Throwing the book at Burnsville

This week, downtown Burnsville will once again find itself in the throes of some serious wordage as the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival commandeers the place, filling the air with the heady odor of metaphor and allusion. The event, in its second year, will bring more than 40 authors to the Yancey County seat to read from their works, lead workshops and schmooze with something approaching abandon.

“The idea behind the festival is to promote literature and literacy in these [Western North Carolina] counties,” says Britt Kaufmann, one of the event’s organizers. “It’s really about bringing readers and authors together.” 

The event begins Friday morning at 9 a.m. with workshops on regional history, the art of the ballad, recording personal narratives and tapping nature’s power for the page. Author readings will be interspersed throughout, followed by an afternoon book-signing and meet-and-greet. Saturday promises more workshops and signings, followed by an evening reception.

Asheville will be well-represented, with appearances by writer and Warren Wilson Creative Writing MFA program director Peter Turchi, Cataloochee author Wayne Caldwell, poets Glenis Redmond, Rick Chess and Pat Riviere-Steel, and regional historian, literary critic and Asheville Citizen-Times writer Rob Neufeld.

The thrust this year is toward history and, specifically, the Revolutionary War and North Carolina’s vital role in it. Robert Morgan will read from his book Brave Enemies, a novel of that war as fought here, and Bill Carson will deliver a lecture on the role of the Overmountain Men at the bloody and decisive Battle of King’s Mountain. “We’re bringing in some of the world’s experts on the American Revolution,” says Kaufmann. “You don’t usually find this many in one place.”

Also new this year is an all-day schedule of children’s activities on Saturday. Much of the festival is free, and Kaufmann encourages anyone with an interest in good writing to “stroll on in.”

Last year, more than 350 people attended the volunteer-run event. Malaprop’s, the festival’s official bookseller, donated $700 from sales during last year’s event to the Yancey County Library Building Fund.

More attendees are expected this time around, so put down that quill pen and visit www.cmlitfest.org for more information.

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