22nd Annual Literary Festival
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M A C E & C R O W N - OCTOBER 27 1999
Tim Seibles:Highlight of the Festival
Draws a Crowd
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The ODU Literary Festival MFA Faculty and Margaret Gibson readings made quite an impression on many students in attendance, with the authors' open exploration of often considered taboo subjects, and the sheer remarkability of the literary devices used.

The MFA Faculty reading, held in Chandler Recital Hall, had a crowd that overflowed into the two balconies of the facility. In the spotlight were poet Tim Seibles, visiting professor Luisa Igloria, fiction writers Sheri Reynolds and Janet Peery, and non-fiction writer Michael Pearson.

Instead of reading their own work, each faculty member read another author's work.
The highlight of the evening was when Pearson read the work of Seibles, who has published five books. Recurrent themes in that evening's reading and in a separate event featuring Seibles were sex, sports and cartoons.

"The Fan," published in Seibles' first book "Body Moves" is an amusing and erotic poem about tennis player Martina Navratilova, who just happens to be a lesbian. The reaction of the audience was one of amusement. Despite its ironic twists, the poem was an original move, one that may have helped Seibles further his literary career as a poet.

Margaret Gibson, writer-in-residence this semester, also gave a reading. She opened the hour by saying, "Today we are going to talk about love."
Her poem, "Mangos," published in "Georgia Review," was a common favorite among students and faculty alike. The poem beautifully makes something as simple as a mango into an erotic symbol.

The most touching poems came from "Memories of the Future: The Daybooks of Tina Modotti." Modotti was a vibrant Italian actress and photographer, who lived from 1896 to 1942. Her boyfriend, Julio Mella, was murdered in front of her in 1929.

From the collection, Gibson read "Dia De Los Muertos" and "What Love Is. "Some audience members shed a few tears during the reading of those two poems.

"Dia De Los Muertos" explores the death of Mella and the effect it had on Modotti's life. One of the most profound lines from the work was "The body that had filled me, his body, now filled an urn."

Overall, this year's ODU literary festival was a delightful buffet of many treats, from local poets and fiction writers to nationally-known poets such as Gibson. Hopefully, some of those involved this year will return for an encore next time.

Rita Dove
Photo by Sonija Foster