USC Upstate to Launch Upstate Writing Month In June

Spartanburg library patrons listing to an author speak during a book event.
Spartanburg County Public Libraries

The University of South Carolina Upstate is pleased to announce its Division of Languages, Literature, and Composition, in partnership with Spartanburg County Public Libraries, will host the inaugural Upstate Writing Month (UpWriMo) in June.

Created by USC Upstate instructors Brock Adams, Tasha Thomas, and Beth Keefauver, UpWriMo is a month-long series that will feature readings, presentations, and workshops by a diverse group of local and regional writers.

UpWriMo events, which are free and open to the public, will be held at the university’s main campus and other locations across Spartanburg, including the Spartanburg Headquarters Library, Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, Hub City Bookshop, Growler Haus, and others.

Participants will have an opportunity to learn about a variety of writing types, such as songwriting, flash fiction, fantasy, screenwriting, grant writing, eco-fiction, and memoir writing.

“It all started with a hypothetical question from (USC Upstate) Chancellor Brendan Kelly: ‘Why don’t we have a summer writing program?’” said Adams, a senior instructor of English and director of the University Writing Center.

“UpWriMo was the answer,” Adams added. “Featuring local and regional novelists, poets, memoirists, and songwriters, UpWriMo strengthens Spartanburg’s growing arts community and forges connections between USC Upstate and other businesses and organizations throughout the community.”

UpWriMo will kick off at noon on Saturday, June 1, with a session featuring Tessa Fontaine, author of The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts. Fontaine’s book is a winner of multiple plaudits, including The New York Times Editors’ Choice and Southern Living magazine’s Best Book of 2018.

Other presenters who will share their insights during the month include Keefauver, Wayne Robbins, USC Upstate English professor Thomas McConnell, Mark Tebalt, Susan Rivers, LaTracey McDowell, Adams, Jill Criswell, George Williams, and Marylin Knight.

Cinelle Barnes, author of Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir, will close UpWriMo on the afternoon of Saturday, June 29, with a session in the JM Smith Board Room at USC Upstate’s Health Education Complex.

A full list of events and registration is available online at bit.ly/2uSDAGP. Registration is not mandatory, but is recommended.

“Through my work with the Spartanburg Writing Project and local public schools, it has become apparent that Spartanburg is primed for UpWriMo,” Thomas said. “This is an opportunity to showcase the work of USC Upstate faculty and other local writers, inspiring more writing within the community.”

Adams said he expects UpWriMo will become an annual event, celebrating and encouraging writing across the Upstate for years to come.

“After all, Up is where we write,” he said.

The community is encouraged to follow all the action on social media via the #UpWriMo hashtag.

Keefauver said the hashtag is inspired by #NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which began as a small group of young writers from San Francisco “hammering out” one novel in one month and has grown into an international event with more than 400,000 participants.

“We hope to grow UpWriMo into something huge, but keep it local to nourish the talent of writers, artists, and creatives in the Upstate,” Keefauver said.

Prepared by USC Upstate.