2014 Indie Lit Fest Kicks Off with Book Reading

Main Street Books is a perpetually welcoming shop located in Central Frostburg. Upon entering this wonderful book store, customers’ senses are pleasantly greeted: you will hear soft instrumentals occasionally interrupted by the fluttering pages of books, towers of intriguing titles embrace you, and the smell of bound pages waft into all of the nooks and crannies. Okay, you caught me, not all of your senses are stimulated: PLEASE DO NOT LICK THE BOOKS AS IT IS FROWNED UPON. On the evening of Friday, Oct. 10, however, the typical aesthetic of Main Street Books was joined with fresh coffee, rows of chairs, and chattering people.

Main Street Books hosted the kick-off of this year’s Western Maryland Independent Literature Festival. This annual festival is coming to Frostburg for the 8th time, hosting seventeen separate publishers and twenty-seven participating authors. There was a sneak peak poetry slam at Dante’s bar on Thursday, Oct.9, but the official start to this year’s festivities occurred on Friday with an artist’s reading and panel. Despite a large turn-out at Thursday’s poetry slam, the rainy weather put a damper on Friday’s crowd. An accident even stopped one of the readers from being able to attend. But the festival still got a strong start with readings from Steven Leyva from the Little Patuxent Review and Jeanne Bryner from Bottom Dog Press.

Little Patuxent Review is a literary journal that publishes poetry, literary fiction and non-fiction. Each issue includes a featured artist and interviews from many of the contributing artists. The winter issues of this publication adhere to a theme, but the summer issues are theme-less to allow the prose writers an opportunity to showcase their less specified talents. Leyva is the editor-in-chief of the Little Patuxent Review, but he has only recently acquired this position. He began as an occasional contributor to the publication and worked his way up to a regularly featured artist and eventually to editor. This festival accentuates the relationship between an author and his or her editor and is an opportunity for young, unpublished authors to understand the process of publication and editing.

Steven Leyva reading from the Little Patuxent Review
Steven Leyva reading from the Little Patuxent Review

The next publication to present was Bottom Dog Press. This is the press’ 30th year of publication, and it has spent the last three decades publishing working-class literature. “I was in college for the 2nd time at 38 years old before I read something that even remotely resembled my family” Jeanne Bryner stated, explaining her desire to contribute. Bryner has been a nurse for the better part of the last forty years, and her profession has inspired a great deal of her poetry. “In nursing, we have a saying” Bryner said. “If it isn’t documented, it did not happen. Your life is happening all the time, so please document it however you can.” Bryner read a short story and four of her selected poems.

Jeanne Bryner reading from Bottom Dog Press.
Jeanne Bryner reading from Bottom Dog Press.

The festival continues today: Saturday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to6 p.m. There will be round-table discussions, multiple panels, informal seminars, and readings. Occurring all day in the Lyric Theatre is the book fair. It will open at 10:30 a.m., and it will feature publications from many of the participating presses. While the festival will occur all over town (rotating between the Frostburg Public Library, Mountain City Traditional Arts, the Lyric Building Conference Room, and Main Street City Hall) the event will culminate this evening in the Lyric theatre with a tapas and wine bar from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information and to view the full schedule of today’s festivities, please visit http://www.frostburg.edu/cwcenter/indie-lit-festival

Banner image belongs to FSU’s Center for Creative Writing.

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