Alabama’s literary event of the year: Monroeville Literary Festival

Monroeville Courthouse Monroeville Literary Festival
Sean Dietrich performing at the 2020 Monroeville Literary Festival. Photo via Monroeville Literary Festival’s Instagram

In 2020, writers of all genres and mediums flocked to the literary capitol of Alabama for the first Monroeville Literary Festival. This year the literary geniuses of Alabama will gather virtually to celebrate the triumph of the written word and discuss writing in and about Alabama.

Last year I had the honor of attending the Monroeville Literary Festival, and let me tell you. I had the time of my life. It was one of the last in-person events before things shut down for the pandemic, and I couldn’t think of a better event to unknowingly end “normal life” on.

How it started

Monroeville Courthouse
The famous Monroeville Courthouse. Photo via Monroeville Literary Festival

The Monroeville Literary Festival, as we know it, began last year as a project of Coastal Alabama Community College in partnership with the Alabama Center for Literary Arts. Before that, the two-day annual event was known as the Alabama Writers Symposium, which began in 1998 as a way for Alabama writers and scholars to come together to discuss local works of literature as part literary festival and part academic conference.

In 2020, the event became the Monroeville Literary Festival. The festival focuses on the art, music and writing of the literary South.

A literary festival, 2021-style

Brian Voice Porter Hawkins Monroeville Literary Festival
Birmingham native Brian Voice Porter Hawkins speaking at the 2020 Monroeville Literary Festival. Photo via Monroeville Literary Festival’s Instagram

While virtual, this year’s Monroeville Literary Festival will look similar, at least in schedule, to last year. Thursday kicks off the event with a 10AM discussion with Birmingham’s Salaam Green, and it runs until Saturday evening’s presentation of the Harper Lee Award. Each day will feature one award presentation at 6:30PM.

This year’s main events are outlined below and can be found on the Festival’s website here.

Thursday, March 4

  • 10AM: Salaam Green, Healing the Healer Writers Workshop
  • 2PM: Foster Dickson, ASCA Literary Arts Fellow
  • 6:30PM: Eugene Current-Garcia Award: Dr. Alan Gribben

Friday, March 5

  • 10AM: Mike Bunn, The Fourteenth Colony
  • 2PM: Nabila Lovelace and Charlotte Pence, ACSA Literary Arts Fellows, Poetry
  • 6:30PM: The Truman Capote Prize: Allen Weir

Saturday, March 6

  • 10AM: White Lies with Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley
  • 2PM: Joshilyn Jackson, Never Have I Ever
  • 6:30PM: Harper Lee Award: Angela Johnson

The festival will feature other events as well, like the Fifteen Minutes of Fame Stage that allows lesser-known writers and artists to perform their work (like yours truly).

Register for the festival here.

Sustaining Alabama’s literary community

Monroeville Courthouse Literary Festival
The Saturday picnic at the Monroeville Literary Festival in 2020. Photo via Monroeville Literary Festival’s Instagram

The importance of the Monroeville Literary Festival cannot be overstated. As a gathering place for Alabama writers and academics, the festival allows for exciting and innovative discussions of the literary arts.

Festival Director Alisha Linam believes in the power of crafting a literary community. When asked why she feels the Festival is so important, espeically in 2021, she said

“[When asked to become festival director] I immediately jumped at the opportunity to get to play a part in protecting the legacy of Alabama’s Literary Capital, and to promote the literary arts to new generations… The Monroeville Literary Festival is an opportunity to encourage literary tourism while encouraging conversations about how to preserve the unique literary culture of Alabama.  Our Monroeville event is known for its warm hospitality and intimacy with some of the region’s best writers and artists. Zoom may not be able to capture that entirely, but we do have a few surprises waiting for our online audience.”

Alisha Linam, Director of Library Services for Coastal Alabama Community College

You can find out more about the Monroeville Literary Festival in historic downtown Monroeville on its website, and on Facebook and Instagram.

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Claire Hancock
Claire Hancock
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