2017 Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Angela Courtney
Washington County Library System in partnership with Turnrow Books Announces The Launch Of Its Inaugural Literary Arts In The Delta Festival
December 18, 2017 (Greenville, Miss.) — The Washington County Library System in Greenville, Miss., in partnership with the Greenwood, Miss.-based Turnrow Book Company, will unveil its inaugural Literary Arts in the Delta Festival (Lit in the Delta Fest) at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, December 19, 2017 on the steps of the E. E. Bass Cultural Arts Center, 323 South Main Street, Greenville, Miss.
The free all-day Festival is slated for March 10, 2018, during National Reading Month, at E. E. Bass Cultural Arts Center, 323 South Main Street and at 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. and at William Percy Library, 341 Main Street in Greenville, Miss. Food vendors, art and books for all ages also will be available.
The Festival seeks to engage communities from 17 counties in the Mississippi Delta Region including: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate and Washington in the State of Mississippi; and the counties of Chicot and Desha in the State of Arkansas.
The Festival will have more than 30 literary artists, including ReShonda Tate Billingsley and the legendary songwriter, documentary producer, former owner of Memphis-based Stax Records and former president of Motown Records Group, Al Bell. Bell, a Delta native (Brinkley, Ark.) is a Lifetime Grammy Award recipient and will present a lecture on his literary works in entertainment and the music industry. He has written and promoted artists including Prince, the Staple Singers, Issac Hayes and countless others. Bell’s award-winning documentary, Wattstax, will be discussed.
National best-selling author, ReShonda Tate Billingsley, has written more than 45 books, including published ones for youth. She is an actress, TV producer and national poetry champion. As such, she will be a part of a session critiquing and judging a Mississippi Delta Region Young Authors Competition.
Dolly Parton Imagination Library, Heifer International and Scholastic will be featured in a panel discussion on how books in the homes and hands of youth and families impact learning for a lifetime.
Dr. Maya Angelou’s film, Still I Rise will also be presented throughout the Festival day as well as art by ArtsPlace Mississippi. Still I Rise is directed by Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack and chronicles the life of poet laureate and literary scholar Dr. Maya Angelou.
Kay Clanton, Washington County Library System director says this Festival is not only a first for the region, but it fulfills an unmet need. “Greenville boasts “more published writers per capita” than any other town in the nation. Shelby Foote, Hodding Carter III, Ben Wasson, William Alexander Percy, Ellen Douglas, Beverly Lowry, Bern Keating, William Faulkner, Angela Jackson, Steve Azar, Julia Reed and many more birthed great literature from our region. Yet our region has never had a festival to engage and immerse in the literary arts until now,” Clanton said.
Clanton says the Festival is giving the community, region and youth exposure to authors and writers that they wouldn’t necessarily have a chance to see in person. “The community, as well as students from schools in the Mississippi Delta Region will be exposed to authors, publishers and writers who they perhaps, would not otherwise see in person. It will also give them a sense of community and regional pride to have such a high level of rich participation in their community. Another advantage to this Festival is (it’s) giving the community and region a way to acquire quality cultural programming that is local and free,” she said
“One very important aspect of our Festival is connecting youth with authors and writers to inspire their interest and enjoyment in reading and writing,” Clanton said. “With reading and writing workshops throughout the Festival, we are giving youth and communities in our region some of the same literary opportunities that other regions in our country have.”
Mayor Errick D. Simmons says he is proud that the city is becoming a literary destination for creative place making in the Mississippi Delta Region. “Creative place making is a very positive way to support economic and community development efforts. Our city is pleased to be a part of creating a destination for the literary arts. With our Festival, we are fulfilling an unmet void and helping to build and contribute to social, human and economic capital for our region, and that puts us on the right side of history,” he said.
The Festival is made possible in part with grant funding from the Mississippi Humanities Council. The Young Authors Writing Competition is made possible in part with grant funding from the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi.
Delta Radio, Courtney Marketing PR and Turnrow Books Company are premier sponsors of the Festival. Additional sponsors include: Scholastic, Hope Credit Union, Planters Bank and Trust, and the Reed Family Charitable Foundation.
Festival partners include: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, ArtPlace Mississippi, Delta Rhythm and Blues Bayou Alliance, City of Greenville, Heifer International, Imagination Library, Greenville Arts Council and E.E. Bass Cultural Arts Center, Mississippi Library Commission, Washington County Economic Alliance, Greenville and Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Washington County Board of Supervisors.
Washington County Mississippi is in the districts of U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson, State Representative John Hines, Sr., and State Senator Derrick Simmons.
For more information, visit www.LitintheDeltaFest.com,“like” Literary Arts in the Delta Festival on Facebook, and follow @LitDeltaFest on Twitter and Instagram.