Robert Pinsky
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky is one of the guest writers at this year’s Spring Literary Festival, March 25-27 at Ohio University.

OU Lit Fest Returns this Week; Former Poet Laureate Among Speakers

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Some of the nation’s top literary figures, including a former U.S. Poet Laureate, are visiting Athens this week for the 30th annual Spring Literary Festival, hosted by the Creative Writing Program at Ohio University.

The event, which takes place this Wednesday through Friday at Baker Center and Alden Library, is a change of pace from the usual lectures hosted at OU, according to fest organizer David Wanczyk, director of Special Programs and Nonfiction Teaching Fellow in the Ohio University Department of English.

“It acts as a chance to bring individual writers together in one place to build an environment conducive to the building of ideas,” he said, adding that the fest’s comfortable, friendly atmosphere plays a big part in fostering discussion between the guest writers, faculty, students and the community.

The event kicks off Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. with a reading from Dorothy Allison, a straightforward, powerful speaker whose work is influenced by the feminist movement of the 1970s.

While Allen’s essays often tackle issues of abuse, class and sexuality, the works of Marie Howe, also scheduled to read Wednesday night, are “luminous, intense and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life,” according to the late Stanley Kunitz.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will have jazz musical accompaniment during his reading on Friday, March 27. Pinsky, a former musician, has stated that he is attracted to jazz’ “physical immediacy, improvisation…also the sense that a lifetime of suffering and study and thought and emotion is behind some single phrase.”

Adding a writer of Pinsky’s calibre to this year’s lineup was an easy decision, according to Wanczyk.

“It was a no-brainer,” he said.

Other guest writers include essayist Brian Doyle, who is known to memorize his essays and recite them to audiences; and Charles Johnson, a noted artist, philosopher and teacher. (“A renaissance man,” said Wanczyk.)

In a town known for its festivals, the Spring Lit Fest continues to generate excitement each year in Athens.

“Like the Nelsonville Music Festival or the Film Festival, it’s kind of a chestnut at this point,” explained Wanczyk. “Everyone knows Lit Fest happens in the spring, and people are excited for it.”

All events are free and open to the public. Visit for more information.


Wednesday, March 25, Baker Center Theater

7:30 p.m. Dorothy Allison reading
8:30 p.m. Marie Howe reading

Thursday, March 26, Baker Center Ballroom

11 a.m. Charles Johnson lecture
12 p.m. Dorothy Allison lecture
7:30 p.m. Brian Doyle reading
8:30 p.m. Robert Pinsky lecture and performance

Friday, March 27, Alden Library, 4th floor

11 a.m. Brian Doyle lecture
12 p.m. Marie Howe lecture

CLOSING NIGHT: Friday, March 27, Baker Center Theater

7:30 p.m. Robert Pinsky reading
8:30 p.m. Charles Johnson reading