Save the date! On April 5 and 6, 2019 Exeter will hold its first literary festival—“Exeter LitFest.” This free event will celebrate the diversity of our local writers, both past and present. The program will open with an all ages literary costume/cosplay event at town hall presented in conjunction with TEAM as part of the downtown First Friday series. Saturday morning will feature a “Breakfast with Owen” book group for a discussion of John Irving’s novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, which is set in 1950’s Exeter.
The full Saturday schedule will be available on the website www.ExeterLitFest.com in January and will include something for everyone—adults, children and teens. Daytime events will be held at the Exeter Town Hall, Exeter Public Library, Water Street Bookstore, Foundation Art Space and A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words Bookshop. The schedule includes author talks, book signings, a writer’s group meet-up, a local literature-themed art display (artists please contact us via our website for submission rules) and more. The LitFest will close on Saturday evening with readings by selected local poets at The Word Barn.
No events will be scheduled during the lunchbreak so that attendees may dine or snack at one of our many downtown eateries and coffee shops. We invite all these purveyors of food and drink to join in the fun by creating a literary-themed special menu item for that Saturday. Take a look at our website to see the brand-new walking tour map of sixteen literary hotspots in downtown Exeter for inspiration! This paper tri-fold walking tour guide can be downloaded or picked up at the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce, Water Street Bookstore, and the Exeter Public Library. You will be surprised—as we were—at the depth and breadth and diversity of our local literary tradition.
Two almost forgotten but important historic local authors will be profiled in presentations: Tabitha Gilman Tenney, who wrote Female Quixotism, a feminist-leaning and humorous fifty-year bestselling novel in 1801; and James Monroe Whitfield, a black abolitionist poet who published America and Other Poems in 1853. Haven’t heard of them? You are not alone! But they can be easily found on Wikipedia and on various scholarly websites. Both of their birthdays are within days of this event, so please join us for free birthday cake as we restore and celebrate their honored place in our town’s long history.
We invite you to please mark April 5 and 6 your 2019 calendar now, visit our website and Facebook page, and walk the one-mile downtown literary hotspots loop this fall to get a feel for the Exeter LitFest project. For our start-up year, the Exeter LitFest Steering Committee has created a GoFundMe page and would appreciate your donation (large or small). Questions, comments and donations can be made via our website ExeterLitFest.com.