Lex Allen Literary Festival

Saturday, april 2, 2022

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.


  • Jenny Boully ’98, M.A. ’99 is the author of Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life. Her previous books of creative nonfiction include not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them; The Book of Beginnings and Endings: Essays; [one love affair]*; of the mismatched teacups, of the single-serving spoon: a book of failures; and The Body: An Essay. She attended Hollins University, where she double majored in English and philosophy and then went on to earn an M.A. in English criticism and writing. Her other degrees include an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in English from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She currently teaches creative writing at Bennington College and the Bennington Writing Seminars, and in 2020 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for her creative nonfiction.
  • A. Van Jordan is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Cineaste, which Terrance Hayes described as “dazzling.” His other books include Quantum Lyrics; M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, which was listed as one the Best Books of 2005 by The London Times; and Rise, which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award. His poetry is influenced by music, film, race, history, and pop culture. Jordan has been awarded a Whiting Writers Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He is also a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a United States Artists Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. He currently serves as the Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan.
  • Akhil Sharma was born in Delhi, India, in 1971 and immigrated to the United States in 1979. His most recent novel, Family Life, won the 2015 Folio Prize for Fiction. His first novel, An Obedient Father, set in Delhi during the period of Rajeev Gandhi’s assassination, won the PEN/Hemingway prize. He is also an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker and the Atlantic, among others. Sharma’s stories have been anthologized multiple times in Best American Short Stories and in The O. Henry Award Winners and have been collected in the critically acclaimed A Life of Adventure and Delights. He was included in Granta’s 2007 list of Best Young American novelists. Sharma is a Professor of Practice in the Duke University English Department, and he is the Spring 2022 Louis D. Rubin Writer-in-Residence at Hollins.

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: Friday, February 11, 2022.


All readings and the poetry panel will be held in the Wetherill Visual Arts Center Auditorium (Room 200).

  • 9:45 a.m.– Refreshments, 2nd floor lobby
  • 10:30 a.m. – Reading by Akhil Sharma
  • 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 Jenny Boully
  • 3:15 p.m. – Reading by A. Van Jordan
  • 4 p.m. – Reception, 2nd floor lobby

Livestream of readings:
Passcode: 736983

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


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