LEWISBURG (WVDN) – After a two-year hiatus and repeated cancelations due to COVID-19, the Lewisburg Literary Festival officially returns August 5 and 6 to downtown Lewisburg. This vibrant two-day event will feature visiting authors and national personalities, literary workshops, and book signings and sales. This year’s headliners are Garry Trudeau, Jennifer Pharr Davis, and Conor Knighton.
Festival events begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, August 5, with the opening of the Festival Bookstore in the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center. Here, visitors can meet authors and regional publishers or purchase festival merchandise and books. Additionally, A New Chapter Bookstore will carry titles from each of the festival headliners.
At 7 p.m., Cathey Sawyer will star in a one-woman play, All Under Heaven, based on the life of Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck. The performance will take place at the Lewis Theatre and is free to the public.
On Saturday, writers’ workshops will be held at the visitors center. Elizabeth Savage, professor of English at Fairmont State College and poetry editor of Kestrel: A Journal of Literature and Art, will lead a poetry workshop at 9 a.m. At 11 a.m., Sheila Redling, Huntington-based author of more than half a dozen novels, including best-selling thrillers Flowertown and The Widow File, will lead a prose workshop. The workshops are free and open to the public.
Throughout Saturday three keynote guests will speak at Carnegie Hall. Conor Knighton takes the stage at 1 p.m. Conor Knighton is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and the author of Leave Only Footprints, which follows his successful attempt to visit all the U.S. National Parks in 2016, the 100th Anniversary of the National Park System. A Native of Charleston, W.Va., and a graduate of George Washington High School and Yale University, Knighton has worked in TV since 2005. Leave Only Footprints was inspired by the cross-country segments he produced for CBS Sunday Morning. Much more than a straightforward tour of the parks, the book links these wildly different places thematically, and he manages to weave in plenty of personal history at the same time, revisiting his West Virginia roots.
At 3 p.m. Saturday, Outdoor adventurer and long-distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis will speak. Pharr Davis has published 10 books, including her Appalachian Trail memoir, Becoming Odyssa, and her empowering meditation on resilience, The Pursuit of Endurance. She has written articles for The New York Times, Outdoors, Backpacker, Trail Runner, and Blue Ridge Outdoors. Pharr Davis has hiked in all 50 states, and more than 14,000 miles on six continents. In 2011 she set the fastest known record time on the Appalachian Trail by finishing the 2,185-mile footpath in 46 days, averaging 47 miles a day. She was recognized by National Geographic in 2012 as Adventurer of the Year.
Finally, Pulitzer Prize-winning comic artist and creator of Doonesbury Garry Trudeau closes out the festival at 7 p.m. Trudeau was born in New York City in 1948, and was raised in Saranac Lake, N.Y. He attended Yale University, where he received his B.A. and an M.F.A. in graphic design. Doonesbury was launched in 1970, and currently appears in nearly 1200 daily and Sunday newspaper clients in the U.S. and abroad. His work has been collected in 62 hardcover, trade paperback and mass-market editions, which have cumulatively sold over 7 million copies worldwide. In 1975, Trudeau became the first comic strip artist ever to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1989, 2004 and 2005. His newest project is Dbury@50: The Complete Digital Doonesbury (Andrews McMeel, Nov. 17, 2020), a limited-edition book, poster, and USB set.
Saturday evening, the festival will close with an afterparty at Hill and Holler pizzeria featuring a Grateful Dead retrospective: The Storyteller, an homage to lyricist and poet Robert Hunter.
Tickets are no longer required for entry to Lewisburg Literary Festival events. Guests will be admitted on a first-come, first-seated basis. To learn more, visit LewisburgLiteraryFestival.com.