The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Picture of Old Main with large yellow moon, blue rays, and sunset sky

Original photograph of Old Main by Deanna Dent / ASU Now. Other original photographs by NASA.

Desert Nights, Rising Stars Literary Fair Schedule

Talks, readings, performances, and more

Presented as a public extension of the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference in partnership with ASU Open Door, the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Literary Fair features an afternon of talks, readings, conversations, and performances from authors, publishers, and other literary organizations from all over the Southwest on Saturday, February 22, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the front lawn of Old Main. 

Beyond our featured programs, exhibitors may also be offering a number of table-side activities. All events and activities are open to the public and free. You do not need to register for the conference in order to attend.

To learn more, keep reading or RSVP for the fair. You can also meet our exhibitors, or learn more about the conference.

Interested in exhibiting? Engage with over 30,000 community members and 300 conference attendees by becoming an exhibitor today! 

Find Events at this Year's Fair

Beyond the Ripped Bodice: Romance Writing in the 21st Century
Romance Writers of America Phoenix, HelenKay Dimon, Cathy McDavid, Deloris Nash, Willow Sanders, Kris Tualla

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 12:30pm
Type: Panel, Reading, Talk
Genre & Forms: Romance
While romance of yesteryear may have conjured images of Fabio-like men with muscles and flowing hair, and breathless women suffocating in constricting bodices, the new millennia has heralded in a new age of romance. Discuss, love, romance, smooching, and more with the Romance Writers of America Phoenix!

Children's Storytime
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Arizona, Michael Hale

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 1:45pm
Type: Reading
Genre & Forms: Children's Books
Something for the whole family. Take a moment to sit down with the kids in an interactive storytime with local author and illustrator Michael Hale from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators!

Getting Published in Literary Journals
Superstition Review, Hayden's Ferry Review

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 2:15pm
Type: Panel
Genre & Forms: Business of Writing, Editing, Publishing, Submitting

What do editors truly want to discover and publish? Learn the do’s and don’t’s of submitting to literary journals with editors from Superstition Review and Hayden’s Ferry Review, two nationally-recognized literary journals based at ASU.


Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 3:00pm
Type: Performance, Reading, Talk
Genre & Forms: Book Arts, Community, Poetry, Translation, World Literature

"Sometimes I talk a lot. Sometimes I don't. It's nice to sit at the table, hands busy, and let the conversation in flipping and shifting language just wash over and around me. Hard to pinpoint how, exactly, this heals. But it does. [ . . . ] The politics seem clear. These books are being written or were written in the past. We should read them." (Ryan's Testimony, Cartonera Collective Member)


Pollentongue + Queer Poetry Salon
tanner menard, Jake Skeets, Elliot Winter

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 3:30pm
Type: Conversation, Panel, Reading, Talk
Genre & Forms: American Indian, Community, Creative Practice, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, Poetry, Social Justice, Social Practice
Drawing from their experiences as writers, organizers, educators, and students working with queer and indigenous communities, Jake Skeets, tanner menard, and Elliot Winter will explore how they use their poetry to create opportunities for others, center diverse voices, uplift individuals, and build community.

Listen Here, Jackalope: A Tolsun Books Reading
Sarah Abigail Adleman, Angela M. Brommel, Michael Buckius, Sarah Sala

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 4:15pm
Type: Reading
Genre & Forms: Hybrid, Memoir, Mixed Genre, Poetry

Based in Airzona and Nevada, Tolsun Books is an independent, non-profit press publishing poetry, comics-poetry, short stories, hybrids, memoirs, photo stories, and other cool artistic book-type things. They're not fancy or formal. Their books look rad. See why they're putting the Southwest on the map with readings from Sarah Abigail Adleman, Angela M. Brommel, Michael Buckius, and Sarah Sala. 


City, State, Nation: Poets Laureate of the Southwest
Alberto Álvaro Ríos, Rosemarie Dombrowski, Sareya Taylor, Laura Tohe, TC Tolbert

Date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 5:30pm
Type: Conversation, Panel, Q&A, Reading
Genre & Forms: Poetry

Alice Walker once said “Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.” As the 2020 Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference draws to a close we hope that our attendees have shifted the ways in which they think about their writing and the power of their words. Whether you are a poet, a novelist, or are just beginning to choose a path, we want to send everyone off with a final celebration of writing as we hear from some of our most beloved Poets laureate of the Southwest.  


Other Fair Activities

Beyond our featured programs and performances, exhibitors will also be offering a number of activities at their spaces. 

Books for Treats Exchange with Historical Novelist Jessica McCann

Stop by Historical Novelist Jessica McCann’s booth on February 22 to participate in Books-for-Treats. Donate a children’s or YA book for a low-income Halloween trick-or-treater and receive a delicious treat in exchange (packaged cookies, candy bars, Kind Bars, etc.).

In low-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is shocking: 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Even in middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio is a dismal 13 to 1 (Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2). Yet, having access to books at a young age and learning to read is vital to long-term success.

For the past seven years, McCann has given out books for treats at Halloween. She came across the idea online and did it the first time as a creative way to give away all the books her children had outgrown (i.e. board books, early-reader chapter books, middle grade novels, etc.). It was a huge hit. Many children rarely receive books as gifts, so getting a book for Halloween was a special treat.

And the kids remember the gift year after year. They run up the driveway saying, “This is the book house!” Often, children take their time going through the baskets to find just the right book, while parents laugh and say, “Just pick one!” Teenage trick-or-treaters are some of the biggest fans; they’re both grateful and skeptical. “Are you sure I can just HAVE this?” Every year, McCann and her husband buy more books than the year before, and they still always run out before the night ends.

Books donated during the literary fair will be given to trick-or-treaters in low-income neighborhoods, as well as at UMOM New Day Centers, Halloween 2020. If you forget to bring one, you can purchase a book from one of the fair vendors, including Bookmans.