Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Don't miss Wyoming's Equality State Bookfest 9/18-9/20 in Casper

Wyoming boasts two successful statewide book festivals. Not bad for the least populated state in the nation. During odd years, the Wyoming Book Festival lights up Cheyenne. During even years, the Equality State Book Festival brings thousands of readers to events throughout Casper.

The 2008 Equality State Bookfest kicks off this Thursday with writing workshops, readings, history presentations and school visits by writers. The Wyoming Arts Council's creative writing fellowship winners will read with Colorado fiction writer Laura Pritchett at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Casper College Library. Jack Gantos, author of the "Rotten Ralph" series of children's books, will offer some tips (and a taste of his wild humor) on becoming a children's book author at 4 p.m. in Casper College's Wold Physical Science Center. The University of Wyoming's top-notch creative writing faculty offers workshops on Thursday and Friday. That includes fiction writer Alyson Hagy, nonfiction writer Beth Loffreda, and poets David Romtvedt and H.L. Hix. Bookfest co-director Laurie Lye tells me that there's still room in some of these workshops. Register now at http://www.equalitystatebookfest.org!

Friday's highlight will be Alexandra Fuller's 7:30 p.m. talk about her new book, "The Legend of Colton H. Bryant," a 2008 Book Sense selection. This nonfiction account of one young man from Wyoming and his tragic death in the oil patch has generated a flurry of controversy. It also takes the reader inside a dangerous occupation, one that's claimed a record number of workers' lives in the state this year.

Friday offers a continuation of the writing workshops and tips on oral history projects from Nebraska's Twyla Hansen at the National Historic Trails Center on the ridge above Casper. The evening features a banquet with keynote speaker Gary Ferguson of Montana. A poetry slam follows at the Metro Coffee Company.

Saturday is the big day, with a book fair at the Nicolaysen Art Museum downtown, a trout-fishing panel with national expert authors, and an array of panels on poetry, publishing, and "stories of the West." Laramie's Mark Jenkins will be there. A real treat, since he spends most of his time climbing mountains in Chile and kayaking Africans rivers -- and then writing about it.

One bit of friendly advice: don't miss the bookfest in Casper Sept. 18-20. If you have any questions, ask me, as I'm on the planning committee -- and have been from the beginning.

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