Greensboro Bound: A Literary Festival

It’s here! It’s here!

By Brian Lampkin

In the March issue of O.Henry, we announced that the May Scuppernong Bookshelf column would give you the schedule of events for this year’s Greensboro Bound Literary Festival, a virtual gathering of the minds held May 13–16. Twenty-one conversations pair North Carolina writers with voices from the outside world. Without further ado, here it is:

A Conversation with Roxane Gay

Thursday, May 13, 7–8 p.m.


Join The New York Times best-selling author ROXANE GAY hosted by CYNTHIA GREENLEE. Gay’s writing explores what it means to be a feminist, a woman of color and, quite simply, a human being with a body.

Dirty Gold: The Rise and Fall of an International Smuggling Ring

Friday, May 14, 4–5 p.m.


An in-depth discussion among veteran investigative reporters KYRA GURNEY, NICHOLAS NEHAMAS, JAY WEAVER, JIM WYSS and host JOHN COX. This talk will unearth the story of death, drugs and corruption within the gold mining industry in Latin America and dredge up the impact of greed on the people caught in its wake.

Craft, Violence and the Art of Storytelling

Friday, May 14, 5–6 p.m.


Join BRYAN GIEMZA and AMY WELDON as they host novelists JOHN HART, ROD DAVIS and DENNIS McCARTHY. Hart’s latest novel, The Unwilling, is a thriller framed around the consequences of the Vietnam War. Publisher’s Weekly describes Davis’ 2020 novel East of Texas, West of Hell as a maelstrom of meth-dealing, human trafficking and white supremacy.” Dennis McCarthy’s debut novel, The Gospel According to Billy the Kid, moves an American tale of violence and redemption west to New Mexico.

Chefs Ricky Moore & Whitney Otawka

Friday, May 14, 6–7 p.m.


Host DABNEY SANDERS chats with award-winning chefs and authors WHITNEY OTAWKA and RICKY MOORE.

LIVESTREAM: An Evening with Nnedi Okorafor

Friday, May 14, 7–8 p.m.


DR. TARA GREEN, UNCG Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies and the Linda Arnold Carlisle Excellence Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, explores the past and future with NNEDI OKORAFOR, Nigerian-American author of Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism.

Our Stories, Our Voices: Four Years On

Saturday, May 15, 10 – 11 a.m


Our Stories, Our Voices was published in 2018. Nearly four years later, the authors share how their perspectives have changed and how, if given the chance, they might rewrite their essays now. Featuring AMY REED — editor of Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America — and contributors TRACY DEONN, AMBER SMITH and I.W. GREGORIO.

Hidden Histories

Saturday, May 15, 11–12 p.m.


ANN CAHILL hosts authors SHANNA GREENE BENJAMIN and LISA LEVENSTEIN as they talk about memory, the public persona and the private individual, the biographer/historian’s relationship to her subject(s) and the intersectionality of sexism, racism and economic inequality. 

Love, Justice and Healing

Saturday, May 15, 12–1 p.m.


MOLLY SENTELL HAILE hosts a discussion on love, justice and healing with SHARON SALZBERG and OMID SAFI. Salzberg, a central figure in the field of meditation, is the author of eleven books, including The New York Times bestseller Real Happiness and, most recently, Real Change. Safi, translator and editor of Radical Love is a professor of Islamic studies at Duke University and leads Illuminated Tours interfaith journeys.

Speculative Fiction

Saturday, May 15, 1–2 p.m.


JASON HERNDON hosts RIVERS SOLOMON and K.M. SZPARA in an exploration of their newest works, which, like the best of speculative fiction, force protagonists to question what’s real in their lives while shining a light on society’s darker corners.

Read Romance, Fight Patriarchy!

Saturday, May 15, 2–3 p.m.


Host SARAH COLONNA frames the conversation with romance authors KIANNA ALEXANDER, ROSIE DANAN, JOANNA LOWELL and ALISHA RAI. The authors will doubtless unpack the ways in which modern romance writers are reshaping what it means to write romance.

LIVESTREAM: All Up In Your Feels (Poetry Workshop)

Saturday, May 15, 2–3:30 p.m.


Poets and partners JESSICA JACOBS and NICKOLE BROWN shine a light on the difficult art of writing about love and heartbreak.

Issac Bailey & Bakari Sellers

Saturday, May 15, 3–4 p.m.


STEPHEN COLYER hosts essayist ISSAC BAILEY, author of Why Didn’t We Riot: A Black Man in Trumpland, and CNN commentator BAKARI SELLERS, author of My Vanishing Country.

Allan Gurganus & George Singleton

Saturday, May 15, 4–5 p.m.


DREW PERRY hosts a talk with two

of the Carolinas’ best short story writers, ALLAN GURGANUS (author of The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All) and GEORGE SINGLETON (author of the recent You Want More).

Poems in a Crisis

Saturday, May 15, 4–5 p.m.

KATIE KEHOE joins poets TRACI BRIMHALL and NICKOLE BROWN along with editor ALICE QUINN in a soulful discussion of navigating family, the pandemic and remaking the world through poetry.

LIVESTREAM: A Conversation with Billy Collins & Ron Rash

Saturday, May 15, 7–8 p.m.


Host MICHAEL GASPENY will investigate the mysteries of art and the heart in a discussion with former U.S. Poet Laureate BILLY COLLINS, hailed as “the most popular poet in America,” and RON RASH, who has been celebrated as the “Appalachian Shakespeare.”

Our Stories, Our Voices: Writing as Activism

Sunday, May 16, 10–11 a.m.


AMY REED — editor of Our Stories, Our Voices — and contributors AMBER SMITH and I.W. GREGORIO discuss what it means to write in one’s own voice.

Writing Outside the Lines: Nonbinary Authors Changing YA

Sunday, May 16, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.


Authors MASON DEAVER and NITA TYNDALL join host SHANNON JONES in a conversation about how Young Adult authors outside the gender binary are reshaping that world.

Art of Memoir with Ginger Gaffney & James Tate Hill

Sunday, May 16, 12–1 p.m.


Authors GINGER GAFFNEY and JAMES TATE (JT) HILL talk about the craft of writing memoir with host STEVE MITCHELL. Gaffney’s Half Broke is the memoir of a woman who relates more to horses than people and finds a home of sorts teaching at an alternative prison ranch. Blind Man’s Bluff is James Tate Hill’s memoir of becoming legally blind at age 16 — but pretending for years that he was not.

LIVESTREAM: Your Story, Your Voice: A Writing Workshop

Sunday, May 16, 12–1:30 p.m.


AMY REED — editor of Our Stories, Our Voices — and contributors AMBER SMITH and I.W. GREGORIO explore how to find your own “voice” in this writing workshop. Ideal for young adults, parents of young adults, aspiring YA writers and those who identify with marginalized communities.

The Soul of the Novel

Sunday, May 16, 1–2 p.m.


KAITLYN GREENIDGE and ANNETTE SAUNOOKE CLAPSADDLE are two rising stars in the world of literary fiction. Greenidge’s Libertie has been called “Pure brilliance.” Lee Smith says Clapsaddle’s Even As We Breathe “lifts the curtain to show us a South we don’t know . . . A wonderful novel, complicated as life itself.” This conversation is moderated by N.C. novelist ZELDA LOCKHART and informed by her work, The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript.

LIVESTREAM: Candacy Taylor and The Historic Magnolia House

Sunday, May 16, 2–3 p.m.


CANDACY TAYLOR, author of Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America, joins preservationist NATALIE PASS-MILLER at The Historic Magnolia House, one of only four Green Book sites in North Carolina still in operation. Taylor reaches into her personal history to share the story of the Green Book and the roots of Black travel in America.

A Measure of Belonging: 21 Writers of Color on the New American South

Sunday, May 16, 3–4 p.m.


IVELISSE RODRIGUEZ and DIANA CEJAS join CINELLE BARNES, editor of A Measure of Belonging: 21 Writers of Color on the New American South, to talk about their experiences — the good, the bad and the befuddling — of living down South.

Naima Coster & Leesa Cross-Smith

Sunday, May 16, 4–5 p.m.


At the center of the powerful, tender new titles, What’s Mine and Yours by NAIMA COSTER and This Close to Okay by LEESA CROSS-SMITH, are deftly wrought, perfectly imperfect characters with paths that can never be unwoven from another or from the ways we see our communities and ourselves.

A Conversation on Race & Grace in America

Sunday, May 16, 5–6 p.m.


The nonfiction work of DENISE KIERNAN has become surefire bestseller material. Her latest book, We Gather Together, brings her considerable gifts to the untold story of Lincoln and the burgeoning of the Thanksgiving holiday. Kiernan will join D. WATKINS — author of the recent We Speak for Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress (and also The Cook-Up: A Crack Rock Memoir and The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America) — introduces you to Down Bottom, the storied community of East Baltimore that holds a mirror to America’s poor Black neighborhoods. As Watkins sees it, the perspective of people who live in economically disadvantaged Black communities is largely absent from the commentary of many top intellectuals who speak and write about race.

Wilmington’s Lie: A Conversation with John Sayles & David Zucchino

Sunday, May 16, 6–7 p.m.


JOHN SAYLES is an indy film legend. His 2011 novel, A Moment in the Sun, looks at America in 1898 and the Wilmington Race Riot figures prominently in the narrative. DAVID ZUCCHINO’s 2020 nonfiction book, Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, is the definitive book on the massacre. Together, Sayles and Zucchino will talk about the atmosphere in Wilmington in 1898 and the lasting impact of the white riot through the 20th Century. The discussion will also focus on the parallels with the January 6, 2021, insurrection and the continued strain of white supremacy in America. Hosted by BRIAN LAMPKIN.

Guilford County Schools High School Poet Laureate Year-end Reading

Wednesday, May 19, 6–9 p.m.


Hosted by Jennifer Worrells, HS Poet Laureate coordinator and Library Media Specialist at Grimsley High School.  OH

For more information about the virtual Greensboro Bound Literary Festival and complete biographies of the participants, visit

Brian Lampkin is one of the proprietors of Scuppernong Books.

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