The Festival is psyched to offer virtual programming during our year-of-social distancing. If you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself seated in a gallery at Real Art Ways during the actual festival! Well, perhaps that’s a stretch. While it’s not the same cool environment, we’ll strive for the same thought-provoking dialogue. Please enjoy these conversations on books, culture, and literary life. Thank you to our moderators, guests, and our series sponsors.

To attend the series, or a single event, please register via Crowdcast, our webinar platform. (Read: like Zoom but slicker.) Future program listed below, past program archived for repeated viewing.

Wally Lamb is the award-winning author of six New York Times bestselling novels: She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much is True, The Hour I First Believed, Wishin’ & Hopin, We Are Water, and, most recently, I’ll Take You There. Lamb also edited Couldn’t Keep It to Myself, I’ll Fly Away, and You Don’t Know Me, three volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Connecticut, where he was a volunteer facilitator for 20 years. Lamb and his wife, Christine, live in New York City and in Connecticut.

Will K. Wilkins has worked as Executive Director of Real Art Ways since 1990, serving as the organization’s artistic and operational head. Real Art Ways is committed to supporting artists and engaging community, with programs in cinema, visual arts, live arts, and education. Among the authors presented during Mr. Wilkins’ tenure are Marlon James, Paul Beatty, Amy Bloom, Steve Almond, Martín Espada, John Trudell, Safiya Henderson-Holmes, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Kimiko Hahn, Marilyn Nelson, Luis J. Rodriguez and Colin Channer. Real Art Ways has sponsored design competitions, underwritten multiple artists’ residencies, commissioned and produced public art projects, including by Pepón Osorio, Mel Chin, Mark Dion, Rachel Berwick, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle and Sofia Maldonado, and developed free arts programming for neighborhood children, serving more than 4,000 kids per year. Mr. Wilkins has a BA in English from UMass Amherst, where he studied with Chinua Achebe and Joseph Brodsky. 

Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of more than 20 books and chapbooks for adults and children. Her critically acclaimed books for young adults include A Wreath for Emmett Till and the ground breaking Carver: A Life in Poems, a Newbery Honor Book. Of Marilyn’s nine poetry collections for adults, The Homeplace won the 1992 Annisfield-Wolf Award; and The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems received the 1998 Poets’ Prize, the PEN Winship Award, and the Lenore Marshall Prize. A three-time finalist for the National Book Award, her many honorsinclude the Frost Medal, the Poetry Society of America’s award for “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry,” and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. A professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut, she currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and was Poet Laureate of Connecticut, 2001– 2006. 

Steven Ostrowski is a fiction writer, poet, painter, and teacher. His work appears widely in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. He is the author of five published chapbooks—four of poems and one of stories. He and his son, Ben, are authors of a full-length collaboration called Penultimate Human Constellation, published in 2018 by Tolsun Books. His chapbook, After the Tate Modern, won the 2017 Atlantic Road Prize and was published in 2018 by Island Verse Editions. His short story,Even on Good Nights,” was a finalist for American Short Fiction’s Short(er) Fiction Award and will be published in the fall of 2020. He teaches at Central Connecticut State University. 

David Bowles is a Mexican American author from south Texas, where he teaches at the University of Texas Río Grande Valley. He has written several award-winning titles, most notably The Smoking Mirror and They Call Me Güero. His work has also been published in multiple anthologies, plus venues such as The New York Times, School Library Journal, English Journal, Rattle, Translation Review, and the Journal of Children’s Literature.

The author of more than 30 books and a dozen screenplays, Dr. Carmen Tafolla was named the first Poet Laureate of the City of San Antonio in 2012 and State Poet Laureate of Texas in 2015, and is currently Professor Emeritus at UTSA. The recipient of the Américas Award, five International Latino Book Awards, and many other distinctions, Tafolla was recognized by the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies for work which “gives voice to the peoples and cultures of this land.”

Sergio Troncoso is the award-winning author of A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son, a collection of linked short stories on immigration which Luis Alberto Urrea called “a world-class collection.” Troncoso also wrote From This Wicked Patch of Dust and Crossing Borders: Personal Essays. His work has appeared in New Letters, Yale Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Texas Monthly. He is president of the Texas Institute of Letters and teaches at the Yale Writers’ Workshop.

Archived Talks