Literary festival: poetic justice

Tyehimba Jess was the closing day speaker at Richland’s 34th Literary Arts Festival that took place on April 4-6. 

Just days after the close of the festival, Jess received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book, “Olio.” The Pulitzer Prize is one of the top awards in journalism and the arts.  

Jess has won numerous awards and fellowships in poetry.  He is currently an associate professor of English at the College of Staten Island. 

Jess was one of three presenters at the festival, along with local fiction writer Sanderia Faye and local playwright Matt Lyle, whose play “Barbecue Apocalypse” will be performed April 25-29 in the Arena Theater in Fannin Hall. 

In an email to Richland faculty, festival coordinator Sobia Khan, Ph.D, said, “We were able to help our students experience great writing and writers.  Each of our three main speakers brought their work in their presentations.  This year we had many more students wanting to participate in the student readings than time would allow.”  

“This is a good problem to have!” Khan said.  “And our faculty shared some of their own amazing writings, (too).”

According to Rae DeShong, a reference and instructional librarian, about 120 audience members attended Jess’s presentation.  Richland College of World Languages, Cultures and Communications, the Office of Student Life and the library collaborate on the festival each year.