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The annual Evanston Literary Festival will continue through May 11 at various Evanston locations, including the Evanston Public Library, Bookends and Beginnings, Comix Revolution, the Evanston History Center, Sojourner Covenant Church, First United Methodist Church, the Celtic Knot, and the Evanston Ecology Center, among others. The Festival celebrates the City’s vibrant literary community and history and will feature dozens of events celebrating fiction, poetry, non-fiction, children’s literature, writing workshops, and much more.
Featured speakers this year include Scott Turow, Angela Jackson, Alex Kotlowitz, Christine Sneed, Patricia Smith, Robin Ellis, Kevin Coval, Renee Rosen, Juan Martinez, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Aleksandar Hemon, Donna Seaman, Parneshia Jones, John Keene, Cathy Park Hong, Mary Barr, and many more.
Festival goers can hear from prominent authors – many of whom live or work in Evanston – including graphic novelist Emil Ferris; Donna Seaman on women artists; Alex Kotlowitz and Jennifer Lackey on storytelling in prison; Scott Turow discussing Amazon; a discussion and reading in honor of Gwendolyn Brooks with Parneshia Jones, Nikky Finney, Vievee Francis, Angela Jackson, Patricia Smith, and Toi Derricotte; Dan Sinker; Syrian fiction writer Osama Alomar; novelists Renee Rosen, Christine Sneed, and Juan Martinez; Southern novelist Kristy Woodson Harvey; writer and Poldark actor Robin Ellis; poet Kevin Coval; and historian Mary Barr.
A special stage reading of Sandra Seaton’s “The Chicago Trilogy,” three one-act plays based on the work of Evanston author Cyrus Colter, will take place, directed by Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre’s artistic director Tim Rhoze and co-sponsored by the Guild Literary The Complex, the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, and Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre.
This year’s Festival includes several cookbook authors, including the book launch of Street Food, Jewish food expert Joan Nathan, and Beth Dooley’s “In Winter’s Kitchen.”
The Festival will also feature several evening live lit events during the opening weekend, including Church & Oak storytelling; a special edition of Sunday Salon with Quraysh Ali Lansana, Toni Nealie, Alex Shakar, and Suzanne Clores; and a Poets Resist event with a wide range of speakers. Two free writing workshops will take place at the Frances Willard House.
The festival – a joint production of Chicago Book Expo, Bookends & Beginnings bookstore, Northwestern University’s Creative Writing Program, Northwestern University Press, and the Evanston Public Library – was founded by co-organizers Lynn Haller and John K. Wilson as a way of celebrating Evanston’s local authors, independent bookstores, and literary culture. Other prominent Evanston institutions contributing to the festival’s offerings include the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theater, the Frances Willard House, SPACE, and the Block Museum of Art.
The full schedule with many more literary events, including times, venues, and descriptions, is available at evanstonlit.org. Most events are free and open to the public.