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Mercyhurst Literary Festival celebrates Dylan

Friday, March 17, 2017

Folk singer, poet, provocateur, ‘60s icon, chameleon, artist: Bob Dylan has always eluded easy categorization. But fans have long recognized his ground-breaking achievements – a judgment etched in stone last fall as he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

It’s fitting that the 15th edition of the Mercyhurst University Literary Festival will kick off Thursday, March 23, with a celebration of Dylan’s career and works.

The “Dylan Fest” begins at 5:30 p.m. with a musical showcase featuring performances by local artists the Barrett Brothers, Jimmy Cuneo, Dave Devine, J.P. Sullivan, and Jim Tometsko and Friends, along with other featured guests. Expect renditions of classics from “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “All Along the Watchtower” to “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and “Tangled Up in Blue.”

The music will be followed at 7:30 p.m. by a showing of D.A. Pennebaker’s cinéme vérité masterpiece, Dont Look Back (1967), which chronicles Dylan’s 1965 tour of the United Kingdom. The film features classic live performances as well as a unique backstage vantage on the songwriter’s encounter with fame and notoriety, just as he prepared to transform his career – and popular music – by picking up an electric guitar. Faculty members Dr. Chris Magoc and Dr. Jeffrey Roessner will lead a panel discussion following the screening.

Two other events are part of this year’s Literary Festival.

Mercyhurst will host Irish author Eibhear Walshe on Thursday, March 30, at 8 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre. Born in Waterford, Walshe studied in Dublin and now lives in Cork, Ireland, where he lectures in the School of English at University College Cork. He has published in the area of memoir, literary criticism and biography.

His first novel, The Diary of Mary Travers, appeared in 2015. When Mary Travers pursued a libel case against William and Jane Wilde – parents of Oscar – the resulting scandal ruined her family. Walsh’s novel, which imagines and seeks to explain her, was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Kerry Group Novel of the Year.

The Literary Festival concludes Thursday, April 20, at 8 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre with an event celebrating the creative work of Mercyhurst students. The night marks the debut of the 2017 Lumen, Mercyhurst’s student literary and fine arts magazine. Once a journal for creative writing, Lumen has evolved into an interactive multimedia format combining visual art, music, dance, poetry and fiction.

Entirely student produced, Lumen consistently wins awards for its content and design. This year’s editors-in-chief are Naomi Greenstein and Megan Pacileo. The designers are Jeff Annunziata, Kelsey Mader and Sabiha "Sumi" Mahmud. Faculty advisors are Marnie Sullivan, Greg Brown and Jodi Staniunas Hopper.

The evening also features presentation of the P. Barry McAndrew Writing Awards for the three best examples of student creative writing and the best critical essay on literature. The awards honor retired professor McAndrew, who taught in the Mercyhurst English Department for more than 40 years. These awards carry cash prizes generously endowed by the McAndrew family.

Students are invited to share their works during an open mic session.

The Mercyhurst Literary Festival was created by English professors Dr. Jeffrey Roessner and Dr. Ken Schiff to bring renowned writers to campus to read from their works and conduct advanced creative writing workshops with Mercyhurst students. Guests over the years have ranged from Robert Bly and Grace Paley to Martín Espada and Francine Prose.

All festival events are free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Dr. Jeffrey Roessner at 824-2136 or jroessner@mercyhurst.edu.