As writer Heather Peters was reading her short story “Pop-Tarts for Hitchhikers” she was desperately hoping she didn’t mess up or pass out during the recent Jax by Jax literary festival.
She didn’t. She started and stopped at the appropriate times, waiting for the laughter to come. And come it did. At times, she even giggled at her own wit.
Peters was one of the many writers showcased at Jax by Jax, which encapsulated and catalyzed Jacksonville’s literary culture by showcasing over fifteen writers in nine local venues in Riverside.
“I’ve been writing as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil,” says Peters. “I started getting more serious about it in high school when my drama teacher had me write monologues and skits. By the time I got to college, I thought I was an infallible writer. But my professors (three of whom also read at the event) helped me get past my ego and really encouraged me to develop my voice.”
Jacksonville Writers Writing Jacksonville was the premise of the event, thus the writers who participated in the event reside in Jacksonville, and most write about Jacksonville in short stories, books or poems.
The funny thing is, when you hear a writer utter the name of people and places such as the Jacksonville Pier, Clara White Mission or Springfield, you immediately snap to attention and lean in to experience your city on a new level – through the eyes of a local writer.
“So, the city is represented as a writer’s home, setting and stage,” says Jax by Jax founder Dr. Timothy (Tim) Gilmore, who organized the event with the help of many others in the literary community.
Something special happens when you hear a writer reading their own work. It brings the words to life in a whole different way. “I think Jax by Jax is a wonderful opportunity to listen and hear writers in our own town, and I think it is a great opportunity for Jacksonville,” comments Dr. Susan Slavicz, an English professor at FSCJ who attended the event. “Listening to a writer read their work really puts it in a special context.”
For more information on Jax by Jax visit jaxbyjax.com.
Article written by Michele Gillis