and into new racial landscapes. LaHoma and Cindy eventually both found themselves at the same high school from different sides of a court-ordered racial “balancing act.” Each moved from safe, familiar, insulated, and segregated communities to a wider, unknown, and potentially unsafe world with dissimilar “others.” Their experiences, recounted in alternating first person narratives, were the literal embodiment of desegregation policies, situated in a particular time and place. Their intertwining coming of age stories are part of a bigger story about America, education and race — and about how the personal relates to the political.

    This dual memoir covers their life trajectories from early school days to future careers working in global public health, challenging gender biases, racial inequities, and health disparities. LaHoma and Cindy tell their stories aware of the country’s return to de facto school segregation, achieved through the long-term dismantling of policies that initially informed their school assignments. As adults, they consider the influence of school desegregation on their current lives and the value of bringing all of us into conversation about what is lost or gained when children go to school in black and white.

  • 2:00 pm

    A Voice for Change

    Words can be a powerful vehicle social justice. Panelists will discuss how they use their voices to impact the world by raising awareness and presenting critical political perspectives.

    Moderated by Carla Damron.

  • 2:00 pm

    Voces Nuevas: Raising Latinx Voices in South Carolina

    Still under heard and often unseen, the marginalized voice of South Carolina’s Hispanic and Latino community is booming. The Voces Nuevas panel consists of four bilingual writers, established and emerging, that call the Carolinas home. Join us as each share examples of their work, help define what being “Latinx” is, discuss social issues relevant to Hispanics, and explain why the voice and faces of writers is changing in the Palmetto state. Be ready for an engaging presentation and an audience Q&A designed to be interactive.

  • 2:00 pm

    On Writing & Teaching

    Authors Jeremy Griffin and Greg Shemkovitz discuss their latest work and explore the interactions between their writing lives and teaching lives.

    Moderated by James D. McCallister.

  • 1:00 pm

    The Narrative Art of Boyd Saunders: A Conversation with the Artist

    In this session Columbia-based arts writer and Jasper Magazine assistant editor Kyle Petersen talks one-on-one with Boyd Saunders, USC Professor Emeritus and the subject of Thomas Dewey II’s new book, A View from the South: The Narrative Art of Boyd Saunders (USC PRess, 2019) about his life as a print-maker and the influence of Southern literature on his work.

  • 1:00 pm

    Storytelling Off the Page

    Novelist Derek Berry, actor/speaker Shannon Ivey, and playwright Jon Tuttle discuss taking the written word “off the page” through spoken word, story slams, and theatrical production.

  • 1:00 pm

    Smack Dab in the Middle of Deckle Edge: YA Mystery with Jo Watson Hackl

    A conversation with Jo Watson Hackl, author of Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe.

    About the book:

    In Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe, 12-year-old Cricket and a field cricket named Charlene find adventure in an overgrown ghost town in Electric City, Mississippi. They follow a thirty-year-old clue trail left by an eccentric artist in search of a secret room that may or may not exist–all to try to win back Cricket’s run-away mother. Cricket must use her wits and just a smidgen of luck to live off the land in a Mississippi winter and put together the pieces of an increasingly baffling puzzle. As she works toward uncovering the final clues, Cricket meets the reclusive last resident of the ghost town, enlists the help of a poetry-loving dog, and takes up a touch of grave-robbing.

  • 12:00 pm

    Wakanda Now and Forever: Poetry and the Evolution of the Black Comic Universe

    In the 2010’s a renaissance of the black hero protagonist has occurred in popular culture with the pinnacle being the rise of Marvel’s Black Panther, one of the highest grossing films of all time. Through their poetry and discussion, Len Lawson and Ashley Harris will explore this explosion of black heroes in comics and video games with discourse on race, social justice, and intersectionality.


    Boxed lunches, to be picked up and enjoyed in the Auditorium during this session, are available for pre-order here. To guarantee availability and selection, please place your order by noon on Thursday, March 21st.

    Outside food is not allowed in the library, and boxed lunches must be consumed in the Auditorium.

  • 11:00 am

    The Detective in the South

    To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, “Down the mean streets a detective, man or woman, must go, who is not himself or herself mean.” What happens when those mean streets happen to be in the American South? Does the setting change the crime or detective, or both? Join us for a lively discussion involving traditional and unique fictional detectives whose investigations have a Southern flair!

    Moderated by Paula Gail Benson.

  • 11:00 am

    A Group Reading from Archive: SC Poetry Since 2005

    This group poetry reading will feature nine of the 46 contributors to the new anthology Archive: South Carolina Poetry Since 2005, newly-published from Greenville’s Ninty-Six Press, the first major anthology of SC poetry in over a decade. Come see a wide range of poetic voices from across our state!

    Moderated by Jeff Makala.

  • 11:00 am

    De Gullah/Geechee: Voices of a Living African Legacy

    The Gullah/Geechee are the living embodiment of a group whose collective voice has been marginalized and relegated to storytelling as entertainment in order to keep the south in the manner that others want to know it. This has not allowed the voice of self-determination and cultural continuation to truly be heard until now. Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation who has dedicated her life as “The Art-ivist” to insure that the accurate story of the Gullah/Geechee historical legacy and language are known throughout the world will be joined by native Gullah/Geechee playwright and poet,. Elder Carlie Towne, motivational speaker and poet, Anastatia Ketchens, and journalist Glenda Simmons-Jenkins in this interactive panel bringing out the native voice of the Gullah/Geechee Nation through the written word, spoken word, and song.

  • 11:00 am

    Jasper Presents: A Conversation with Kerry Egan

    Author of Fumbling: A Pilgrimmage Tale of Love, Greif, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino De Santiago (2012) and On Living (2017), Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain and graduate of Harvard Divinity School whose work has as much secular appeal as it has spiritual. Founder and executive director of the Jasper Project and a writer herself, Cindi Boiter sits with Egan for an in-depth discussion of her memoir On Living, the journey to and through the writing of the book and beyond.

  • 10:30 am
    Storytime Room

    Celebrating Our Voice Storytime

    Bonita Peeples and Darion McCloud give voice to Coretta Scott King Illustrator Medal-winning picture books accompanied by original music composed by Molly Ledford.

  • 10:00 am

    Dorothy Allison in Conversation with Bren McClain

    Award-winning author and Deckle Edge’s 2019 Southern Truth Award recipient Dorothy Allison sits down for a conversation with author Bren McClain to kick things off on Saturday morning.

  • 1:00 pm

    LatinX ARTivism in South Carolina

    Latinx leaders speak about their efforts to foster literary creation in the Latino community in South Carolina. This panel discussion, lead by Ivan Segura, Executive Director of Palmetto Luna Arts, explores the way ARTivists use creativity, flexibility and partnerships as main tools to amplify the power of Latino voices. Panelists include Latino writers from across the state: Nilsy Rapalo from Charleston, Juan Gonzales from Greenville and Juan David Cruz from Clinton. They will discuss how they have managed to be successful in promoting the advancement of the Latino community in South Carolina while overcoming array of issues and challenges.