by Jamey Duffy
New Renaissance, which has been taking root at Old Dominion
University and in the greater Tide- water area, blossomed
last week in the first annual ODU Arts Reunion. The
week-long series of events proved to be a truly mixed
bag, incorporating poetry and literature readings with
mime, classical music and jazz, dance, drama, and painting.
Simplicity and professionalism made the straightforward
presentations of original works of literature among
the most successful events in the program. Anthony Hecht's
Monday night reading in Batten Arts & Letters auditorium
was very well received. His amusing contemporary
from The Hard Hours and Millions of Strange
Shadows drew particularly enthusiastic responses
from the substantial crowd.
less well-attended, the Thursday evening AWP Board Members
reading at the Riverview Play house was also enjoyable.
While Bell played with the cliche and Madden did a wonderful
imitation of a highway patrolman giving a driving test
(from his latest novel The Suicide's Wife), Ellen
Voigt's reading was the definite high point of the evening.
More ambitious but somewhat less successful were the
events which incorporated various modes of artistic
expression. On Tuesday evening, Anthony Hecht and pianist
Frank Glazer united onstage at Technology Theater for
"An Evening of Literature
While the material was strong, the program dragged, due to Mr. Hecht's
long-winded introductions (audience members were not given programs
until afterwards to prevent rustling sounds) and the incessant bowing
of the performers after each selection.
of condescension hinted at during 'An Evening of Literature and
Music" was realized by the pompous Michael Mott in his presentation,
"Paintings that Inspired Poems," in which he read a long list of
familiar and unfamiliar names giving little real information. His
talk, delivered on Thursday in the Technology Theater, was an introduction
to "The Performance of the Painting." The focus of this production
was Van Gogh's "Starry Night," about which W.D. Snodgrass read an
original poem and Sherri Brennan sang Don McLean's "Vincent." There
were also dimly related, though interesting, performances by the
Faculty Piano Trio and the ODU Community Ballet. Unfortunately,
the event did not appear well planned with its silent gaps and technical
The Arts Reunion
ought probably to have incorporated these events into a two-week
rather than a one-week schedule. Their sheer number was clearly
overwhelming to potential audience members and coordinators alike.
Perhaps the Second Annual Old Dominion University Arts Reunion will
show a little more care and less ambition when, next year, it again
presents the fruits of the New Renaissance for public consumption.