DECATUR, Ill. – Millikin University will host its 17th annual Literary Festival and High School Writing Contest on Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 9. The 2019 Literary Festival is open to high school and college students, and the general public. The festival includes workshops, readings and sessions with featured writers. The event gives students the opportunity to work directly with professional writers and receive feedback.

The 2019 Literary Festival will begin on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in Albert Taylor Theatre, located in Shilling Hall on Millikin’s campus, with a fiction reading by festival featured writer Teague Von Bohlen, an associate professor of fiction at the University of Colorado Denver.

The festival will continue on Saturday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. with writing workshops in Shilling Hall, Rooms 319 and 320; a poetry craft lecture and a poetry reading by Millikin graduate Emily Skaja ’06 in Albert Taylor Theatre.

The Literary Festival will also feature a High School Writing Contest where students have the opportunity to win Millikin scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000. All entries will be reviewed by Millikin University English faculty and the annual Literary Festival Team.

This year’s Literary Festival featured writers are Teague Von Bohlen and Emily Skaja.

Teague Von Bohlen is an associate professor of fiction at the University of Colorado Denver where he runs the student newspaper, The Sentry, and serves as one of the fiction editors of the literary magazine Copper Nickel. He works the literary, pop-culture and commentary beats for the alt-weekly Westword, and his short fiction has been seen nationwide. His first novel, “The Pull of the Earth,” won the Colorado Book Award, and he’s the co-author of the student-strategy textbook “The Snarktastic Guide to College Success.” “Flatland” is his first collection of stories and he’s currently at work on a second novel, also set in the Midwest heartland.

Emily Skaja was born and raised in rural Illinois. Her first book, “BRUTE,” won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets (Graywolf Press, 2019). A creative writing graduate of Millikin University, she holds a Master of Arts from Temple University, a Master of Fine Arts from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Cincinnati where she also earned a certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Skaja’s poems have been published in “Best New Poets,” “Blackbird,” “Crazyhorse,” “FIELD” and “Gulf Coast,” among other journals. She is the recipient of a 2019-2020 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She also works as the poetry co-editor of Southern Indiana Review.

Millikin faculty and staff members Dr. Stephen Frech, professor of English; Dr. Randy Brooks, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Carmelia Braniger, associate professor of English; and Carmen Aravena, director of international recruitment, will present their writings at the festival.

For more information about the Literary Festival, contact Dr. Stephen Frech at 217.362.6473 or by e-mail at For further information about the Millikin Literary Festival and High School Writing Contest, visit

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