Literary Burlesque's inaugural Master of Ceremonies,
Craig Childs, at LitFest14.
In his book, A History of Reading, Manguel Alberto writes: “At one magical instant in your early childhood, the page of a book—that string of confused, alien ciphers—shivered into meaning. Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened. You became, irrevocably, a reader.” This is the spirit in which the Telluride Literary Arts Festival, now in its fourth year, was founded. Reading is something to cherish individually but also herald amongst friends and community.
LitFest is an opportunity to get together and celebrate the joy of reading and writing and to affirm a good ole fashioned past-time. One of the original conspirators behind Telluride’s newest shoulder-season event was also a longtime follower of book festivals. It was decided in 2014 that it was high time for Telluride to put on its own 3-day event for readers, writers and poets. The result? A power-packed weekend featuring everything from performance poetry, author talks, and literary burlesque, to moderated panel discussions, birding forays, and fun, hands-on bookish events for kiddos.
This mindful gathering is cobbled together by a coalition of regional writers and literature-loving organizations and businesses, supporting (and sustaining) the literary arts. Its organizing entities include the Ah Haa School for the Arts, Between the Covers Bookstore, Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds Poetry Program, Telluride Arts, the Wilkinson Public Library, and new in 2017, the R-1 School District. Falling the weekend before Mountainfilm, the event is a collective nod not only to wordcraft but also to the West’s ongoing literary history. In Telluride, a prime example of that is Tomboy Bride: A Woman’s Personal Account of Life in Mining Camps of the West by Harriet Fish Backus. For almost two decades, it’s been the top annual bestseller at the Between the Covers, offering a wonderful and hardy glimpse into the region’s past through words.
With an award-winning library, a thriving poetry scene that includes several resident Poet Laureates, an arts school that hosts writing workshops and a nationally recognized bookbinding academy, plus an indie bookshop that’s been serving the literary needs of the area since 1974, Telluride is a town that sincerely embraces the literary arts.
For 2017, LitFest’s featured guest is Lydia Peelle, presented by the Wilkinson Public Library. Peelle is the author of the recently released novel The Midnight Cool. Her previous book, Reasons For and Advantages of Breathing, was a New York Times Book Review Critics' Choice book and received an honorable mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Descriptions of her books as well as her bio are on the Authors page.
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