By Tina Alvey
Long known for its autumnal Taste of Our Towns (T.O.O.T.) food celebration, last year Lewisburg added another festival — one that offers food for thought.
The second annual Lewisburg Literary Festival, set for Aug. 2-3, features authors, outdoor art installations, musical entertainment and performance art, all inspired by literature.
Authors who are scheduled to speak at Carnegie Hall during this year’s festival are Jeannette Walls, Glenn Taylor and Noah Adams. The appearances of Walls and Taylor are both sold out, but tickets for Adams’ 11 a.m. appearance Saturday are still available by visiting the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center at 200 W. Washington St. in Lewisburg.
The “Literary Town Square” will be set up in the Visitors Center’s lobby and will feature author readings and book signings, literary merchandise and publishers with books to sell. The venue will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 2 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 3.
One of the Literary Festival’s art installations is West Virginia artist Nik Botkin’s swimming school of see-through fish, their bellies filled with a variety of items people discard every day. Alongside the fish will be a be a work of flash fiction — “The Float,” written by freelance writer and editor Jake Maynard.
Yet another installation is a huge, 8-by-5-foot original painting by local artist Emily Coleman, accompanied by a work of flash fiction written by acclaimed novelist Laura Benedict.
A third installation — the brainchild of New Orleans artist Candy Chang — invites interaction. The “Before I Die” board will begin as a (relatively) clean slate, but over the two days of the festival will come to include the jottings of visitors who pick up a piece of chalk and write their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the world to see.
The Lewisburg “Before I Die” installation will be the first of its kind in West Virginia.
Admission is free to all of the art installations, which will be displayed outdoors and indoors along Washington Street during First Fridays After Five the evening of Aug. 2 and throughout the day Aug. 3.
New at this year’s festival are three free writing workshops, led by authors Michael Knost and John Van Kirk and radio essayist and memoirist Cat Pleska. All of the workshops will be held in the Nick Rahall room in the Visitors Center.
Van Kirk’s workshop, titled “The Novel: The First Fifty Pages,” will be held Aug. 2 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and will focus on “getting your story out of your head and onto the paper,” the author says.
Knost, a Bram Stoker Award winner, will lead a workshop on “Genre Writing” — for those who write fantasy, science fiction and horror — Aug. 3 from 10 to 11 a.m.
Pleska’s workshop, “The Five Minute Memoir!” is also scheduled for Aug. 3, taking Saturday’s 4 to 5 p.m. slot.
A Children’s Book Breakfast, designed for ages 5 to 12, will be held at the Greenbrier County Library in Lewisburg Aug. 3 from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Food will be provided by The Bakery.
Special guests for this event are West Virginia poet laureate Marc Harshman and local author Belinda Anderson.
Seats are limited to 40 people and may be reserved by calling the library at 304-647-7568. The per person cost is $3.
Following the breakfast, everyone is invited to shop at the library’s annual book sale, with proceeds benefiting Friends of the Greenbrier County Library.
A second children’s activity is “Story Time with Beatrix Potter” at Honnahlee toy shop, also Aug. 3. From noon until 2 p.m., “Beatrix” will read aloud from her favorite books with the help of her puppets, as well as offering coloring projects and other activities.
No reservations are needed for this free event. For more information, call the shop at 304-645-6123.
For more information about the Literary Festival, call 888-716-5082, visit www.lewisburgliteraryfestival.com or follow the festival on Facebook.
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