A Wordy Week

UWEC’s English Fest returns with poetry, prose and more

Marni Kaldjian |

Poet Marilyn Wilson, who’ll be reading Apr. 24 at UW-Eau Claire
Poet Marilyn Wilson, who’ll be reading Apr. 24 at UW-Eau Claire

Eau Claire’s literary extravaganza, English Fest, will be bringing several open-to-the-public events for those interested in all things linguistic. In the past, the fest was crammed into a week, and English Fest faculty advisor Erica Benson says, “We were no longer filling what was a void, but was becoming a crowded field.” As a result, the fest is spread out over the length of a year with the bulk of events occurring at the end of April. On April 23, African-American poet Marilyn Nelson, who writes poems of “simple wisdom and straightforward, indelible stories,” will be reading her poetry under the theme “African American history in verse.” Apr. 24 will feature Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson also giving a poetry reading. According to poet Deborah Pope, “Like the estranged lover in one of her poems who pitches horseshoes in the dark with preternatural precision, Emerson sends her words into a different kind of darkness with steely exactness, their arc of perception over and over striking true.” Asserts Benson, “We’re delighted to have two incredibly talented writers coming to campus – bringing their diverse views and their gifts to us.” Next is the Seventh Annual International Poetry Reading also on Apr. 24, where linguistic aficionados and appreciators alike share their language skills through the reading of poetry in over 35 different languages, ranging from the familiar to  the obscure, and will be spoken, sung, and performed by students, professors, and community members alike. The grand finale on May 1-2 are the Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity (CERCA) student presentations. These English Department presentations will showcase both the creative and research based work of students. The purpose of which, summarizes Benson, is that “We [the university] are a part of the community too. We’re your neighbors, and we think that Eau Claire citizens should be just as welcome here as we are everywhere in Eau Claire...there is a lot here that people can take advantage of.”

UW-Eau Claire’s English Fest • most events Apr. 23 - May 1 • various locations at UW-Eau Claire • For full schedule and details, go to