ODU Literary Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary Oct. 4
- 8 with a preview fundraiser $10 admission from contemporary poet,
Gaiway Kinnell, on Sept. 29.
Peggy Shumaker, director of the festival,
said that many things are different from last year as a result of
celebrating the festival's existence for a decade.
For the first time this year, there
will be an interpretation for the hearing impaired as they witness
readings from the guest writers. The festival has also been expanded
by a day.
The festival began ten years ago when
Dr. Philip Raisor, then a professor of English arranged an "Arts Reunion"
of creative people from visual arts theater music, and writing. Afterwards,
the English department wanted to concentrate more on literature in
This year there will be 11 different
writers from a wide variety of backgrounds. "It's gotten more exciting
every year," Shumaker said.
Other guest writers for this year include Donald Barthelme, Maxine
Kumin, John Edgar Wideman, Alberto Rios, Janet Burroway, Louise Erdrich,
Hilda Raz, Francois Camoin, David Milofsky and ODU's very own Alf
Barthelme, well known for his humorous
American short stories, will give a talk entitled "Not Knowing." Kumin
will read some of her works that involve that spiritual link to the
land and animals.
Wideman, whose work focuses on the lives of Black americans, will
discuss "Homewood," which may be pieces from his work, The Homewood
Trilogy. Rios will speak on "Cross Genre Writing" since his work concerns
the struggles and discoveries of two cultures.
Erdrich concentrates mostly on her
Indian hertiage of hope and reality. She will talk about "Post-Nuclear
Fiction." Burroway, an accomplished playwright, will give a fiction
Raz is well known for her poems and
criticism. This vice president of Associated Writing Programs will
conduct a poetry reading. Camoin concentrates on the absurd actions
that cause future regrets between men and women. He will have a fiction
Milofsky, a Bread Loaf fiction scholar,
will have a fiction reading of his work. Eminent Professor of English
Mapp will speak on his latest work, Thomas Jefferson: A Strange Case
of Mistaken Identity
Shumaker feels the literary festival
is reputed to be the largest in the Southeast region of North and
South Caroilna, Virginia and West Virginia. This prestige was gained
through "a lot of enthusiastic response from the community and university.
We've received a really strong institutional response."
According to Shumaker, the total funding
of the festival will run close to $25,000. Major donors such as the
Virginia Commission of Arts and Norfolk Commission of Arts are giving
$4,000 each. The Student Activities Council has donated $3,500, the
College of Arts and Letters has given over $3,000, and the English
department has given $1,500 and is also paying a quarter of Shumaker's
salary as she arranges the program.
When proposing for grant funding, Shumaker claims "there is some stiff
competition for the little bit of money that's available.
"The stronger the proposal looks, the
more likely that you'll be able to continue getting funded," Shumaker
continued. Shumaker was asked by the granting agency why the literary
festival charged free admission despite the large audience it receives
Shumaker replied that the festival
wanted to leave it open to as many people as possible but the agency
argued that the same could be said for ballet, music, and drama, yet
those groups are charging tickets. Therefore a little compromise was
necessary in order to receive adequate funding and Kinnell's talk
will require $10 admission. Admission to all other guest writers is
The money will be used for the writers'
travel expenses and appearance as guest speakers.
The purpose of the literary festival,
according to Shumaker, is to build a literary community, support contemporary
writers, let the people realize writing is an art form and show the
best of reading and writing to anyone who can read and write."
"It is the vehicle through which the creative spirit will move," Shumaker
explained of the literary festival.
For further information, call 451-1282.