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St. Petersburg's SunLit Festival returns with 10 days of literary celebration

A documentary-in-progress about Jack Kerouac, who had local ties, will be shown on March 13.

Times file (1967)

A documentary-in-progress about Jack Kerouac, who had local ties, will be shown on March 13.

St. Petersburg's second annual SunLit Festival promises to be as eclectic and entertaining as the first. This 10-day festival celebrating literature, literacy, writers and readers kicks off Friday with eight writers in "live literary combat" and winds up on March 13 with the first showing of a new documentary in progress about Beat novelist Jack Kerouac, who spent his last years in the city.

In between, the festival features a literary pub crawl, musical performances, a Shakespeare play, mural creations, poetry readings, discussions and workshops, and lots of events for kids at local libraries.

The capstone of the festival, of course, will be the three-day 34th annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair at the Coliseum.

For a complete events list and updates, go to or The festival is co-produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance and Keep St. Pete Lit.

Here are some SunLit highlights. All events take place in St. Petersburg.


Lucha Libro, free, 7-10 p.m., Bloom Art Center, 910 Fifth Ave. N. Eight local authors face off in live literary combat. Pairs of writers get a prompt and five minutes for spontaneous creation. They read their work and the audience picks the winner, with play continuing until only one author remains standing.

St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival's Cymbeline, $10, 7:30 p.m. Friday-March 6, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 Seventh Ave. S. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy a Shakespearean tale of romance and intrigue under the stars.


Second Annual SunLit Festival Award, free, 2 p.m., St. Petersburg Main Library, 3745 Ninth Ave. N. At the official opening of the festival, St. Petersburg poet laureate Helen Pruitt Wallace will receive the SunLit Award for significant contribution to the art of letters; reception follows.

Literacy Festival and Community Literacy Mural, free, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., James Weldon Johnson Community Library, 1059 18th Ave. S. Artist Ya La'ford and children in the community will create a mural; there will also be stories, music, food and an appearance by the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Jack Kerouac Night at the Flamingo, free, 7 p.m., Flamingo Sports Bar, 1230 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. Novelist Tim Dorsey (Coconut Cowboy) will read, accompanied by Kelly Green Experience. Other performers include Ronny Elliott, Geri X, the Florida Boys, Tom SkidRow and the Brad Morewood St. Pete Beat Poets.

March 6

Citywide Read and Write-in, free, 2-4 p.m., North Straub Park. Bring picnic blankets, favorite books or note pads, but leave the Kindles and smartphones at home. Special guest Camp Unplugged will create a "campy" and digital-free space so your imagination can bask in the sunshine and fresh air without distraction.

Horror Writers Association Panel, free, 2 p.m., Wine Madonna, 111 Second Ave. NE. Discussion, Q&A and book signing with authors Kurt Fawver, Lynne Hansen, Mary-Jo Holmes, K.L. Nappier, Peter Salomon and Jeff Strand.

March 7

Raise Your Voice: Protest Literature, free, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, 2240 Ninth Ave. S. Readings, discussion and a workshop cover protest literature by women from the antebellum South, Harlem Renaissance and civil rights movement, with the workshop focused on contemporary issues.

March 8

Behind Baby Talk: Why Reading to Infants Really Matters, free, 6 p.m., Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, 2240 Ninth Ave. S. Dr. James McHale talks about why reading to infants and toddlers is so crucial.

Fiction Live, $10 in advance or $12 at the door, 7 p.m., Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S. Wordier Than Thou presents an event that teams authors with actors who bring their short stories to life.

Songsmiths and Poets Night, free, 7-10 p.m., Old Key West Bar & Grill, 2451 Central Ave. All original compositions performed by local songwriters Ronny Elliott, Pat Barmore, Pete Gallagher and more.

March 9

SunLit Pub Crawl, free, 6-10 p.m., venues to be announced. SunLit brings literature to bars, coffee shops and restaurants in downtown St. Petersburg in a moveable literary feast. Readers include local authors Don Bruns, Lee Irby, Lori Roy, Sterling Watson and members of the Horror Writers Association and Keep St. Pete Lit.

March 11

Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, $10 on Friday for all weekend or $6 per day, 5-9 p.m. March 11, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 12, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. March 13, the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N. Now in its 34th year, this is the largest antiquarian book fair south of New York City, with more than 100 dealers from across the United States selling first editions, collectible books, vintage and antique maps and photographs, prints, ephemera and more.

March 13

Jack Kerouac's Florida: At the End of the Road, $5, 7 p.m., Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S. Documentary filmmaker Kristy Andersen will present and discuss her documentary in progress about the Beat Generation author of On the Road, who spent his last years living in St. Petersburg and died here in 1969. Andersen has interviewed Kerouac's neighbors, colleagues and bartenders as well as journalists to draw this still-evolving portrait.

Get Happy: The Songs of Judy Garland, $26-$40, 4 p.m., Hough Hall, the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N. Singer Rebecca Kilgore and jazz saxophonist Harry Allen are featured in a performance of Great American Songbook music made famous by Garland.

St. Petersburg's SunLit Festival returns with 10 days of literary celebration 02/24/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 2:27pm]
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