Thursday, July 13, 2006

Speakers Set for WestConn's Second Summer Literary Festival - Legendary Journalist Gay Talese Among the Featured Authors

DANBURY, CONN. - For those who seek more from their summer reading than the typical beach fare, the Western Connecticut State University Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Professional Writing program will present nightly literary events from Sunday, July 30, through Friday, Aug. 4. Held at several sites throughout the community, the events will feature a poet, renowned novelists, screenwriters, memoirists and journalists reading from and speaking about their work.

This marks the second summer the university will bring so many well-respected writers to town for the weeklong literary event. Among them will be famed New Journalism pioneer Gay Talese, the author of eleven books including "The Kingdom and the Power," "Thy Neighbor's Wife" and the new memoir "A Writer's Life."

"The quality of authors at the WestConn Summer Literary Festival rivals the top ten festivals across the country," said Dr. Brian Clements, coordinator of the WestConn M.F.A. in Professional Writing program. "There's no reason why the residents of northern Fairfield County should have to go to New York City to get this kind of programming when we are bringing writers like Gay Talese and Thomas Kelly to WestConn. There's something here for all fans of literature."

The public is invited to the festival events, which will begin at 7:30 p.m., with the exception of the July 30 play readings, which will start at 4 p.m. Admission to all the events will be free. The scheduled speakers and locations will be:

Actors will conduct dramatic readings of work by playwrights Don Stitt and Karen Smith Vastola at 4 p.m. in the Student Center Theater on the WestConn Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Stitt has worked as an actor, singer, dancer, director, choreographer, writer, composer and stand-up comic in touring shows, nightclub revues and in hundreds of television and radio commercials. Monologues and scenes from Smith Vastola's plays "Dog Eat Dog," "The Family Tree" and "Dead or Alive" have been published in "Best Women's and Men's Anthologies" and "Best Stage Monologues and Scenes from the '90s."

Don J. Snyder, author of five novels, two memoirs and a biography, will screen his 2003 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie "Fallen Angel" on Sunday, July 30, in the Student Center Theater on the WestConn Midtown campus. Snyder is a former editor of the Bar Harbor Times and a former teaching-writing fellow at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. A question-and-answer session will follow the screening.

Gay Talese, who helped define the "New Journalism" or nonfiction reportage movement, will read from and discuss his work on Monday, July 31, in the Student Center Theater on the WestConn Midtown campus. Talese authored two of the most influential magazine articles of the 20th century - feature stories about Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio - which both appeared in Esquire magazine in 1966 and changed the way magazine feature articles would be written from that point forward. A reception and book signing will follow.

On Tuesday, Aug. 1, author Daniel Asa Rose will read at Tarrywile Mansion, 70 Southern Blvd. in Danbury. Rose's published work includes his memoir "Hiding Places: A Father and His Sons Retrace Their Family's Escape from the Holocaust," the novel "Flipping for It" and his short story collection "Small Family with Rooster." Currently the book review editor for The New York Observer, he has been a travel columnist for Esquire, humor writer for GQ, and essayist for The New York Times Magazine. A reception and book signing will follow.

Award-winning poet Cecilia Woloch will read her poems on Wednesday, Aug. 2. The evening will begin with an open-mic reading at Molten Java, 102 Greenwood Ave. in Bethel. She is the author of three award-winning collections of poems, most recently "Late," and of numerous essays, articles and reviews. Woloch is the founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and of the Paris Poetry Workshop. The reading will be followed by a reception and book signing.

On Thursday, Aug. 3, author Mark Sundeen will read at Tarrywile Mansion, 70 Southern Blvd. in Danbury. Author of "The Making of Toro" and "Car Camping," Sundeen also has written for Outside, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Preservation and the New York Times Magazine. He was a Web writer and editor for Howard Dean's presidential campaign. A reception and book signing will follow the reading.

On Friday, Aug. 4, author Thomas Kelly will conduct a reading in the Marian Anderson Recital Hall in the Danbury Music Centre, 256 Main St. in Danbury. Kelly is best known for writing about the Irish-American experience in his widely acclaimed novels "Payback," "The Rackets" and "Empire Rising." A reception and book signing will follow.

The 60-credit M.F.A. in Professional Writing program is licensed and approved by the Connecticut Department of Higher Education. Developed in response to the lack of a multi-genre, distance-learning course of study that culminates in a terminal writing degree, it's the only low-residency M.F.A. in Professional Writing program in the nation. For more information about the program or the festival, call the M.F.A. in Professional Writing office at (203) 837-8878, visit, or call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

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