A new book festival called Deckle Edge is set to launch in Columbia, South Carolina, early next year. The inaugural event will take place February 19-21, featuring readings, panels, writers’ workshops, and activities for children and young adult readers.
The new festival picks up where the South Carolina Book Festival left off. In July, the Humanities Council of South Carolina announced it would discontinue the nearly 20-year-old event in favor of smaller, year-round literary initiatives spread throughout the state. Many in the state's literary community were devastated by the decision. “We knew we didn’t want to lose that book festival,” said writer and Deckle Edge co-founder Darien Cavanaugh.
When news spread that the SCBF had been cancelled, local literary leaders sprung to action. In addition to Cavanaugh, the core group of coordinators includes Annie Boiter-Jolley and Cindi Boiter of Jasper Magazine, University of South Carolina Press executive director Jonathan Haupt, and author and USC professor Elise Blackwell. After several meetings, they realized it would be feasible to create their own festival.
Deckle Edge will build on the foundation of the SCBF, and much of its programming will be similar to that festival. However, Deckle Edge coordinators hope to reach out to more diverse voices and non-traditional storytellers. A group of Southern LGBT poets will hold special readings, and a local collective called Poets of Color will also be involved. There will also be events focused on graphic novels and comic books, singer-songwriters, and screenwriting. “Stories come in different forms,” Cavanaugh noted.
Though not involved in organizing Deckle Edge, the Humanities Council has provided some guidance to the new festival. And Cavanaugh is hopeful that a portion of grant money earmarked for next year’s SCBF will be transferred to Deckle Edge. Other funding will come through sponsorship, donations and additional grants.
A number of South Carolina literary and cultural organizations have already committed to the event, including Richland Library, the University of South Carolina Press, Hub City Writers Project, the South Carolina Center for Children’s Books & Literacy and Ed Madden and the Columbia Office of the Poet Laureate.
A collection of local authors have already committed as well, including Dan Albergotti, Samuel Amadon, Elise Blackwell and Marjory Wentworth. “This first round is primarily South Carolina writers. We started with people we know and have worked with in the past on other projects, but now we are starting to reach out to writers across the United States. and beyond,” Cavanaugh said.