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Pulitzer Prize winner to attend Clemson’s Literary Festival

On Thursday, April 7, Clemson University will welcome Pulitzer Prize winning poet Charles Simic.

Simic will be the featured author of Clemson’s Ninth Annual Literary Festival, a student organized and run event, which brings together prominent authors and poets from across the nation. 

Since its inception as a Creative Inquiry course taught by creative writing Professors Keith Morris and Dr. Wayne Chapman in 2007, the Clemson Literary festival has hosted acclaimed writers including former Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Adam Johnson.  John Pursley, a Lecturer in the English department and one of the festival’s co-directors alongside Professor Nic Brown, believes that Simic’s presence at the festival is in keeping with the prestigious tradition set by past festivals. These festivals have sought to expose the Clemson community to a diverse sampling of literary styles and points of view. 

Indeed, Simic, born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1938, is poised to bring a poignant historical and international voice to the festival. In 1990 he won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and became the 15th Poet Laureate of the United States in 2007. In 2011, Simic was awarded the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America. He is the author of over sixty acclaimed books of poetry, prose and essays including The Lunatic, Memory Piano and Fly in My Soup. 

His reading will serve as the headline event for this year’s festival, which will also feature numerous readings and panels with writers of local and national acclaim, student and faculty readings and an open mic event aimed at continuing the goal of celebrating the literary arts and strengthening that community in the Clemson area.

The festival will take place from Wednesday, April 6th through Friday, April 8th at various locations on Clemson’s campus and in the surrounding community, making it easily accessible to all. 

The student and faculty organizers of the Clemson Literary Festival believe that humanities-focused events like the festival hold great power and purpose within the largely science and engineering-focused Clemson culture.

“The festival bridges the gap between our students, our community and the larger world of contemporary literature. No other event in the region provides the opportunity to 1) learn about literature from the producers of literature, 2) introduce students and the public to potential career paths as writers/editors/publishers and 3) engage in discussions of why writing and reading matters in the 21st century,” stated Pursley. 

It is this passion for creating and maintaining the artistic community at Clemson that drives student organizer and senior English major Miriam McEwen, now in her second year of working with the festival.

“Clemson University is in desperate need of a safe environment that champions diversity of opinion, diversity of experience and diversity of creative expression. The Clemson Literary Festival is a powerful tool, one that gives voice to those who have something to say,” stated McEwen.

Senior English major Hannah Soblo, also in her second year of working with the festival, shares this sentiment. She believes that the Literary Festival “is immensely important at Clemson because the humanities are undervalued, but still an important part of everyone’s education. Creativity, community involvement, and the spread of ideas through literature are valuable to all majors; especially science and technology majors who don’t get to explore a huge breadth of writing in their coursework.”

“I really hope, in future, that Clemson will improve the funding for the Literary Festival as part of broader initiatives like Writing Across the Curriculum, as it has the potential to be a valuable meeting point for students of all majors and backgrounds, as well as other Clemson community members, to converse while enjoying excellent fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.”

More information on the festival’s full schedule of events may be

found on the festival’s official website (, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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