Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Festival that Matters

Tonight I'm paying homage to a little festival with a big heart. Highland Park High School in Dallas, Texas, has hosted a literary festival for 16 years, featuring incredible keynote writers (Naomi Shihab Nye, George Plimpton, Michael Chabon, Billy Collins, Tobias Wolff, I could go on and on).

I've had the honor of being asked to present a fiction workshop for the last five years. (I also have served as a judge in the literary writing contest.) Melora is a jewel of a human, and she organizes dozens of parent volunteers, who each work hard to make the festival happen. Bless them all! This year, the festival did things a little differently, and because of their new organization of student workshops, I was able to lead a "Driver" workshop with student writers who were actively interested in fiction writing.

Oh, how can I describe how fluttery and satisfied my heart was after leading my workshops? And how I wish all schools had the means to host literary festivals that celebrate creative writing and the power of words. Look at these kids' faces. Their faces tell us what we need to know.


  1. What a fabulous experience for you as well as the students in this high school. I wish my principal was this type of visionary. Kudos to you and the program. I hope the students are appreciative. I'd be interested in communicating with you about how this got started and some of the organizational problems and how you overcame them.

  2. Hi Beka, I do think the kids know how extremely lucky they are. I'll send your email address to Melora. It really takes a village for a festival to work. It can start on a small scale and get bigger as donations build. Good luck!