Siloam Springs, Ark. (March 6, 2008) - Giving Voice: a Festival of Writing and the Arts will return to John Brown University Thursday, April 3, and Friday, April 4. The festival will headline Bret Lott, author of Jewel, a 2001 Oprah’s Book Club selection, and 11 other books. Joining Lott at the event will be poet Julia Kasdorf, author of the award winning Sleeping Preacher, Tim Bascom, author of Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia and Nate Parker, poet and ’00 JBU graduate. Thursday’s activities are open to the public and include a chapel service and a fiction writing workshop, both featuring Lott. A public reading featuring the work of Bascom, Kasdorf, and Parker will take place Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in the Jones Recital Hall. Friday will welcome over 200 students from area high schools for a workshop-filled day designed to encourage their creative skills. The workshops will include poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, drama, music theory, worship music, art animation, and collaborative art. This is the first year the festival will include other forms of art besides writing. JBU professors from the Music, English, Digital Media, Visual Art and Drama departments will join the featured guests in leading the various workshops. “My hope is that ‘Giving Voice’ will motivate and inspire beginning writers and artists at JBU and in our community to go on and create great art,” said Associate Professor of English and JBU Writer in Residence, Patty Kirk. One of the festival goals is to help engage high school students in writing and the arts. This festival is one of the few programs of its kind that targets the community as well as high school students. “We are pleased to offer the campus, the local community, and invited high school students an opportunity to see, hear, and participate in one of our greatest gifts—creativity,” said Brad Gambill, honors director. The JBU English Department is sponsoring a writing contest for high school students participating in the festival in the categories of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Cash prizes will be awarded in each category. “We want to send a clear signal that the arts are respected and valued here at John Brown University,” said Gambill. Registration for "Giving Voice: a Festival of Writing and the Arts" is going on now. Registration forms and a complete list of workshops are available online at http://www.jbu.edu/events/giving_voice/index.asp.