Southern Literary Trail launches Trailfest 2011

Written by William Gantt, director of the Southern Literary Trail

With the support of the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the Southern Literary Trail will soon begin three months of programs in Alabama to conclude with the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville on May 7. The Alabama programs are part of the Trail’s tri-state “Trailfest,” which is celebrated in Alabama along with events in partner states of Georgia and Mississippi. All events and programs, plus printable schedules for each state, are listed within the Trailfest section at

The Southern Literary Trail is the country’s only literary trail to encompass three states. Trailfest officially began with the Carson McCullers Conference in Columbus, Georgia, on February 17, attracting hundreds of participants for a weekend of panels about McCullers and her use of the town and local settings in her novels such as “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.” Suzanne Vega attended the conference and provided musical performances.

The Savannah Book Festival followed on Saturday, February 19, and again, hundreds of SBF patrons visited the Southern Literary Trail table hosted by Jane Thimme, who represents the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home on the Trail’s Steering Committee for Georgia. Jane reported that SLT received enthusiastic attention with “many commenting that it was a terrific idea and every area should follow the example.”

Trailfest begins in Alabama this weekend in Hartselle with a speech about William Bradford Huie by Pulitzer Prize winner Hank Klibanoff on Friday night, February 25, at 7 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church. The speech will be followed on Saturday, February 26, at 10 a.m. with a panel of contemporary journalists to discuss the reporting of William Bradford Huie during the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. The program at Hartselle City Hall is entitled “Journalism Today: Covering Controversy.” Both programs are free with sponsorship by the Alabama Humanities Foundation. A diverse menu of literary programs continue with Trailfest thereafter in every region of Alabama and the two neighboring states.

For upcoming Trailfest events in Alabama, check the AHF event calendar here.