Next weekend, October 8th-10th, Wordstock will kick off their annual book and literary festival here in Portland. Wordstock is a non-profit organization that celebrates and supports writing in the classroom and in the community. The festival, one of the largest of its kind in the nation, showcases the literary achievement of contemporary writers.

This year, the Wordstock schedule includes eight current and former WITS writers and affiliates. Among the WITS writers featured are Ismet Prcic, Emma Oliver, Elyse Fenton, Carmen Bernier-Grand, and Mary Rechner, former WITS writer and current WITS Program Director. In addition, Wordstock will feature John Morrison, a poet and former WITS Program director, and Cecilia Hagen, a WITS Summit participant who will be doing a poetry reading. Nancy Sullivan, Librarian at Madison High School, and the President-Elect of OASL, the Oregon Association of School Libraries will speak on the panel “Banned” with Mary Rechner.

Ismet Prcic, a current WITS writer, will be reading from his debut novel, Shards, which tells the story of a young Bosnian who flees his war-torn homeland. Of his process transforming the reality of his experience into fiction, Prcic writes: “what I noticed was that, over time, I had started to exaggerate. My story became more and more dramatic, my role in it more and more heroic, and these strangers — who didn’t know what a wuss I am in real life — believed me. I asked myself what is the difference between story and this so-called reality?”

Joining Ismet Prcic in the ranks of WITS writers featured at Wordstock is Elyse Fenton, a new WITS writer. Elyse will read from her poetry collection CLAMOR, which won the 2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, Cleveland State University Press First Book Award and the Texas Institute of Letters‘ Bob Bush Memorial Award. The collection poignantly captures her experience as a “war bride” after her husband joined the military as a medic in the Iraq war, and showcases Fenton’s elegant, candid style in poems such as “Gratitude”. On the literary blog, How a Poem Happens, Elyse writes: “Many of the poems in Clamor were borne of these fragments of communication—shards, really, because of the way they refracted experience, the way they stuck beneath the nail beds and refused to be dislodged.”
Join us this weekend at the Oregon Convention Center for the Wordstock Festival, to hear from Izzy, Elyse and many other gifted writers associated with the WITS program.

See the complete Wordstock schedule online at:
http://schedule.wordstockfestival.com/

—Acacia, WITS intern