13th Annual Literary Festival
Lit Fest Home

PAGE 5, THE COURIER, FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 21, 1990
A City of Words: The 13th Annual Literary Festival

Galway Kinnell


Gaiway Kinnell is one of the most highly esteemed contempor- ary American poets. In 1982 he received both the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for his "Selected Poems." There are very few poets whose music can compare to the great poetry of the past, but many critics feel Kin nell is one whose poetry is equal to such comparisons.

Lines such as "seed dazzled over the footbat-tered blaze of earth" will stand the test of time. So will this stanza describing his daughter's birth: "she skids out on her face into light,/this peck/of stunned flesh/clotted with celestial cheesiness, glowing/with the astral violet/of the underlife."

As Richard Tillinghast said of him, "He always meets existence head-on, without evasion or wishful thinking. When Kinnell is at the top of his form, there is no better poet writing in America." Besides "Selected Poems," Kinnell has eight books of poetry, four books of prose and five works of translation. In addition to the Pulitzer and the American Book Award, he has received the Shelley Prize, awarded by the Poetry Society of America, and the Medal of Merit, given by the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

One of Kinnell's admirers described the poet's quest in life as a search for innocence. Others focus on what they see as his preoccupation with death, his "insistence on peering at the bones behind theface-death beneath the mask of life, yet also some kind of ecstatic survival beyond the mask of death."

Kinnell's vision is in the tradition of Whitman, generous, realistic and honest. His poetry is proof, as critics have said, that poems can still be written movingly about those subjects that in any agefor any people fascinate, disturb, confound and sadden the heart: poems about the family, mortality, war, a spiritual life, our connection to the natural world.

Kinnell will give the 1990 Benefit Reading for the Literary Festival at B p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, inthe Mills Godwin auditorium. Admission is $7; $4 for students.

All other festival events are free. The festival is sponsored by the ODU Creative Writing Program, English department, College of Arts and Letters, Student Activities Council, Virginia Commission for the Arts, City of Norfolk, Associated Writing Programs and many local supporters. Donor for the 1990 festival is J.M. Prince Ltd.

For further information call 683-4033.

Lee Smith

Lee Smith has been mentioned as the heir to Carson McCullers, Harper Lee, Flannery O'Con- nor and Eudora Welty in the tradition of sharply ironic Southern humor, with a keen eye for an oddity in character or community.

Smith, who was born and raised in Virginia and now resides in Chapel Hill, N.C., is proof of Flannery O'Connor's statement, "All great writing is regional writing." Smith is the author of nine books, which have been critical and popular successes. Twice winner of the O'Henry Award for short fiction, she has also received the John Dos Pasos Award for Literature, the Sir Walter Raleigh Award and the North Carolina Award for Fiction.

Annie Dillard has called her "the best of the younger generation of Southern writers," and with each successive novel she has laid better claim to that title. Among her books are "The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed" (1968), "Black Mountain Breakdown" (1981), "Oral History" (1983), "Family Linen" (1985) and "Fair and Tender Ladies" (1989).

Smith will read from her fiction at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Mills Godwin auditorium.

Scott Donaldson


Scott Donaldson has written half a dozen books, edited several others, and published many articles on Amer-ican literature and culture. Formerly a news-paperman in Minne-apolis, Donaldson is best known for his literary biographies, particularly of Heming-way (1977), F. Scott Fitzgerald (1983), and John Cheever (1988).

He is presently at work on a biography of Archibald MacLeish. Donaldson will take part in a panel discussion on the art of writing bio-graphy at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center
.

Hal Crowther


A graduate of Williams College with a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, Hal Crowther has been a writer for the Buffalo Evening News and the Toronto Star. A resident of North Carolina for the past 10 years, Crowther worked as an editor for both Time and Newsweek
.

Crowther, who now writes for the North Carolina Independent, is a respected columnist syndicated nationally in over 20 independent newspapers.

He will give a talk on "a journalist's view of the current state of the media" in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2.


Justin Kaplan


"I'm drawn to peo-ple whose lives have a certain mystery-mys-teries that aren't going to be solved, that are too sacred to be solved," Justin Kaplan once said. As an award-winning biographer, Kaplan has been drawn to some of the great, mysterious literary figures of our time, in particular Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.

In 1967 he won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for "Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain," a biography in which he said he attempted "not only to explore the mystery of this man but also to respect it . . . . Two currents flowed through his life. One flowed away from Hannibal, Missouri, toward a world of wealth, fame and materialities. The other flowed back to Hannibal again. Out of the opposition of these currents, out of the turbulent dark waters, came one of the great styles and dazzling personalities of our literature."

Clearly, Kaplan, has written the definitive life story of one of America's legendary figures. In 1981 he wrote the biography of another American legend and received the American Book Award for "Walt Whitman: A Life."

Kaplan's biographies have been praised for their narrative skill and historical breadth, for having the power and hypnotic effect of good novels. His books are artful, sentence by sent-ence, unraveling legends and leaving a fascinat-ing truth in their place. He has also written a biography of Lincoln Steffens and has been editor of half a dozen other works. For the past two years he has been working as editor of the 16th edition of "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations."

Kaplan will be part of the panel discussion on the art of writing biography at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center. That evening at 8 p.m. in the Mills Godwin auditorium he will speak about the making of "Bartlett's Familiar Quota-tions," a fitting finale for a festival of words.

 

Kelly Cherry

 

Kelly Cherry, a nove-list and poet, is a pro-fessor of English at the University of Wiscon-sin. Originally from Richmond, Va., she has taught at Western Washington Univer-sity, Rhodes College and in the Vermont College MFA program. Her fifth book of fiction, described as a novel in stories, titled "My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers," has been called "affirmative, heartbreaking, funny and beauti-ful" by Andre Dubus.

Her first book of non-fiction, "The Exiled Heart: A Meditative Autobiography,", will be published by LSU Press in 1991.

Cherry will read from "My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers" at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center.


Alf Mapp Jr.


An eminent scholar at Old Dominion, Alf Mapp Jr. is the author of six books, most recently "Thomas Jef-ferson: A Strange Case of Mistaken Identity," cited as one of the "Forty Best Books of 1987." He has written many other books and is the author of more than 800 articles in the New York Times and other metropolitan newspapers, scholarly journals and popular magazines.

Mapp will be part of the panel discussion on writing biography at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center.

Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte, an assistant professor of English at Old Domin-ion, has published three collections of poetry, most recently "Captivity." Her pre-vious collections are "Natural Birth" and "The Empress of Death House."

She is a recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as numerous other awards. Her work has appeared in many journals- American Poetry Review, New England/Bread-loaf Quarterly, Ploughshares and Iowa Review. Sharon Olds has described her work as "one of the most beautiful and necessary voices in American poetry today."

She will read from her poetry at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center.


Peggy Shumaker



Peggy Shumaker has published two books of poetry, "The Circle of Totems" (1988) and "Esperanza's Hair" (1985). In 1989 she was awarded an NEA Fel-lowship in Poetry. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Manoa, and Ploughshares, among other magazines.

Formerly an assistant professor of English at ODU, she currently lives in a log house outside of Aster, Alaska, and serves as co-director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Shumaker will give a poetry reading at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center.

Lucille Clifton


Nominated for Pulitzer Prizes for three of her collections, "Two-Headed Woman, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980," and "Next: New Poems," Lucille Clif-ton's succinct com-ment on her work in the third edition of "Contemporary Poets" consists of one sentence: "I am a Black woman poet, and I sound like one."

In their distilled brevity, her poems are strongly connected to black spirituals and folk songs, to the rhythms ofjazz and blues, to revival meetings and magical incantations. In addition to her poetry, she has written for television, winning an Emmy for her contribution to "Free To Be You and Me" and high praise for her many children's books.

The hallmarks of her writing are a belief in the language of poetry, the power of song and the courage of the human heart.

Clifton will give a talk at 1 :30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center. She will also give a reading that evening at 8 p.m. in the Mills Godwin auditorium.


E. Ethelbert Miller



E. Ethelbert Miller is the director of the Howard University Afro-American Resource Center and host of a weekly radio program on WDCU-FM. He also is the author of several books, including "Sea-son of Hunger/Cry of Rain" and "Where are the Love Poems for Dictators?"

Gwendolyn Brooks, poetry consultant to Congress, has called Miller "one of the most significant and influential poets of our time." Miller will give a talk at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center.

Anne Bernays


Anne Bernays has published non-fiction in Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post and The Atlantic Monthly, but she is best known as the author of eight novels, most recently the con-troversial "Professor Romeo."

The daughter of Edward Bernays, known as "the Father of Public Relations," and the grandniece of Sigmund Freud, she lives in Massachusetts and has been a key figure in forming the New England P.E.N.

Her writing has been called "clean and uncluttered . . . like the smooth-flowing Ian-guage of conversation." She has been praised for her acute ear for dialogue, her ability to handle complex plots and her awareness (per-haps inherited) of the chemistry of the mind.

She will read from and talk about "Professor Romeo" and work-in-progress at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, in the Hampton and Newport News rooms of Webb Center.