Literary Arts festival presents outstanding LGBTQ panels

1455 Literary Arts, an organization committed to advancing the art and craft of storytelling, today announced its lineup of literary and creative artists and thinkers who will share their insights, inspiration and passion at the 1455 Literary Arts Summer Festival, taking place virtually from July 15-17, 2021.  Now in its third year, this free and inclusive program will offer a wide array of content designed to showcase storytellers, celebrate creativity, build community, and encourage participants to pursue their own creative endeavors. 

Registration is free and open at the festival website.

Highlights of the three-day event include: 

  • More than 200 speakers appearing on 60+ panel sessions 
  • A diverse offering of authors, speakers and contributors, from a variety of genders, cultures, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Three separate storytelling tracks:  Inspiration & Advocacy; Timely & Topical; and Craft & Community
  • A closing keynote session with 2020 Booker Prize-winning author Douglas Stuart (“Shuggie Bain”) 
  • A teen poetry contest with a $5,000 grand prize

The 2021 festival will focus on the power of storytelling and the crucial role it plays not only in creative and academic fields, but far beyond. The gathering is a rare opportunity for participants to learn from some of today’s most celebrated, diverse, and up-and-coming storytellers, who bring their unique perspectives to timely issues affecting our culture such as politics, race relations, sexual equality, sports, and the environment.  Among the panelists are award-winning author and screenwriter Brian Broome (“Punch Me Up to the Gods,”), 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction recipient Deesha Philyaw (“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies”), best-selling journalist Jake Tapper (“The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor”), attorney-turned-Edgar Award-winning author Angie Kim (“Miracle Creek), exiled Egyptian novelist Ahmed Naji (“The Use of Life”), and oceanographer and environmental activist Phillippe Cousteau, Jr. (“Xploration Awesome Planet” TV series). 

“The 1455 Summer Fest is, by design, unique and inclusive: it stands apart from  strictly literary events as a free and dynamic experience; anyone can find a topic of interest and drop in on intimate conversations among  some of today’s hottest creative thinkers and powerful storytellers on the rise,” said Sean Murphy, Executive Director of 1455 Literary Arts.

Keynote speaker Douglas Stuart

“We constantly seek out diverse talent, and our goal is facilitating meaningful connection; a highlight of 2020 was our interview with Douglas Stuart for our Author Series just prior to his being awarded the Booker Prize. During his keynote, he’ll discuss his life since receiving the award. During panels, we’ll feature internationally celebrated authors (including last year’s  PEN/Faulkner Award winner and  National book award finalist Deesha Philyaw), among others, who will read from their work and talk about their writing process. These conversations are intended to provide meaningful insight into what storytelling means, who does it, how they do it, why they do it, the struggles and triumphs, and everything in between.” 

As part of the festival, 1455 is also conducting a Teen Poetry Contest, centered around the theme of “Finding Community During Crisis.” Open to any poet within the 13-19 age group, and with a deadline of July 1, 2021, entries should be a reflection on or reaction to the contemporary sociopolitical and cultural environment. The winner will receive recognition and an award of $5,000. For additional detail, visit 1455litarts.org/teenpoetry.   

Added Murphy: “Rather than scaling back our event due to COVID, the 2021 Summer Festival will be our grandest ever, by far. We’re purposely keeping programming virtual so we can continue to offer this free and imminently accessible platform to the world.  Authors have not been able to connect with their usual audiences, much less meet new ones during the past 15 months; 1455 is dedicated to reviving that interaction during the Summer Festival, and via 1455’s Author Series and other programs. We’re beyond excited to facilitate this much-needed platform.” 

LGBTQ PANELS

Thursday, July 15, 4-5 PM 

What Makes a Successful (Queer) Narrative?

It’s taken too long and there’s still a great deal of queer writing to be done, but we can at least say that queer storytelling and queer narratives, which include novels such as the ones written by authors on this panel, have made light years of progress from the days of quietly closeted characters AND creators. 

FEATURES: Lupita Aquino, Kristen Arnett , Robert Jones Torry Peters  

Thursday July 15- 7:30 PM-8:30 PM ET

It’s All About Us: The Many Voices of Speculative Fiction and Poetry

This panel will highlight and raise up the myriad voices exploring nuanced traditions and futures in speculative fiction and poetry. 

FEATURES: Neon Hemlock, Marlena Chertock, Emmalia Harrington, Dave Ring

Friday, July 16 8:00 PM-9:00 PM ET

Robbie Dunning

Slam Poetry with Robbie Dunning

Young poet and activist, Robbie Dunning (a trans and nonbinary poet, performer, artist and educator living in the Boston area) will perform Slam poetry with a bold message in a unique genre.

Saturday, July 17- 12:00 PM-1:00 PM ET

Using Moth-Style Storytelling to Turn Traumatic Memories into Dramatic or Darkly Humorous Tales

FEATURES: Four-time Moth StorySLAM winner, Molly McCloy 

 Saturday July 7 17-5:00 PM-6:00 PM ET

1455 Presents: A Conversation with Brian Broome and Deesha Philyaw

The last year hasn’t been all bad; indeed, on the literary front there have been some wonderful developments. 2021 confirmed the arrival of two superstars: Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Brian Broome (Punch Me Up to the Gods). Their books, both critically lauded and commercial smashes, have shattered conventional, and outdated industry wisdom—proving that great writing will find its audience. 

FEATURES: Brian Broome

 Saturday, July 17 6:00 PM-7:00 PM ET

 Keynote: Douglas Stuart

 Don’t miss this year's keynote speaker, Douglas Stuart, 2020 Booker Prize winner for his best-selling novel Shuggie Bain, who will be joined in conversation by 1455 Board Member Bethanne Patrick (aka @TheBookMaven).

FEATURES: Douglas Stuart

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