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Literary Festival at Shepherd draws literature buffs from around the region

By Staff | Oct 18, 2019

SHEPHERDSTOWN — A slew of activities were held over the weekend with the Danske Dandridge Literary Festival at Shepherd University.

The weekend kicked off on Friday evening with a reading and book signing event, featuring two authors.

Jennifer Grotz, a poet, has published three books, the most recent being “Window Left Open.” A previous volume, ?”The Needle” was the recipient of the Paul Nasser Prize and the 2012 Best Book of Poetry Award by the Texas Institute of Letters.

Grotz traveled to Shepherdstown from her home in New York where she teaches at the University of Rochester and serves as the director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences.

Joining Grotz at the Friday evening opener as author Jane Brox, who published her fifth book, “Silence,” in January of this year. “Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light,” released in 2010, was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of the year by Time magazine.

In addition to the Friday evening authors, the weekend saw other writers including Nancy Naomi Carlson, senior translation editor for Tupelo Quarterly; Roser Caminals, a native of Barcelona and emerita professor of Spanish at Hood College; William Heath, professor emeritus, Mount St. Mary’s University; and Barrett Warner, co-editor of the Free State Review, a nonpartisan literary journal, and acquisitions editor for Galileo Books, a nonprofit publisher of poetry and prose collections.

A highlight of the weekend’s festivities included a poetry class taught by Andrew Motion, former poet laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009 and Homewood Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University. The class was offered from 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, prior to a reading, book signing and question and answer session featuring Motion on Saturday evening.

Motion is a poet, novelist and biographer who, during the period of his laureateship, founded the Poetry Archive, an online resource of poems and audio recordings of poets reading their own work. Motion is also the president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, a pressure group in England with over 40,000 members and supporters that was formed in 1926 by Sir Patrick Abercrombie. The goal of the group is to limit urban sprawl and ribbon development and claims to be one of the longest running environmental groups.

The weekend events were hosted by the Society for Creative Writing, which aims to bring national and international pets, fiction and non-fiction writers to Shepherd to encourage literary dialogue and expose students and community members to professionals in the writing field.

Danske Dandridge, for home the festival was named, was a Danish-born poet, historian and garden writer, who, along with her contemporaries Waitman Barbe and Thomas Dunn English, was considered a major poet of late 19th Century West Virginia. Dandridge resided in Shepherdstrown.

For more information on future literary events hosted by the Society for Creative Writing, visit www.shepherd.edu/societyforcreativewriting or Facebook www.facebook.com/society4creativewriting/.