Deckle Edge Literary Festival Announces Dorothy Allison as Keynote Speaker

Dorothy Allison.jpg

In its 4th year as the grass roots answer to the SC Book Festival, Deckle Edge Literary Festival announces South Carolina author Dorothy Allison as the keynote speaker for the 2019 festival and the recipient of the second annual Deckle Edge Literary Festival Southern Truth Award. Allison will speak at the Booker T. Washington auditorium at the University of South Carolina on Friday, March 22nd at 7 pm in an engagement sponsored by the USC Women’s and Gender Studies Program. On Saturday, March 23rd at 10 am, Allison will address the Deckle Edge Literary Festival in a conversation with Bren McClain, author of One Good Momma Bone (2017, USC Press) at the Richland Library on Assembly Street in downtown Columbia, SC.

Allison is the author of Trash (1988), a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories, the multi-award winning Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), Cavedweller (1998), which became a New York Times bestseller, and more. She has written for the Village Voice, Conditions, and New York Native and won several Lambda Awards. Bastard Out of Carolina was a finalist for the National Book Award, the winner of the Ferro Grumley Prize, was translated into more than a dozen languages and became a bestseller and award winning film directed by Anjelica Huston. Allison is a recent inductee into the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

A native of Greenville, SC, Allison’s writings frequently reference the class struggles and social alienation she experienced as a child growing up gay, impoverished, and the first child of a 15-year-old unwed mother in the conservative SC upstate. Bastard Out of Carolina also details the sexual abuse she endured throughout childhood at the hands of her step-father. The New York Times Book Review calls the book, “As close to flawless as a reader could ask for.”

Allison will be awarded the Deckle Edge Literary Festival Southern Truth Award on Friday evening, March 22nd. The Southern Truth award, whose first recipient in 2018 was Nikky Finny, is awarded to a Southern author whose body of work exemplifies the complexity of the South’s history, celebrates the gifts of the South’s diverse peoples, and enhances the narrative of the South by focusing on the progress we make and the continued work before us.

The 2019 Deckle Edge Literary Festival includes an exciting roster of authors, panels, and interviews including, among others, printmaker Boyd Sauders; Chieftess Queen Quet who is an elder of the Gullah/Geechee Nation; Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Kathleen Parker and more.

For more information please visit



Tickets Go On Sale for Deckle Edge Keynote Address and Nikky Finney Southern Truth Award Celebration

Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes

Nikky Finney photo by Forrest Clonts

Nikky Finney photo by Forrest Clonts



In the third year of celebrating South Carolina’s rich literary tradition Deckle Edge Literary Festival 2018 will welcome keynote speaker Terrance Hayes and renowned Southern literary artist Nikky Finney March 3, 2018 for the Deckle Edge 2018 Keynote Address and Southern Truth Award Celebration. Following the 2018 Deckle Edge Literary Festival daytime sessions from 9:30 am until 5 pm at Richland Library on Assembly Street, the Keynote Address and Southern Truth Award Celebration will take place at 7 pm at 701 Whaley Street Market Space. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of, and $10 for students. Heavy hors d’oeuvres from Chef Joe Turkaly will be served with music from Cola Jazz’s Amos Hoffman and Sam Edwards, and there will be a cash bar. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets at


Prior to the Keynote Address and Southern Truth Award Celebration a VAP* Champagne Reception will be held from 5:30 until 7 pm, also at 701 Whaley Market Space. (*Very Appreciated Person). The VAP Celebration allows attendees to meet and mingle, as well as raise a champagne toast to, Terrance Hayes, Nikky Finney and other honored participants in this year’s Deckle Edge Literary Festival. The reception will feature free champagne, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and reserved seats for the keynote address and award ceremony to follow, as well as recognition at the event. The reception will also serve as a fund raising opportunity for Deckle Edge Literary Festival. The purchase of VAP tickets will not only help offset festival costs but will serve as a scholarship fund for additional students to attend the evening’s Keynote address.


Winner of MacArthur, Guggenheim, US Artists Zell, and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, Hayes is the author of Lighthead, which was the winner of the 2010 National Book Award, Wind in a Box, Hip Logic, and Muscular Music. How to Be Drawn, his most recent collection of poems, was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award, the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, and received the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry. He is the current poetry editor at New York Times Magazine and has two manuscripts forthcoming in 2018.


A South Carolina native, Nikky Finney is the author of Head Off & Split, which won the 2011 National Book Award for poetry, The World Is Round, Rice, Heartwood, and On Wings Made of Gauze. She is the John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina.


Over two dozen sessions will make up the Deckle Edge Literary Festival this year with panels and presentations that cover poetry, prose, songwriting, screenwriting, new works from local authors, a live interview for the Pat Conroy Literary Center filmed on-site, writing graphic novels, writing for social justice, a poetry workshop for teens, USC’s Moving Images Resource Center, literary history, and interactive art-making with Columbia-based fiber and installation artist Susan Lenz. Among the authors attending are Chuck Brown, Sanford Greene, Julia Elliott, Scott Gould, Mark Powell, Tim Conroy, Claudia Smith Brinson, Anthony Grooms, Alvin McEwan, Monifa Lemons, Ray McManus, Cassie Premo Steele, Marjorie Spruill, all of SC’s poets laureates – Marjory Wentworth, Marcus Amaker, and Ed Madden, Brock Adams, Isabella Gomez and many more.

The daytime event is free and open to the public and tickets to the keynote celebration are available at

Watch the website at for further details as they are released.

Deckle Edge Opening Night Party w/ Stefanie Santana, She Returns from War, & Banned Books Burlesque

We here at Jasper are super-psyched for the Deckle Edge Literary Festival, particularly since so many of our staff members have had a hand in bringing it to fruition. We hope you’ll check out the full slate of events here, but particularly encourage you to come out to the Opening Night Party at Columbia Museum of Art. The opening entertainment for the evening happens to be two of South Carolina’s finest singer/songwriters, Stefanie Santana and She Returns from War frontwoman Hunter Park. The two also happen to be particularly appropriate for the literary-minded nature of the party thanks to the haunting poetry of their lyrics.

Santana, whose strong, pure vocals and adept ukulele accompaniment suggests an almost twee indie folk-pop archetype, writes with an uncommon sensitivity to character and situation. This is equally true of her most autobiographical writing, like “Liar Song” or “Grown Up Joke,” the latter of which balances parental expectations, heartbreak, and the struggles of the daily grind with a soaring repeated chorus of “I WANT TO QUIT MY JOB,” as it is with tunes where she turns her eye to the unlikely emotional cache of starfish and sea crabs. There’s something beautifully representative in Santana’s songs of the current crop of twentysomethings (of which the writer is one)—they seem to strike at the real, nuanced reality of the Millennial generation in a way that a thousand think pieces so utterly fail to do.

Park is an ideal match for Santana. While her songs are almost exclusively focused on love and longing, there’s a poetic tendency in her writing that makes each song feel like its own philosophic treatise on the very nature of desire. “I would like a chance to travel all of the hallways of your spine/I would plant a thousand flowers and pick the petals for the rest of the time” she sings at her most giddily romantic on “Little Pharoah.” Elsewhere, she sings with stark honesty about romantic failure with equal conviction: “It seems pretty obvious we all got our poisons/be it arsenic or ether or fire on the cedar/or the telephone receiver/You know I can’t be your cure you were never mine either.”

 Banned Books Burlesque

Hang around after the concert for part two of the night's entertainment when, all the way from Tampa, Florida, Banned Books Burlesque presents literary classics in a whole new light. Bringing beloved books like Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, Harry Potter, and more, to life in the naughty ways those who’d like to ban them have portrayed, the cast of BBB guarantees a tantalizing look at censorship, great literature, and the art of the tease.

$10 admission for all three events

Find tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.

DECKLE EDGE — New Literary Festival to Launch in February 2016


The inaugural Deckle Edge Literary Festival will be held February 19-21, 2016, in Columbia, South Carolina. The weekend-long festival will feature readings, book signings, panel presentations, exhibitors, writers’ workshops, activities for children and young adult readers, and a wide range of other literary events for many interests and all ages.


The Deckle Edge literary festival will gather and foster the diverse branches of our region’s literary community through an inclusive weekend of public events and programming for readers, writers, and lovers of the written word. While Deckle Edge has its roots in the storied tradition of South Carolina’s literary life, the festival is committed to forging new ground, challenging existing boundaries, and broadening the conception of the literary South.


The festival hopes to appeal to regional and national audiences while remaining a community focused effort, partnering with an extensive network of South Carolina literary and cultural organizations, including Richland Library, the University of South Carolina Press, Hub City Writers Project, the SC Center for Children’s Books & Literacy, Ed Madden and the Columbia Office of the Poet Laureate, South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth, the Low Country Initiative for Literary Arts, Jasper Magazine, Richland County schools, and others.


Deckle Edge will be built on the strong foundation of the South Carolina Book Festival, a project of the Humanities Council SC, which announced the festival’s dissolution this past summer. The Humanities Council SC is now actively pursuing a variety of year-round statewide literary initiatives and has been supportive of the plans for Deckle Edge as a new literary event to be hosted in Columbia. “The SC Book Festival was a tremendous gift to readers and writers in the South, and we’re grateful to the Humanities Council SC for sharing their expertise with us as we create something new,” said Deckle Edge co-chair Darien Cavanaugh, “We would not have been able to move so quickly on launching Deckle Edge without their guidance and good will.”


Participating authors and specific panels have not yet been announced. While the festival will not be limited to local talent, programming will highlight a handful of New York Times bestselling authors from the Carolinas, some beloved favorites from past SC Book Festivals, and many voices not previously heard from at South Carolina literary events. “This is Columbia’s literary festival,” said Deckle Edge co-chair Annie Boiter-Jolley, “but it’s also joining the larger conversation about literature of and in the South. We look forward to sharing our vision with writers and readers, and to hearing from them as to what Deckle Edge might become in future years.”


As the festival goes through the process of applying for nonprofit status, One Columbia for Arts and History will be acting as its fiscal sponsor. Deckle Edge has also sought financial support through city and county tax grants, and is currently accepting tax-deductible donations through One Columbia. “Deckle Edge is the right literary event at the right time,” said One Columbia executive director Lee Snelgrove. “What Annie and Darien are building with their partnerships is very ambitious, but this city has already proven that ambition can be rewarded in our arts community. One Columbia is proud to be a partner in establishing this new literary festival.”


Visit the festival web site at to donate or to sign up for the festival mailing list, and e-mail for more information.