Old Dominion University
October 8-10, 1991
The theme of this year's festival is "Between the Lines: Fact and Fiction." The relationship between a work of fiction and a work of non-fiction can be subtle, mysterious. Often the lines are blurred. Some of the best poems and novels spring from historical situations or personal experiences. Real people and imagined ones may populate the same universe, especially if it is one created by a Kurt Vonnegut or a W.P. Kinsella. Some of the best pieces of nonfiction are shaped by the narrative techniques we associate with short stories or novels. At times the sentences in great biographies or works of journalism are chiseled with the artistry and emotional intensity of poetry.
This year the Old Dominion University Literary Festival welcomes a diverse group of writers, many of whom travel along the magical boundary line between fact and fiction, creating works that straddle the real and the imaginary, shaping stories that defy categories. With the narrative abilities of a skillful novelist and the careful research of a meticulous historian, Alf Mapp Jr. recreates the second half of the life of Thomas Jefferson. Gretel Ehrlich, whose prose, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, belongs in a league with Annie Dillard and even Thoreau, has written essays that have been described as "stunning ruminations on life on Wyoming's high plains." W.P. Kinsella writes stories in which strange things happen--fabled heroes are resurrected, reclusive authors are kidnapped, the line between the real and the surreal becomes, as one critic said, "as thin and squirrely as sewing thread." Philip Levine and Henry Taylor, who will conclude the festival with a dual reading, tap into the roots of their experience through poetry that focuses on inner-city Detroit or rural Virginia.
These and many other outstanding writers will read from their works, leading the audience between the lines of fact and fiction, allowing us to discover the places where history and the imagination intersect.
[extracted from 1991 brochure]