Amherst’s annual literary festival celebrates the College’s literary life by inviting distinguished authors and editors to discuss the pleasures and challenges of verbal expression — from fiction and nonfiction to poetry and spoken-word performance. These photos capture some of the events from LitFest 2023.

Hilton Als speaking in the Mead Art Musuem, plus two images of James Baldwin.

Reception and Opening of God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin. Curated by Pulitzer Prize winner Hilton Als. Top Left: Hilton Als welcomes the audience to the opening reception. Bottom: photos of James Baldwin by Richard Avedon, one of the most influential portrait photographers of the 20th century. Baldwin and Avedon were friends since high school.

Hilton Als standing infront on a large painting, speaking to a group of people.

Curator's Talk. The Mead Art Museum hosted a curator's talk in which Hilton Als guided attendees through his exhibition God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin. Als said he wanted to create a show that gave Baldwin back his body and brought attention to Baldwin as a Black, gay writer and artist. Als arranged the exhibition in what he described as "emotional and chronological order," and each room explored a different aspect of Baldwin’s life. Als described the significance behind the artworks on display and shared stories and facts that offered insight into Baldwin's life and relationships.

Jennifer Acker and Siddhartha Shah.

Reception and Opening of God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin. The curator's talk was followed by a reception with further remarks by Als as well as Jennifer Acker ‘00 (left), editor-in-chief of The Common literary magazine, and Siddhartha V. Shah. (right), director of the Mead. 

Dennis Sweeney, Meghan O'Rourke and Ingrid Rojas Contraras.

A Conversation with National Book Award Finalists. Meghan O’Rourke (top right), Ingrid Rojas Contreras (bottom right), and moderater Dennis Sweeney (bottom left), lecturer in English.

Victoria Change speaking in a classroom.

Craft Talk. Students attending a Craft Talk with poet Victoria Chang had a unique opportunity to learn from an accomplished writer in a small-group setting.

Victoria Chang signs a copy of  her book of poems for a student.

Victoria Chang signs a copy of her book, The Trees Witness Everything.

Victoria Chang, Tyehimba Jess and host Jane Wald in coversation.

Phosphorescence: Special Edition, A Poetry Event with Victoria Chang and Tyehimba Jess. Host: Jane Wald (left), Victoria Chang (center), and Tyehimba Jess (right).

Sofia Belimova '22 asks a question during a LitFest session.

Readings by Amherst Alumni Authors and The Common Student Interns. This event included introductions and remarks by Sofia Belimova ’22, a literary editorial fellow at The Common, and literary readings by Amherst alumni authors Ted Conover ’80, Catherine Newman ’90, Mark Vanhoenacker ’96, and Marti Dumas ’98 (at the mic), and The Common interns Olive Amdur ’23, Alma Clark ’25, Sophie Durbin ’25, Kei Lim ’25, and Sarah Wu ’25.

Hilton Als poses with the students who took his Master Class in writing.

Craft Talk: After participating in his Craft Talk, students pose for a group photo with author and curator Hilton Als in the Mead.