On September 24 and 25, the Luther College Writers Festival welcomed writers and readers of all kinds to campus. The festival has been postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having been held every two years since 2007. Led by English teacher Amy Weldon and Decorah author Keith Lesmeister (’01), The 2021 Writers’ Festival welcomed more than twenty published authors and publishers to talk about their experiences and their writing journeys. Topics ranged from details of writing processes to sharing knowledge and experiences in editing and publishing.
The mission of the Writers Festival is to celebrate the authors of the Driftless region and empower aspiring writers to take action to hone their craft and publish their work. The panels ranged from topics from the art of writing and editing to Midwestern writing, editing processes and being women of color in writing careers. Panelists included authors Andre Perry, Maisy Card, Margaret Yapp (’05) and English teacher David Faldet (’79).
Weldon’s remarks for the festival’s opening address, the Distinguished Farwell Lecture, delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks, addressed ideas that writing and reading connect us to the larger world.
âThe Luther College Writers Festival continues to celebrate the power of words to connect and inspire us in our ever-changing, ever-complex and ever-beautiful world,â said Weldon. âWords encourage reflection, words encourage change. Words work on people’s hearts, minds and souls.
By celebrating the written word, the directors hope that participants will be able to better understand and interpret the world around them. Lesmeister hopes festival attendees have been inspired and educated about writing, editing and publishing, as well as a sense of community empowerment to pursue the art of writing.
“[The Luther College Writers Festival] is a way to give students on campus and in the community greater access to and engage with these working writers, âLesmeister said. âListening to other writers talk about their own work, it comes to life in a way he might not otherwise have. My hope is that people will leave inspired, rejuvenated and excited to resume their writing projects.
Another goal of the directors was to provide Luther’s students with opportunities to connect with professional writers and editors. In Saturday’s panel, âMidwest Writing,â authors Andre Perry, Jennifer Colville and Nickolas Butler discussed the difficulties of writing and publishing outside the Midwest as opposed to the big cities. They expressed their frustration with the lack of opportunities for writers in rural areas, but also their appreciation for pioneering Midwestern writers like Toni Morrison, Louis L’Amour and Ernest Hemingway, who overcame these obstacles and encountered enormous success. They also expressed their gratitude for the strong community of writers in places like Iowa City and Decorah, and for the accessibility and encouragement of these communities. Major in English and Environmental Sciences Kira Dobberman (’22) appreciated the opportunity to hear and learn from working writers.
âI love coming to the Writing Festival and hearing people talk about their work, their process,â said Dobberman. “Just being around other people who are excited to write, who are all drawn to the same thing. It’s great fun to listen, compare the processes and see how I can improve my own. job.
Bridging the gap between students and career writers was a common goal of the two co-directors. Lesmeister and Weldon are already planning the 2023 Writers’ Festival and plan to continue expanding opportunities for Luther students and members of the Decorah community interested in taking the next steps with their writing.
“[The festival] goes well with Luther’s liberal arts education, âLesmeister said. âWe are here to provide students with a breadth of knowledge that they would not otherwise have. Most people have stories that they want to share, that they want to tell. A wonderful way to express yourself and to practice thinking and telling these stories is to write them down. ”