10th Annual Literary Festival
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The Mace & Crown, Thursday, September 24, 1987

Literary festival celebrates tenth

Mary Sembra

     The 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 the festival.
      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 Mapp, Jr
      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 reading.
      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 reading.
      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 every year.
      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 free.
      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.
Maxine Kumin
Alf Mapp, Jr.