The New Voices Literary Festival, Part 1!

GET READY! In this series of posts there are amazing authors, amazing stories, and an amazing giveaway. IT’S SO EXCITING!

College, they say, is a great time to try out some new opportunities. This proved to be quite true over the past three days, when I was aNew Voices festival Student Guide at Ithaca College’s first annual New Voices Literary Festival.

Conceptualized by Professor Chris Holmes from the English Department and Professor Eleanor Henderson from the Writing Department, these two fantastic people brought together eight emerging writers to talk to students over the course of three days. (List of these authors later, don’t worry.)

Professor Holmes was the one who alerted me to the Student Guide applications. The idea was to have sixteen student guides, two from each year and two for each author, to act as the author’s guide around campus. The job came with perks such as backstage access and non-dining hall food. I applied like a rocket, received the honor, and was assigned to author Sheba Karim. I proceeded to skip 95% of my classes over Thursday and Friday to hang out with these eight wonderful people and leech their knowledge for my own. I wasn’t disappointed.

Sadly, I did miss the first event of the festival, on Wednesday, in which the eight authors all read short bits of their work at a bookstore in town. However, I was there bright and early the next morning to have breakfast with the authors before their first events of the day.

At 10:50 AM on Thursday, instead of going to my honors seminar class, I walked Sheba Karim and fellow New Voices author Marie-Helene Bertino to a class taught by Professor Henderson and sat on a cabinet for the duration. It was a great experience to see not only Sheba and Marie-Helene speak, but also to sit in on a class that I will be taking in my junior year. (See, the trick during these things is to suck them dry for everything they’re worth.)

At 12 PM, all eight writers attended a panel about being a college reader and writer. Since now would be a greatly un-invasive time to name them, the writers in the New Voices Festival, in the order they appear in this picture, are Sheba Karim, Marie-Helene Bertino, Eleanor Henderson, Jane Roper, Rebecca Makkai, Robin Ekiss, Nathaniel Rich and Tim Horvath.


After that, we all moseyed to the library to the Center of Faculty Excellence, where there was a small reception and a music student preformed music that he had written based on three poems by Robin Ekiss. This was followed by a reading at the Handwerker Art Gallery, where four of the eight writers read, and I introduced Sheba Karim. Since it’s Sheba’s book I’m giving away, and I spent so much work on this intro, I’m going to insert what I said here:

They say that to be a writer its best if you’re good at a few different things. Sheba Karim is certainly that. Her novel, Skunk Girl, is IMG_0054young adult fiction, and she is also the editor of a collection of erotic short stories. Her literary fiction has appeared in 580 Split, Asia Literary Review, Barn Owl Review, EGO, Kartika Review, Shenandoah, South Asian Review, Time Out Delhi and in several published and forthcoming anthologies in the United States and India, including Cornered, Electric Feather and Venus Fly Trap. Her current project is a historical fiction novel set in 13th century India. All this showcases two different things: Sheba Karim gets really grumpy when she isn’t writing, so she writes a lot, and that the drive to show your parents that writing is a viable career option will actually get you far.

When not writing, Sheba Karim likes to dance, sometimes with an ironing board, get kicked out of nightclubs in Bombay and ending up as a 6 AM extra on the set of a Bollywood movie—all at once. She is obsessive about planning trips, so much that she believes she was a travel agent in a past life. Someday, she would love to go diving. No mention if this is to be done with an ironing board, though. Oh, and in case anyone who has ever taken a Catherine Taylor writing class is curious, her spirit animal is a chocolate eating cat. Please welcome Sheba Karim.

After everyone was wowed by my public speaking skills (you know, the nonexistent ones), the day was ended. Please wait as I shamelessly plug the four authors who read that night:


Rebecca Makkai, The Borrower ~ Nathaniel Rich, Odds Against Tomorrow ~ Robin Ekiss, The Mansion of Happiness ~ Sheba Karim, Skunk Girl

WANT MORE DEETS? What happened the next day? What did I teach Jane Roper? What happens when Jane Roper is given a book that was already signed? How many writers did we lose in the gorges? What are Robin Ekiss and Rebecca Makkai’s greatest fears?


Check back in tomorrow and see!