Stuart Dybeck's short story, "Blight," Deejo believes that the world
is made up of infinitesimal voices, and Deejo equated voices with souls.
"If one listened, it was possible to hear...voices speaking a language
of terror and beauty." This year, "World Voice," Old Dominion
University's 18th annual literary festival, invites us to this world's
many voices, to discern between the noise and the voices in the universal
traffic jam, to see from another's perspective, and to celebrate.
Sitting in Chandler Hall, or the River Rooms, or the Atrium Garden at
Webb Center, you will hear the pitch of voice from writer to writer
will change. And hopefully you'll begin to notice that differences between
artists are greater than word choice, rhythms and subject matter. While
everyone would like to believe, we are all the same, one world, as Bob
Marley sang, we are in fact, different. "World Voice" gives us the opportunity
to hear individual voices, stories, and histories and to honor them.
It is not an attempt to make one voice out of so many, but to recognize
that we are from different perspectives, that we speak in many languages,
and best of all, that we are not the same. What we have to say differs
from culture to culture and writer to writer, evolves as we journey
and explore as both audience and writer.
This week, you will travel with the voices. You will visit other worlds:
Ireland, Singapore, Kashmir, the Philippine Islands, the Americas and
Chile. You will pass through Africa and Greece and France en route to
these other lands.
As always, the focus of the festival will remain on stories, verse and
creative nonfiction. In addition to our gathering of international writers,
other departments at Old Dominion University — Multicultural Student
Services, Music, Dance, International Studies, Foreign Language, Women
Studies and others — join the celebration of word and culture through
their participation in evening invocations and international student
readings. This year, we have extended a special invitation to Hampton
Roads community organizations to partake in our international literary
extravaganza. Their cultural booths, receptions and performances welcome
students, community and writers alike to "World Voice." As always, each
festival day ends with an evening reception in honor of our writers
and their works. This year, the old AWP house on 49th Street, now the
AWP and Old Dominion University International Writers Center, opens
its doors, extending hospitality to writers and audience members. Please
take advantage of these evening receptions. At day's end, they give
us an opportunity to absorb all we've heard; a place and space to talk
and respond to one another; and a chance to meet with writers one on
Norfolk's Chrysler Museum, along with Old Dominion University's Creative
Writing Program, will co-sponsor the festival finale with a celebration
and benefit reading by internationally acclaimed writer, Ariel Dorfman
on Thursday, October 5th. While Dorfman writes fiction, poetry, and
non fiction about Chile's political struggle, his plays and films are
what bring him to international prominence. His play, Death and the
Maiden, originally performed in London, and then on Broadway, has recently
been made into a film by director Roman Polanski. His works have been
translated into 27 languages. He is best known for his dynamic voice
as a writer in exile. Dorfman describes his writing as a way of giving
voice "to those who have disappeared and those who are left behind...Words
become a way of returning to your country—a cemetery—, but also a resurrection
ground." Chrysler Museum education director Anne Vernon welcomes Mr.
Dorfman and other "World Voice" participants to Chrysler Museum's Theater
and Huber Court in this final night, this festival of word and culture.
The doors at Chrysler Museum will open at 7:00 and will begin with gallery
tours and an invocation by the United Ilocano Youth Dance Troupe of
Hampton Roads. Immediately following Mr. Dorfman's reading, a reception
in Huber Court completes our three day journey in search of "World Voice."
As this year's literary festival director, I might attempt to showcase
our international writers and tell you what you will hear in our three
day celebration of language, histories, and culture, but as I see it,
that would be a disservice to you and to our distinguished guests. For
as often as you've heard that we are all part of humanity and desire
world peace, etcetera, etcetera, we are certainly not the same. I cannot
know where the voices, our guides, will take us. We do not always see
things in the same way. We do not always see. I cannot predict what
you will hear in the course of our literary celebration, only that you
will have the opportunity to listen, to journey, to explore. You must
come and join us. You must sit in our halls and auditoriums. You must
hear for yourself voices speaking in language of both terror and beauty
so that you—so that we—might hear a voice different than our own and
learn a thing or two about our collective soul.