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Highlights of Arkansas Literary Festival 2014

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Along with all the other reasons to look forward to spring is the 2014 Arkansas Literary Festival which will take place Friday April 18, 2014 to Monday April 21, 2014. As usual this annual festival will feature a wide variety of events, many of which will appeal not only to writers but to anyone who appreciates great literature, film and other creative arts.

One of the first events is Shakespeare, Anecdotally on Friday April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at McCastlain 143 (Art Lecture Hall), UCA, in which Shakespearian expert Paul Menzer will share anecdotes from performances of Shakespeare’s plays stretching back 400 years. Menzer’s humorous noir mystery Invisible Inc. will be read by writers and performers at the Argenta Community Theater on Saturday at 4 p.m. Also on Friday at 7 p.m. is a special poetry event Spoken Word Live! during which the winners of a local city-wide poetry contest will read their poems and other writings. This event will take place at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

On Saturday April 19, 2014 at 12 p.m. the author of The Last Empress, Da Chen, will offer a very unique presentation at the Main LIbrary, Darragh Center, in which he will talk about his transition from lawyer to memoirist. He will also entertain the audience with his music and calligraphy. Saturday evening at 8 p.m. there will be a party, Author! Author! at the Main Library, 5th Floor to honor the festival authors. Hors d'oeuvres and libations will be served at this elegant little affair. Tickets are $40 at the door.

Sunday is the most eventful day of the festival and there is truly something for everyone, including a number of family activities like the production Just So Stories based on the work by Rudyard Kipling's of the same name, at the Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theater at 10 a.m. Another great event for young children is A Book Fiesta, taking place at the Children's Library & Learning Center, 11 a.m., in which little readers will be introduced to award-winning authors Carla Killough McClafferty, Darcy Pattison, Steven Teske, Duncan Tonatiuh, and Rita Williams-Garcia. There will also be refreshments, prizes and a piñata.

Wine lovers will enjoy an event hosted by wine aficionado Linda Murphy called American Wine at Zin Urban Wine & Beer Bar at 4 p.m. on Sunday, in which she will recount wine tasting stories and demonstrate the strides being made in winemaking. Admission is $15 at the door. Food & Travel at 11:30 a.m., presented by Salma Abdelnour, author of Jasmine & Fire: A Bittersweet Year in Beirut, will discuss identity and the meaning of home. The location for this event is Main Library, 5th Floor Lee Room.

Masterwork, taking place at that Main Library, Darragh Center, will spotlight the critically acclaimed novel Canada by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford on Sunday at 1 p.m. Carolyn Briggs will discuss her memoir Higher Ground and screen the documentary based on the book which she also penned at the Argenta Community Theater, 10 a.m. Briggs will also host Write Your Film at 1 p.m. featuring Raquel Cepeda and Sara Nesson at the same venue. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. will be on hand to discuss his first novel Freeman which explores the role of African American men in society, at 2:30 p.m. at MacArthur Museum of Arkansas History. At 11:30 a.m. three accomplished local writers -- Ty Jaeger, author of The Runaway Note; Garry Craig Powell, author of Stoning the Devil; and Dennis Vannatta, who wrote Around Centralia Square -- will be the guest speakers at Arkansas Authors, moderated by Brad Minnick at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.

Other highlights on Sunday include Cover to Cover: Understanding Comics at 4 p.m., Main Library, Level 4; Illustration at 2:30 p.m., Cox Creative Center, 3rd Floor; and ComiCALS from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Main Library, Level 4. The Artmobile will be available all day Sunday at the Arkansas Arts Center’s Children's Library & Learning Center and will feature a selection of unique artwork called Weird and Wonderful.

The finale that closes this four-day festival is an exciting one. Pulitzer Prize finalists, Karen Russell (Swamplandia and Vampires in the Lemon Grove) and Lydia Millet (Magnificence), will provide insights into their critically-acclaimed works at 3 p.m. on Monday April 21, 2014 at the Main Library, Darragh Center.

For more information on these activities and others at this year’s Arkansas Literary Festival visit: www.arkansasliteraryfestival.org

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