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The Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative at Lenoir-Rhyne University presents
A Free Festival of What Makes Life Worth Living


Poetry, Fiction, Oral History, Music, Poetry Animation, Workshops.

All Events at Asheville Campus Lenoir-Rhyne University, 36 Montford Avenue, Asheville NC, 28801.

A Note From The Director
In Joyful memory of Laurey Masterton

"There have been great societies that did not use the wheel but there have been no societies that did not tell stories."
- Ursula K LeGuin

Asheville Wordfest is a community-based festival that draws people together. This year Wordfest expands its scope to include fiction, creative nonfiction, oral history, as well as storytelling and poetry. This expansion is Wordfest's way of answering a call for more stories in more forms, more voices, and more reasons to listen and enjoy. 

This year's Wordfest is dedicated to the joyful memory of Laurey Masterton, beekeeper, chef, author, activist, entrepreneur, educator, and reminder to us all of how important it is that we "Don't Postpone Joy." Please cook up your favorite Laurey recipe and come prepared to read from one of her books or something you have written with her at heart. We'll have a Laurey Joy-Read! And in honor of Laurey, this year's motif for the Wordfest celebration of words is that little creature who the ancient Greeks believed if it stung your lips, you would have the gift the words, the honey bee. Spread the buzz. And come to Wordfest 7!.

Thank you!

more from poet Laura Hope-Gill


The Presenters

More artists to come . . .

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is a professor of English atState University of NewYork-Fredonia, where she teaches creative writing and environmental literature. She is the author of three poetry collections: LUCKYFISH (2011), winner of the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books; AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007), winner of the Balcones Prize; and MIRACLE FRUIT (2003), winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, the Global Filipino Award and a finalist for The Glasgow Prize and the Asian American Literary Award. Her first chapbook, FISHBONE (2000)... learn more


Connie Regan-Blake, is one of America’s most celebrated storytellers. She has captivated the hearts and imaginations of people around the globe with her powerful performances and workshops. Entertaining audiences in 47 states and 16 countries, she brings the wisdom, humor and drama of stories to main stage concert halls, libraries and into the corporate world. Both as a solo artist and a member of the acclaimed Folktellers duo, Connie has been featured on seven award-winning recordings – five audio and two videos produced by PBS. New Age Magazine, School Library Journal, and Southern Living have praised her work. She has been a guest on NPR’s... learn more


Quraysh Ali Lansana is author of They Shall Run: Harriet Tubman Poems (Third World Press, 2004) and the poetry collection Southside Rain (Third World Press, 2000); The Big World, a children's book, (Addison-Wesley, 1999); and three poetry chapbooks, bloodsoil (sooner red) (Center for the American Land, May 2009), Greatest Hits: 1995-2005 (Pudding House Publications, 2006) and cockroach children: corner poems and street psalms (nappyhead press, 1995). He is the editor of Glencoe/McGraw-Hill's African American Literature Reader (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 2001), and I Represent and dream in yourself, which are two anthologies of literary works from Chicago's ... learn more


Tracey Schmidt, She attended Georgia State University and the Portfolio Center, where she studied literature and photography. At the age of 19, she moved to Japan to live in a Buddhist monastery. Her spiritual practices there awakened a desire to return to American in search of a tradition that was as authentic and indigenous in America as Buddhism has been for her in Japan. The Awakening of Turtle Island is the result of that search. She is pleased to be here in Asheville. In 2000 she was invited to teach creativity at Julia Cameron’s, (author of The Artists Way), Taos Creativity Camp. She continues to teach creativity and poetry in the area... learn more


Doug and Darcy Orr Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Journey from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, co-authored by Doug Orr and Fiona Ritchie, producer and host of NPR's The Thistle & Shamrock,  Darcy Orr as art editor, and the foreword by Dolly Parton. Book cover endorsements include Rosanne Cash and Kathy Mattea. The book tells of the epic migration journey of the music beginning with the troubadours of the Middle Ages through Scotland, Ireland and into the Southern Appalachian Mountains, highlighted with over thirty interviews, including Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Doc Watson, David Holt, Jean Ritchie and Sheila Kay Adams. Published by the UNC Press... learn more


Jaki Shelton Green 2009 Piedmont Laureate, has received a variety of awards and honors for her work, including the North Carolina Award for Literature (2003), Artist-in Residence at The Taller Portobelo Artist Colony (2006) in Panama, and the 2007 Sam Ragan Award.  Her poetry has appeared in publications such as The Crucible, The African-American Review, Obsidian, Poets for Peace, Ms. Magazine, Essence Magazine, KAKALAK, Callaloo, Cave Canem African American Writers Anthology, and The Pedestal Magazine. Her publications (Carolina Wren Press) include Dead on Arrival, Dead on Arrival and New Poems, Masks, Conjure Blues, singing a tree into dance... learn more


Griffin Payne is an award-winning spoken word poet, teaching artist, and activist in both the Queer and mental health communities. He is the former Director and SlamMaster of Poetry Slam Asheville, as well as a former classroom teacher and mental healthcare worker. His first album of spoken word poetry will be released at the end of May 2013 through Gigantic Ego Music, an independent label based out of Paris, France, and his first book of poetry will be published through Lethe Press at the end of 2013. In addition to performances, Griffin earns his living by teaching workshops in spoken word and other forms of radical storytelling in schools... learn more


Janet Hurley, has been writing since she was in first grade ( she titled her first story The Eye!). She received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has a BA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill , where she completed the honors program in creative writing. She's a frequent contributor to VERVE Magazine. and Our State Magazine. Janet has collaborated with the Thomas Wolfe Memorial site to offer writing camps and afterschool classes since June 2008. She also works with other homeschool groups, private schools, and organizations.Janet has a long history of working with... learn more


Helen Losse is the author of two full length poetry books, Seriously Dangerous (Main Street Rag, 2011) and Better With Friends (Rank Stranger Press, 2009) and three chapbooks.  Her poems have been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and three times for a Best of the Net award, one of which was a finalist.  Her poems have been anthologized in In the Arms of Words: Poems For  Disaster Relief, Washing the Color of Water Golden: A Hurricane Katrina Anthology, and Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont.  Losse is the Poetry Editor Emeritus of The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.  Her new book Facing a Lonely West will be... learn more


Laura Blackley is a writer, musician, and artisan farmer living in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. She hosts and produces two shows for WNCW--Local Color, which spotlights music from throughout WNCW's listening area, and Southern Sirens, celebrating the formidable contributions made by southern women, past and present, to the world of music... learn more


Byron Ballard: I am a rootworker and energy consultant; a freelance writer and an urban farmer; a weaver of words and webs, and I may have found a hat rack here on which to hang all my bonnets... learn more


Chelsea La Bate is a poet, composer, songwriter, performer. She likes sparkly things. She likes solitude and long walks by the sea. She constructs songs with colored markers, a notebook, a rhyming dictionary, a kids keyboard and a guitar. She went to the same school as Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen Dylan Thomas, Patti Smith, and Bob Dylan – it’s called New York City. Her dad did not pay for it. She lived in a monastery overlooking the Chelsea Hotel. She had to wake up very early. The bed was very small. She wrote and prayed a lot. She spent every night in a bar listening to music. Playing music. Eating music. She played in the Anti-Folk scene in... learn more


Dale Neal is the author of the novels, The Half-Life of Home, and Cow Across America, winner of the 2009 Novello Literary Prize. His short fiction and essays have appeared in Arts & Letters, Carolina Quarterly, Marlboro Review, Crescent Review and many other literary journals. A graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, he has been awarded fellowships to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Hambidge Center and the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland. One of the last surviving American journalists, he is a prize-winning writer for the Asheville Citizen-Times, having covered... learn more


Kurma Murrain is a Philologist from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and is a published Colombian-American poet. Her works include a book of poems titled Esta Soy (This who I am) published in 1998 and various other literary works in the United States. Her second book, In the Prism of Your Soul will be published in spring-summer of 2014. Her poetry has appeared in international publications and online magazines such as El Tiempo, Que Pasa, La Noticia, Label Me Latina/o, and Iodine Poetry Journal. In addition, she has translated books from English to Spanish that include Life in the Shadow of the Swastika by Frieda Roos-Van Hessen and Honoring... learn more


Lisa Smith Bruer earned her M.A. in Film Production from the Ohio University School of Film where she first taught Film History and Film Production. Her production experience includes documentary, educational, television advertising and experimental/artistic film and video. Her work has been screened at various film festivals including the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Walker Art Center’s Independent Filmmaker Series and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, as well as on Public Television as part of “The Independents” series. Her production credits include awards from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the... learn more


Tommy Hays's first middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You was chosen as a Fall 2013 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and was recommended by The Atlanta Constitution as one of 12 books of 2013 for younger readers. His adult novel, The Pleasure Was Mine, was a Finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award in 2006, and has been chosen for numerous community reads. His other novels are Sam’s Crossing, which has been recently re-released, and In the Family Way, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. He directs the Great Smokies Writing Program and is Core Faculty for the Master of Liberal Arts program at UNC... learn more


José G. Vázquez is a multidisciplinary artist who describes himself as an artisan. He was born in Mexico and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina since 1996. He writes poetry and short stories. In addition to being a photographer, he is a versatile visual artist. In his latest creative exploration, he has worked on the production of documentaries that focus on social issues. Currently he is recording his first CD of poetry titled What are friends for? learn more


Ekua Adisa is the place where many roads converge; she delights in being found difficult to characterize, and urges people to honor the intersections of identity. A long time organizer, a healing artist and diviner, and a self-proclaimed radical with very queer politics, Ekua uses poetry and other word forms to unveil difficult truths while creating spaces for bridges to be built across lines of separation. For her, the most potent form of soul medicine is the story, and she writes with the hope of using her story to help others on their own healing journeys. Ekua's writing speaks to social, cultural, and environmental issues while remaining... learn more


Irania Patterson is a dynamic and versatile performer, children’s author and educator who likes to work with audiences of all ages. Her bilingual children’s picture book Chipi Chipis, Small Shells of the Sea/Chipi Chipi Caracolitos del Mar (CPCC Press 2006) was an International Reading Association Children’s Choice Award for 2006. She is the author of Wings and Dreams: The Legend of Angel Falls. (Novello Press 2010). She is also co-author of several books for librarians across the US. She was invited to participate in The IDEA World Conference 2013 in Paris for co writing the play Mama Goose.
For the past 15 years she has worked as... learn more


Ann Dunn lives in Asheville, North Carolina. She is a full time faculty member, teaching courses in The Medieval and Renaissance World and Arts and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where she was awarded Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award in Humanities. Dunn also serves as Artistic Director of The Asheville Ballet and owns its official studio, The Asheville Academy of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. In addition to Bachelors, Masters and PhD concentrations on Shakespearian Studies and The Literature of the Italian Renaissance, Dunn has won scholarships to writing retreats like Bread Loaf and Weymouth, and has won... learn more


David Hopes' play Anna Livia, Lucky in Her Bridges, opened the 08-09 season for Chicago’s Bailiwick Theater. The previous season it had won a Desert Star award for the best new script when it premiered at the Thorny Theater in Palm Springs. The first of his Lincoln trilogy, The Loves of Mr Lincoln, is under development by SunnySpot productions, aiming for New York premiere in 2010. Saint Patrick’s Well was given a triumphant reading by New York’s Penguin Rep in July, 2009, and Critics, commissioned by the North Carolina Watercolor Society, premiered at their annual conference. Other appearances of Hopes plays include several... learn more


Cynn Chadwick was born and raised in New Jersey but has lived in the South for over twenty five years. She is the author of the newly released novella, That's Karma, Baby..., and novels: Angels & Manners, As The Table Turns, The Cat Rising Series: Cat Rising, Girls With Hammers, and Babies, Bikes, & Broads, as well as the upcoming Cutting Loose, #4 in the Cat Rising Series (2014).
In January 2011, Napping Porch Press released the ebook editions of a series of "Shorts" stories and non-fiction essays: Naomi's Jeep Cherokee, The Dead Guy, and Simple Gifts were published exclusively for... learn more


Caleb Beissert is a poet, translator, musician, and freelance writer from Washington, D.C., now living in Asheville, North Carolina. His work has appeared in International Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review, WNC Magazine, and Beatitude: Golden Anniversary, 1959-2009. Beissert’s first book, a selection of English-language adaptations of the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca, Beautiful: Translations from the Spanish, was published by New Native Press in 2013.
In 2008 Beissert was granted the honor of participating in the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series, culminating in a reading... learn more


Pasckie Pascua is a veteran journalist and poet who survived a dictatorial regime in his home-country of the Philippines, then journeyed and backpacked his way through people’s love for words, passion for community, and madness for food. He is also a teacher, filmmaker, publisher, artist, musician, events organizer, and cook. Pasckie went to the University of the Philippines' Institute of Mass Communication, and attended undergrad Film programs at Tisch School of Arts, New York University. From late-70s to early-90s, he was a member of many progressive writers/theater/artist organizations in Manila. Before he made the United States his adapted home... learn more


Jadwiga McKay has been weaving and sharing her poetry for many years, from the islands of Greece to the art networks of Michigan’s Tri-Cities to the mountains of Western North Carolina. She has curated poetry and other arts events. Her poetry has been published in Cardinal Sins. Her writing takes shape from a variety of influences including European poetic greats, such as Wisława Szymborska and Katerina Anghelaki-Rooke, American confessional styles, and the works of songwriters like Tom Waits. She often takes cues from the rhythms of the seas, the magical patterns of birds, and the hearts of history. Her poetry both entertains and invites her... learn more


Adam Tanner Born in NY state and raised in Northern California, Adam was introduced to music via Suzuki Violin training at the age of nine. Adam's older brother Evan, also, had a keen interest in music and played the guitar, eventually teaching Adam enough rudiments on that instrument to keep his interest growing. Adam's high school years were a pivotal time in his musical development, when he was exposed to Bluegrass Music and took up the mandolin. As a young adult he spent most of his spare time seeking out recordings and attending concerts and jam sessions; expanding his knowledge and vocabulary of southern Appalachian vocal... learn more


Tara Lynne Groth is a full-time freelance writer and the author of three poetry books. Her poetry has surfaced in Iodine, Best of the Raleigh Reading Series, six times in Mused Literary Review, and other journals. Last year her poetry was selected by Winston-Salem Writers' Poetry in Plain Sight program. She lives in a small town near Raleigh with the love of her life. She is one of the organizers of the Triangle's largest group of poets, Living Poetry. Her Twitter handle is @writenaked. learn more


Bartholomew Barker is a poet based in Hillsborough, North Carolina. His poetry made the Top 25 nationally in the 2013 Poem-a-Day Challenge. Wednesday Night Regular, his debut poetry book, was published in November 2013. Bart's work has appeared in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Three Line Poetry, and the anthology Point Mass. He is one of the organizers of the Triangle's largest group of poets, Living Poetry. His Twitter handle is @bartbarkerpoet. learn more


Mary Ellen Phillips has been a community builder and non-profit worker in inner city Philadelphia, London and India for over 10 years while writing about her experiences and raising five children abroad. She has been teaching community classes in poetry for the last three years and has received scholarships and grants for her work in The Poetics of Community. learn more




Asheville Wordfest contextualizes an intercultural poetry festival as journalism. By presenting diversity in the line-up, we draw diversity in audience. An outreach project of The Mountain Area Information Network, a non-profit media network, in Asheville, NC, we take down the wall between literature and life, art and reality, and pull everything together. Asheville Wordfest will present a panel at AWP in Chicago. We are funded by NCArts and the North Carolina Humanities Council and private sponsorship. University of North Carolina-Asheville, Warren Wilson College, Bookworks, Malaprops, and the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center are our partners. If you are interested in sponsoring a poet's reading or travel, please contact us! This is how we build our festival. Asheville Poetry, Poetry Festival, poet reading, North Carolina Poetry, Poetry in Asheville, Asheville Wordfest, Wordfest 2009, poetry festival, poets, Asheville Poetry Festival, word festival