The Deckle Edge Literary Festival will offer Columbians a chance to celebrate writing and books.
It’s the second year of the four-day festival, which runs Thursday, Feb. 23-Sunday, Feb. 26. The event was born when the Humanities Council SC announced it would dissolve the 17-year-old South Carolina Book Festival.
The festival, Deckle Edge – named after the rough, uncut edges of paper formed by the deckle device in a paper-making machine – will feature local and nationally renowned authors.
This year’s event includes more children’s and family programming, along with sessions on writing, activism, the Charleston church killings, 2015 floods and more. Several author discussions also are planned.
There are too many good sessions to mention, so we’ve picked five here:
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. will read from “Grant Park,” his most recent novel and the One Book, One Community selection. Pitts’ book, “Grant Park,” is this year’s One Book selection. 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23 at 701 Whaley, 701 Whaley St.
Journalist and author Cokie Roberts will speak on the importance of women’s history and how her books for children grew naturally out of her adult offerings, from “Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation” to “Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868.” Her most recent work is a picture book, “Ladies of Liberty: The Women who Shaped Our Nation,” written with Diane Goode. 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24 at Richland Library, 1431 Assembly St.
“Beheld: Fantasy for Young Adults” features adult author Alex Flinn, the New York Times bestselling author of 12 novels including “Beastly” and, her newest novel, “Beheld,” which she discusses for Deckle Edge. 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 at Richland Library, 1431 Assembly St.
“Graphic Novels and Comics” will be led by Shigeharu Kobayashi, discussing graphic novels and comics. 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 at Richland Library, 1431 Assembly St.
The Pulpwood Queens come to Columbia, with Pattie Welek Hall, ambassador for the international meet-and-greet book club sensation, along with Shari Stauch. The world’s largest book club with more than 4,000 members has been featured on “Oprah,” “Good Morning America” as well as in Variety, The New York Times, Oxford American, Newsweek, and more. The Queens are known for their yearly Girlfriends’ Weekends in which book authors serve readers’ dinners and other shenanigans ensue. 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 at S.C. Bar Association Conference Center, 1501 Park St.
Festival organizer Annie Boiter-Jolley shared a bit about this year’s festival.
Q: This is the second festival. How has this one been easier or more difficult to organize?
Boiter-Jolley: We’ve definitely learned from our experiences with the festival last year, which has been helpful. We’ve also benefited from at least a degree of name recognition this year. On the other hand, we also know that expectations are likely higher for a second-year festival, so we’re doing our best to live up to and exceed the standards we set last year.
Q: What is the most exciting thing about this year’s festival?
Boiter-Jolley: I’m excited about our expanded children’s and family programming, which will be closer to what veterans of the S.C. Book Festival may remember from years past. I’m also excited that our program venues will be a little closer together and more contiguous than they were last year – we’re primarily using spaces in Richland Library Main, St. Peter’s Catholic Church, the S.C. Bar Association Conference Center, and the Art Bar – which should allow more people to attend more sessions that interest them. Most importantly, though, I’m really excited about the range of programs the festival offers this year – we have sessions that cover everything from YA (young adult) fantasy to Southern cooking, writing Southern activism to responding to natural disasters, naturalism to graphic novels, and women’s history (a conversation with Cokie Roberts!) to addressing racism through poetry.
Q: What have been your challenges?
Boiter-Jolley: In addition to working with a smaller budget, I believe our greatest challenge is making this all happen with an all-volunteer staff. While some of us have literary and other arts-related day jobs, every one of the festival organizers is involved with Deckle Edge because they believe that Columbia needs a literary festival, and puts in incredibly hard work out of the goodness of their hearts and their love for connecting people with writers and the written word.
Q: What are the rewards?
Boiter-Jolley: Helping to raise the status of Columbia as a “literary town” is great. But for me personally, the biggest reward is that I get to spend a weekend in February at a literary festival.
If you go
Deckle Edge Literary Festival
WHEN: Various times Thursday, Feb. 23-Sunday, Feb. 26
WHERE: Various locations in downtown Columbia
SCHEDULES AND OTHER INFO: www.deckleedgesc.org