Lex Allen Literary Festival

Saturday, April 7, 2018

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.


  • The author of Blue Hallelujahs (2016), Cynthia Manick is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet with an M.F.A. in creative writing from the New School.  She is a winner of the 2016 Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry and a 2017 recipient of the Barbara Memorial Fund Award for Poetry. Manick’s work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day SeriesAfrican American Review, Bone Bouquet, Callaloo, Clockhouse, Human Equity Through Art (HEArt), Kweli Journal, Muzzle Magazine, Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora, PLUCK! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, St. Ann’s Review, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere

  • Jim Minick is the author of five books, including the novel Fire Is Your Water and The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family, winner of the SIBA Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award. He’s also written a collection of essays, Finding a Clear Path; two books of poetry, Her Secret Song and Burning Heaven; and he edited All There Is to Keep by Rita Riddle. Minick’s work has appeared in many publications, including Poets & Writers, Oxford American, Orion, Shenandoah, Encyclopedia of Appalachia, The Sun, Conversations with Wendell Berry, San Francisco Chronicle, Appalachian Journal, The Roanoke Times, and Still.

  • A writer, naturalist, and activist, Janisse Ray is the author of six books, including Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a New York Times Notable Book that was as chosen as the Book All Georgians Should Read; Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home; Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land; Drifting into Darien, a personal and natural history of the Altamaha River; The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, winner of the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature Award; and a volume of poetry, A House of Branches. Ray lectures widely on nature, community, agriculture, wildness, sustainability, and the politics of wholeness.

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 20, 2018

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


Location: Frances Niederer Auditorium (Room 200), Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center

  •  9:30 a.m. – Check-in and refreshments, 2nd floor lobby
  • 10:30 a.m. – Reading by Jim Minick
  • 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 Cynthia Manick
  • 3:15 p.m. – Reading by Janisse Ray
  • 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.