2023 Summer Literary Picnics & Special Event


Wed Jun 07 2023 at 06:00 pm to Sat Aug 19 2023 at 08:00 pm


Various Locations | Columbus, OH

Thurber House is a nonprofit literary arts center in Columbus, Ohio. Join us for our upcoming events!
About this Event

To view all upcoming Thurber House programs, visit .



You will have the opportunity to ask the speaker questions at the end of the event, purchase books, and get your books signed.

> Location: All Summer Literary Picnics take place on the Thurber House lawn (77 Jefferson Avenue, Columbus, OH 43215).

> Rain site: In the event of rain, Summer Literary Picnics are held at Thurber Center (91 Jefferson Avenue, Columbus, OH 43215), the building directly north of Thurber House.

> Parking: Free street parking is available all along the Jefferson Avenue oval, and in the small parking lot directly behind Thurber House (accessible off N. 11th Street). Note: Only the spots along the one-way oval are free; the spots along the two-way ends of Jefferson Avenue (near Broad Street and Long Street) are not free.

Event Photos

Crime Thriller Author Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Wednesday, June 7
6:00-7:30 pm | Event located on the Thurber House Lawn

ABOUT THE BOOK: The End of the Road

A bank robber tries to leave behind his life of crime after serving his time. But getting out isn’t so easy.

Myles’s courtroom testimony should have put Pryor, their one-eyed ringleader, behind bars after the bank robbery gone wrong, yet somehow Pryor got off scot-free while Myles served time. Now, upon his release, Myles decides he is done with his life of wrongdoing—a change that will only be possible if he can K*ll Pryor and turn over a new leaf. Pryor has other ideas, and the collision between these two deadly forces soon leaves the ex-con in critical condition, clinging to life in a hospital bed.

With Myles in recovery, it’s up to his girlfriend Penny to avenge her lover and salvage their chance at normalcy. As Pryor and his cronies prepare for their biggest score yet—targeting a vulnerable small-town Ohio bank on a day when Amish farmers arrive with hefty cash deposits—Penny is hot on their heels. But is she prepared for the carnage Pryor will gleefully wreak on the path to his prize?

With characters as sharply drawn as those in a Dennis Lehane novel and a rich Midwestern setting, The End of the Road is a fast-paced rural noir that announces Andrew Welsh-Huggins as one of the most powerful voices in the mystery world.


Reporter turned freelance writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins is the Shamus, Derringer, and International Thriller Writers award-nominated author of the Andy Hayes Private Eye series and the editor of Columbus Noir. In addition to Andrew's novels, his short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mystery Magazine, the 2022 anthology Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon, and many other magazines and anthologies. On the nonfiction side, his book No Winners Here Tonight is the definitive history of Ohio's death penalty. His new standalone crime novel, The End of the Road, loosely uses the framework of Homer's Odyssey to tell the story of a young woman's journey of revenge after her boyfriend is shot and left for dead.

Event Photos

Ohio Roller Derbyists Samantha Tucker and Amy Spears
Wednesday, June 21
6:00-7:30 pm | Event located on the Thurber House Lawn

ABOUT THE BOOK: Collective Chaos: A Roller Derby Team Memoir

Collective Chaos is a view into the continuing evolution of the niche-yet-global sport through the historical lens of Ohio Roller Derby, one of the founding leagues of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

Part sports autobiography, part cultural critique, this book offers the collective experience of a tenacious group of nontraditional athletes who play, officiate, plan, schedule, market, and manage the business of a (mostly) women’s amateur sports team.

This modern sport, with its alternative, punk rock culture, is often a place for those who’ve struggled within the mainstream. But even as the sport is often home for historically marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, roller derby organizations and participants often mirror and experience the same inequities as those in the world surrounding them. In a full-contact, theatrical sport that some consider revolutionary, the authors show that gaining truly radical self-knowledge is an ongoing, difficult process that requires love, teamwork, discipline, critical consideration of one’s local and global societies, and—above all else—one’s place and action within them.


Samantha Tucker (she/her) is an antiracist teacher, writer, and editor in Columbus, Ohio. Sam writes personal essays, memoir, and cultural critique, having earned her MFA and MA in creative nonfiction. Her essay “Fountain Girls,” originally published in Ecotone, is a listed notable in Best American Essays 2017 and is anthologized in Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: An Anthology. Other essays have been published with Literary Hub, Columbus Alive, BUST, Brevity, and Guernica. In her spare time, Sam loves protest, mutual aid, roller derby, and karaoke.

Amy Spears (she/her) graduated from Denison University with a degree in cinema and creative writing. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she is in her second decade as a skater with Ohio Roller Derby. She spent several years active in the leadership of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association and has given presentations, workshops and talks about the sport at Pecha Kecha Columbus, the Roller Derby World Summit, and Rollercon. Her digital essay (with Julie Driscoll) “Worlds Collide! facebook, family & George Costanza” was published in Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion, and her prose and poetry have appeared in Columbus Alive, Lynx Eye, and Wine X. A self-described “collector of hobbies,” she’ll try just about anything once.

Event Photos

NYT and USA Today Bestselling Crime Author Linda Castillo
Wednesday, July 12
6:00-7:30 pm Eastern Time | Event located on the Thurber House Lawn


Chief of Police Kate Burkholder investigates the brutal death of a young Amish man in An Evil Heart, the latest installment of the bestselling series by Linda Castillo.

On a crisp autumn day in Painters Mill, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder responds to a call only to discover an Amish man who has been violently killed with a crossbow, his body abandoned on a dirt road. Aden Karn was just twenty years old, well liked, and from an upstanding Amish family. Who would commit such a heinous crime against a young man whose life was just beginning?

The more Kate gets to know his devastated family and the people—both English and Amish—who loved him, the more determined she becomes to solve the case. Aden Karn was funny and hardworking and looking forward to marrying his sweet fiancé, Emily. All the while, Kate’s own wedding day to Tomasetti draws near...

But as she delves into Karn’s past, Kate begins to hear whispers about a dark side. What if Aden Karn wasn’t the wholesome young man everyone admired? Is it possible the rumors are a cruel campaign to blame the victim? Kate pursues every lead with a vengeance, sensing an unspeakable secret no one will broach.

The case spirals out of control when a young Amish woman comes forward with a horrific story that pits Kate against a dangerous and unexpected opponent. When the awful truth is finally uncovered, Kate comes face to face with the terrible consequences of a life lived in all the dark places.


Linda Castillo is the author of The New York Times and USA Today bestselling Kate Burkholder mystery series, set in the world of the Amish. The first book, Sworn to Silence, was adapted into a Lifetime original movie titled An Amish M**der, starring Neve Campbell as Kate Burkholder.

Linda is the recipient of numerous industry awards, including a nomination by the International Thriller Writers for Best Hardcover, a nomination for the Mystery Writers of America’s Sue Grafton Memorial Award and a nomination for an “Audie Award” for best mystery audiobook. Her work has appeared on numerous bestseller lists and earned a spot on the Boston Globe’s shortlist for best crime novel. In addition to writing, Linda’s other passion is horses. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, three Appaloosas, and two feisty but lovable Blue Heelers.

Event Photos

Cultural Essayist Negesti Kaudo
Tuesday, July 18
6:00-7:30 pm | Event located on the Thurber House Lawn

ABOUT THE BOOK: Ripe: Essays

“Emotional range without consequence,” Negesti Kaudo writes in her debut collection, Ripe, is a privilege of whiteness. In these essays, she fights back, exhorting readers to follow her through fury, grief, love, and hope as she confronts what it means to own her Blackness and her body in contemporary America.

A scathing and nuanced cultural critic, Negesti disentangles intersections of race, class, pop culture, size, sexuality, and more in spaces where she always seems to be either too Black or not Black enough. From attending private school as a poor Black student to the evolution of her hair routine to being fat and sexual when society says she should be neither, Negesti overlooks nothing as she names the ways that white America simultaneously denigrates and steals Black culture. Most of all, she writes against the idea that a Black woman’s anger makes her an “angry Black woman,” claiming full emotional range as her birthright and as a tool against injustice on her quest to find herself no matter how uncomfortable the journey.

“Ripe is a testament to the expansiveness of Black life—a very specific expansiveness that offers generous glimpses into Black womanhood, Black Midwesternness, Black place, and placelessness. This is a memorable book, an exploration written by a thoughtful and curious tour guide in the museum of her own life.” —Hanif Abdurraqib

“With unflinching honesty and vulnerability, Kaudo documents her journey to becoming her bolder self. … Kaudo is a highly self-aware work in progress who doesn’t have all the answers, but she has chosen the most interesting questions to grapple with. The result is a deeply intimate meditation on millennial Black womanhood and a righteous indictment of how this country treats Black girls and women. Timely, unapologetic, and intense, in all the best ways.” —Kirkus (starred review)


Negesti Kaudo is a Midwestern essayist who holds a BA in English/Creative Writing and Psychology from Elon University and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Columbia College Chicago. Negesti has taught writing at Columbus College of Art & Design, Literary Cleveland, Kenyon Review’s Young Writers’ Workshop, Columbia College Chicago, and Vermont College of Fine Arts. Currently, she is the first (and only) full-time Sex Toy staff writer for BuzzFeed Shopping.

Negesti’s work has appeared in Fourth Genre, Best American Experimental Writing, and elsewhere. Her professional recognition includes the Ohioana Library Association's Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant in 2015, and published work in Seneca Review, NewCity Lit, Mosaic Magazine, READY Publication, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Columbia College Chicago's DEMO magazine.

Event Photos

Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour
Wednesday, August 2
6:00-7:30 pm | Event located on the Thurber House Lawn

ABOUT THE BOOK: Alone in the House of My Heart

Deeply rooted in respect and compassion for Appalachia and its people, the poems in Alone in the House of My Heart are both paeans to and dirges for past and present family, farmlands, factories, and coal.

Ohio Poet Laureate Kari Gunter-Seymour’s second full-length collection resounds with candid, lyrical poems about Appalachia’s social and geographical afflictions and affirmations. History, culture, and community shape the physical and personal landscapes of Kari’s native southeastern Ohio soil, scarred by Big Coal and fracking, while food insecurity and Big Pharma leave their marks on the region’s people. A musicality of language swaddles each poem in hope and a determination to endure. Alone in the House of My Heart offers what only art can: a series of thought-provoking images that evoke such a clear sense of place that it’s familiar to anyone, regardless of where they call home.


A ninth-generation Appalachian, Kari Gunter-Seymour is the Ohio Poet Laureate and the author of A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen, editor of I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices, and founder and host of the seasonal performance series Spoken & Heard. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times, New Ohio Review, One, Rattle, and numerous other publications. Kari is a retired instructor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She was selected to serve as a 2022 Dodge Poetry Festival Poet, and is an artist in residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts and a Pillars of Prosperity Fellow for the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.

Event Photos

Essayist and OSU Director of American Indian Studies Elissa Washuta
Wednesday, August 9
6:00-7:30 pm | Event located on the Thurber House Lawn


Throughout her life, Elissa Washuta has been surrounded by cheap facsimiles of Native spiritual tools and occult trends, “starter witch kits” of sage, rose quartz, and tarot cards packaged together in paper and plastic. Following a decade of abuse, addiction, PTSD, and heavy-duty drug treatment for a misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder, she felt drawn to the real spirits and powers her dispossessed and discarded ancestors knew, while she undertook necessary work to find love and meaning.

In this collection of intertwined essays, she writes about land, heartbreak, and colonization, about life without the escape hatch of intoxication, and about how she became a powerful witch. She interlaces stories from her forebears with cultural artifacts from her own life—Twin Peaks, the Oregon Trail II video game, a Claymation Satan, a YouTube video of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham—to explore questions of cultural inheritance and the particular danger, as a Native woman, of relaxing into romantic love under colonial rule.


Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. Her essay collection White Magic was selected as a finalist for the PEN/Open Book Award, longlisted for the PEN/Jean Stein Award, and named among the best books of 2021 by TIME, the New York Public Library, and NPR. She is the author of My Body Is a Book of Rules and Starvation Mode, and with Theresa Warburton, she co-edited the anthology Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. Elissa’s honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Creative Capital award, and the Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award. She is an associate professor at The Ohio State University, where she teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing.



You will have the opportunity to ask the speaker questions at the end of the event.

Event Photos

Emmy Award-Winning Journalist Allison Gilbert, in Conversation with Brooke Warner, Publisher of She Writes Press and Co-Host of Write-minded Podcast
Thursday, August 17
7:00-8:00 pm Eastern Time | This event is VIRTUAL ON ZOOM

ABOUT THE BOOK: Listen, World!

Listen, World! is the first biography of American writer Elsie Robinson, a newspaper columnist who came from nothing and became the most-read woman in the country and highest-paid woman writer in the William Randolph Hearst media empire. At thirty-five, Elsie Robinson feared she’d lost it all. Reeling from a scandalous divorce in 1917, she had no means to support herself and her chronically ill son. She dreamed of becoming a writer and was willing to sacrifice everything for this goal, even swinging a pickax in a gold mine to pay the bills.

When the mine shut down, she moved to the Bay Area. Armed with moxie and samples of her work, she barged into the offices of the Oakland Tribune and was hired on the spot. She went on to become a nationally syndicated columnist and household name whose column ran for over thirty years and garnered more than twenty million readers.

Told in cinematic detail by bestselling author Julia Scheeres and award-winning journalist Allison Gilbert, Listen, World! is the inspiring story of a timeless maverick, capturing what it means to take a gamble on self-fulfillment and find freedom along the way.


Allison Gilbert is an Emmy award-winning journalist, author, and producer. She began her career in television news, producing investigative and law-changing stories for CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets.

Allison is the host of Women Journalists of 9/11: Their Stories, a 20-part documentary series produced in collaboration with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. For this, she interviewed Savannah Guthrie, Maggie Haberman, Dana Bash, Linda Wertheimer, and others. Allison is co-executive producer of the companion two-hour film that featured, among others, Tom Brokaw, Rehema Ellis, Ann Thompson, Scott Pelley, Byron Pitts, Ann Compton, and Cynthia McFadden. Allison is the official narrator of the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s historical exhibition audio tour, the only female journalist to be so honored.

Allison Gilbert writes regularly for The New York Times and other publications. On her blog, she features Q & A’s with some of the most notable names in our culture today, including Arianna Huffington, Jon Stewart, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Dani Shapiro, and Gretchen Rubin.

Allison is co-editor of Covering Catastrophe: Broadcast Journalists Report September 11 and author of Always Too Soon: Voices of Support for Those Who Have Lost Both Parents, Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Mothers and Fathers Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children, and Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive.


Brooke Warner is Co-Host of the Write-minded podcast and publisher of She Writes Press and SparkPress. She is president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Write On, Sisters!, Green-light Your Book, What’s Your Book?, and three books on memoir. Brooke Warner is a TEDx speaker and the former Executive Editor of Seal Press. She currently sits on the boards of the Book Industry Study Group, the Bay Area Book Festival, and the National Association of Memoir Writers. She writes a monthly column for Publishers Weekly.



For any questions not answered here, email [email protected] or call 614-464-1032.

> Can I register over the phone? Online registrations are strongly encouraged, but if you prefer to register over the phone, call 614-464-1032.

> How will I receive my tickets? You will receive an email order confirmation containing your ticket(s). For expedited check in, you can print or show your ticket(s) on your phone. If you are unable to do so, we will manually check you in.

> Can I purchase books and get them signed at the event? Yes, books are available for purchase and signing at all in-person events.

> Where do I park for Summer Literary Picnics? Free street parking is available all along the Jefferson Avenue oval, and in the small parking lot directly behind Thurber House (accessible off N. 11th Street). Note: Only the spots along the one-way oval are free; the spots along the two-way ends of Jefferson Avenue (near Broad Street and Long Street) are not free.

> What if it rains? In the event of rain, Summer Literary Picnics are held at Thurber Center (91 Jefferson Avenue, Columbus, OH 43215), the building directly north of Thurber House.

> How do the picnic dinners work this year? Thurber House is excited to welcome a new summer caterer this year! If you order a ticket that includes a dinner or a dinner upgrade, your boxed meal comes with an entree, two freshly-made sides, and a drink. Regular, vegetarian, and vegan meal options are available. At this time, we cannot accommodate allergies.

> What should I bring with me to Summer Literary Picnics? A lawn chair or blanket. A limited number of extra chairs will be available.

> Is there a bathroom? Yes, bathrooms will be available.

> Will Thurber House be open for free tours during Summer Literary Picnics? Yes, the Thurber House museum will be open for free tours during the picnic social.

> What is your refund policy? All ticket sales are final and non-refundable.

> What is the Columbus ticket fee? The total ticket price includes the Columbus Arts and Culture Fee as required by the City of Columbus. The Arts and Culture Fee provides public funds to support artists and arts/cultural organizations like Thurber House that educate and engage audiences of all ages. Click here for more information.

> Why are there processing fees? Purchases made through Eventbrite are subject to credit/debit card processing fees that cover Thurber House's use of the platform. To pay by cash or check, please email [email protected] or call 614-464-1032.

Disclaimer: Views, thoughts, and opinions expressed by event and program speakers in all mediums are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Thurber House, its affiliates, or its staff/board.

Where is it happening?

Various Locations, Columbus, United States

USD 5.25 to USD 210.00

Thurber House

Host or Publisher Thurber House

It's more fun with friends. Share with friends