| 03.20.2018

Celebrating the written word — UI’s annual Hemingway Festival commemorates the lasting impact of an honored writer

The University of Idaho will host the eighth annual Hemingway Festival on March 3-4 to celebrate the life and legacy of Ernest Hemingway.

The festival will feature a variety of events on campus and in the Moscow community.

Hemingway Festival Coordinator Melanie Thongs said the first day of the festival will have an academic panel of Hemingway specialists, a publication luncheon with Hemingway Review Editor Suzanne del Gizzo and a discussion about the creative process of an author.

Thongs said there will also be a “sneak peek” reading event where UI faculty and local authors will read from works that are in the process of being published.

“They’re going to read from their forthcoming work, so they’re going to give readings from stuff that has never been read before,” Thongs said.

Thongs said then the second day of the festival will have a benefit dinner to raise funds for the English department’s Hemingway Fellowship, which is rewarded to a graduate student in UI’s MFA program and gives the student time to work on a book.

Thongs said dinner will feature readings from Hemingway scholar Ron McFarland, winners of the 2017 Hemingway Festival High School Writing Contest, the 2016-2017 UI Hemingway Fellow Jerri Newbill Benson and the 2016 PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author Ottessa Moshfegh.

Thongs said all events are free to the public except the fundraising dinner on the fourth, which costs $30 regularly and $20 for students. The ticket price is the cheapest it’s ever been to hopefully increase attendance, dropping it from $85, she said.

Thongs said she hopes the festival can bring together community members and students alike.

While the festival almost lost momentum a few years ago, UI English Professor Ron McFarland said since then it has continued to grow.

McFarland said the festival used to take place in the Sun Valley area because of Hemingway’s ties there and it ran successfully for a few years until the economy took a bad turn in 2008 and sponsors could no longer donate as much money, so UI decided to pick it up and host the festival in Moscow.

McFarland said although Ernest Hemingway never traveled as far north as Moscow, the author had an undeniable love for southern Idaho.

“He loved that part of the state, it’s where he wrote a good deal of ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls,’ and he famously said it reminded him of Spain,” McFarland said. “He loved the hunting and the fishing, of course, but he didn’t write much about Idaho.”

McFarland, who wrote the recently published book “Appropriating Hemingway,” said he believes people are drawn to Hemingway’s writing because of the author’s simplistic prose and straight-forward writing style.

“I think he did a great job of making the ordinary and the sort of simple plain style, rightly or wrongly, a kind of American straight-forward pragmatic kind of prose, or even journalistic prose, he made that a kind of literary voice,” McFarland said. “He’s one of those guys who can navigate the terrain of pop fiction and literary fiction.”

In addition to his writing style, McFarland said Hemingway is often known for his travels and strong international presence.

“It’s interesting, I think probably he’s one of the few American writers who has as bit a reputation internationally as he does a national one,” McFarland said. “This guy lived in Spain, France, Italy, England, Africa and Cuba — there’s no American writer who really lived the world the like Hemingway did.”

Olivia Heersink can be reached at the arg-news@uidaho.edu or Twitter @heersinkolivia

Related Posts
No comments

There are currently no comments to show.