“I try to be respectful of how other people think, I try to listen to what they’re saying.” ~Rick Scott
This past weekend was Literary Sojourn weekend here in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This event has been held annually since 1993. So popular, people arrive from all over the country to attend it. Each year it sells out very quickly.
As a way of extending the event, the Bud Werner Memorial Library invited two Bellwether Prize winners to speak on Sunday. For those who were not fortunate enough to get tickets to Saturday’s discussions, the second part of the “Sojourn” weekend was open to everyone at no charge. The two featured authors were Naomi Benaron and Hillary Jordan, Bellwether award winners in 2010 and 2006, respectively.
Jennie Lay, adult programs coordinator at the Bud Werner Memorial Library, asked the authors “what winning this book prize has meant to them?” Each expressed it has done wonders for their publishing careers. All contestants for the “Bellwether” must have a previously unpublished novel. Along with winning $25,000, winners are given publishing contracts with Alqonquin Books.
Jordan and Benaron discussed how fiction writing is useful for telling stories that are interwoven with issues of culture, politics and social justice. However, Benaron stressed the importance of writing stories about controversial issues in a “respectful manner.” She also mentioned how research into a culture brings credibility and correctness to the story.
“Literature,” Benaron said “is the only art form that takes you into another person’s brain.” Essentially, she said, as readers, we are better able to feel and live the story along with the characters through fictional dialogue.
For more information on the Bellwether Prize, which was established in 2000, solely funded by author Barbara Kingsolver and administered by the PEN American Center, please visit this site http://bit.ly/Rom01E. For information on Barbara Kingsolvers latest book, click here: Flight Behavior: A Novel.
As I left this most enjoyable event, I thought to myself “living in a community with avid readers and writers, certainly has its benefits.”
Thank you to our local library and our local “Indie Bound” bookstore, Off the Beaten Path” for their participation in this event.
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