Top 6 Reasons You Should Volunteer for Greensboro Bound


History will happen next May when authors and poets (and who knows what else) converge downtown to celebrate writing and all things related. This kind of history needs to be a people’s history.

We need you to make it happen.

Greensboro Bound will host its first volunteer meeting at 7 pm on September 13th at Scuppernong Books. This initial gathering is a meet-n-greet to hear about where we are in the festival’s progress and how you can contribute to the cause. To learn more, click here. To go ahead and sign up, click here!

Greensboro Bound needs volunteers before, during, and after the festival. We need people to be room attendants, to escort authors, help set-up and break down event spaces before and after. We need help with smaller events between now and the festival. We need volunteers at Greensboro Bound informational tables during First Fridays. We need an array of talents and resources!

We need anybody who will look great in a Greensboro Bound t-shirt, and that is everybody.

Still not convinced you belong? Let me give you a few more reasons:

1. Nothing quite like this has ever happened in Greensboro. You can brag to everybody that you’re part of it.

Imagine a Greensboro Bound logo on her hat. See? THIS COULD BE YOU.

2. You know you’ve always wanted to spend a weekend with a bunch of writers.

3. A literary festival can’t happen without cool people, and volunteers are the coolest people.

4. People who read books are interesting. This is a great way to meet the most interesting people in the world.

5. North Carolina is the Writingest State, but Greensboro is probably the most writingest city in N.C. You can’t throw a rock down Elm Street without hitting a writer. That’s something worth celebrating!

6. Greensboro Bound is a celebration of people and ideas, and one we hope will bring book lovers in from the region. North Carolina is an amazing place for writers and for people who love reading. Even John Green fans know this to be true. Show some love for this state and for your city: volunteer to be the heartbeat of Greensboro Bound.


One City, One Book 2017

By Gale Greenlee

Here at Greensboro Bound, we’re not just building a festival, we’re building community. And when something awesome involving books is happening in Greensboro, we want to share that news.

Every two years, the Greensboro Public Library brings people together with its community-wide reading initiative known as One City, One Book (OCOB). The premise is simple: the Library chooses a book and challenges as many residents as possible to read and talk about it. For more than two months, people gather in schools and libraries, in parks and homes, and on the streets. And on Saturday, August 26, we hope the streets will be buzzing as the Library launches its 8th OCOB with a celebratory block party.

For the first time in OCOB’s history, the Greensboro community helped choose the book. After a selection committee whittled down the options, hundreds of community members weighed in and voted. The winner? Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. The book schools us on the invaluable contributions black female mathematicians made to NASA’s space program, all while living in the midst of Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Cold War.

Maybe you already know about these awe-inspiring women called “human computers.” The book made the New York Times bestseller list, after all. Maybe you’ve seen the Oscar-nominated movie starring Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, and Taraji P. Henson – who, for the record, entered college as an engineering major at N.C. A&T (Aggie Pride!). Or maybe you’ve heard about Greensboro’s many connections to Hidden Figures; the real-life daughter of Henson’s character calls the Gate City her home, and many of NASA’s early female recruits came from what’s now UNCG. Whatever the case, here’s your chance to read the book, see the blockbuster film at LeBauer Park, and participate in important conversations about civil rights, racial and gender justice, and persistent inequities in STEM fields, our nation, and our community.

Book discussions (a.k.a. real talk about real issues) ground the project. But in true OCOB fashion, the line-up also includes family-friendly, fun events and programs that move beyond the book. There will be rocket launches and drone demos, vintage fashion shows, live radio broadcasts, and old school Sci-Fi films. You can try your hand at some kitchen chemistry or explore coding. Meet some of Greensboro’s own “hidden figures,” like members of local immigrant and refugee communities, or women entrepreneurs working in holistic therapy, yoga, and personal care. Learn about “hidden epidemics” like domestic violence or “hidden issues” like those affecting individuals with disabilities.

OCOB is about a book, but it’s about much more. So read the book and join the conversation. Be a part of the community.

For a complete calendar of One City, One Book programs, including Margot Lee Shetterly’s September 28 visit, click here.

Participate as an Author in Greensboro Bound

– Vera and Vladimir Nabokov hard at work –

They say you can’t swing a cat in North Carolina without hitting a writer.

Here at Greensboro Bound, we think that’s a good thing. After all, you can’t have a literary festival without writers!

In putting together our roster of talent for the festival on May 18-20, 2018, we are looking around and beyond North Carolina as we strive to assemble a dynamic and inclusive mix of voices and genres. We seek writers who want to read from their work, take part in panel discussions, and sign books. Additionally, we hope to find a few brave folks who might also want to experiment with something beyond the usual festival fare.

Are you in a band? Interested in cycling or crafting? Ready to lead an architecture or food walk through downtown? Itching to perform stand-up comedy in a late-night venue? Don’t be afraid to suggest non-traditional ways of talking about writing and your work.

To be considered as a festival participant, you must have had a book published in print form in 2016, 2017, or 2018 by a traditional publishing house, independent, or university press. Your book must be available for distribution at a returnable trade discount from either publisher or one of our regular distributors. (Please note: is not considered a distributor.)

If you are selected to participate, we will endeavor to make your time in Greensboro as fun and rewarding for you as it is for the festival attendees. We love and respect writers, and we believe in treating them right.

Invitations to participate in the festival will be issued on a rolling basis through February 1, 2018. To apply, visit our application page.

A Short History of Greensboro Bound

Often, the most rewarding projects begin by accident. An offhand comment, a shared wish, just a simple daydream, is voiced, then developed, gathering force as it passes through hands and minds.

When Steve Colyer walked into Scuppernong Books in late 2016 and said, “I think Greensboro needs a book festival!,” he had some idea of what he meant. He’d been a part of the Miami Book Fair, the largest book festival in the country, before moving to Jamestown, NC.

He was in the right place, of course. The folks at Scuppernong are willing to entertain any impossible idea. Yet, it turned out the idea wasn’t that impossible. The bookstore became a focal point for engaging people in the Greensboro reading community, and by January 19 the first steering committee meeting came together on a Sunday evening.

The steering committee, a large group comprised of readers, writers, students, community organizers, and professionals began to work out what a book festival in Greensboro might look like and how it might work.

Throughout the winter and spring of 2017, the steering committee met regularly, forming committees and sub-committees. On March 16, The Greensboro Literary Organization filed for non-profit status, which was granted on July 24.

In the meantime, committee members worked to come up with a name, a logo, a mission statement. We began to look at venues throughout the city to house the festival over a weekend in May 2018. We talked to people who ran book festivals in Miami, Charlottesville, and other locations in North Carolina, then generated a survey to gather suggestions concerning authors and programming from the wider Greensboro community. We also began to think about programming throughout the year.

On July 19, 2017, Greensboro Bound: A Literary Festival offered its first program, “Women’s Work: Writers on Truth, Beauty, and Creativity” at Scuppernong Books. This event brought together six women writers to talk about the joys and challenges of writing as women. Other events are planned throughout the fall.

The festival will take place May 18-20, 2018. You can be a part of the adventure. Volunteer, donate, or apply to participate as a visiting author at


Greensboro Bound: A Literary Festival celebrates diverse voices from around the world, honors North Carolina’s long and varied literary tradition, and welcomes an inclusive community of readers from Greensboro and beyond.


Greensboro Bound will bring outstanding writers of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young adult and children’s books to our community and into our schools. It will encourage committed readers to further engage with literature, and spark new enthusiasm for reading among beginners. By promoting reading and civil public discussion, the festival will bridge social and cultural divides across our city and region. Greensboro Bound will foster an understanding of writing as a process that allows free expression, deepens critical thought, and helps sustain a culture of inquiry and delight that is open to all.


Women’s Work: The Magnificent Six

(from left to right): Susan Kirby-Smith, Tita Ramirez, Naima Coster, Deonna Kelli Sayed, Krista Bremer, and Ashley R. Lumpkin, panelists for our first-ever Greensboro Bound Literary Festival event last night, Women’s Work: Writers on Truth, Beauty, and Creativity.

By Lynne McNeil

It was an evening filled with insights into the creative writing process and, for panelist Ashley Lumpkin, performance and creative writing; experiences that came from a varied and accomplished group of women. They shared their struggles balancing family expectations, the role gender plays in how they carve out time, and even the considerations that come into their decisions on how to present their work. I left with a lot to think about as I consider my own writing and where I will go next. I want to highlight a few of the conversations that are rattling around in my head.

Krista Bremer brought up a quote very roughly paraphrased from author Rebecca Solnit’s work, “Women writers are often either stumbling around in the woods or staying too close to the highway.” Bremer talked about how being lost can be the hardest and the softest place to be, a paradoxical place to arrive.

Ashley Lumpkin agreed that writing is both a soft and a hard place. She believes that after you tell your story, readers and listeners will hold place for you. Naima Coster talked of how when she writes, “I never lose myself. Writing is where I play out my relationship with myself.” Deonna Kelli Sayed added, “Imperfection is a state of being.” Tita Ramirez picked up on the metaphor of the woods and the highway when she said, “having that gas in the car when it is going right keeps you going.” Susan Kirby-Smith contributed that “Intentions matter. The work has its own momentum.”

This is the fuel that keeps us going in our writing, whether we find ourselves lost in our thinking, finding our way to our true selves, or sticking to a well-marked highway hoping our fuel lasts.

Naima Coster spoke of points of access in her writing. She described the ways that publishers find writings about women of color connected to Ivy League Colleges more palatable than those of the everywoman of color’s life.

Who are we writing for, who is our audience? To me this is a question marginalized writers face in a way I imagine is more complex than writers in the dominant culture may consider, or they may just assume a position of privilege and dismiss it before it surfaces.

It comes back to Lumpkin’s thought that there will be a space made for her story. Bremer feels strongly that“the ability to write is a call to service, of speaking truth to tyranny.” Ramirez reflected, “I present honestly what I think we are and let the texts speak for themselves.”

Another question the panel discussed was how women writers, especially those with families, find the time to write. It pretty much came down to what Bremer said, “Grab what time you can to write in, whatever space works for you. Forgive yourself if you do not have consistency. There isn’t any one way to do it.” This echoes Sayed’s need to accept “imperfection” as part of writing.

Kirby-Smith leaves home to do creative writing, as I often do if I am pursuing academic writing, not because I have young children at home, rather because I am so easily distracted. Lumpkin finds after teaching, she simply reads more and relies on jotting down words as best she can.

I haven’t talked about how most of the writers read a sample of their work and how Lumpkin performed an amazing poem she wrote called “Bloody Sunday.” I left off the way the panelist seemed to genuinely like and support each other. I omitted the Q&A session where one man asked the panelists, “when you sit down to write, do you sit down as a woman or do you sit down as not a man?”

A shout-out to Deonna Kelli Sayed for organizing, promoting, and facilitating this event, and to Scuppernong Books for hosting the inaugural event of the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival. What an auspicious start!