Monday, February 8, 2016

Welcome to SunLit Festival 2016! Join us March 4-13, 2016

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
― Rudyard Kipling

46 events, 24 venues, 18 organizations, 10 days!

Literature represents a moment in time. It is an exploration of our history, an expression of our experiences and of the life that surrounds us.  It is a discussion of who we are, how we got that way and what choices we can make to shape our future.

Literary and other arts & cultural circles intersect during the second annual SunLit Festival, a springtime celebration of the written word.  More than 40 events in 24 venues over 10 days, SunLit Festival 2016 brings together various literary organizations and arts disciplines to celebrate literacy, literature, reading, and writing for days of intoxicating “Litertainment” and just plain fun.

SunLit Festival is co-produced by the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance, Keep St. Pete Lit, and the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, in cooperation with the program partners below. Funding support for family events comes from PNC Bank, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, The DeBartolo Family Foundation, Barnes & Noble USFSP, and St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

Scroll down and look at the all the listed events in calendar order. You may find at least one that interests you.

Click here to download a 1 page schedule of all events. 

Festival programs will be available at each event too.

Thank you for visiting
We look forward to seeing you at SunLit Festival, March 4-13, 2016.

Please fill out our survey. It's easy!

Did you enjoy the SunLit events?

Please take a moment to take our survey.  Your input will help make SunLit even better.  The information you provide also goes to help secure funding for next year's festival.  

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Thank you for making SunLit the best literary arts festival!

Eight Days of Storytime Activities for Children & Families

Friday, March 4 to Sunday, March 13

The St. Petersburg Public Library is pulling out all stops for SunLit Festival with an array of children's reading activities at all its branches.

Download our printable pdf for a full schedule of events.

Come to the Library for all eight days of amazing children's activities.

Lucha Libro -- Live literary combat

Back again for 2016 - eight of Tampa Bay’s most daring writers face off in live literary combat! In Lucha Libro, two authors are given a random prompt and then have five minutes to create an original piece of written brilliance, right before your eyes! After the frenzy of spontaneous creation, our combatants present their work and a winner is declared. Winners move on to the next round until only one remains! Theatricality and costumes encouraged.

Friday, March 4
7 p.m to 10 p.m.
Bloom Art Center
910 5th Ave N, Saint Petersburg

Contact:  Maureen McDole:  727-798-4530

St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival presents Cymbeline

Enjoy an evening of Shakespeare under the stars!

Bring your blanket or lawn chair and join USFSP students and local professional actors as they present Cymbeline - a tragic romcom first produced in the early 1600s - as part of St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival's exciting 2016 season!

Friday, March 4 & Saturday, March 5 - 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 6 -  4:00 p.m.
Williams House Courtyard on the USF St. Petersburg
140 7th Ave S, Saint Petersburg  
Suggested donation:  $10

Contact:  Veronica Matthews -  727-873-4458,  

Literacy Festival

A celebration of reading featuring Dr. Seuss's most well-loved characters! Activities include stories, music, food, bounce houses, and face painting. 

Complementing the event will be a community mural painting by MUSE Award artist, Ya La'ford.
Children are invited to participate in the creating of "Lift Every WORD and READ" mural. This permanent community project will be a visual translation of James Weldon Johnson's anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing", mounted on the wall of the Johnson Community Library. 

All ages welcome to join us for this free and open to the public event produced by the Friends of the Johnson Library.

Saturday, March 5
11 a.m - 4 p.m.
James Weldon Johnson Branch Library
1059 18th Ave S, Saint Petersburg

Contact:  St Petersburg Library - 727-892-7113;  Ya La'ford - 727-242-1191,

SunLit Festival Award Ceremony

Please join us for the official kick-off celebration of the SunLit Festival as we celebrate St. Petersburg Poet Laureate Helen Pruitt Wallace's significant contributions to the art of letters by presenting her with the coveted SunLit Festival Award. The ceremony will include a Mayoral Proclamation as well. Free and open to the public; a reception will follow.

Saturday, March 5
2 p.m. 
St. Petersburg Public Library Main Branch
3745 9th Ave N, Saint Petersburg

Contact:  Randi Hilleso - 206-909-2420,

Poetry Live

This is a celebration of original poems written by Tampa Bay poetry writers.  Poetry Nuts is sponsoring this event with a microphone and appreciative audience.  Each reader will have up to 5-minutes to read their poems. Poems can be as short as a 17-syllable haiku or a 14-line sonnet, or longer poems of your own unique creation.

Please send me original poems that you’ve written and would like to read by March 4.

Saturday, March 5
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Mirror Lake Unitarian Church
719 Arlington Ave. N., St. Petersburg 

Contact:  Paul Burnore, Poetry Nuts - 678-521-7891,

Citywide Read & Write In

Keep Saint Petersburg Local, Keep St. Pete Lit, and Saint Petersburg Public Library System announce the kickoff of the Read Local St. Pete Initiative with a City-Wide Read and Write-In under the banyan tree by the Museum of Fine Arts in Straub Park.

Bring your picnic blankets, favorite books, or notepads. Relax in the grass and allow your imagination to bask in the sunshine and fresh air. We will have a special area for writers with writing prompts to get your imaginations brewing. Invite your friends! Spread the word! Let’s pack the park with lovers of literature. All ages are welcome.
Sunday, March 6
 2 - 4 p.m.
South Straub Park - South Downtown Waterfront Park
250 Bayshore Drive Northeast, St. Petersburg

Contact:  Maureen McDole - 727-798-4530,

Through Our Eyes: Our Stories!

Journey through the lives of your neighbors and friends in this amazing, intimate event! Students from the Pinellas County Schools' Journeys in Journalism program will conduct live interviews of their families, capturing the history of their communities in the process.  One generation learns from another.

 Produced by Journeys in Journalism and the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. Free and open to the public.

Sunday, March 6
1 - 2:30 p.m.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
2240 9th Ave S, Saint Petersburg

Contact:  Gretchen Letterman - 727-580-1215,

The Dark Arts: Authors of the Horror Writers Association Shine a Light on Dark Fiction and Horror

A darkly intriguing conversation with best selling and award winning authors and screen writers of supernatural thrillers, horror and dark fantasy.  A great mix of  authors from the Horror Writers Association will hold a discussion and audience Q&A with book signing to follow. Writers include: Kurt Fawver (Horror), Lynne Hansen (YA Horror author, Horror screenwriter), Mary-Jo Holmes (Vampire/Dark romance), K.L. Nappier (Dark Fantasy/Supernatural Thrillers), Peter Salomon (YA Horror) and Jeff Strand (Humor Horror).

Sunday, March 6
2 - 3:30 p.m.
Wine Madonna
111 2nd Ave NE, Saint Petersburg
 Free, cash bar.  Stay for jazz at 4!

Contact:   Kathy Nappier - 727-709-8444,

How Poems Become Songs

Experience the close connection between poetry and song through a discussion between masters of both, demonstrating how different readings can change the meaning of a poem and how music changes a poem into a treasured song. This interactive afternoon includes poety readings and plenty of opportunities for audience participation - bring your poems and your instruments! 

For more information, please contact Paul Burnore at 

Free and open to the public.

Sunday, March 6
3-5 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church of St Petersburg
719 Arlington Ave N, Saint Petersburg

Contact:  Paul Burnore, Poetry Nuts - 678-521-7891,

Raise Your Voice: The Power of Protest Literature

Rediscover the passionate, socially-conscious literature of protest written by powerful, women warrior writers and poets. The prose and poetry presented represents the brilliant, challenging responses of our ancestors as they worked, witnessed, and wrote through moments of our greatest civil and social unrest.

This engaging discussion and workshop covers Protest Literature from the Antebellum South, Harlem Renaissance, and Civil Rights eras. We will highlight work by Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, Ann Petry, Gwendolyn Bennett, Carolyn Rogers, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

Following the readings and discussion, participate in a creative writing workshop centered on creating our own Protest Literature in response to much of the civil and social unrest we're experiencing now, from police brutality and the prison industrial complex to genetically-modified everything and the legislation of female bodies.

Program includes FREE reading and writing materials and a chance to win FREE books by African American women writers.

Monday, March 7 
2 p.m AND 6 p.m. 
Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
2240 9th Ave S, Saint Petersburg

Contact:  Sheree L. Greer - 414-460-2867, and

Behind Baby Talk: Why Reading to Infants Really Matters

Returning for SunLit Festival 2016, “Behind Baby Talk,” James McHale presents the reasons why reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers is so crucial. The presentation helps with parent/caregiver bonding, reinforcing the development of context and understanding of words, important development for school-readiness. Dr. James P. McHale is Director of the USF St. Petersburg Family Study Center and Past President of the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health.

Training Certificates and CEU’s will be offered to participants.

Children are welcome too. Junior League volunteers will be on hand to read to the children of participating parents.

Tuesday, March 8
6 - 8 p.m
Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum
2240 9th Ave. S., St. Petersburg
Free, but please RSVP:

Contact:  USF SP Family Study Center -

Songsmiths & Poets Night

Starring the best songwriters/poets in the Tampa Bay region. All original compositions by Ronny Elliott, Pat Barmore, Pete Gallagher, Tom Scudiero, Reina Collins, Kelly Green, James Hawkins, St. Pete Sea Shanties, et. al

Tuesday, March 8
7 - 10 p.m.
Old Key West Bar & Grill
2451 Central Ave., St. Petersburg
Free with cash bar

Contact:  Pete Gallagher - 727-510-5474,

Fiction Live: Actors and Writers Pair Up for Dramatic Readings

Wordier Than Thou presents the third annual Fiction, LIVE! This event teams up Tampa Bay area actors and authors – the writers submit short stories, while actors bring them to life on stage. Contact: Tiffany Razanno – (516) 906-2140,

Tuesday, March 8
7 - 10 p.m.
The Studio @ 620
620 1st Ave. S., St. Petersburg

Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door

Contact:  Tiffany Razanno - 516-909-2140,

SunLit Crawl — A Pub Crawl with Literature

We’re taking literature to the streets – again! The highly successful SunLit Crawl returns with more exciting chapters in our moveable literary feast. The audience migrates among several downtown coffee shops, restaurants, and bars to hear authors read from their works and enjoy literary libations and metaphorical meals.

From the Foreword opening party, through the various Chapters, and the Epilogue closing party, it’s a night of letters and good times. You choose your own beginning, middle, and ending. Readers include such favorites as Sterling Watson, Lori Roy, Don Bruns, Lee Irby, members of the Horror Writers Association and Keep St. Pete Lit. FREE, but you are responsible for your own bar tab!

Sponsored by the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. 100+ bookstores. Paradise.


111 2nd Avenue NE

Foreword Before Party — 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The story begins at the sophisticated uptown Wine Madonna wine bar with literary vintages, and a night ripe with possibilities. Sip poetic wines and get in the mood for literary revelry. From here, you decide what the story will be.

937 Central Avenue

Chapter 1 — 7 p.m.
Jeff Strand, author of Pressure, I Have a Bad Feeling About This, and A Bad Day for Voodoo

Chapter 2 — 7:30 p.m.
K.L. Nappier, author of the Full Wolf Moon trilogy, Strange Eight, and Bitten.

Chapter 3 — 8 p.m.
Brad Preston, author of Blood Trail.

Chapter 4 — 8:30 p.m.
Sally Bosco, author of Cellar Door, The Werecat Chronicles, and Cevin’s Deadly Sin.

1047 Central Avenue

Chapter 1 — 7 p.m.
Sterling Watson, author of Suitcase City, Sweet Dream Baby, and The Calling

Chapter 2 — 7:30 p.m.
Lori Roy, author of Let Me Die in His Footsteps and Until She Comes Home

Chapter 3 — 8 p.m.
Sterling Watson, author of Suitcase City, Sweet Dream Baby, and The Calling

Chapter 4 — 8:30 p.m.
Lori Roy, author of Let Me Die in His Footsteps and Until She Comes Home

1049 Central Ave.

Chapter 1 — 7 p.m.
Lee Irby, author of The Up and Up and Seven Thousand Clams

Chapter 2 — 7:30 p.m.
Don Bruns, author of Stuff to Die For and Stuff Dreams are Made Of

Chapter 3 — 8 p.m.
Lee Irby, author of The Up and Up and Seven Thousand Clams

Chapter 4 — 8:30 p.m.
Don Bruns, author of Stuff to Die For and Stuff Dreams are Made Of 

1120 Central Avenue

Chapter 1 — 7 p.m.

Barbara Riddle, author of The Girl Pretending to Read Rilke
Chapter 2 — 7:30 p.m.

Jon Kile, author of The Grandfather Clock, and Nathan Van Coops, author of In Times Like These and The Chronothon

Chapter 3 — 8 p.m.
Matthew Jackson, author of St. Patrick's Pub Poetry

Chapter 4 — 8:30 p.m.
Maureen McDole, author of Longing for the Deep End, and recipient of St. Petersburg Arts Alliance 2016 MUSE Award for Literary Arts

2451 Central Avenue

Epilogue After Party — 9 p.m.
It all ends in a wild Key West bar. What a tale to tell! Enjoy a night cap after your literary evening or party into the night. Your choice.

Wednesday, March 9
6  - 10 p.m.
Various venues in the Downtown, Edge, and Central Arts Districts
Free, but you're responsible for your own bar tab.

Contact:  T. Allan Smith - 727-365-3344,

Florida Writers Association Meeting

Monthly meeting: Presentation on Self-Publishing with speaker John Rehg. See for more information.

Florida Writers Association St. Petersburg Writers Group.
727.893.7724. Free Admission.

Thursday, March 10 
5:30-7:30 p.m.
St. Petersburg Main Library
3745 9th Ave. N., St. Petersburg

Book Club @ MFA: “Running with Scissors”

Book Club @ MFA, presented by Keep St. Pete Lit:  “Running with Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs.  The book was chosen to complement the exhibit Contemplating Character:  Portrait Drawings and Oil Sketches from Jacques Louis David to Lucian Freud.   Each month’s featured book will connect with the work in the Museum’s collection or special exhibition.

Thursday, March 10
6:30-7:30 p.m. 
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
225 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg

Ticketed Event: $5 after 5 p.m. on Thursdays, free for MFA members

Contact:  Maureen McDole – 727-798-4530,

Florida Antiquarian Book Fair

The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair kicks off its 34th year on Friday evening, with live music and a chance to view the offerings of more than 100 antiquarian book dealers from across the United States. The book fair is the largest antiquarian book fair south of New York City and the third largest in the country. The three-day event features first editions, collectible books, antique maps, vintage photographs, rare prints, unusual and hard-to-find ephemera, and more.

Friday, March 11
5 - 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 12
10 a.m - 5 p.m.

Sunday, March 13
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The Coliseum
535 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg
Tickets:  $10 on Friday for the weekend, or $6 per day.

Contact:  Florida Antiquarian Book Fair -- 727-234-7759,

Boyd Poetry Night Hike

A hit for SunLit 2015, the Night Hike returns, as local poets read their kid-focused poetry for the second year.  A fun event combining literature and nature – at night!

Presented by Keep St. Pete Lit and the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

Friday, March 11
6:30 - 8 p.m.
Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg

Ticketed event:  $1.50 for kids, $3 for adults

Contact:  Andrea Leavitt Andersen – 727-460-0771,

LGBT Book Club

You can pick up a copy of this month's book at the front desk of Main Library or call to request a copy be sent to your local library for pick up. This club will read and discuss gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender themed novels and nonfiction on the second Saturday of each month.

Saturday, March 12
11 a.m. to noon
St. Petersburg Main Library
3745 9th Ave. N., St. Petersburg

Contact:  Lila Denning - 727-893-7724,

Jack Kerouac Night at the Flamingo Bar

A birthday celebration of this great writer’s life, times and art at the bar where he had his last drink.   Music and beat poetry, all in the spirit of Kerouac.  Special guests include national author Tim Dorsey, reading from his newest book, just released, Coconut Cowboy, and the renowned Brad Morewood St. Pete Beat Poets reading their passages backed by a highly-skilled improvisational jazz band led by jazzy guitarist Kelly Green.

Scattered among the poetry will appear some of Tampa Bay’s best folk musicians, all with a Kerouac tinge to their music, including Ronny Elliott, Geri X, Eric Andersen, Phil Lee, Tom Scudiero, the Florida Boys, James Hawkins, Ray Villadonga, Ben Jarrell & The Wildwood Weeds, Goody Haines, Big Jim Allen and others.

A full night of music, intimate and informal – as Jack would have enjoyed it – on the front deck of the bar, next to the large window-sized photo of the author staring out at nearby Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.

Pat Barmore - (727) 423-0724,

Saturday, March 12
7 - 11:30 p.m.
Flamingo Sports Bar
1230 9th St. N., St. Petersburg
Free with cash bar

Sunday Fun Day Crafts

Make Spring Flowers using book pages. For adults 18+ No registration required.

Sunday, March 13
3-4:30 p.m.
St. Petersburg Main Library
3745 9th Ave. N., St. Petersburg 

Contact:  St. Petersburg Library -727-892-5296