Greensboro Bound: Year Two!
The local literary festival extends its reach far beyond the Gate City
Compiled by Brian Lampkin
In May of 2018, the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival turned the Gate City into the destination for writers and readers across North Carolina. This year, from May 16 to 19, Greensboro Bound will reach across the ocean and around the country to bring more than 70 writers to locations throughout downtown. Our profound thanks to all of them that are accommodating the Festival’s events.
Our keynote speaker for Saturday evening, May 18, from London is literary sensation Zadie Smith, author of Michelle Obama’s favorite novel, White Teeth. Her other works include Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time. Her recent collection of essays, Feel Free, is a nominee for a 2019 PEN Literary Award, and she has been shortlisted for the Man Booker, had a novel named one of the 100 best in the English language (among those published between 1923 and 2005), and won the Orange Prize for Fiction. We thank the UNCG Libraries — and its dean Martin Halbert’s generous partnership with the Festival —for Smith’s appearance in the Cone Ballroom on the UNCG campus at 7 p.m. To ensure a seat to this event, you must RSVP here: www.eventbrite.com/e/an-evening-with-zadie-smith-tickets-54371396310.
A lineup of children’s and young adult authors will charm and delight families from our city’s diverse neighborhoods. Our partnership with the City of Greensboro and the Greensboro Public Libraries means the downtown library will host: Bill Konigsberg (The Music of What Happens), Lamar Giles, (Fresh Ink, Black Enough), plus 18 more amazing children’s writers.
On the adult side, 2018 National Book Award finalist Rebecca Makkai will be here to talk about her novel, The Great Believers, and 2016 National Book Award Finalist Ross Gay will talk about his new collection of essays, The Book of Delights. We’ll have an all-day tract of writing on Appalachia with a diverse group of scribes: Wiley Cash, Mesha Maren, Robert Gipe, Carter Sickels, Michael Croley, Val Nieman, and Meredith McCarroll (editor of Appalachian Reckoning, in which many of these writers appear).
For some, the highlight of the Festival will be the conversation between Heath Lee, author of The League of Wives: The Untold Story of the Women Who Took on the U.S. Government to Bring Their Husbands Home, and Claire Gibson, author of the novel Beyond the Point, which centers on the lives of women at West Point. Others will come primarily to see the fabulous Lee Brothers! Yes, Matt and Ted Lee will be at the Van Dyke Performance Space to talk about Southern cooking and their new book Hotbox: Inside Catering, the Food World’s Riskiest Business.
Permeating the Festival will be engaging, ongoing conversation on social justice, climate change and civil rights. Adam Parker, author of Outside Agitator: The Civil Rights Struggle of Cleveland Sellers Jr., will be here as will Cleveland Sellers himself as they discuss the Orangeburg Massacre and the ongoing movement in its wake. Sudden Spring: Stories of Adaptation in a Climate-Changed South, by Rick Van Noy, reflects on the loss of some of our most cherished landscapes. Van Noy will be on panel with Susan Hand Shetterly. She’s the author of Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge and the mother-in-law of Margot Shetterly, who wrote Hidden Figures.
The weekend kicks off with an Opening Night celebration on Thursday, May 16 at 5:30 p.m at the Weatherspoon Art Museum with the multitalented Astra Taylor. Formerly with the influential indie band Neutral Milk Hotel, but she has moved on to become one of the leading voices on what’s failing in our democracy. Greensboro Bound will screen her film What Is Democracy? Taylor will talk about the film and her knew book Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.
Face plant! I didn’t mention the Greensboro Opera, the Greensboro Symphony’s OrKIDStra, puppets with Fred Chappell and puppets of Fred Chappell in my race to the finish: the Festival’s closing Extravaganza on May 19 at A&T State’s Harrison Auditorium. This year, the Righteous Babe herself, Ani DiFranco, will preside over the event in tandem with the May release of her memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream. We’re one of 10 cities across the country on her initial book tour. DiFranco’s music has empowered several generations and her commitment to making music on her own terms is a significant contribution to the “art of business.” A true American tour-de-force. As if that weren’t enough, she will be in conversation with Greensboro’s own tour-de-force, Rhiannon Giddens. Expect more surprises when we publish the full schedule in the May issue of O.Henry. OH
Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books.