Wordstruck!May 11, 2023
Wordstruck: The Indiana Festival of Books was a free literary festival featuring local and national authors across Indianapolis. The purpose of this event was to stimulate the city’s interest in…
Wordstruck: The Indiana Festival of Books was a free literary festival featuring local and national authors across Indianapolis. The purpose of this event was to stimulate the city’s interest in literature by bringing readers and writers together for a series of public discussions, readings and workshops. This celebration was held biennially in October 1991, 1993 and 1995.
Each year of Wordstruck featured a different collection of authors, who were invited based on their diversity of subject and genre as well as their potential power to catalyze community interest in reading and writing. In total, over 70 authors participated in the festival, including Stephen Ambrose, Lynda Barry, Elena Castedo, Michael Dorris, Louise Erdrich, Mari Evans, James Forman, Allen Ginsberg, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jill Krementz, Elizabeth Levy, Robert MacNeil, Haki Madhubuti, Michael Martone, David McCullough, Anne Rivers Siddons, James Tate, Steve Tesich, Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Wolfe.
During Wordstruck’s run, more than 25 cultural institutions around Indianapolis served as host sites. Each venue was able to invite one of the council’s preselected author whose work best reflected their organization’s mission (e.g., historian Stephen Ambrose at the Indiana War Memorial). These sites were also offered seed money from Indiana Humanities to develop their specific program(s) for the festival.
Another important aspect of Wordstruck was its outreach programming. One of these programs was the Wordstruck Caravan, which took a team of published young adult authors to different schools across Indianapolis. Similar tours were also held in Bloomington, Elkhart and Muncie.
Wordstruck was an incredibly popular program with both local and national support, including from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, the City of Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Foundation (now the Central Indiana Community Foundation), the Indiana Arts Commission, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund (now the Wallace Foundation), the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Audiences also responded positively to the festival with more than 25,000 people attending the event across its three-year run. Such interest clearly demonstrated Hoosiers’ curiosity and excitement for reading, writing and books.