Tell me a story. Read me a poem.

Fall may not be the traditional blooming season in North America, but when it comes to literary events, opportunity springs up everywhere for the Chapman community.  All events listed are on campus.


The Big Orange Book Festival runs this weekend on Friday, Sept. 21 from 1 – 9 p.m. and on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hundreds of great books, discussion panels with accomplished writers, live entertainment, delicious food and welcoming neighbors under a perfect California sky.

You’ll find a complete schedule of events here.  I’ll be there on Fri. at 4 p.m. and Sat. at 3 p.m. for the “10 at the Top” reading series with a mashup and resurrection of poetry lines from dirtcakes, the literary journal I edit.

Monday night Sept. 24 at 7 p.m., author Richard Bausch will be the featured speaker for this year’s Lectio Magistralis: The Chancellor’s Premier Lecture Series.  Bausch’s talk, “Why Literature Can Save Us” grew out of his experience as a “workshop leader in Operation Homecoming, a joint project between The National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Defense to help returning military personnel and their families write about their experiences.”  This free event will be in Memorial Hall, Chapman Auditorium.

And last, but not least, Tuesdays are poetry days throughout the fall as the Tabula Poetica series presents poetry lectures and readings on Oct. 2, Oct. 16, Oct. 30, and Nov. 27.    All information can be found here. 

If you don’t know what to expect from an author reading or a book festival, here are three things to do.

1) Go with an open mind.  Check out the authors who will be reading. Of course you may want to see one of your literary heroes, but you also might want to pick out a name you’ve never heard before. Sit in on a short reading.  Experiment by listening to an unfamiliar genre.  Ask questions like, “Usually I read X, but you’ve gotten me intrigued with Y, do you have any suggestions of which authors, besides you of course, I might read to familiarize myself with the genre?”  After the reading, stand in line and introduce yourself. Tell the author one thing you’ve taken away from the experience.  Trust me, this little bit of gratitude will make both your days.

2) Talk to the authors standing in booths where books are sold.  Truly there’s nothing worse than standing in front of a booth or a room dedicated to a reading and having no one acknowledge your presence.  So say “hi.”  Ask, “What’s new in your writing world? Which writers inspire you?” “If I could only read or purchase one of these books, which one would you recommend and why?”

3) If you really want to be a good literary citizen, buy at least one book or literary magazine. When you’ve finished reading, donate it to your local library with a little note inside explaining that you purchased it from a book festival or author reading.  Encourage the reader who finds the note to attend the festival the following year.  Maybe you’ll meet up with this stranger. Maybe you’ll talk. Maybe you’ll discover a new book pen pal.

Have fun. Be inspired. Engage your brain.

About Catherine Keefe

Catherine Keefe is the founding and managing editor of *dirtcakes* a journal of poetry, creative nonfiction, art and photography. Her creative nonfiction essays, interviews and book reviews have appeared nationally. She teaches undergraduates how to Write About Literature, or Write Creative Nonfiction, or Compose Self at Chapman University in Orange, CA.
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