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Fostering, motivating, and bolstering burgeoning writers and enthusiastic students dedicated to the literary realm. We are the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival.
“Writing the Hard Stories.”
festival Schedule
saturday, sept. 28, 2024
registration opens
A stellar check-in process sets the tone for the rest of your festival activities.
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
workshop A

“Taking Your Right Brain Out for a Spin”
Michelle Brafman

“Pitching Non-Fiction”
Margaret Talbot

“Writing the Hard Stories”

Monica Mische and Jarvis Slacks

9:00 am – 10:00 am
workshop b
“Rendering Your Life on the Page”
Tope Folarin
“Unpacking the Literary Suitcase and Discovering

the Memoir Beneath One’s Undergarments”
Ethelbert Miller

“Listing Your Way to a (Lyric?) Essay”
Randon Billings Noble

10:15 am – 11:15 am
saturday, sept. 28, 2024
Welcome & Opening Remarks
Gary Berg-Cross and Festival Committee Members
11:25 am – 11:30 pm
A Conversation about Writing the Hard Stories
Jesmyn Ward and Kiese Laymon
11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Lunch Break
Purchased from festival or on your own.
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Keynote Talk
David Ignatius on “The Impossibility of Trying to Write a ‘Gatsbyesque’ Novel…and Other Lessons from a Journo- Literary Career”
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm
saturday, sept. 28, 2024
awards ceremony
  • Recognition of F. Scott Fitzgerald Scholars
  • Introduction of Jesmyn Ward
  • Presentation of the Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Achievement
    In American Literature for 2024:
    Jesmyn Ward
  • Acceptance & Reading
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
esteemed author reception
Book Signing with Jesmyn Ward
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm
tuesday, may 7, 2024
5:30-7:30 PM

annual membership meeting
A virtual gathering of festival members to discuss 2024 festival activities.
May 7, 2024
5:30-6:30 PM
special virtual talk
Lecture by Dr. Carlyle Van Thompson
“Jay Gatsby, The Thrill Is Gone: The Great Gatsby, a Blues Narrative of Racial Passing”
May 7, 2024
6:30-7:30 PM
Achievement in American Literature
At the heart of the Literary Festival lies the prestigious F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Achievement in American Literature, a distinguished honor bestowed upon an eminent American writer. The recipient, gracing the festival with their presence, not only receives the accolade but also engages attendees with a captivating reading and a master class.
Notably, the festival has proudly included Pulitzer Prize winners among its distinguished recipients over the years, showcasing a tradition of honoring some of the most illustrious figures in American literature from the past half-century.
invited festival speakers
our presenters
the 2024 fitzgerald award honoree
jesmyn ward
Jesmyn Ward is a highly acclaimed American novelist and professor. Known for her poignant explorations of race, family, and Southern life, Ward has received widespread recognition for her literary contributions. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan and went on to publish her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, in 2008. Her second novel, Salvage the Bones (2011), won the National Book Award for Fiction. Her third novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing (2017), also won the National Book Award, making her the first woman to win the prestigious prize twice. Jesmyn Ward is a professor of creative writing at Tulane University, influencing the next generation of writers with her powerful and empathetic narratives.
Photo Courtesy of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
special 2024 invited guest
kiese laymon
Kiese Laymon is a prominent American writer, educator, and cultural critic. He earned his undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and later obtained a Master’s degree in Fine Arts in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon’s work often explores themes of race, identity, and the American South. His memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir (2018), received critical acclaim for its raw and unflinching examination of personal and societal struggles. In addition to his impactful writing, Laymon has contributed essays to various publications and has held teaching positions at institutions like Vassar College and the University of Mississippi. His distinctive voice and fearless storytelling have established him as a vital contemporary voice in American literature and social commentary.
Photo Courtesy of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
2024 festival keynote
david ignatius
David Ignatius is an accomplished American journalist and novelist known for his insightful commentary on international affairs. Born on May 26, 1950, Ignatius graduated from Harvard College and later earned a master’s degree in economics from the Kennedy School of Government. With a career spanning several decades, he has been a prominent columnist for the Washington Post since 1986, covering a wide range of global issues. Ignatius has also written twelve novels, including The Sun King, SIRO, Body of Lies, and The Director, which showcase his talent for combining his deep understanding of geopolitical dynamics with compelling storytelling. His work has earned him accolades and respect in the fields of journalism and fiction, solidifying his position as a key voice in the analysis of international relations.
Photo Courtesy of Andrew Lih for Wikipedia Creative Commons
fitzgerald festival
Partners & Sponsors
The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival owes its success and vitality to the invaluable contributions of sponsors and supporters who understand the profound significance of fostering literary talent and celebrating the legacies of iconic writers. These dedicated individuals and organizations play a pivotal role in empowering the next generation of writers, providing them with a platform to showcase their creativity and hone their craft. By recognizing and supporting the festival, sponsors contribute to the preservation and advancement of literature, ensuring that emerging voices are heard and revered.
Their commitment not only sustains the festival but also strengthens the literary community by fostering an environment where aspiring writers can connect, learn, and be inspired. Without the generous support of these sponsors, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival would be unable to fulfill its mission, making their contributions instrumental in the ongoing cultivation of literary excellence.

contact us

111 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: +1 240-426-0770