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SouthWord 2023 Schedule

Join us in Chattanooga for two days of literary discussions with some of the South's most compelling writers.

Chattanooga Convention Center

Friday, April 14

1-1:30 p.m., Ballroom E&F
Welcome Remarks and Poetry — SoLit and Erika Roberts
Join us for a few opening words from our board and a poetry performance by Chattanooga's own Erika Roberts of Velvet Poetry.
1:45-2:45 p.m., Ballroom E&F
Place as a Character — Maurice Carlos Ruffin
PEN nominee Maurice Carlos Ruffin will read and discuss how neighborhoods, towns, and regions have shaped and become the stories in his work.
Moderated by Alina Stefanescu.
3-5 p.m., Hallway adjacent to Ballroom E&F
Book Sales and Signings
The Book & Cover will be onsite for book sales, and visiting authors will rotate for signings. (Signing schedule TBA.)
3-4 p.m., Ballroom E&F
Reading and Q&A — Richard Bausch
Acclaimed novelist and short-story author Richard Bausch will read from selected works and answer questions about his life and career.
3-4 p.m., Meeting Room 3
Reading and Conversation — Kimberly Brock and Janelle Williams
Best-selling authors Janelle Williams and Kimberly Brock will read from selected works and discuss their respective journeys as writers, women, and Southerners.
Moderated by Mary Romero Ferguson.
4:15-5:15 p.m., Ballroom E&F
Community Story Exchange presented by Narrative 4
The shortest distance between two people is a story, and we want to hear yours! Join Narrative 4 for a Community Story Exchange. Participants will share a true story with a partner, hear their story told back to them in the first person, and then reflect on the process of inhabiting their partner's story. We invite you to build connection and community as part of this unique and immersive storytelling experience. All are welcome!  
5:15 p.m., Ballroom E&F
Closing Remarks and Poetry — Michael "Arche" Twitty
Our first day of programming ends with a word from the SoLit Board and a poetry reading by local artist Michael "Arche" Twitty.
7-10 p.m., Slim & Husky's
Poetry and Pizza with Rhyme N Chatt
The fun continues after hours with spoken word poetry performances at Slim and Husky’s on Chattanooga’s historic East ML King Blvd!
*This offsite event is free and open to the public!

Saturday, April 15

9-10 a.m., Ballroom E&F
Changing the World with Stories — Silas House, Beverly Lowry and Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Stories are the one common bond every person shares. They have the potential and the power to champion our differences and mend our divisions. In this panel discussion, acclaimed authors will explore how fiction invites readers to broaden their perspectives and how the diversity of experiences readers encounter can shape how they move through the world in positive and tangible ways. This event is sponsored by Narrative 4, a global non-profit that uses storytelling and the arts to foster connection and build community.
Moderated by Mary McCampbell.
10:15-11:15 a.m., Ballroom E&F
The Foodways of Women — Lisa Marie Donovan
James Beard award-winning essayist, author, and chef Lisa Marie Donavan in conversation about her writing, as well as Southern women's role in the culture and economics of food.
Moderated by Lauren Zilen, owner of Niedlov's Bakery.
10:15-11:15 a.m., Meeting Room 3
Emerging Voices in Verse — Dr. Han VanderHart and Alina Stefanescu
Han and Alina will join celebrated local poet Christian Collier to read poems then discuss their collective work and today's vibrant poetry scene.
11 a.m.-2 p.m., Hallway adjacent to Ballroom E&F
Book Sales and Signings
The Book & Cover will be onsite for book sales, and visiting authors will rotate for signings. (Signing schedule TBA.)
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Ballroom E&F
Chronicling Life in the South — Rick Bragg
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and memoirist Rick Bragg will join WUTC's Ray Bassett for a wide-ranging discussion of Rick's writings, career and the landscape of Southern literature.
12:30-1:45 p.m.
Lunch On Your Own
Explore downtown Chattanooga's delicious local eateries!
2-3 p.m., Ballroom E&F
Reading and Conversation — Clyde Edgerton and Beverly Lowry
Two of our region’s most gripping and successful writers in conversation about place, history, and Southern identity.
Moderated by Paul Luikart.
2-3 p.m., Meeting Room 3
In Conversation with a Rap Dad — Juan Vidal
Juan Vidal is a writer, journalist, cultural critic, and contributor to NPR, Vibe, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and GQ. He’ll discuss his memoir, Rap Dad, about the intersection of fatherhood, race, and hip-hop culture.
Moderated by Napierra Alexander of Brewer Media and the Chattanooga Hip Hop Summit.
3:15-4:15, Ballroom E&F
The Possibilities of Poetry — Major Jackson
Guggenheim fellow. Poetry editor of the Harvard Review. Professor at Vanderbilt University. Major Jackson has a storied career and is set to release Razzle Dazzle, a collection of new and selected prior works, this fall. He’ll read from his work and join local poet and artist Erika Roberts about their lives, verses, communities, and upcoming projects.
3:15-4:15, Meeting Room 3
In Conversation with Daniel Wallace
Daniel Wallace is the author of six novels, including Big Fish, which was adapted and released as a movie and a Broadway musical. His novels have been translated into over three-dozen languages. His essays and interviews have been published in The Bitter Southerner, Garden & Gun, Poets & Writers and Our State magazine, where he was, for a short time, the barbecue critic. His short stories have appeared in over fifty magazines and periodicals. He was awarded the Harper Lee Award, given to a nationally recognized Alabama writer who has made a significant lifelong contribution to Alabama letters. He was inducted into the Alabama Literary Hall of Fame in 2022. He is the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
4:30-4:45, Ballroom E&F
Closing Remarks and Poetry — SoLit and Christian Collier
Our 2023 festival closes with a word from the SoLit Board and a poetry reading from Christian Collier.

Get your tickets now — along with special pricing on festival shirts and tote bags!

If you're interested in volunteering, sign up here.
Make sure to thank our sponsors:
  • Chattanooga Times Free Press
  • EPB
  • Lyndhurst Foundation
  • Narrative 4
  • Unum
Lyndhurst Foundation
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