Faith in Literature: A Festival of Contemporary Writers of the Spirit

Friday, October 21, 2016 - 11:00am
UNC Asheville

UNC Asheville and the Wake Forest University School of Divinity will jointly convene Faith in Literature: A Festival of Contemporary Writers of the Spirit on Oct. 21-22, 2016 on UNC Asheville's campus.

This two-day event is a gathering of 11 writers whose work deeply engages—by embracing, complicating, or wrestling with—a faith tradition or spiritual practice. The event will feature writers from several faith traditions and will include readings, panel discussions, guided conversations that involve audience members, and two open productions of On Being with Krista Tippett, who is participating thanks to festival partner WCQS – Western North Carolina Public Radio.

Krista Tippett, broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author, will conduct featured conversations to be recorded for her Peabody Award-winning public radio broadcast and podcast, On Being. Tippett’s interview guests will include poet and P. B. Parris Visiting Writer, Marilyn Nelson, on Friday, Oct. 21, and Pulitzer Prize winner and Goodman Endowed Visiting Artist, Isabel Wilkerson, who reads on Saturday, Oct. 22. Wilkerson’s reading also is a part of Pulitzer NC: The Power of Words, presented by the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Evening events with Krista Tippett are sold out. Please join us for the free daytime readings and discussions with the festival writers. 

The festival is supported in partnership with WCQS, Asheville’s NPR station, with additional support from Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café as well as UNC Asheville’s Center for Jewish Studies, Center for Diversity Education, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; and the NEH Distinguished Professor in the Humanities. This project is also made possible in part by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Conference co-organizers are Richard Chess and Evan Gurney of UNC Asheville’s faculty, and Fred Bahnson from the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. See the event's official news release for more details.

Schedule of Events

Download the Faith in Literature Program for a complete schedule of events.

Featured Conversations

Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living, author and host of public radio's On Being

Marilyn Nelson, Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems; The Fields of Praise: Earlier New and Selected Poems; Carver: A Life in Poems; poet, fiction, and non-fiction

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, non-fiction

Writers, Poets and Playwrights

Scott Cairns, Slow Pilgrim: The Collected Poems; Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer (non-fiction, memoir), poet, non-fiction

Amy Gottlieb, The Beautiful Possible (novel), fiction writer

Luke Hankins, The Work of Creation: Selected Prose; Weak Devotions, poet

Shadab Zeest HashmiKohl & Chalk; Baker of Tarifa, poet

David Brendan Hopes, The Glacier's Daughter; A Childhood in the Milky Way, poet and professor of English at UNC Asheville

Alicia Jo Rabins, Divinity School, poet, musician

Laurie Patton, The Bhagavad Gita (Penguin Classics Series); Angel's Task: Poems in Biblical Time, translator, poet, scholar

Lauren WinnerGirl Meets God; Mudhouse Sabbath, non-fiction, assistant professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School

Festival Organizers

Fred Bahnson is the author of Soil & Sacrament (Simon & Schuster). His essays have appeared in Oxford American, Image, Orion, The Sun, Washington Post, and Best American Spiritual Writing 2007. He is the recipient of the Pilgrimage Essay Award, a Kellogg Food & Community fellowship, and a North Carolina Artist fellowship in creative nonfiction from the NC Arts Council. He is assistant professor of the Practice of Ecological Well-being at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

Rick Chess, UNC Asheville English Department Chair, Roy Carroll Professor of Honors Arts and Sciences, and director of the Center for Jewish Studies, has published three books, Third Temple (University of Tampa Press), Chair in the Desert (University of Tampa Press), and Tekiah (University of Georgia Press). His work has been published in Best American Spiritual Writing 2005, and he is a regular contributor to Good Letters, the blog hosted by IMAGE, a journal of art, faith, and mystery.

Evan Gurney, assistant professor of English at UNC Asheville, focuses on the intersection of literature and religious culture, the reception of classical literature, rhetoric and hermeneutics, and satire. His interests include Medieval, Renaissance, and 18th century literature. All of these disciplines converge in his current research project, which investigates the problematic notions of charity engaged by writers in 16th and 17th century England.


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