Behold, our Director of Poetry!

If you've attended Unbound before, you probably recognize this guy. Gabriel Fried is a core member of the Unbound team. He is on our programming committee, and every year he brilliantly curates our roster of poets. He also has a habit of doing irritatingly eloquent and smart introductions which make the rest of us (well, OK, me) feel rather inadequate. But we love him anyway.

Gabriel Fried.jpg

Gabe is also an accomplished and renowned poet. He is the author of The Children Are Reading (Four Way Books, 2017), and Making the New Lamb Take (Sarabande, 2007), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, and named a top poetry collection of 2007 by Foreword Reviews and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He is also the editor of an anthology, Heart of the Order: Baseball Poems and longtime poetry editor at Persea Books. He teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Missouri. We're thrilled that this year he'll be reading from his own work, in addition to performing his other Unbound duties. 

Posted on November 20, 2017 .

Buy Books and Raise Money for Unbound!

Can we ask you a favor?

On Saturday December 2, our friends at Barnes & Noble are hosting a book fair to raise money for Unbound. Basically, the way it works is that they donate a percentage of any money you spend in the store or online that day to us. It doesn't cost you a cent, but we benefit hugely. The deal doesn't just apply to books - anything you purchase (including records, coffees, toys, etc.) is included. In other words, it's a perfect opportunity for you to do your Christmas shopping and help us out at the same time.  

There's a voucher at the bottom of this post that you can print out and bring with you - but you don't even need to do that. We'll be in attendance all day and will have what you need to make sure that your purchases qualify for the donation. (If you purchase online then you will need the voucher code.) 

To sweeten the deal, we'll be putting on various events during the course of the day. We'll post a fuller schedule nearer the time, but look out for some popular local authors - including Tigers football coach Gary Pinkel at 2 p.m., who will be signing copies of his autobiography, The 100 Yard Journey. (Can you think of a better gift for the Mizzou football fan in your life?) We'll also be offering a free gift-wrap service all day and will have various goodies to give away.

Thanks! We'll look forward to seeing you on December 2!

B&N Book Fair Voucher.jpg
Posted on November 15, 2017 .

Adrian Matejka is Your Next Monday Morning Poet. You're welcome.

Guggenheim fellow? Check. National Book Award finalist? Check. Pulitzer Prize finalist? Check. Pushcart Prize? Check. Adrian Matejka's poetry has received astonishing recognition and countless awards, but don't take our word for how wonderful he is. Come and hear him for yourself at Unbound in April.  He'll be reading from his dazzling collection of work and participating in our panel on Poetry and Boxing.


Adrian was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up in California and Indiana. He is a graduate of Indiana University and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) which won the New York / New England Award and Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. Mixology was also a finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. His collection of poems, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and 2014 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His new book, Map to the Stars, was released from Penguin in March 2017. Among Matejka’s other honors are the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, two grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Julia Peterkin Award, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and a Simon Fellowship from United States Artists. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington and is currently working on a new collection of poems, Hearing Damage, and a graphic novel. We are so excited to welcome him to Columbia!

Posted on November 13, 2017 .

Poets, we got 'em. (First in a Series.)

Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue. This especially applies when you are programming a book festival, as it turns out. But we waited, and we waited, and like the Canadian Mounties, we finally got our man (or woman in this instance.)

We have been hoping that Gabrielle Calvocoressi would come to Unbound pretty much since we cooked up the idea of a book festival, and we're delighted that for us third time is a charm. She's a fabulously talented poet and you will not want to miss the chance to hear her read and speak. 

Gaby Calvocoressi.jpg

Gaby is the author of The Last Time I Saw Amelia EarhartApocalyptic Swing (a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize) and Rocket Fantastic, which was released by Persea Books in September 2017. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including a Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship from Stanford University, a Rona Jaffe Woman Writer's Award, a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa, TX, the Bernard F. Conners Prize from The Paris Review, and a residency from the Civitella di Ranieri Foundation, among others.

Her poems have been published in numerous magazines and journals including the New York TimesPOETRYBoston Review, and Kenyon Review. She is an Editor at Large at Los Angeles Review of Books, and co-curates the digital maker's space Voluble. She is working on a memoir entitled The Year I Didn't Kill Myself, and a novel, The Alderman of the Graveyard. She lives in North Carolina and teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Posted on November 6, 2017 .

Camille Dungy!

Well, it's been quite a week.

Last Monday we announced that Zadie Smith is next year's keynote speaker. Three days later, every seat in the Missouri Theatre for the event on April 20 was reserved. (If you didn't get a ticket, don't worry: click here for more details.) 

What makes the event more exciting still is that Zadie Smith will be joined onstage by another brilliant, multi award-winning writer - the poet and essayist Camille T. Dungy.

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Camille is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade, and an extraordinary essay collection, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys Into Race, Motherhood and History. She has also edited anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, 100 Best African American Poems, and many other print and online venues.

Her honors include an American Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal, two NAACP Image Award nominations, fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and a fellowship from the NEA. She is a professor at Colorado State University.

We're delighted to be welcoming Camille to Columbia. In addition to interviewing Zadie Smith on Friday evening, she'll also be appearing at the festival on Saturday to discuss her essays and poetry. 

Posted on October 30, 2017 .

Zadie update: Sold out but Don't Panic!


We have been overwhelmed with the response to our announcement that Zadie Smith will be our keynote speaker next April. To our delight, all tickets for the event were snapped up in just a few days. And the Missouri Theatre is a big venue.

While we're thrilled that Columbia has embraced Zadie's appearance with such excitement and enthusiasm, we also know that there are some disappointed people out there who did not act quickly enough to reserve their tickets. 

If you're one of those people, this post is for you. And we say: Don't Panic.

It’s been our experience over the first two years of the festival that a lot of people reserve tickets and then (for whatever reason) don’t show up on the night. That means: if you want to see Zadie Smith but you don't have a ticket, you should come to the Missouri Theatre on April 20 anyway. Just come a little early. We’ll have a "no-show” line and will start letting people without tickets into the theatre at 7.15 to fill all empty seats at that time.

While we can’t make any promises, what we can tell you is that in the past two years, everyone who showed up on the night was admitted to the event. So: don't despair! You may just have to turn up a little earlier than you'd planned.

Posted on October 27, 2017 .

Our 2018 Keynote Speaker is ZADIE SMITH!

We're beyond thrilled to announce that next year's keynote speaker will be the best-selling, multi award-winning British novelist and essayist, Zadie Smith. Zadie will be speaking at the Missouri Theatre on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 7.30 p.m. Tickets are FREE and available now by clicking on this link. [Update: all tickets have now been reserved, but don't worry. Click here to read what you should do if you would still like to attend.]

You can read the Columbia Tribune's reporting of this news here.

Zadie Smith (c) Dominique Nabokov.jpg

Zadie Smith is one of the most exciting voices in contemporary writing. She was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She read English at Cambridge, before graduating in 1997. 

Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000), is a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London, told through the stories of three ethnically diverse families. The book won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). It has been translated into over twenty languages and was adapted for Channel 4 television for broadcast in autumn 2002. 

Her second novel, The Autograph Man (2002), a story of loss, obsession and the nature of celebrity, won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction. In 2003 and 2013 she was named by Granta magazine as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’. On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction and her fourth novel NW was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction and was named as one of The New York Times ‘10 Best Books of 2012.’ Zadie Smith writes regularly for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. She has published one collection of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (2009) and a new book of essays entitled Feel Free will be published next February. Her new novel is Swing Time (November 2016). In 2017 she was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters. 

Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University.

Posted on October 23, 2017 .

Children's Author Salina Yoon!

A very important part of Unbound's programming involves presenting nationally-renowned children's authors for the edification of our younger festival goers. Every year we have brought award-winning writers, illustrators, and entertainers to Columbia, and this year is no exception. (We're also expanding our "Authors in the Schools" project which takes place on the day before the festival, Friday April 20. More on that at a later date.)

We're very pleased to announce our first children's author for 2018, Salina Yoon. Salina will be appearing at local schools on Friday and then charming audiences on Saturday at the festival itself. Parents with younger kiddos will not want to miss her presentation!


Salina is the award-winning author and illustrator of over 160 (yes, you read that right) books for children. As the Kohl’s Cares featured author for summer 2016, seven of her books (nearly 1 million units), and four plush animals based on her characters, were sold nationwide in Kohl’s stores that year. She is the author and illustrator of the six-book Penguin picture book series that begins with PENGUIN AND PINECONE, the creator of the the picture book series featuring Bear, that includes FOUND, STORMY NIGHT, and BEAR’S BIG DAY (Bloomsbury), and the early reader series beginning with DUCK DUCK PORCUPINE (Bloomsbury). You can read more about Salina and her projects at

Posted on October 16, 2017 .

New frontiers

True to our name, we at Unbound are always trying to expand the scope of the festival and the kinds of literature represented there. As part of that ongoing quest, this year we're thrilled to welcome John Kessel, the acclaimed author of multiple award-winning books of science fiction and speculative fiction - a new area for the festival. 

John Kessel.jpg

John's speculative fiction includes the recently published novel The Moon and the Other, the novels Good News from Outer Space, Corrupting Dr. Nice, and Freedom Beach (with James Patrick Kelly), and the collections Meeting in Infinity, The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence and Other Stories. His fiction has received the Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Locus Award, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award. February 2018 will see the publication of his new novel, Pride and Prometheus, by Simon & Schuster.

Kessel teaches American literature and fiction writing at North Carolina State University where he helped found the MFA program in creative writing and served twice as its director. He lives with his wife, the novelist (and fellow Unbound guest) Therese Anne Fowler, in Raleigh.

Posted on October 9, 2017 .

Calling All Writers! Submit Your Work to the "Boundless" Anthology!

Every year we at Unbound look for new and different ways to involve members of the wider writing community in the festival. In past years we've run contests for a spot on the program and held an Independent Author Fair. For 2018, in collaboration with Compass Flower Press, we'll be producing an anthology to celebrate our third year of operation, which we'll launch at the festival. And we'd like you to contribute.

We're calling the anthology Boundless, and that's also the prompt for entries. Any piece on this theme - whatever you choose to make of it - is admissible, either fiction or nonfiction. There's a 3,000 word limit on entries. There's no fee to enter, and all entries chosen for inclusion will receive a free copy of the anthology - and of course we hope you'll come to the festival to help us celebrate its launch into the world!

And, oh yes, we're also offering a prize of $1,000 for the best entry.

The submission deadline is November 30, 2017. For more details and the online entry form, click on this link.

Good luck!

Posted on October 8, 2017 .