SMU’s Dallas Literary Festival is back March 12–22. This annual celebration of writers and literature will feature more than 100 acclaimed national and local authors as well as special events across the city. Authors representing relevant and diverse voices will converge at a series of in-person events on the SMU campus, at Fair Park’s African American Museum and at other locations throughout Dallas.
SMU football great and NFL Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson ’84 will deliver the keynote conversation at noon Saturday, March 19, in Dallas Hall. After a prolific and often contentious career, Dickerson is telling his side of the story in his new book, Watch My Smoke. Capping the day will be the Friends of the SMU Libraries’ Tables of Content fundraiser, featuring the presentation of the 2022 Literati Award to culinary historian Adrian Miller, author of Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue. Tickets are required, and proceeds from the event benefit the Friends’ annual grants program.
2020 Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story and recipient of the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work–Nonfiction, will close the festival at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, at SMU.
The festival’s theme, resilience, was chosen when organizers expected to be looking back at how the country survived the turbulence of 2020 and 2021, says Sanderia Faye Smith, Dallas Literary Festival executive director, SMU creative writing faculty member and author of the award-winning novel, Mourner’s Bench.
“As the festival date approaches, we realize we’re going to need even more resilience to stay the course and not give up,” Smith says. “As Toni Morrison says, ‘During hard times, writers should not remain silent and readers should read, heal, gain knowledge and escape within the pages of a book.’”
While related events begin March 12, the first official festival event is Friday, March 18, featuring National Book Award finalist David Treuer and scholar, poet and author DeMaris Hill. Treuer’s The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee is a new narrative that demonstrates how Native Americans have maintained their culture and civilization through dark years. Hill’s Breath Better Spent: Living Black Girlhood is a narrative in verse that takes a personal and historical look at the experience of Black girlhood. Treuer and Hill will speak at 7 p.m. at SMU’s McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall.
Two full days of author panel discussions, readings and interviews follow, March 19 and 20, with national award winners, memoirists, scholars, romance writers, poets, historical fiction writers and authors of gems you might not have heard of yet, but soon will.
Unless otherwise noted, events are free and open to the public.
Among the highlights:
Saturday, March 19, Dallas Hall, SMU
- Novelist Nathan Harris, author of The Sweetness of Water, Oprah’s June 2021 Book Club pick.
- Joaquin Zihuatenejo, National Poetry Slam finalist and Grand Slam Spoken Word champion.
- W. Bruce Cameron, author of the New York Times bestselling triology, A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Way Home and A Dog’s Courage.
- Long-form narrative writer Catherine Prendergast, author of The Gilded Edge, named by Artnet as one of top 20 books about art in 2021.
Sunday, March 20, African American Museum, Fair Park
- Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal and Nev, which was a 2021 Good Morning America Buzz Pick and named one of the best books of 2021 by Barack Obama, The Washington Post and NPR.
- Elisa Dusapin, author of Winter in Sokcho, 2021 National Book Award winner for translated literature.
- Scholar and commentator Jelani Cobb, author of The Matter of Black Lives: Writing from The New Yorker.
- Culinary historian Adrian Miller, author of Black Smoke.
- Daniel Black, author of Don’t Cry for Me, February 2022 Book of the Month selection.
Additional related events include:
- Saturday, March 12: South Dallas Cultural Center will present a women’s poetry workshop.
- Tuesday, March 15–Tuesday, March 22: Dallas Public Library will host a series of in-person and online events supporting the Dallas Literary Festival, including craft and story-making projects, readings, a Shakespeare Adventure Walk and writing workshops.
- Monday, March 21: SMU’s Tate Lecture Series will present biographer Walter Isaacson. Tickets required.
Find more information at Dallas Literary Festival.