Meet the Team behind Clemson’s 15th Annual Literary Festival 

In preparation for The 15th Annual Clemson Literary Festival, Professor John Pursley and his team of students have been tirelessly planning and organizing the festival’s events. The students, with majors ranging from English to biology, belong to the ENGL 4990 course, Student Directors of the Clemson Literary Festival, in which they organize, learn about and architect the annual event. 

Alana Revels, a senior psychology major, works as a graphic designer on the team who created promotional materials for the festival. She has designed various flyers that have been posted around campus, postcards that share information about the event and is in charge of posting advertisements on social media. Robert Saltmarsh, a sophomore biology student, designed the team t-shirts. He explained how he designed the shirts to reflect the tone of the novel “Matrix” which is written by Lauren Groff, the headlining writer for the festival. 

Miciah Pendarvis, a junior English major, has been in charge of ordering novels for the book fair, an opportunity for students to buy novels on Cooper Library Bridge, as well as reserving different locations for the events to be held. Pendarvis explained how the team worked together to decide which books and authors to feature. 

In order to make this determination, Pursley compiles a collection of excerpts from different student and faculty recommendations. The team then sits together and discusses the authors and their work.

“We try to keep it balanced with poetry, fiction and a little bit of non-fiction as well,” Pursley explained. “Once we go through about thirty authors in each category we start to make the decisions of who we want to bring.” 

One of the events at the festival is Friends of the Festival, which is a gathering of the writers and folks who worked to put the festival together. It is a time for them to reflect on their efforts and celebrate all the hard work they put into making the festival happen. Blue Smith, a junior psychology major, took on the role of planning this event. 

“The most recent thing I have worked on is sending out the e-vites for the Friends of the Festival event. We have to get all the invitations sent out as well as organizing the drinks and hors d’oeuvre list, which has been a fun process.” 

One of the team’s many goals is to familiarize students with the event as well as encourage them to attend. Through promoting the event on social media, advertising on flyers and spreading the word, the team has been able to inform other students about the festival’s activities.

 “[The festival] is for a lot younger crowd than it sounds,” Revels explained. “We are going to be sitting around in bars and listening to writers read their work. It is very relaxed and it’s going to be a really good time.”

Pursley explained the large impact that the students have when it comes to planning an event that is appealing to the student body. “That’s the fun thing about having students run it. They are the ones who decide what is something that students want to hear.” 

Outside of coordinating events for the festival, the students have enjoyed the camaraderie that has come from the course. The students described how they have gotten to really know each other while building experience working on a team. 

“It’s been a really one-of-a-kind experience,” explained Smith. “Having to book restaurants, having to communicate with authors and a lot of this stuff I would have never had the opportunity to do.” 

Clemson students and faculty are encouraged to attend the Literary Festival from March 30 to April 1 and enjoy the events such as listening to award-winning writers read their work, the book fair and even literary trivia. 

“Clemson has a vibrant community of artists and even though it’s not on the forefront, it’s there,” explained Pendarvis. “Getting the chance to interact with the creators of all these amazing literary works is an opportunity that people shouldn’t miss out on.” 

Students interested in being a part of this team next semester can register for ENGL 4990-002 Student Directors of the Clemson Literary Festival. To view the schedule of events for the festival check out the March edition of English Unbound or visit:

Written by: Gabrielle White


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