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Please download the 2018 schedule for the full itinerary.

USC Union will be the host to the eighth annual Upcountry Literary Festival this year on Friday, March 23th from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm, and Saturday, March 24th from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Main Building Auditorium. The two-day event will showcase a number of nationally and regionally renowned authors, poets, and musical artist as part of the free public event. The USC Union Campus Shop and Bookstore will be open Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm during the Festival to purchase books that will be presented at the festival. Authors will also be available in the bookstore after they’ve presented to sign their books.

The Upcountry Literary Festival is honored to announce the keynote speaker this year will be Catharine Savage Brosman.  She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Rice University with a B.A. in Romance languages and an M.A. in French. Soon after she studied in France as a Fulbright scholar. Brosman taught French at Rice University, Sweet Briar College, the University of Florida, and Mary Baldwin College before settling at Tulane University. She has published many single-authored and edited books on French literature. Her poems have been published in journals in the United States, England, and France. Brosman currently serves as the poetry editor for Chronicles: A Magazine of Americana Culture and is Professor Emerita of French at Tulane University and Honorary Research Professor at the University of Sheffield in England. She has been awarded many teaching awards, poetry prizes, and she won the Tulane Liberal Arts and Science Research Prize. Brosman was also awarded the Hugh Scott Cameron Prize by Rice University in 1995 and was named a Distinguished Alumna in 2000.  

Tally Johnson is a graduate of Spartanburg Methodist College and Wofford College with degrees in history. He attended graduate school in history at Winthrop and is employed at the Chester County Library. Johnson is the author of four books on South Carolina ghosts. Ghosts of the South Carolina Upcountry (2005), Ghosts of the South Carolina Midlands (2007), and Ghosts of the Pee Dee (2009), all for the History Press and Civil War Ghosts of South Carolina (2013) for Post Mortem Press.  He is also a storyteller, having appeared at school and libraries and sci-fi conventions all over the Southeast.

Fayssoux McLean will surely hypnotize the audience with her captivating voice. She is an essential component of Emmylou Harris’ album, Luxury Liner, and duets with Emmylou on “Spanish is a Loving Tongue” and “Green Rolling Hills”. Fayssoux’s genres are traditional folk songs, old-time gospel and contemporary country-rock.

James Everett Kibler is a novelist and poet that was raised in upcountry South Carolina. He renovated his 1804 plantation home and it serves as the subject of his book, Our Fathers’ Fields: A Southern Story. His poetry has been honored by the Poetry Society of South Carolina and in 2004 he was awarded the Jefferson Davis Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also been presented the Fellowship of Southern Writers Award for Nonfiction in 1999 and the Southern Heritage Society’s Award for Literary Achievement. He enjoys gardening and researching Southern history and culture.

Randy Ivey has taught English at the University of South Carolina since 1990, starting out as an adjunct instructor.  He has also taught at the main campus in Columbia, the USCU operation in Laurens, and at Spartanburg Technical College, now SCC.  On eight occasions he has been named USCU's Distinguished Teacher of the Year:  1996, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, and 2018.  He is the author of a new novel, Where the Streets Are Paved With Gold, three story collections, The Shape of a Man, The Mutilation Gypsy, and A New England Romance, and a book for children, Jay and the Bounty of Books. Twice he received the SC Fiction Project Award for the short story, in 2004 and 2007. He has published nearly 100 stories, poems, essays, and reviews in journals, magazines, and anthologies in the United States and in England, including The South Carolina Review, Emrys Journal, The Charleston Post and Courier, Modern Age, and Appalachian Heritage. He is at work on a new novel set in an upcountry South Carolina nursing home.

Freddie Vanderford a local favorite, is well-known for his love of blues and his famous harmonica. Starting in his teenage years, Vanderford befriended Piedmont Blues harpist, “Peg Leg” Sam Jackson and was captivated by the unique sound of Piedmont Blues. “Peg Leg” taught Vanderford the harmonica licks that formed the foundation of Piedmont Blues after realizing the young teen’s talent. Vanderford continues the tradition and passes on the knowledge that he was taught. In May 2010 he was awarded the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for maintaining and sharing the tradition of the Piedmont Blues harp.    

Debra Daniel will entertain the crowd with her music and poetry. Retired from a career teaching elementary school, she now she sings and plays mandolin and percussion in an eclectic acoustic band. She is the author of poetry chapbooks, The Downward Turn of August and As Is.

Christine Sixta Rinehart is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of South Carolina Union, a Palmetto College campus.  She earned her PhD from the University of South Carolina in 2008.  Her research interests include international terrorism, female terrorism, and security and counterterrorism.  Her first book Volatile Social Movements and the Origins of Terrorism: The Radicalization of Change was published in December 2012 by Lexington Books.  Her second book, Drones and Targeted Killing in the Middle East and Africa: An Appraisal of American Counterterrorism Policies was published by Lexington Books in December 2016Her third book, Sexual Jihad: The Role of Islam in Female Terrorism will be published in late 2018 by Lexington Books.  She can be reached at 

Maureen Ryan Griffin is an award-winning poetry and nonfiction writer. Her work has appeared in many publications such as The Charlotte Observer, Chelsea, and The Texas Review to name a few. She is the author of Spinning Words into Gold, a grief workbook entitled I Will Never Forget You, and her latest book of poetry, Ten Thousand Cicadas Can’t Be Wrong

Julia Liz Elliot is an associate professor of women and gender studies in Extended University. In 2012, she was one of six emerging American women writers to win the Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award and was named Amazon Writer in Residence at Shared Worlds in 2016. Her short story collection, The Wilds, was chosen as one of the Best Books of 2014 by Kirkus, BuzzFeed, Electric Literature, and Book Riot. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and Oprah Magazine. Elliott was also a recipient of the Denise Shaw Excellence in Scholarship Award for Palmetto College Campuses.

Dana Wildsmith’s new collection of poems, One Light, is forthcoming from Texas Review Press in fall of 2018. She is the author of five collections of poetry, the novel Jumping, and environmental memoir, Back to Abnormal: Surviving with an Old Farm in the New South, was a finalist for the Georgia Author of the Year. Wildsmith has served as Artist-in-Residence for Grand Canyon National Park and Everglades National Park, Writer-in-Residence for the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and she is a Fellow of the Hanbidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences. Wildsmith teaches English Literacy through Lanier Technical College.

Nick Rich Band is a guitarist, composer, and songwriter whose work explores the intersections of popular and experimental. Originally from a family of musicians who played Country-Western, Bluegrass, and Rock, Nick performs frequently on guitar and mandolin. His compositions investigate the sounds and idioms of popular and folk music within dreamlike time structures that shift, collide, disintegrate, and repeat. In addition to his work in folk music, Nick works with electronic and algorithmic composition. He holds a Master of Music degree from UNCSA, where he studied with Lawrence Dillon, and a Bachelor of Music degree from UNCG, studying with Alejandro Rutty and Mark Engebretson.

Two members of Viva la Muerte will take the stage on Saturday during the festival. M.C. Armstrong's fiction and nonfiction have been published by Esquire, The Missouri Review, and The Gettysburg Review, among others. The winner of a Pushcart Prize, he embedded with JSOF in Al Anbar Province, Iraq and reported extensively on the Iraq War for The Winchester Star. He is the guitarist and lead vocalist for the band. John Crocker was born and raised in Union, SC and plays the banjo for Viva la Muerte. As a PhD student in English at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, he mostly studies food, music and trains in 20th century American, Southern, and African American Literature.

Lee Lawing won the Young Playwrights Festival competition in Winterhaven, Florida with his play, Doll. Other productions include Prosperity at the 17th Annual Playwrights Award at Wichita State University in 1991 and Delivering Dad at the DramaRama Festival in San Francisco in 1997.  A Murder of Crows was selected as the best drama at the WIT 2015 Kauai Shorts 10-Minute Play Festival and his show Twice was a part of the Minnesota Fringe Festival in 2016.  Lawing’s short play The Chorus Awaits Its Cue! was a part of the anthology Off the Rocks, published December 2016. WIT selected his play Trinkets for Jenkie as part of their 2017 festival.  Lawing will be participating in the William Inge Center for the Arts in May 2018 where his one-act play, Blue Kauai, will be read.

The Literary Festival will also have ‘New Voice’ sections on both Friday and Saturday. Rieppe Moore, one of the ‘New Voice’ presenters, is a poet from Richland County, South Carolina, with a BS in Humanities from Columbia International University. He lives in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Unicoi, Tennessee, with his wife, Cherith. Currently, he is enrolled in the undergraduate English program at East Tennessee State University, where he pursues an MA in English as he continues to practice homesteading and animal husbandry in his free time.

There are many more presenters during the festival! Admission is free and USC Union is looking forward to seeing everyone on March 23rd and 24th!