Scores of bestselling authors have presented at the Festival, including luminaries Charlaine Harris; the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond; David Sedaris; Catherine Coulter; Richard Ford; John Waters; Congressman John Lewis; Isabel Wilkerson; Ellen Gilchrist; Roy Blount Jr.; and hundreds more.
This year's Festival will present more than 65 programs and feature more than 80 presenters from 23 states, and guests who hail from Canada, England, Ukraine, and Singapore. Each year, several of the attending authors have not visited Little Rock, Arkansas, or even the South. Many say they are pleasantly surprised by the Festival and by the city, and choose to write about their experiences, which has reciprocal benefits for state tourism.
One of the Festival's exciting and valuable programs is the Writers in the Schools (WITS) Initiative. WITS will place sixteen writers in central Arkansas schools this year. The schools range from elementary schools to colleges. The 2016 WITS authors are Alan Cumyn, Sanderia Faye, Elias Weiss Friedman, Nikki Grimes, Nathalia Holt, John H. Johnson, Harrison Scott Key, E.B. Lewis, Sonny Liew, Celeste Fletcher McHale, José Orduña, Gregory Pardlo, Mary Pilon, Janet B. Taylor, Toni Tipton-Martin, and Andy Warner. They will visit Central High School, Episcopal Collegiate High School, Gibbs Magnet Elementary School, Hall High School, Hendrix College, Henderson State University, Joe T. Robinson High School, Otter Creek Elementary School, Little Rock Christian Academy, Mt. Saint Mary's High School, Parkview Arts Magnet High School, Joe T. Robinson High School, Romine Elementary, Shorter College, and Wilbur Mills High School. In addition to the school visits, WITS provided nearly 500 free books to students. WITS is sponsored by Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP.
For the past five years, the Festival has produced an annual Banned Books event. These events have included a staged reading featuring professional actors, a four-tiered performance working with three local high schools and one middle school, a performance in conjunction with a local theatre company, a mini-concert, a reenactment of an interview, plus films and writing contests. Banned Books Week is celebrated nationally as a part of the American Library Association's effort to fight censorship. The Festival's Banned Books events have been sponsored by the Fred K. Darragh Jr. Foundation. Banned Books Week is typically the last week of September.
The Mayor's Day of Science and Reading, a collaborative effort with the Clinton Presidential Center, the Museum of Discovery, and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, is in its second year. Local students will be brought in to see presentations at the Presidential Center and the Museum on Thursday, April 14.
The first Self Published and Small Press (SPSP) Book Fair, a Festival-related event, offered a unique array of Arkansas writing at the Main Library in November 2015. The well-attended event sold out of all author and publisher spaces. The public had the opportunity to meet and speak with authors from fourteen cities in the state, multiple representatives from small presses, a representative from a writers' colony, and a lawyer specializing in copyright law. Books were available for purchase. SPSP will be a biennial event, with the next one scheduled for Fall 2017.
Fiction & Fact: A War Dialogue with Veterans is another Festival-related program. It is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Fiction & Fact will provide opportunities to reflect on war and homecoming experiences through facilitated discussions based on different humanities sources: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, film, art, museum exhibits, and oral histories. Over two years, veterans may participate in any of four distinct units. Each unit involves two weekend discussion retreats for that set of veterans; a group blog supplements retreat discussions. Veteran-civilian interactions occur through a film screening series and themed Festival panels. Fiction & Fact begins in the fall of 2016.
Talent chair: Kevin Brockmeier
Festival Guides chair: Susan Santa Cruz
Hospitality chair: Literacy Action of Central Arkansas
Moderator chair: Amy Bradley-Hole
Swag chair: Katherine Stewart
A/V chair: Jonathan Webb
VIP Breakfast chairs: Theresa Huber, Mary Ellen Kubit
WITS chair: Andrea Allen
Eliza Borné, Jan Emberton, Garbo Hearne, Philip Jones, Janis Kearney, Bob Razer, Susan Santa Cruz, Katherine Stewart, Annie Stricklin, Alex Vernon
Paul S. Austin, Austin Bailey, Jay Barth, Grant Beasley, Eliza Borné, Jennifer Christman, Wendy Cook, Hope Coulter, Joel DiPippa, Randy Duncan, Tyler Eatherton, Maxwell George, Jennifer Gibson, Angelle Gremillion, Garbo Hearne, Michael Hibblen, Debbie Howell, Phillip Rex Huddleston, H.K. Hummel, Nick Hunt, Jay Jennings, Shannon Lausch, Adam Long, Caitlin Love, Mary Ruth Marotte, Rhonda McKinnis, Crystal C. Mercer, Brad Minnick, Susan Moneyhon, Rex Nelson, Matt Owen, Jennifer Reed, Bobby Roberts, Skip Rutherford, Shea Stewart, Trenton Lee Stewart, Angela Thomas, Lance Turner, Alex Vernon, Scott Walters
Kim Coryat, Janell Mason, Liz Russell, Laura Stanley
Andrea Allen, Rich Allen, Dave Chagnon, Jennie Cole, Owen Colford, Kim Coryat, Anne Crow, Mary Dillard, Dana Downes, Audrey Evans, Andrew Ford, Eric Francis, Chris Gelé, Garbo Hearne, Bram Keahey, Judy Lansky, Jared Lemus, Lee Ann Matson, Ann Owen, Casey Owen, Rick Owen, Jim Pfeifer, Emily Roberson, Ann Russell, Nathan Smith, Trenton Lee Stewart, Grif Stockley, Anne Stroud, Fred Ursery, Scott Walters, John Webb, Jennifer White
Paul S. Austin, Denise Barbieri, Jay Barth, Kelley Bass, Hollie Berdeja, Jeffrey Condran, Amanda Copley, Nikolai DiPippa, Sara Drew, Ernie Dumas, Randy Duncan, Ben Fry, Garbo Hearne, Tiffany Holland, H.K. Hummel, Tameka Lee, Adam Long, David Koon, Chuck Magill, Mary Ruth Marotte, Stephan McAteer, Jeff McClure, Gary Miller, Brad Minnick, Fran Plymale, Jim Rice, Susan Santa Cruz, Tricia Spione, Bill Spivey, Mia Stark, Elizabeth Strandberg, Scott Walters, Melissa Whitfield, Joyce Willis, Alex Vernon
Brad Mooy, Festival Coordinator; Angela Delaney, Volunteer Coordinator; Teresa Mikulan Carlisle, Book Sales; Tommy Allen, Jeannie Burrus, Kate Chagnon, Nate Coulter, Kristen Cooke, Jamie Diaz, Lisa Donovan, Linda Ellis, Jan Emberton, Madelyn Ganos, Susan Hill Gelé, Christine Gronwald, Lee Ann Hoskyn, Kristin Howell, Lily Kauffman, Michelle Bailey Keahey, Scott Kirkhuff, Amy Miller, Jackie Patel, Jen Throneberry, Bobby Roberts, Ellen Samples, Jonathan Webb, Ali Welky, Trey Woodruff
We couldn't present so many great authors every year, most of them appearing free to the public, without the sustained effort and support of people like you. All forms of support are welcome and truly appreciated.
Volunteers are necessary to help with pre-festival marketing and planning, as well as festival coordination and operations management. If you'd like to volunteer your time and skill, please contact Chris Beaumont, CALS Volunteer Coordinator, by email or by phone at 918-3085.
Financial contributions are always welcome. If you would like to send a check with your donation, please mail it to:
Arkansas Literary Festival
100 Rock St.
Little Rock, AR 72201
You may also make a secure online donation here (be sure to designate your gift for the Arkansas Literary Festival). This form is hosted on the Central Arkansas Library System's (CALS) primary website; the Arkansas Literary Festival is a project of CALS.
Festival Coordinator: Brad Mooy
Talent Chair: Kevin Brockmeier
Moderator Chair: Amy Bradley-Hole
Festival Guides Chair: Susan Santa Cruz
Author! Author! Chair: Seth Eli Barlow
Hospitality: Literacy Action of Central Arkansas
The Arkansas Literary Festival is a program of the Central Arkansas Library System
100 Rock St. Little Rock, AR 72201