Lex Allen Literary Festival

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hollins hosted its first Literary Festival when the creative writing program began in 1960. It’s now an annual spring event known as the Lex Allen Literary Festival, named in honor of the former Hollins English professor. Writers-in-residence take part, along with other guests, who over the years have included Elizabeth Janeway, William Styron, John Barth, James Dickey, Richard Wilbur, Maxine Kumin, Lisel Mueller, Doris Betts, Diane Wakoski, Elizabeth Spencer, and many others.


  • Barbara Hurd’s books include Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-Heard Melodies; Tidal Rhythms: Change and Resilience at the Edge of the Sea (with photographer Stephen Strom); Stepping Into the Same River Twice (with artist Patricia Hilton); and Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts and What Remains. Her essays have appeared in numerous journals including Best American Essays, The Georgia Review, and The Yale Review. She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship, the NEA Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction, the Sierra Club’s National Nature Writing Award, three Pushcart Prizes, and five Maryland State Arts Council Awards.

  • Li-Young Lee is the Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Writer-in-Residence at Hollins for Spring 2017. He is the author of Behind My Eyes; Book of My Nights, which won the 2002 William Carlos Williams Award; The City in Which I Love You, which was the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection; and Rose, which won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award. His other work includes The Winged Seed: A Remembrance, a memoir that received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Other accolades include a Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets, a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award, and three Pushcart Prizes.

  • Crystal Wilkinson, whose latest novel is Birds of Opulence, has been applauded for her efforts to promote the creative work of African-Americans in Appalachia. She has been nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and has been recognized by the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts. She is also a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries are among her other works. Wilkinson’s short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including the Appalachian anthology Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean.

Literary prizes

Undergraduate college students are invited to submit up to three poems and/or up to two short stories for:
  • Literary Festival Poetry Prize ($100)
  • Literary Festival Fiction Prize ($100)

All entries must include the author’s name and contact information (email or phone number) and the name, city, and state of the author’s college or university. All fiction must be double-spaced.

Submission Information

Deadline: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Literary Festival Contest
Hollins University
Box 9677
7916 Williamson Road
Roanoke, VA 24020


Location: Frances Niederer Auditorium, Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center

  •  9:30 a.m. – Check-in and refreshments, 2nd floor lobby
  • 10:30 a.m. – Reading by Crystal Wilkinson
  • 11:30 a.m. – Poetry panel discussing student-submitted work
  • 12:45 p.m. – Luncheon, Moody Dining Hall (pay at the door)
  • 2 p.m. – Reading by Li-Young Lee
  • 3:15 p.m. – Reading by Barbara Hurd
  • 4 p.m. – Reception, 2nd floor lobby

Funding provided by the John Alexander and Mary Josephine Haynes Allen Literary Endowment, the Dee Hull Everist Visiting Speaker Series, and the Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Writer-in-Residence Fund.


Call 540-362-6317 or email creative.writing@hollins.edu.