Memoirist and Poet Nick Flynn Headlines In Celebration of Books Festival

On Friday, October 25, The Gunston School will host its annual In Celebration of Books Festival. As part of this event, twelve distinguished writers will conduct writing workshops for Gunston students.

The day will begin at 8:20 a.m. with a keynote and reading by award-winning poet and memoirist Nick Flynn. The keynote is open to the public, as is the afternoon reading, which features the other visiting writers and begins at 1 p.m. Both the keynote and afternoon reading will take place in Gunston’s Field House.

Flynn won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir for Being Flynn, which was recently made into a film starring Robert DeNiro as Flynn’s father, Julianne Moore as his mother, and Paul Dano as Flynn. His other memoirs include The Reenactments and The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment.

He is also the author of three poetry collections, including The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, Some Ether, which was the recipient of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and Blind Huber. Flynn has been awarded fellowships from such places as The Guggenheim Foundation and The Library of Congress, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, among other publications. He worked as a “field poet” and artistic collaborator on the film, Darwin’s Nightmare, nominated for an Academy Award for best feature documentary in 2006.

One of Gunston’s featured readers for the afternoon program is Thaddeus Rutkowski, a novelist and poetry slam artist. Rutkowski was recently named as a finalist in the fiction category of the Annual Asian American Literary Awards for his book, Haywire.

Other visiting writers include Gunston math teacher and screenwriter Mike Clemens; Barbara Esstman (fiction); Meredith Davies Hadaway (poetry); George Merrill (creative nonfiction); Richard Peabody (poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction); Nancy Robson (fiction and creative nonfiction); Sue Ellen Thompson (poetry); Barrett Warner (poetry); Ellen Wise (poetry and fiction); and Timothy Young (author/illustrator of children’s books).

A used book fair will take place from 9-3 p.m. in the Duffey-Blackwood Library, and books by the visiting writers will also be available for purchase and signing after the reading. The book fair is open to the public.

“I’m not aware of any other high school that does a festival like this, with such an accomplished panel of writers,” says Amanda Newell, Chair of the English Department. “It’s exciting that our students have the opportunity to learn from them and be inspired by them.”

In the event that Queen Anne’s County experiences a fog delay, the program will begin at 10 a.m. For more information, contact Amanda Newell at