Attendees of the 16th annual Literary Sojourn listen to novelist Elizabeth Strout conclude her talk Saturday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Attendees of the 16th annual Literary Sojourn listen to novelist Elizabeth Strout conclude her talk Saturday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

Literary Sojourn celebrates writing, life

A few tickets remain for annual literary event Saturday

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Courtesy Photo

Richard Bausch

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Librado Romero/Courtesy Photo

John Darnton

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Dayanita Singh/Courtesy Photo

Amitav Ghosh

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L.A. Henderson/Courtesy Photo

Linda Hogan

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Elena Selbert/Courtesy Photo

Jayne Anne Phillips

If you go

What: 17th annual Literary Sojourn

When: 11:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sheraton Steamboat Resort Hotel

Tickets: A few tickets will be available only at the door. The cost is $85. For those not able to attend, books by participating authors are available at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

On the 'Net: Visit www.literarysojourn.org for details.

— There are no lightweights at this year's Literary Sojourn.

The annual event brings a diverse array of authors to Steamboat Springs for a daylong celebration of writing, books, life and whatever else might be on the minds of speakers and attendees. The sojourn's 17th rendition is from 11:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Hotel.

The event sold out in July, but a few tickets from people unable to attend will be available at the door Saturday for $85. Sojourn organizer Jennie Lay described this year's slate of authors as "very intense" in terms of topics and talent.

"It's been a really hefty reading list this year," Lay said. "Linda Hogan is coming. : Here you have one of the most influential Native American writers in America, and she's going to be here, right here in Steamboat, hanging out this weekend."

Each author will speak for 40 minutes. The list includes Hogan, poet, playwright and author of "Mean Spirit"; novelist and prolific short story writer Richard Bausch, of "Hello to the Cannibals"; India-born journalist and historical fiction writer Amitav Ghosh, of "The Glass Palace" and "Sea of Poppies"; John Darnton, a 40-year journalist with The New York Times and author of "Black & White and Dead All Over"; and Jayne Anne Phillips, who published her first book of stories, "Black Tickets," when she was 26.

Wordsmith, dictionary editor and author Erin McKean is Saturday's master of ceremonies.

Vino owner Lisa Lesyshen also helped organize this year's Literary Sojourn. She said authors are asked to speak about "whatever they want," with no parameters, a tradition that through the years has lent spontaneity to the proceedings.

"Some writers talk about how they write, some people talk about things they're going to be writing : we've also had some people come and play their saxophone, so it really runs the whole gamut," Lesyshen said.

She noted that the saxophone player was author Chris Abani, in 2005.

"He did a song, he brought his saxophone, he did all sorts of crazy stuff," Lesyshen said. "What's weird is that it still fit in with the whole Literary Sojourn experience. It's quite odd because every year, for whatever reason, the authors somehow find a thread to talk about, even though they've never talked about it before : they somehow find that thread, and it makes the whole thing cohesive. It's quite an extraordinary thing when the authors get together."

Michelle Dover, who works in circulation at Bud Werner Memorial Library, led a study of Literary Sojourn authors in the summer. She said Bausch's "Hello to the Cannibals" stood out with local readers. The book alternates between stories of 19th-century West Africa and a 20th-century playwright in the American South.

"Everybody really responded well to that one," Dover said. "Both (stories) were really, really interesting."

Dover said the Literary Sojourn has a uniquely kinetic feeling.

"There's a great energy in the room. I don't know what happens, but I always have a spectacular time when I'm there," she said. "It's inspiring. It's not that you're going to write or read more, but you're talking about life while you're there. It's an inspirational place to be once a year."

For those unable to attend, authors, reading lists and details are online at www.literarysojourn.org. Bud Werner Memorial Library has a first-floor reading nook set aside for works by sojourn authors.

"The library has all of these authors' books on hand," Lay said. "They even have a lot of them on audio - if you have a road trip coming up, it could be a good chance to catch up."

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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