When we sit down to plan the programming of each year's festival, we try and capture a little of what's going on in the world around us. One of the things that was difficult to miss in 2017 was a blossoming of renewed political engagement for a lot of people. The Women's March that took place the day after Donald Trump's inauguration saw what has widely been acknowledged as the largest political protest in history, and that was a trend that continued throughout the year, as people continued to campaign, canvas, and protest against - well, you know. There was a lot. Politicians' telephones have been ringing off their hooks with citizens taking the time to let their elected representatives know exactly what they think. It's democracy at work, people.
On the day that we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it seems like a good idea to tell you that on April 21, we'll be convening a panel of writers to speak about the act of protest - what it looks like, what it means, and how we read and write about it.
One of our speakers on that panel is David Collins, whose award-winning book, Accidental Activists, tells the story of the marriage equality legal battle that took place in the Texas Supreme Court.
After earning a Ph. D. in English at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, David Collins taught English for forty years at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri (1973-2013). In his years at Westminster he published more than fifteen scholarly essays, most on Shakespeare or other medieval/Renaissance writers, but including several on Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, and Langston Hughes. His creative nonfiction essays have appeared in The New Laurel Review, The Hawaii Review, The Chariton Review, Pleiades, and Well Versed, Interpretations, and Uncertain Promise. Interviews with two Paris-based American writers, Diane Johnson and Jake Lamar, were published in The AWP Chronicle and Belles Lettres. He has written as well for St. Louis Magazine and Leadership Magazine (including one of his all-time favorites, a reflection on the night Maya Angelou spoke at Westminster College) and for fourteen months authored a column on life in Rwanda for the Fulton Sun.
We're so looking forward to our Protest! panel. It's going to be one of the unmissable events of the festival.