Arkatext literary festival to run Feb. 17-21




February 6, 2014

CONTACT: Dr. John Vanderslice, (501) 450-3653 or


By Taylor Woods

College of Fine Arts and Communication Media Office

CONWAY — The University of Central Arkansas’s Department of Writing will host the annual Arkatext literary festival beginning Monday, Feb. 17, at 1 p.m. in Thompson Hall.

Arkatext is the UCA Writing Department’s celebration of Arkansas writers. The festival will feature readings, presentations and craft lectures.

All Arkatext events are free and open to the public.

“Arkatext is not just a celebration of the literary arts; it’s also a service to the campus community and the local community,” Dr. John Vanderslice, associate professor of writing, said. “Anyone in Arkansas with an interest in writing and publishing should really feel like this is ‘their’ event.

“I have the same hope as always for Arkatext, and it’s an important one: that our students’ eyes are opened to exactly how vigorous and manifold the writing and publishing scene is in this state. Scores of committed, talented, even significant writers are at work in Arkansas every day.  And they find a way to keep working and keep publishing despite lots of other responsibilities. We want our students to understand the life of a working writer in Arkansas and all the different ways that term can be defined.”

The week will kick off with an undergraduate reading Monday, Feb. 17, from 1-3 p.m. in the Grand Foyer of Thompson Hall. Undergraduate writing students will read and perform original works of prose, poetry and hybrid works. On Tuesday, Feb. 18, there will be a graduate and faculty reading in the Grand Foyer. Conway
Writing Department MFA candidates will read and perform original works accompanied by new faculty member Stacy Kidd.

“I’m especially looking forward to the Tuesday afternoon reading featuring our amazingly talented MFA students, who for the very first time will all be reading together, both this year’s MFA class and last year’s inaugural class,” Vanderslice said. “They’ve given readings separately, but at long last the two groups will finally be performing together. It’s as big as a Beatles reunion!

“Our new visiting assistant professor in creative writing, Stacy Kidd, will be reading with the MFA students that day. None of us have heard Stacy perform her work yet, and it will be terrific for the UCA community to hear her and get to know her better.”

Events continue Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 11 a.m. in Thompson Hall 331 where Fayetteville
novelist and short story writer Padma Viswanthan will deliver a craft talk followed by a Q-and-A session. At 2 p.m., Viswanthan will read from original works in the Grand Foyer.

Little Rock’s 
Kyran Pittman, author of Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life, will give a craft talk followed by a Q-and-A session Thursday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m. in Thompson Hall 331 and will read from original works at 1:40 p.m. in the Grand Foyer.

“Pittman made a name for herself through blogging,” Vanderslice said, adding that she had explored the subject matter of Planting through her blog for several years before writing the book.  “She’s also an extremely talented poet and a maven of social media. Basically, I think it will be very valuable for our students to hear from a writer with many identities, both in print and online, and who can speak about the work and joy of juggling those different identities, staying faithful to them all.”

Fayetteville poet and editor Matthew Henriksen will give the final Craft Talk Friday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. in Thompson Hall 331. According to, Henriksen will discuss the dynamics of independent presses like Typo and Cannibal, as well as the Improved Lighting Reading Series, followed by a Q-and-A session.

“I’m excited about the visit by Matthew Henriksen on Friday,” Vanderslice said. “Matthew is a sparkling, exciting poet, but also an experienced figure in the indie press scene in Arkansas.  He will be able to talk to students not just about writing but about the world of small presses: their challenges and their value.  Given that poetry in this country is entirely dependent upon small presses, and increasingly literary fiction as well, this session could be vitally informative for our students, as well as entertaining.”

The week’s events will close with the fourth annual Toad Suck Review Launchapalooza on Friday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. at Bear’s Den Pizza. Toad Suck editors TJ Heffers, Audrey Carroll, Becca Hawkins and Ben Sneyd will perform readings, followed by contributors Greg Graham, Bob May, Daryl Spurlock, Seth Pennington and Henriksen.

The schedule for Arkatext can be found at

For more information, contact Vanderslice at (501) 450-3653 or

The UCA College of Fine Arts and Communication includes the Departments of Art, Communication, Mass Communication and Theatre, Music and Writing. The college’s primary mission is the preparation of the next generation of artists, educators and communicators. For more information about CFAC, visit or call (501) 450-3293.