Hone your writing skills at UAB’s 3rd annual SPARK Writing Festival, July 18-31

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SPARK Writing Festival
Whether you’re a published author or new to writing, you can hone your writing skills at the 3rd annual SPARK Writing Festival! Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Calling all writers! The University of Alabama at Birmingham is kicking off their third annual SPARK Writing Festival this month, and YOU are invited. Keep reading to find out how you can exercise your writing skills and learn from esteemed guest speakers during the all-virtual festival!

What is the SPARK Writing Festival?

SPARK Writing Festival

Whether you’re a published author or new to writing, everyone can benefit from writing workshops. That’s why The University of Alabama at Birmingham launched the SPARK Writing Festival, a community-wide creative writing workshop designed to help writers learn from each other. At this year’s all-virtual SPARK Writing Festival, you’ll find:

  • Free Community Events open to the public, featuring local professional writers.
  • Immersive Workshops, featuring a deep-dive into a specific genre of writing.

And much more!

“I found inspiration and encouragement during the last SPARK Writing Festival, and I’ve already registered for this month’s event. I write nonfiction, but I love that the festival makes a variety of genres accessible—we can learn from each other!”

Carla Jean Whitley, local author

Immersive Workshops

SPARK Writing Festival
Photo via SPARK Writing Festival

During the all-virtual event, writers can choose to participate in one of SPARK’s writing workshops. These five immersive workshops feature a two-week deep dive in a specific area of writing, including:

  • Non-Fiction Workshop with Salaam Green ($60 per person, 15 students max)
  • Writing for Young Adults Workshop with Randi Pink ($60 per person, 15 students max)
  • Poetry Workshop with Tina Mozelle Braziel ($60 per person, 15 students max)
  • Fiction Workshop with Angela Mitchell ($60 per person, 15 students max)
  • SPARK Starts with Halley Cotton ($20 per person, 20 students max)

In the first week, writers will work on producing original work for the workshop. During the second week, writers will receive feedback on their work, both from the instructor and their group.

The immersive workshops will take place over two weeks:

  • First Week (Generative Days)
    • Monday, July 19 (6-8pm)
    • Wednesday, July 21 (6-8pm)
    • Friday, July 23 (6-8pm)
  • Second Week (Critique Days)
    • Monday, July 26 (6-8pm)
    • Wednesday, July 28 (6-8pm)
    • Friday, July 30 (6-8pm)

And that’s not all! Potential SPARKer’s having difficulty with the registration fee are invited to apply to the Juliana Wu Scholarship Fund. Simply email SPARKWritingFestival@gmail.com and mention the workshop you’d like to participate in to learn more.

Click here to register for immersive workshops at the SPARK Writing Festival.

Community Events

SPARK Writing Festival
Photo via SPARK Writing Festival

If you’d like to learn more about writing but can’t make it to one of the immersive workshops, don’t fret. The SPARK Writing Festival is offering several free events that are open to the public! Although each community event is different, you’ll be sure to learn a lot from the local writing professionals leading up each event.

This year’s community events include:

  • SPARK Kick-Off and Flash Fiction Writing with Halley Cotton
    • Sunday, July 18th at 6PM
  • Slam Poetry with Voice Porter
    • Tuesday, July 20 at 6PM
  • Drama with Nichole Lariscy
    • Thursday, July 22 at 6PM
  • Writing the Sonnet with Jason Walker
    • Saturday, July 24 at 6PM
  • Personal Narrative for the Media with Javacia Harris Bowser
    • Tuesday, July 27 at 6PM
  • Poetry with Jennifer Horne
    • Thursday, July 29 at 6PM
  • Where to Go from Here with Halley Cotton
    • Saturday, July 31 at 6PM

Click here to register for community events at the SPARK Writing Festival.

Keynote Speakers — July 25th at 2PM

This year, the SPARK Writing Festival welcomes Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham as co-keynote speakers. The duo recently won a Caldecott Honor—the nation’s highest honor in children’s illustration and literature—for their illustrated children’s book, The Cat Man of Aleppo.

  • From her lakeside home in Alabama, Irene Latham is a renowned writer of novels, poetry collections and picture books, including the coauthored Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship.
  • Originally from Damascus, Syria, Karima Shami-Basha is a writer and photographer who has seen his work published in National Geographic TravelerSports Illustrated, People, Time, Newsweek, The New York TimesThe Washington Post and more.

Get connected with the SPARK Writing Festival on Facebook and Instagram!

Planning to participate in the SPARK Writing Festival? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know how it goes!

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Nathan Watson
Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.
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