Literature

LitFest 2022 Returns to Denver in Person After Two Virtual Years

The crowd at 2019's LitFest — the last in-person event, and the last one at the historic Milheim House.
The crowd at 2019's LitFest — the last in-person event, and the last one at the historic Milheim House. Amanda Tipton Photography
Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s annual celebration of all things writerly is coming back to the physical world in June 2022. This year marks LitFest’s seventeenth iteration, and it will once again be a benevolent bacchanal of workshops, seminars, readings, salons, panels, agent meet-ups and, of course, parties.

Founder and program director Andrea Dupree couldn’t be happier that it’s back to in-person programming. “We’re grateful that all the technology helped keep us going through the pandemic,” Dupree says. “It did bring a lot of folks into the fold who don’t usually get to attend LitFest. That was one wonderful thing about it. But it was a lot on our end. It was fun, but you can’t beat the experience in real life. People missed that. We missed that.”

click to enlarge Writer Andrea Dupree is one of the co-founders of Lighthouse Writers Workshop. - AMANDA TIPTON PHOTOGRAPHY
Writer Andrea Dupree is one of the co-founders of Lighthouse Writers Workshop.
Amanda Tipton Photography
Dupree may be too modest about how much “fun” the virtual LitFest was. While the 2020 numbers were the highest of any LitFest so far, the unprecedented workload led organizers to dial it back a little in 2021, when they thought they'd be able to present the program in person. But the pandemic made that impossible, and they made the decision to go fully online for a second year.

“It turned out that June was the best month,” laments Dupree. “But we’d already made the call, migrated it over. Everyone was set.”

This year, the Zoom fatigue is real. “So many of our instructors and visiting authors are so sick of the online environment,” Dupree says. “They all tell me that they want to be here again. Do the in-person thing. Safely, you know? But here.”

Dupree insists that she’s not talking smack about Zoom or how it saved the day in so many ways both professional and personal over the past couple of years. “It was sure better than nothing,” she says, “and for a while, 'better that nothing' felt okay for all of us. We needed that. But now it's to the point where that author that you’ve always loved most in the world is probably appearing on Zoom somewhere this week. There’s a flattening to it. You’re not in the same room with them, and seeing them on your screen just isn’t the same as seeing them, hearing them live. There’s something just missing from that digital presence, as important as that’s been.”

Lighthouse has been preparing for exactly how to handle the literary fans who gather at LitFest this year. “We’re lucky to be in this transition event space while our new facilities are still being constructed,” says Dupree, referring to Lighthouse's recent move from 1515 Race Street to temporary digs near the greenway between the Clayton and Cole neighborhoods at 39th and York, close by where its new home will be. “We’ll have these big garage doors so we’ll have plenty of ventilation, and there’s a little grassy area where we can put up some tents and use that outdoor space. We’ll open everything up and do our best.”

Lighthouse hopes to be in its brand-new facility by LitFest 2023.

click to enlarge LitFest 2023 will — knock on wood — be held at Lighthouse's new facility. - KEMBERLIN ARCHITECTURE
LitFest 2023 will — knock on wood — be held at Lighthouse's new facility.
Kemberlin Architecture
In the meantime, there’s plenty of reason to be excited for LitFest 2022. Visiting authors — who will do either workshops or readings or both — include fiction writers Steve Almond, Dan Chaon, Percival Everett, Laura van den Berg and Tiphanie Yanique; nonfiction writers Emily Rapp Black, P Carl, Melissa Febos, Leslie Jamison and Nadia Owusu; and poets Jericho Brown, Victoria Chang and Edward Hirsch. In addition, novelist/screenwriters Dean Bakopoulis and Alissa Nutting (from both the 2017 novel Made for Love and the recent HBO Max series based on it) will be on hand to talk shop with writers looking to move their prose to the screen. It’s ten days of almost too much to do, for literary aspirants and fans alike.

Passes to LitFest 2022 won’t be available until Friday, April 8, but submissions for the in-person advanced workshops are open and due by Saturday, March 12. To see a list of advanced workshops, check out the Lighthouse LitFest website. For guidelines and to send in materials for consideration, see the Lighthouse page on Submittable.

But you don’t have be a writer to attend LitFest. “Everyone is welcome,” Dupree says. “Come out to browse the bookstore we’ll have set up, or listen to some readings. Get as involved as you want to get. This is your invitation back into the world of literature. And human connection.”

LitFest 2022 will run from June 10 to 19. For more information on Lighthouse Writers Workshop and the many literary offerings it provides, check its 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