The Arts

Bookmarks 2016 as Experienced by A Local Emerging Writer

slush-pile-live-panelBookmarks is a nonprofit organization based in Winston Salem that connects all things literary with the community at large.

As a fledgling poet in my senior year at Salem College, I was anxious to attend and take advantage of the opportunities waiting for me at the 2016 Bookmarks Festival. After learning Bookmarks has been established for 12 years, I had high expectations.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Walking Tour of the Winston Salem Arts District on Friday Sept. 9. The authors at each location were warm and welcoming, they were willing to sign books and answer questions.

Saturday’s festival was a free event excluding books, food and souvenirs. There was much to do that was free. Of particular interest were the various readings, book signings, panel discussions and workshops held at different locations.

One of the most interesting and best attended of these panels was “North Carolina Writers’ Network Presents Slush Pile Live!” where authors submitted the first 300 words of their manuscript (without identifying information or blind). The manuscript was read aloud before a panel of writers/editors, including Cheryl Klein and Betsy Thorpe and agent Gary Heidt. The panel members would each raise their hand at the point they would stop reading and then critique the work.

The workshop I attended was given by poet Ross White, who is also the executive director of Bull City Press. The prompt for the workshop was to make two opposing lists or a list of things your parents say and form a poem from either of these, retaining some semblance of the list form therein. We had seven minutes to write. He also read from his work and gave an example of a poem about his marriage in which he contrasted his attributes with his wife’s. Speaking to him after the workshop he said, “I’m in awe of the generosity and enthusiasm of this giant crowd of readers!”

There were many independent presses present, but the most unique I encountered that day was Catbird (on the Yadkin) Press, an artist book press in Tobaccoville. Using handset type, and rubberstamps to press the letters onto woodcut, linocut, and etching ink pressed illustrations. Each book is a one of a kind work of art.

Most riveting was the news that Bookmarks has chosen a site for an independent bookstore in Winston Salem. This past weekend was the drive to raise the last of the funds needed. All donations are to be matched. The results of this weekend’s drive are still being tallied.
Want to know more? To see more Bookmarks events held throughout the year, to donate, or if interested in volunteering, go to