On the Same Page Literary Festival Features Tracy K. Smith’s ‘Ordinary Light’

Published Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 10:01 am

On the Same Page Literary Festival’s Festival Read for 2018 is Tracy K. Smith’s memoir “Ordinary Light” a National Book Award Finalist. Smith, the U.S. Poet Laureate, will be a featured author at the On the Same Page Literary Festival in September.

Events will begin with the Festival Read Kick-Off on Thursday, August 8, at 2 p.m. at the Ashe County Public Library. Books to “read and share” free of charge are available now at the Ashe County Arts Center, and may be checked out at the Ashe County Public Library. They will also be available at the Kick-Off event, and refreshments will be provided.

This year’s kick off will feature Dr. Joseph Bathanti. He will lead a discussion on what makes a riveting memoir and why “Ordinary Light” is such a wonderful example.

In May this year, Bathanti, professor of creative writing in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English, was named the inaugural McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor in Interdisciplinary Education at Appalachian State University. With this appointment, Bathanti will teach full time in Appalachian’s Watauga Residential College (WRC), which is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Cultural, Global and Gender Studies. Bathanti is also charged with developing new programs to promote the WRC.

Bathanti, a poet, essayist, and novelist, holds the position of writer-in-residence in the Watauga Residential College, teaches as an affiliate faculty member in the Appalachian studies program. He was appointed North Carolina’s seventh poet laureate in 2012-14 and was the 2016 recipient of the North Carolina Award in Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor. Additionally, Bathanti served as the writer-in-residence for the Charles George Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Asheville. He will be featured as part of the North Carolina Arts Council’s 50th anniversary celebration in Raleigh this year as one of the “50 for 50″” artists. 

The Festival Read Wrap-Up Discussion will take place on Tuesday, September 11, at the Ashe County Public Library at 2:00 p.m. Chris Arvidson, local writer and adjunct English instructor at UNC Charlotte, will lead a discussion on the themes and relationships in “Ordinary Light” as they relate to Smith’s life and poetry.

See the exciting schedule below for a listing of events and be sure to put On the Same Page Literary Festival on your September calendar. Books from authors appearing will soon be available at the Ashe County Arts Center for purchase, and at the Ashe County Library for borrowing.  Preface and Postscript events are also being scheduled for the Festival and will be posted on the website and in the upcoming brochure for your information.


7:30 p.m. Elliot Engel. Literary performance. Blackbeard: Pirate Enemy Number One. Admission tickets and reservations required. Ashe Arts Center.


2:00 p.m. Festival Read Wrap-Up Session. Ordinary Light: A Memoir, by Tracy K. Smith. A lively discussion of this year’s Festival Read, led by Chris Arvidson, author and adjunct faculty member at UNC Charlotte. Ashe County Public Library.


 8:30-10:30 a.mGeorgann Eubanks. Writer’s workshop: “Why Blogging is Good for You and How to Get Started.” In this session, participants learn about writing blogs – on-line platforms, frequency, topics, and keeping motivated. Bloggers brainstorm and do freewriting exercises as a way to talk about voice and tone. No previous experience is necessary. Registration is limited, and a reservation is required. Ashe County Public Library.

11:00 a.m. Phillip Lewis. Author of the novel The Barrowfields, Lewis’s presentation is a special feature presented by the Friends of the Ashe County Public Library. Ashe County Public Library.

2:00 p.m. Bryn Chancellor. The author of Sycamore reads from her debut novel, a riveting story that shifts from past to present and character to character. Attendees have the opportunity to discuss the themes and fresh style of the novel with the author. Ashe County Public Library.

6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Abigail DeWitt. Writer’s workshop: “The Story Behind the Story.” Most of us have a story that we often share with others. In this workshop, participants look behind their own stories to discover what might have been forgotten, and learn how to develop hidden narratives to create a more colorful, multi-textured memoir. Beginning and experienced writers are welcome. Registration is limited and a reservation is required. Ashe Arts Center.


9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Jim Minick. A writer of nonfiction and poetry, Jim reads from his new first novel Fire is Your Water, the story of a young woman’s loss of faith in her own abilities, the young man who befriends her, and his perceptive raven, Cicero. A returning Festival favorite, Minick is also author of the memoir The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family. Ashe County Public Library.

12:00 NoonLiterary Trails Luncheon. Georgann Eubanks debuts her newest book, The Month of Their Ripening: North Carolina Heritage Foods, scheduled for publication on September 4, and gives us a sneak preview of what’s coming up next. Boxed lunches are provided for a nominal charge. Reservations are required. Ashe County Public Library.

2:30 p.m. Tommy Tomlinson. Tommy talks about his varied experience as a writer for newspapers, magazines, and now an upcoming memoir, The Elephant in the Room. He reads from his book about life as an overweight man and talks about his new public radio reporting and podcast. Ashe County Public Library.

7:30 p.m. Tracy K. Smith Keynote Address. Ms. Smith tells stories about her journey across rural America in her role as Poet Laureate of the United States and reads from her own poetry collections and memoir. She will be introduced by North Carolina First Lady Kristin Cooper.  Ashe Civic Center.


9:00 a.m. Page Turner’s Breakfast. For OTSP Festival donors; at the West Jefferson home of Chris Arvidson & Henry Doss. Reservations are required.

11:00 a.mFrank X Walker. His newest book, Ink Stains & Watermarks: New and Uncollected Poems, contains poems that teach us “something important about holding on, something more about letting go,” according to one reviewer. Frank reads from his work and talks about the origins of Affrilachian poetry. Ashe County Public Library.

2:00 p.m. Tracy K. Smith Outreach Workshop. Ms. Smith talks with Ashe County High School language arts students and invited students from Wilkes County Community College and Appalachian State University. She hopes to show students how poetry can help young people see their world from perspectives beyond their own. Ashe County High School.(This is not a public event.)

2:00 p.mTommy Tomlinson. Writer’s workshop: “Writing in 3-D.” Using a mix of writing, lecture, and Q&A, Tommy reveals creative tools and tips to “make your writing rise off the page and make the reader feel your story.” He answers questions about techniques, craft, and careers in writing. Ashe County Public Library.

5:00-8:00 p.m. Gallery Crawl. Downtown West Jefferson’s many art galleries remain open into the evening with refreshments and light entertainment – a great way to enjoy a late-summer Friday evening in Ashe County. Various locations throughout downtown.


9:30-11:30 a.m. Frank X Walker. Writer’s workshop: “Memory, Research and Imagination: Crafting an Historical Poem Collection.” Walker, an author of historical poetry, says, “Forget walking in somebody else’s shoes. Try wearing their skin!” Participants become immersed in the use of innovative techniques for creating new voices and a suite of new poems. Registration is limited and a reservation is required. Ashe County Public Library.

Noon-2:00 p.m. On the Same Plate Luncheon and Panel Discussion. Georgann Eubanks leads the discussion “Writing from Your Own Experience” with Festival authors Darnell Arnoult, Jim Minick, Tommy Tomlinson, and Frank X Walker. There is a nominal charge for the luncheon, and reservations are required. Hensley Hall at West Jefferson United Methodist Church.

On the Same Page, Ashe County, NC’s Literary Festival, celebrates its 11th Anniversary in 2018 with award-winning authors and plans for a Festival filled with reading, writing workshops, music and more. This year’s Festival is scheduled for Tuesday – Saturday, September 11-15. The Festival is sponsored by the Ashe County Public Library and the Ashe County Arts Council and is supported with major funding from Skyline Membership Corporation and many individual donors – the Page Turners.On the Same Page is also funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts CouncilThe Friends of the Ashe County Public Library are major sponsors of On the Same Page and the County of Ashe and the Town of West Jefferson also support the Festival. 

 See the website www.onthesamepagefestival.org for details about times and locations of events. Most are free and open to the public; some require reservations/tickets.

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