Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival Celebrates 25 Years

The Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival is back after a year-long COVID-19 hiatus, marking its 25th anniversary with virtual events beginning Monday and continuing through Thursday.

The free festival, open to the public, is organized by the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and highlights student poetry, memoir, literature and writing. It also provides an opportunity to hear writers from across the country discuss their inspirations and challenges.

Find registration links, writer bios, and workshop descriptions at

The schedule:

Monday, 2 p.m.-3:15 p.m.: Gill Sotu hosts Poetry SLAM. Open to all Grossmont College students. Limited to 12 participants. The top six advance to the second round, from which a Grand Slam champion is named.
7pm – 8:15pm Novelist and rock biographer Jim Ruland. Host of the “Vermin on the Mount” reading series, Ruland will read an excerpt from his new book, “Do What You Want” (Hachette Books 2020), a biography of the groundbreaking LA punk band Bad Religion.
Tuesday, 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Playwright Matthew Salazar-Thompson. A stage actor, director, playwright and lecturer, Salazar-Thompson has written dozens of plays, with commissions including the San Diego Repertory Theatre, North Coast Repertory Theatre, Point Loma Playhouse and Coronado Playhouse. “The 146 Point Flame”, based on the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911, was described in Southern Theater Magazine as one of the 10 best plays about immigration.
2-3:15 p.m. Lily Hoang, poet, essayist, author of fairy tales. Hoang is the author of five prose books, including “A Bestiary,” and the 2016 winner of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Nonfiction Book Award. In 2017 she was Mellon Scholar in Residence at Rhodes University in South Africa.
7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Reading by New Voices students. Outstanding student writers in this semester’s creative writing courses perform new and original works. A program booklet to read is provided. A question-and-answer session follows.
Wednesday, 2-3:15 p.m.: Why Lit Matters student panel. Moderated by Professors Lisa Ledri-Aguilar and Sarah Martin, this panel of Grossmont College students shares moving personal testimonies of the role literature has played in their journeys.
7-8:15 pm Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, poet, essayist, defender of immigration, founder of Undocupoets. Castillo is the author of the “Dulce” collection (BOA 2018 editions), and of the “Cenzontle” collection (2018), winner of the 2017 A. Poulin Jr. Prize. Recipient of the Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Prize, Castillo was the first undocumented student to graduate from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers Program.
Thursday, 2-3.15 p.m.: Julia Dixon Evans, novelist. Winner of the 2019 Magazine Award for Fiction, Dixon Evans reads an excerpt from her first novel, “How to Set Yourself on Fire” (Dzanc Books, 2018). As a journalist, Evans has written the culture report for Voice of San Diego and covers the local arts and culture scene for KPBS.
7-8:15 p.m. Carl Phillips, poet, essayist. A queer African-American author, poet, and former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Phillips will read excerpts from his latest collection of poetry, “Pale Colors in a Tall Field” (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2020). Phillips has written 15 internationally acclaimed books of poetry. A four-time National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, his accolades include the Lambda Literary Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award, Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Award, Thom Gunn Prize for gay male poetry and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Academy of American Poets.

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