The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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A day of representation at the Dallas Lit Fest

Sanderia Faye Smith with the speakers for the panel discussion “The Publishing Process.” Photo credit: Jordyn Harrell

The English department at Southern Methodist University hosted its third annual Dallas Literary Festival on March 4 at Dallas Hall. This year’s theme was “A Celebration of Vital Writing.”

Although the literary festival only lasted one day compared to last year’s celebratory week, it had something for everyone. There were sessions about poetry, music, and the publishing process. This year, the festival even offered children’s activities and book readings on Dallas Hall Lawn.

“Start them early,” Sanderia Faye Smith, the executive director of the Dallas Literary Festival, said.

Smith was intentional in ensuring that all types of people were represented at the event. Representation matters, she says as the kicks off the opening session.

Samantha Guzman, the editor for The Dallas Morning News and KERA’s Arts Access, spoke during the opening session along with the DMN’s executive director, Katrice Hardy, and Dallas’s poet laureate, Joaquín Zihuatanejo. Guzman says she understood the power of books when she moved to Texas.

“I am the proud daughter of immigrants from Dominican Republic,” Guzman said. “Growing up in Grand Prairie, TX, there wasn’t really anyone that looked like me. But more than that, there wasn’t anyone that understood the complexity of my cultural heritage.”

So, when Guzman found Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, for the first time in a long time, she felt seen.

“Here is [a] story of Dominican girls like me struggling with navigating two worlds,” she said. “I believe strongly like the festival does and the power of storytelling, telling stories, has the power to bring people together to help us understand one another, to make us feel seen.”

The festival featured many voices from the SMU community. SMU seniors Alejandra Cuellar and Simone Melvin as well as sophomore Jordan Young read some of their work during the SMU and Austin College Student Reading.

SMU English professor Katie Condon took part of the “Poetry in the City” panel with poets Destiny Birdsong and Tarfia Faizullah. Condon read “I’m a Kick-Ass Woman” and a few pieces from her upcoming book Before the Body about pregnancy, birth and parenthood, including the satirical poem “One-Star Yelp Review of Having Children.

Kairos, a student-run creative and literary publication, also hosted a panel discussion.

The Dallas Literary Festival site says they believe that books can bring us together by shifting our perspectives and revealing to us what matters the most as a community. The festival is one step in that direction.

There is no question that all of us will be treated to new thinking, to more unity, to a greater sense of purpose after sitting today at the festival,” Katrice Hardy said.

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