College And Arts Center Host Literary Festival

EDISON—A literary festival celebrating the work of contemporary immigration writing will be held at Middlesex County College on Saturday, March 28. Admission is free and it is open to the public.

“My New Life, My New Poem: A Festival of Contemporary Immigration Writing” features a veritable United Nations of writers specializing in poetry, fiction and essays. Twenty-two award-winning authors will be gathering for public readings, workshops, panel discussions, book signings and open mic events.

The festival will include creative writing workshops and panel discussions on immigration, American literature and the humanities; a book fair; an open mic program for writers from the community to read and perform, and readings by guest authors.

“This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in creative writing,” says Festival Director L.E. McCullough. “All the workshops are geared toward tips in writing more expressively. And at the 2 p.m. open mic, anyone can read their own poetry on the immigration experience.”

Participating authors include Middlesex County College faculty Wilson Class, Emanuel di Pasquale and Shirley Russak Wachtel, along with Michelle Cameron, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Andrey Gritsman, Charles H. Johnson, Sheema Kalbasi, Deborah LaVeglia, Timothy Liu, Irina Mashinski, Laura McCullough, Peter Murphy, José Antonio Rodriguez, Patrick Rosal, Basil Rouskas, Paul Sohar, Anantha Sudhakar, Rich Villar, Patricia Sarrafian Ward, Joe Weil and Gretna Wilkinson.

The events at the College are only part of the program. There will also be readings by guest authors at the Barron Arts Center, 582 Rahway Ave., in Woodbridge on Friday, March 27, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, March 29 at 2 p.m. For a complete schedule visit or call (732) 634-0413.

Joann La Perla-Morales, president of Middlesex County College, said the festival provides an important service in allowing voices to be heard on immigration issues.

“The process of being and becoming an American is something everyone in this country shares, either in their own life or in their family history,” she said. “We want to see how that experience shapes our contemporary literature here in New Jersey and how it can get a conversation started about the role of humanities in our cultural discourse on immigration. ‘My New Life, My New Poem’ is a natural expansion of the college’s ongoing mission to bring the community together via the arts. New Jersey poets since Walt Whitman have been writing about what it means to be American. This festival looks at that question with a fresh perspective from a very talented group of modern Garden State writers.”

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