Art News

Party Time, Literary Style: Lit Fest Returns This Weekend

Lit Fest has been online-only for a couple of years—but it's time to break out the tents again.
Lit Fest has been online-only for a couple of years—but it's time to break out the tents again. Amanda Tipton
Lighthouse Writers Workshop's Lit Fest is back! The ten-day event starts on Friday, June 10, with Lighthouse faculty member Erika Krouse, author ofTell Me Everything, kicking off the festivities with a live taping of Turn the Page with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner.

Lighthouse Writers Workshop has been illuminating Denver for more than twenty years; it’s grown to be the largest literary center in the Rocky Mountain West. And founders Andrea Dupree and Michael Henry decided that this summer, it was time to get literature lovers back together in person after the pandemic made the event virtual for two years.

“It feels restorative to be back in person after two years of Zoom Lit Fest,” says Dupree. “In recent months, we’ve had a couple of book-release parties in the new event space at York Street Yards, and there was a palpable energy in the room — people laughing, crying, exulting at finally seeing each other again. I have a feeling this will be a chance for social renewal, and our belief is with that renewal comes creative abundance. Or that’s the hope.”
click to enlarge Participants in workshops at Lit Fest 2019. - LIGHTHOUSE WRITERS WORKSHOP
Participants in workshops at Lit Fest 2019.
Lighthouse Writers Workshop
Just because Lighthouse is focusing on bringing fans together in person doesn’t mean it's ignoring the needs of those still needing to socially distance. “We’re also livestreaming all of the readings, the business lunches and salons,” says Dupree, “and we’ve got a good number of craft classes and two-weekend intensives that are on Zoom for those who can’t be here in person for any reason.”

The draws boasted by Lit Fest have always been numerous: readings, seminars, agent and editor consults, discussion panels, evening events, etc. But the spotlight is often on the visiting writers, there to present their work for both entertainment and instruction. Lit Fest 2022 includes not only the return of out-of-town favorites Melissa Febos, Leslie Jamison, Steve Almond, Jericho Brown, and Emily Rapp Black, but also new visiting authors such as Dan Chaon, Tiphanie Yanique, Victoria Chang, Percival Everett, Vanessa Hua, Nadia Owusu, and Laura van den Berg.

click to enlarge A recent Lighthouse reading at the York Street Yards. - LIGHTHOUSE
A recent Lighthouse reading at the York Street Yards.
“Each writer brings a special, original energy to the festival,” says Dupree, “and every year I hear from the writers in their workshops that the week spent with them is life-changing.”

Some events are already sold out, but Lighthouse is providing a handy-dandy "cheat-sheet" that lists all the available ticketed events.

Lit Fest is being held at the York Street Yards as a sort of bridge between Lighthouse’s old digs on Race Street, in the historic Milheim House, and the new, custom-built facilities along the 39th Avenue Greenway where York intersects. That construction is ongoing, and scheduled to be completed by April of next year, just in time for Lit Fest 2023.

Dupree says that while the space this year is interim, it’s still something attendees will enjoy. She describes the piece as “airy and abundant, which is welcome given how hot it’s likely to be, and how the weather might change, and given the uptick in COVID cases. We’ll still have our outdoor tent, but this year there’s an even larger indoor space, and several adjoining spaces for concurrent workshops.”

The location isn’t the only change coming with Lit Fest 2022. Lighthouse is also compressing the event to ten days instead of fourteen. Smack in the middle of the festival, on June 16, Lighthouse will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a big party at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

“We encourage everyone, even if they’re primarily readers or brand-new to writing, to come out and join us at any of our free events,” says Dupree. “It’s a truly kind and warm group of people involved here, and for us, the more the merrier — all levels of experience are welcome. We hear every year of lasting friendships, writing groups and collaborations that form here.”

Lit Fest 2022 takes place Friday, June 10, through Saturday, June 18, at York Street Yards, 3821-3893 Steele Street. For more information, a complete schedule of events or to buy tickets, check out the Lighthouse Writers Workshop website.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen