Rick Chess in conversation with Alicia Jo Rabins, Laurie Patton and Amy Gottlieb in the Laurel Forum.
Among those authors, poets and playwrights reading and discussing their work were poet Marilyn Nelson, a chancellor in The Academy of American Poets, and Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, who received the 2015 National Humanities Medal from President Obama just a month before the event.
“For many years, I’ve been dreaming of organizing an event that would bring together a group of first-rate writers who deal seriously and honestly with the spiritual and religious life,” said Rick Chess, a poet and writer who is the Roy Carroll Professor of Honors Arts and Sciences, director of the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, and author of Third Temple. “I don’t know what it’s like for other folks who take their spiritual and religious lives seriously, but I’ve always turned to the work of poets, fiction and nonfiction writers as part of my own spiritual and artistic life. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to feature the life of the spirit and literature in this festival.”
Conference co-organizers were Chess and Evan Gurney of UNC Asheville’s faculty, and Fred Bahnson from the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, with many partners and supporters.