A reading by award-winning Louisiana novelist Tim Gautreaux will headline the annual Writer's Block Festival this weekend. The festival returns for the third year with a full schedule of (mostly free) literary events for writers and readers.
The University of Louisville sponsors Gautreaux's reading, which is held in conjunction with the university's Axton Reading Series. Gautreaux will read Saturday, 6 p.m. , at the Cressman Center for Visual Arts (100 East Main St.). Gautreaux is the author of three novels and two story collections, including “Waiting for the Evening News: Stories of the Deep South.”
“He’s a masterful short story writer, and I think also a really important Southern writer, in that classic sense,” says Brian Leung, director of creative writing at U of L and a member of the board of directors of Louisville Literary Arts, which produces the festival. “There’s a kind of Southern Gothic quality to his work, but without all of the darkness of a Flannery O’Connor.”
Gautreaux's reading will cap off a full day of Saturday events, most of which take place in and around The Green Building (732 E. Market St.) in Nulu. But the festival really kicks off Friday night with the October installment of Louisville Literary Arts' monthly InKY Reading Series at The Bard's Town (1801 Bardstown Rd.), 7 p.m. The free event features readings by Kentucky native Holly Goddard Jones, author of “Now You See Me” and “Girl Trouble,” Alabama poet Adam Vines and Louisville singer/songwriter Brigid Kaelin.
All three performers will also teach workshops on Saturday. Kaelin's songwriting workshop, along with a book club meeting with local historical fiction writer James Markert and a panel on graphic literature, is one way the festival continues to expand its reach.
“It always needs to be an organic event, and in that sense I think we want to preserve the idea that every year it can reinvent itself,” says Leung.
Grantwriter Tara Coffey, fiction writer Adam McOmber and poet Julia Johnson will also lead workshops. The workshops are the only programs at the festival that aren't free – registration is required.
“They’re small, and so there’s a real intimate contact with the writers leading the workshop,” Leung says. “People who are not inside an academic program usually don’t get that kind of close contact with a practicing writer.”
But Leung emphasizes that the festival offers as much for readers as writers. A print fair inside Local Speed (822 E. Market St.) will showcase regional small presses and magazines, and WFPL's Gabe Bullard will conduct a live interview with Kentucky poet laureate Frank X Walker (Green Building Lobby).
“Our mission is to serve writers and readers in Louisville, and also to promote the idea that writing is part of the creative arts,” he says. “Here in Louisville we have the ballet, and the orchestra, things like that, and the literary world is part of that.”
(Disclosure: WFPL staff members, including me, are participating in this event. I'm hosting a live event for WFPL's “Unbound” fiction show, which I'll also talk about on the “Start Something” panel, and I'll be signing copies of my books as well.)
THE WRITER'S BLOCK AT A GLANCE
Friday, Oct. 11
InKY Reading Series at The Bard's Town (1801 Bardstown Rd.) featuring Holly Goddard Jones, Adam Vines, Brigid Kaelin. 7 p.m. Free
Saturday, Oct. 12
9 a.m. Register at The Green Building (732 E. Market St.), pick up a schedule and free tickets to Tim Gautreaux's keynote reading. Print fair opens at Local Speed (822 E. Market St.).
9:30 Morning workshops begin (registration required).
10 a.m. Live interview with Kentucky poet laureate Frank X Walker in The Green Building.
11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Authors sign books in Green Building lobby. Carmichael's Bookstore will be on site.
12:30 Afternoon workshops begin (registration required).
1 p.m. “Start Something” panel on jump-starting literary projects in the Green Building; “Writing Historical Fiction” lecture by James Markert, author of historical novels set in Louisville's Waverly Hills Sanatorium.
2:15-3:45 p.m. Authors sign books in Green Building lobby. Carmichael's Bookstore will be on site.
2:30 p.m. “Coming In,” an LGBT literature panel in the Green Building; WFPL's ”Unbound” Live: the Extended Dance Remix reading featuring DJ Matt Anthony at Swanson Contemporary Gallery (638 E. Market St.); Book club event with James Markert at Please and Thank You (800 E. Market St.)
4 p.m. Graphic Literature panel in the Green Building; Poetry readings by Julia Johnson and Adam McOmber at Swanson Contemporary.
6 p.m. Axton Keynote Reading featuring Tim Gautreaux. Cressman Center for the Visual Arts (100 E. Main St.). Free, but tickets are required (pick them up at registration).