Scott Daughtridge, who founded the reading series LostintheLetters in 2012, is expanding his vision. Although the metro area is home to large, established book festivals, it lacks one –such as the APRIL festival in Seattle or Lit Quake in San Francisco — devoted to independent literature. He aims to fill that gap with The Letters Festival, which will debut this weekend at the Goat Farm.
Daughtridge recruited Stephanie Dowda and Alex Gallo-Brown, and they planned the event together. Dowda has made use of her considerable experience budgeting, planning, and promoting art events. Gallo-Brown, an Atlanta-based poet, essayist and fiction writer, helped develop the schedule and choose readers.
Thirteen writers will appear at the inaugural festival. Among them: Roxane Gay, a hybrid fiction writer and essayist who teaches at Eastern Illinois University; experimental fiction writer, editor, and blogger Blake Butler; poet Jenny Sadre-Orafai, who teaches at Kennesaw State University; and Matthew Salesses, a fiction writer, essayist, and columnist earning his doctorate at the University of Houston.
“We focused on writers whose books we loved, who were published by independent presses, and who, for the most part, lived in the southeast quadrant of the country,” Gallo-Brown says.
They also sought diversity “of race, gender, sexuality, life experience, geographies, literary aesthetics.”
Daughtridge adds, “We wanted to present a variety of voices and styles and to create a blend of local and out-of-town authors. Personally, I’m really excited to see the emerging writers share the stage with the big-timers.”
The festival seeks to foster an intimate connection between writers and audience. Aside from three scheduled group readings, the festival includes free poetry and fiction writing workshops (registration available online), an author talk with Roxane Gay, a discussion panel entitled “Diverse Voices in Independent Literature,” and two “secret” readings accessible with a pass.
Says Gallo-Brown, “We envision it as one opportunity for the local lit scene to interact with the broader national conversation around literature, which really is a conversation about what it means and feels like to be alive now.”
Photos courtesy of The Letters Festival.