All Visiting Writers events are free and open to the public. No tickets are required.
Every year for the past twenty-five years Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Visiting Writers Series has provided outstanding literary arts programming that is free and open to the public. The primary purpose of the Writers Series is to provide exceptional cultural opportunities for our students and at the same time to improve the quality of life in Western North Carolina. The Writers Series’ mission is “to build a community of readers” because we believe that a community that reads is a more creative, open, and tolerant community. The Series is particularly committed to collaborating with local and regional arts and civic organizations as well as non-profits that serve our diverse communities. We need to be reminded, by reading and hearing a variety of accents and stories, that our African-American, Latino, and Asian neighbors among others are members of cultures with rich artistic traditions and important experiences to share.
Many communities have arts festivals or even more specifically literary festivals, but very few have literary arts series. Organizing a series that covers an entire school year is much more labor-intensive and challenging than putting together a weekend festival. Nonetheless, we believe that a series of writers will have the greatest impact on the community by keeping reading and writing and literacy in front of the public throughout the year. While it’s not about the money, the total price tag for this programming over the years well exceeds 2 million dollars. The Series has had financial help along the way from community members, corporations, local and state Arts Councils, and government agencies, but the majority of the costs has been carried by the university.
The authors in our 2015-2016 season were selected over a year ago. The Visiting Writers Steering committee, led by artist Sally Fanjoy, chose these authors based upon the quality of their work, the critical recognition their work has received in the way of book reviews and awards, and the ability of the author to present their work and the experiences and ideas that inform it in an engaging and inspiring way. Every year the Writers Series invites authors to tell the stories behind their own works in a relaxed environment before university and community audiences. We believe the beauty and power of words help us make sense of the world.