The pantheon of Inland Empire authors includes not only California's first poet laureate Ina Coolbrith, 1841-1928, who grew up in pioneer-era San Bernardino, but the state's current poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, who teaches at UC Riverside. America's first million-selling novelist, Harold Bell Wright, 1872-1944, lived in Redlands. Helen Hunt Jackson, 1830-1885, author of the classic "Ramona," and Erle Stanley Garner, 1889-1970, creator of the "Perry Mason" series of detective novels, had local roots, as do such contemporary bestselling authors as Joseph Wambaugh and Dean Koontz.
The literature of the Inland Empire is worthy of celebration, and that's exactly what will happen Saturday night in Palm Springs, at an inaugural event that is open to the public and free of admission.
The "Empire Moon" festival, showcasing the "literary arts east of Los Angeles," takes place from 7 to 10 p.m. at the downtown Ace Hotel & Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive.
The event, presented by PEN Center USA, includes readings by local authors and a table alley where guests can meet representatives of the Inland Empire writing and publishing community. It's a great opportunity for writers, editors, publishers and fans to network and mingle.
There also will be live musical entertainment and a cash bar.
Featured authors are Chad Sweeney and Andre V. Katkov of Cal State San Bernardino, Greg Bills and Rachel Reynolds of the University of Redlands, Susan Straight and Mariah K. Young of UC Riverside, and Tod Goldberg and Maggie Downs of UCR's Palm Desert campus.
The table alley includes representatives of Inlandia Institute, Orange Monkey Publishing, Dirty Laundry Lit, The Rattling Wall, Wild Lemon Project, Idyllwild Author Series, Redlands Review, PoetrIE, Pacific Review, Badlands, Coachella Review, Ghost Town, and the College of the Desert's Solstice Poets & Writers Club.
The sponsoring organization, PEN Center USA, is a Beverly Hills-based nonprofit that supports the literary arts in the West.
"Empire Moon is a great opportunity for the organization to connect with writers living and working east of Los Angeles," says Michelle Meyering, the group's director of programs and events.
More information: penusa.org.
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