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Book Festival Archives - 2010 - 2015

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2010 Book Festival Author
Beth Kephart

Author Biography

Beth Kephart is the author of eleven books, including the National Book Award finalist, A Slant of Sun; the BookSense pick, Ghosts in the Garden; the autobiography of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River, Flow; and the critically acclaimed novels for young adults, Undercover, House of Dance, Nothing But Ghosts, and The Heart Is Not a Size.  A fifth young adult novel, Dangerous Neighbors, is slated for a fall 2010 release from Egmont USA.  Beth Kephart’s acclaimed short story, “The Longest Distance,” appears in the May 2009 HarperTeen anthology, No Such Thing As the Real World

She is a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize, among other honors. Kephart’s essays are frequently anthologized, she has judged numerous competitions, and she has conducted writing workshops at many institutions, to all ages.  Kephart teaches advanced nonfiction at the University of Pennsylvania and served as the inaugural readergirlz author in residence.  She is the strategic writer in a boutique marketing firm called Fusion and has recently completed her first novel for adults.

Kephart’s journey as a writer began quite young, when she parked herself at the base of trees and penned dangerously purple poems about cloud forms, Zeus, and love. It was a high school English teacher who noticed Kephart’s passion and made room for her raw poetry in the high school literary magazine; the biggest surprise of Kephart’s high school career was the gift of a dusted-off graduation award that acknowledged her as the class poet.  At the University of Pennsylvania, Kephart majored in the history of science and wrote her poems outside the glare of classroom critique.  As a relatively new graduate, Kephart continued her secret pursuit of poetry while launching her own business as a marketing consultant to area architecture and engineering firms.  She continues to run a version of that company today.

It wasn’t until she was in her thirties that Kephart began to send her work—now evolving into essays and short stories—to literary magazines.  She was lucky; she received encouragement, not just from the editors who published her, but from the authors to whom she would sometimes write—authors such as Michael Ondaatje and Natalie Kutz.  Having determined that it might be time to take some instruction in this art, she traveled with her family, in the mid-1990s, to Spoleto, Prague, and Bread Loaf, where she worked with Rosellen Brown, William Gass, and Jayne Anne Phillips on the memoir form.  Those three workshops constituted Kephart’s only forays into the “formally educated” writing life, though she remains a forever student of language and life.

Kephart is an accomplished photographer, an avid gardener, and a woman who loves to dance. 

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