There’s a new literary festival in town, and it’s a little rough around the edges.
The Deckle Edge Literary Festival – named for the uneven edges of paper formed by the deckle device in a papermaking machine – will be held Thursday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 21 at various locations around Columbia.
Deckle Edge is a quasi replacement for the S.C. Book Festival, which dissolved this summer after a 17-year run. Officials with the Humanities Council of South Carolina said the original festival will continue with smaller programming throughout the year.
Annie Boiter-Jolley, operations manager for Jasper Magazine, and local writer Darien Cavanaugh stepped in to fill the void.
“We hope that people who have loved coming to the festival in the past will find a new home with Deckle Edge,” Boiter-Jolley said. “We also want to appeal to new audiences, people that might not have been super interested in past festivals.”
Boiter-Jolley and her team have been working nonstop to coordinate readings, book signings, panel presentations, exhibitors, writers’ workshops, literary dinners and activities for children and young adult readers.
“It’s obviously our first year, so we’re a little bit smaller than past book festivals. We’re trying to make it manageable and get our feet wet,” she said.
Still, there’s more than enough programming to keep the most ardent book lover occupied. Here, we’ve selected some of the top events not to miss.
1. Opening party concert and burlesque show
Kick off the weekend’s biblio love fest by celebrating the books that some people have tried to stop us from reading. Banned Books Burlesque of Tampa, Fla., will perform live burlesque interpretations of banned books, including the Harry Potter series, “Gone With the Wind,” and “The Great Gatsby.”
“The cast of BBB guarantees a tantalizing look at censorship, great literature and the art of the tease,” Deckle Edge organizers said. There also will be a music performance by She Returns From War and Stefanie Santana. The Whig will be there manning the bar.
7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19 at Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. $10.
2. Superstars of Southern Fiction
Best-selling author Mary Alice Monroe knows a thing or two about Southern fiction. The literary leading lady regularly makes the Lowcountry the setting for her novels, from tales about swimming with dolphins on Sullivan’s Island to tending sea turtle nests on Isle of Palms. Monroe is a master of the beach read genre, but she also finds ways to inform readers about serious issues. Learn how she works her magic during this session.
3:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 at Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. Free.
3. Poets Respond to Race
This session features local poets Al Black and Len Lawson, who founded the initiative Poets Respond to Race. Black and Lawson organize art exhibits and hold open forums that are meant to offer a gateway into tough discussions on race and diversity.
9:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 at Jasper Beer Hall, 1216 Taylor St. Free.
4. X Marks the Spot dinner
Calling all boozy book lovers! Have at it at this cocktail hour followed by a nine-course meal (with each course paired with more wines and cocktails). Diners will be joined by special guests Julia Elliott, author of “The Wilds” and “The New and Improved Romie Futch,” and George Singleton, author of “These People Are Us.” The dinner is limited to 40 guests and will be at a mystery location. We’re hoping there are treasure maps involved.
7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20. Location to be announced. $100.
5. Literary Eat & Greet with Deckle Edge authors
If you don’t have $100 to spare for the X Marks the Spot shindig, a cheaper option is the Literary Eat & Greet. Mingle with authors and peruse exhibitor tables while enjoying heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
6:30 p.m. Sat., Feb. 20 at Agape Conference Center, 1620 Main St. $10.
6. “Overcoming Creative Anxiety: 5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Writing & Remain Calm”
If you want to be a writer but procrastinate, cry or generally freak out whenever you sit down to write, this workshop is for you. Writing coach Cassie Premo-Steele will teach you practical techniques to reduce anxiety about all aspects of writing, including the brainstorm, draft, completion, revision, and submission process.
9-10:15 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, location to be announced. $30.
7. A Talk With Hank Phillippi Ryan
Catch this talk with mystery writer Hank Phillippi Ryan, a best-selling author of eight mystery novels. Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter, and her recently released crime novel “What You See” has been nominated for an Agatha Award (essentially the Heisman for mystery writers) for Best Contemporary Novel.
12:30-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20 at Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. Free.
8. “One Book, One Community” author event featuring Carla Damron
Damron is the author of “The Stone Necklace,” a novel set in Columbia that was selected for this year’s “One Book, One Community” initiative. The monthlong citywide reading initiative encourages residents to read the same book at the same time. If you haven’t checked out the book yet, do it here.
4:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21 at Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. Free.
9. Richland Library Local Author Showcase
Meet 30 talented local authors during Richland Library’s Local Author Showcase. Authors will be selling and signing their works. Genres include poetry, history, inspirational and mystery.
Noon-3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21 at Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. Free.
10. S.C. First Novel Prize winners
The S.C. First Novel Prize is a yearly contest that recognizes one of South Carolina’s exceptional new writers. Previous winners Matt Matthews (2010, “Mercy Creek”), Susan Tekulve (2012, “In the Garden of Stone”) and James E. McTeer (2014, “Minnow”) come together to discuss their successful debuts, which were all published with Spartanburg’s Hub City Press.
11 a.m.-noon Saturday, Feb. 20 at Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. Free.
Erin Shaw, email@example.com
If you go
Deckle Edge Literary Festival
WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 18-Sunday, Feb. 21
WHERE: Various locations in downtown Columbia
INFO: For a full schedule of events and a list of authors, visit deckleedgesc.org.