Meet Best-Selling Authors as Elgin Literary Festival Returns to Downtown Jan. 25-26

Meet Best-Selling Authors as Elgin Literary Festival Returns to Downtown Jan. 25-26

The fifth annual Elgin Literary Festival returns to the Hemmens Cultural Center in downtown Elgin on Friday, Jan. 25, and Saturday, Jan. 26, with a mix of panel discussions, lectures, poetry readings and more.

The two-day festival includes featured speakers Traci D. Ellis, Justina Ireland, Jim McDoniel and Jennifer Sommersby, a performance by Goodly Creatures and a series of panels and presentations on various topics around the written word.

ELF is sponsored by BRAVO Magazine, the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, the Hemmens Cultural Center and Side Street Studio Arts. The festival is free and open to the public.

“When we started the Elgin Literary Festival in 2015, our mission was simple: bring a writers’ conference to our local community,” said ELF Founder and Elgin-based author Karly Kirkpatrick. “The collaboration with Side Street and the city of Elgin has produced exactly that, a brilliant mix of education and artistic interaction for writers and readers of all abilities and genres.”

ELF activities will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday (Jan. 25) with Goodly Creatures Theatre performing Shakespeare’s Sonnets for Modern Times; a story of three couples in twelve sonnets for an evening of reflection and literary amazement. Friday also includes the ever-popular Live Poetry Event: The Question is the Answer, hosted by Elgin poet Jeffrey Pierce and featuring live music from Accidentally On Purpose at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday’s events run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include presentations from new and returning ELF authors, including Reggie Kee, A.J. Pine, Bart Scott, and many more, as well as book signings and sales from more than 30 authors from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with lunch available onsite from Blue Box Café.

“I love that this event is not only free and open to the public, thanks to the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission,” said Elgin Cultural Arts Commissioner Erin Rehberg, “but also that on these bitter days of winter, you can park for free in downtown Elgin and spend the day bouncing around the festival, which is all contained in the warm and dry Hemmens Cultural Center Exhibition Hall.”

Printed programs with full event descriptions are available around town in BRAVO Magazine and at Side Street Studio Arts and a downloadable PDF version is available at

Featured Speakers

  • Traci D. Ellis: Traci Ellis is a Chicago-area based attorney, HR executive, and frequent speaker on race, law, politics, and radically inclusive leadership. She is also a fierce advocate for social justice. Ellis was an elected official, serving seven years on the School District U-46 board before resigning in April 2018 to pursue her activism on a broader and deeper scale. She was named the 2012 YWCA Leader Award winner of the Beatrice Dorsey Award for Business and Professions, as well as the 2018 City of Elgin Human Relations Commission Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award winner and author of The Exceptional Negro: Racism, White Privilege and the Lie of Respectability Politics.
  • Justina Ireland: Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, cats, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound, Promise of Shadows, and the New York Times bestselling novel Dread Nation, which received six starred reviews.
  • Jim McDoniel: Jim McDoniel is a writer mostly of mirth and monsters. A Master (of Arts) of writing (and publishing from DePaul University), his radio plays have been heard as part of The Whiskey Radio Hour, Midnight Audio Theater, and WildClaw Theatre’s Deathscribe, as well as the serialized audio dramas Our Fair City and the upcoming Unwell, A Midwestern Gothic Mystery. His first novel, An Unattractive Vampire, was published by Inkshares as part of the Sword and Laser collection.
  • Jennifer Sommersby: Jenn Sommersby is a writer, copy/line editor, mom, bibliophile, dedicated cat person, and Superman freak. Represented by Victoria Doherty-Munro at Writers House. She also writes romantic comedies and other fluffy fun under the pen name, Eliza Gordon.
For more information, call 311 (or 847-931-6001 if outside of Elgin), or contact Amanda Harris at

SOURCE: city of Elgin news release