The campus publication committee organized a week-long event called Lit Fest, which is a series of events in the middle of April celebrating the written word. Here is a lowdown of the events I participated in. If I ever refer to myself as "we", I am referring to my fiction blog UW Flash Fiction, which is supported by PubCom who hosted Lit Fest in the first place.
Earlier in the semester, students were asked to submit poetry and prose to be read at Lit Fest. This is the event for which they read. I promoted my own publication along with assisted the organizers in getting things ready. When the event started, I sat down with some friends who won the contest and listened to the winners. Quite a few writings were amazing. It was great to listen to the author read their own work.
Badger Book Buddies
What's better than reading children's books? Reading children's books with children! For this event, students signed up to visit a local elementary school. We shared some of our favorite children's books, read them, and although we were supposed to talk about the books, it didn't happen. At least for me it didn't. I came in, I read them some Dr. Seuss, and then I played with them. It was fun. I finished up with another book and gave out some Badger tattoos and balloons. Then I donated the books I read to their collection. The teacher was really really thankful. She was also really really lively and great with the kids! This event was a real confidence booster, so if you need to bolster your self-esteem, volunteer with kids.
In support of the literary venues up and down State Street, Lit Fest scheduled a series of readings one rainy Saturday. Readings took place at two coffee shops and two bookstores. We were lucky to have Sarah Palin come 'round the Capitol that particular Saturday, otherwise our authors would have been reading to empty chairs. My editor and I braved the sleet, taped posters to poster columns, and made it to our destination. We were to hang out at a certain coffee house because the volunteer there was the only volunteer and needed help. So there we were. I dropped off flyers for our blog as well, and we stuck around the single coffee shop to listen and drink hot drinks. We heard a local author from Baraboo read from her latest work -- a ghost story set in Wisconsin. And the campus chancellor read some of her work as well, which was really awesome! Every single student who stayed to listen increased their respect for her about ten-fold. It was pretty amazing.
This was a small fair featuring all the different ways to get published on campus. Of course, I was there promoting my new flash fiction blog. I also met a woman from Verse Wisconsin, which publishes poetry but I think if (secret codename) Kelly was a poet turned fiction author, I could pretend to be a fiction-turned-poet for a bit. So I went and asked about the publication and how they balance being an online publication as well as a print. I even asked if they needed summer help, and she gave me her card in case we start accepting prose poetry so she could link us to her. I wrangled in my friend (secret codename) Michael to sit in for me as I wander about as well. I heard about the creative writing publication, which wasn't free for the taking like the others were. But I did pick up a few Women in REDzine, which is the latest in positive feminist writing. Then I asked one guy how one would start making a living freelance. And, to pick up the latest travel abroad journal, I visited a few friends in Souvenirs. I call it successful. I also managed to attempt to convince a poet to write a flash fiction. Go me.
A Night with Billy Collins
I admit, the most we did was attend the crowd of 1200 and did no promotion whatsoever. But it was still worth it. Billy Collins is hilarious and thoughtful and makes you think things you never thought before but you probably should have. Even so, it was really awesome. I took pictures and recorded a couple poems and generally had a blast.
Fundraiser at Noodles
I almost didn't go to this, but the committee director sent an email saying that only two people emailed her back about the dinner (me included) and hoped we would still show up. So I trudged out in the cold and sleet and when I got there, we talked about how every native Wisconsinite hates spring because of the ADD weather. Would you believe that the previous day was beautiful and gorgeous and warm? In any case, the fundraiser was a method to help raise money for Literacy Network, a non-profit organization that tutors people in English. To donate, place and order and mention the fundraiser. Then enjoy your plate of delicious, delicious noodles. We ordered, sat, ate, and talked about adrenaline rushes and world travel jet lag.