Featured Writers

Lions in Winter 2017 will be held on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. Jan. 27-28, 2017. Laura van den Berg is the keynote for this year’s festival and the other featured writers are Janice N. Harrington, Dionne Irving, James Davis May, and Erica Wright.


Laura van den Berg is the author of the novel Find Me, LauraAuthorPhotoselected as a “Best Book of 2015” by NPR and Time Out New York, and longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the author of the story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, both finalists for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer’s Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and an O. Henry Award, and her fiction has been recently anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. She teaches in the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and, beginning fall 2016, will be a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard.


Janice N. Harrington writes poetry and children’s books. janice02She grew up in Alabama and Nebraska, and both those settings, especially rural Alabama, figure largely in her writing. Her first book of poetry, Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone (2007), won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Her second book of poetry, The Hands of Strangers: Poems from the Nursing Home, came out in 2011. She is also the winner of a 2007 NEA Fellowship for Poetry and a 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for emerging women writers. Her children’s books, The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County (2007) and Going North (2004), both from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, have won many awards and citations, including a listing among TIME Magazine’s Top 10 Children’s Books of 2007 and the Ezra Jack Keats Award from the New York Public Library in 2005. She has worked as a public librarian and a professional storyteller and now teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Illinois.


Dionne Irving‘s work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Crab Orchard Review, New Delta Review, and other places. She is a professor at St. Mary’s College, a women’s college in South Bend, Illinois. Currently, Irving is working on a multimedia nonfiction project called “Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.”





James Davis May is an assistant professor of English andJamesDavisMaybw Creative Writing at Young Harris College. His first poetry collection, Unquiet Things, was published by Louisiana State University Press in 2016. Also in 2016, he won the Poetry Society of America’s Cecil Hemley Award. His poems have appeared in Five PointsThe Missouri Review, New England Review, The New RepublicPleiadesThe Southern Review and elsewhere.



Erica Wright‘s latest crime novel, The Granite MothEricaWright (Pegasus), was called “brisk, dark, slinky” by USA Today. Her debut, The Red Chameleon (Pegasus), was one of O, The Oprah Magazine‘s Best Books of Summer 2014. She is also the author of the poetry collection Instructions for Killing the Jackal (Black Lawrence Press) and the chapbook Silt (Dancing Girl Press). Her poems have appeared in Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. She is the poetry editor and a senior editor at Guernica Magazine as well as an editorial board member for Alice James Books. She has taught creative writing at Marymount Manhattan College and New York University’s continuing studies program. She grew up in Wartrace, TN, and received her B.A. from New York University and her M.F.A. from Columbia University.


Lions in Winter Literary Festival would not be possible without the generous support of the Doudna Fine Arts Center New and Emerging Artists Series, the Mary Coon Cottingham Visiting Writers Series, the EIU College of Arts and Humanities, EIU Department of English, Booth Library, Ballenger Teachers Center at Booth Library, Coles County Arts Council, Redden Grant, USuites Hotel, Brick House Bar & Grill, and Dirty’s Bar and Grill.


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