Asheville Wordfest Rides its Fifth Year

LeAnne Howe is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She writes fiction, poetry, screenplays, creative non-fiction, plays and scholarship that primarily deal with American Indian and Native American experiences.

Asheville Wordfest director Laura Hope-Gill has been working throughout the past year to organize the 2012 Wordfest weekend. With a theme of “home,” this year’s Wordfest will explore what it means to have a place in the world.

The festival features local voices including Barbie Angell, DeWayne
Barton, Roberto Hess, Jonathan Santos, Katherine Soniat, Jeff Davis,
James Davis and Tracey Schmidt; they will be joined by nationally
recognized poets LeAnne Howe, Allison Adelle Hedge Cokea, Arthur Sze,
Terese Svoboda, and Matthew Shenoda. Wordfest events take place May 2-6
at Grateful Steps Foundation Bookshop at 159 S. Lexington and Altamont
Theater at 18 Church Street. On Sunday the final event, Poetrio, takes
place at Malaprops Bookstore on Haywood Street.

Arthur Sze
Matthew Shenoda
Terese Svoboda

“It’s one immediate way we have to hear one another,” says Hope-Gill,
who has put out invitations deeply into various communities to come and
share a poem at one of the many events. “We’ve had this year of Occupy,
the Arab Spring, unspeakable horrors and inspiring acts of courage, as
well as a fair bit of turbulent political rhetoric, and we are all
reeling from the death of Trayvon Martin. It’s a good time to come
together at the table of poetry.”

This year’s festival is supported by the North Carolina Humanities
Council and also by the Madhat Poetry Nonprofit in Asheville and is
produced in memory of Carol Novak, who produced the Madhat Poetry Series
and also the Madhat Review.

Wordfest aims to include the voices of many ethnic and cultural groups.
Howe and Hedge Coke offer perspectives from Native America; Arthur Sze,
a second-generation Chinese-American poet recently named Chancellor of
the Academy of American Poets, brings the impeccable attentions of a
compassionate eye. Matthew Shenoda is a Coptic poet, educator, and
activist devoted to using art for social change and to build community
amongst people of color.

Wordfest also includes readings by legendary storytellers Gwenda Ledbetter, Connie Regan-Blake, and Sheila Kay Adams.

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