Literary Festival

The Bishop Dunne Literary Festival was a natural progression from the GeoTech Conference and Lecture Series and is a celebration of exploration where inspirational authors visit the school to encourage students, teachers, and the community to celebrate language in its artfully written, spoken, and poetic forms. Literary writing offers unique insight into the articulation of human experience and tackles contemporary issues. The festival showcases and provides access to professional writers who can offer guidance or inspiration with respect to their craft and support students in an exciting discovery of the modern literary world.

The Bishop Dunne Literary Festival hosts workshops between students and accomplished novelists, journalists, poets, songwriters, and playwrights. A writing contest and publication of the next student Rugged magazine will be featured at a special awards breakfast where outstanding student work in literature will be exhibited. Successful alumni writers will also be showcased.

The keynote speaker, Jesmyn Ward, will give a community lecture on Monday, April 16, 2018, at 7:00 p.m. in the Monsignor Milam J. Joseph Auditorium and will be available to sign books.

There will be exhibits from local bookstores and light snacks will be served.

2018 Speakers

Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward, whose novel Salvage the Bones won the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction, has been called "fearless and toughly lyrical" by The Library Journal. Her unflinching portrayals of young black men and women struggling to thrive in a South ravaged by poverty and natural disaster have been praised for their "graphic clarity" by The Boston Globe and for their "hugeness of heart" by O, The Oprah Magazine. Her memoir, Men We Reaped, deals with the loss of five young men in her life—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that follows people who live in poverty.

In 2016, Ward edited the critically acclaimed anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, which was a New York Times bestseller. Her next novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, has just been published and nominated for the National Book Award and Kirkus Prize. Ward is the winner of the 2016 Strauss Living Award and an associate professor of creative writing at Tulane University. Ward's precise and graceful narratives make her a fitting heir to the rich literary tradition of the American South.

For Ward, her prose is personal. All three of her books—two novels and a memoir—are set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where Ward grew up and still makes her home. Shortly after Ward received her MFA, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, and Ward and her family were forced to evacuate their rapidly-flooding home. Later, as a professor at the University of New Orleans, Ward drove to and from work through neighborhoods leveled by the storm. Her experiences in the communities most egregiously affected by the hurricane come through in her novels, which subtly blend the creative and the personal, the imagined, and the remembered.

In her talks, Ward shares her writing process and how her experiences growing up poor and black in the South continue to influence her work. As Ward said in her acceptance speech at the National Book Awards, “I understood that I wanted to write about the experiences of the poor, and the black and the rural people of the South, so that the culture that marginalized us for so long would see that our stories were as universal, our lives as fraught and lovely and important, as theirs.”

KA Holt

Kari Anne Holt is the author of several middle grade novels in verse including House Arrest (Chronicle), a Bank Street Best Book of the Year 2015, and Rhyme Schemer (Chronicle), an Amazon Best Book for Kids and Teens, and a Bank Street Best Book of the Year. Her novel in haiku, Brains for Lunch, was highlighted on the Texas Library Association’s Annotated Lone Star Reading List for 2011. She is also the author of the space western, Red Moon Rising, and Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel, a nominee for the 2014 Connecticut Library Association Nutmeg Book Award and the 2013 Maud Hart Lovelace Award. Kari has recently contributed to the anthology, Dear Teen Me: authors write letters to their teen selves. She lives in Austin, Texas.


Eric Barclay

Eric Barclay is a local illustrator, designer, and the author of I Can See Just Fine (Abrams Appleseed), Hiding Phil (Scholastic Press), and Counting Dogs (Scholastic Cartwheel).

Classic cartoons, modern art, mid-century design and everyday mishaps heavily influence his style. He is an in-demand illustrator for Abrams, American Greetings, Disneyland Paris, Hallmark, Highlights Magazine, Friend Magazine, Scholastic, Westin Kids Club, Papyrus, and many others.

Eric has two daughters, both of them students at Bishop Dunne.

Jason Carney

Jason Carney, a local performance poet, is a four-time National Poetry Slam Finalist, honored as a Legend of the Slam in 2007. He appeared on three seasons of the HBO television series Russell Simmons’ Def Poets. Jason has performed and lectured at some of our nation’s finest colleges and universities as well as high schools and juvenile detention centers from California to Maine. Jason Carney is a graduate of Wilkes University MFA Program for Creative Writing, where he was an honored winner of the Etruscan Prize, the Bergman Foundation Scholarship, and the Norris Church-Mailer Scholarship. He is co-founder and artistic director of the non-profit Young DFW Writers.

Program Details

Detailed timeline coming soon!

Literary Festival Committee


Kate DaileyPresident
Mary GracheckAssistant Director of Advancement
Melanie GibsonLibrarian
Channing MilfeldEnglish Department
Brinkley SchneiderEnglish Department Chair
Lydia TorrezDirector of Advancement
Christine VoigtDirector of Curriculum and Instructional Technology