HP Lit Fest Celebrates 20 Years With Eggers

flick fest

The nonprofit festival will host its annual Flick Fest for Lit Fest fundraiser on Feb. 16 at the Magnolia Theatre. The event will include a screening of the 2013 film Words and Pictures, along with an introduction and Q&A with KXAS-TV film critic Gary Cogill.

For 20 years, the Highland Park Literary Festival has brought authors near and far into the classrooms of Highland Park High School. Promoting creativity and excellence in writing, this year’s two-day festival will host national names like keynote speaker Dave Eggers, as well as Dallas-based journalists, authors, and publishers.

To personalize the student experience, each of the 2,100 students at HPHS will attend the workshop of their choice during their usual English class period on Feb. 26, choosing from the 24 presenters on this year’s lineup.

“The literary scene is changing, blogging is important, diversity is important, so this year we focused on bringing a wide range of individuals from bloggers to slam poets to songwriters into the festival, alongside our more traditional authors,” event co-chair Kathleen Whalen said.

Students will have access to workshops from HPHS alum Eddie Coker, an award-winning singer, songwriter, and performer; George Getschow, director and writer-in-residence at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference; Joaquin Zihuatanejo, World Poetry Slam champion; and Will Evans, publisher and executive director for Deep Vellum Publishing, among others.

Dave Eggers
Dave Eggers

The keynote presenter on Feb. 25 will be Eggers, author of notable memoirs and novels like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever. In 1998, he launched McSweeney’s, an independent publishing company, and since then has devoted much of his focus to his own literacy nonprofits. Eggers’ lecture will be free and open to the public.

“We knew his commitment to philanthropy and community really reflected what our own Park Cities community stands for. He gives an insight and perspective that is really the whole package and appeals to students, adults, and even other writers involved in the festival,” Whalen said.

The festival also hosts an open-mic night, with a student-only audience listening to their musician and spoken-word poet peers on Feb. 26. Cash prizes are awarded to winning students in the festival’s writing contest in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry categories.

“Based on longevity and continued support, it’s been great to see how important and influential this program is to the community,” co-chair Anne Besser said. “People are interested and value who and what the festival brings to our neighborhood.”

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