24th Annual Literary Festival
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Literary Festival Features Writers Representing Spectrum of American Literature

Posted 09.25.01

Old Dominion University's 24th Annual Literary Festival will showcase original and mesmerizing writers who represent the diversity of contemporary American literature Oct. 1-5.

The festival, carrying the theme "Magic, Vision and Transformation," will feature dramatists, poets, non-fiction writers, novelists, artists, newly emerging student writers and Pulitzer Prize winners. All of the readings and lectures are free and open to the public.

Sheri Reynolds, festival director, said, "Each writer participating in the week's events is a kind of magician, using words to expose the undersides of all that seems ordinary to life."

"Their words," continued Reynolds,"teach us to see beyond the obvious, and their words change us by helping us imagine new ways of seeing. Like pulling a rabbit from the top-hat, each writer creates meaning out of what seems like air."

Previewing the festival is a digital exhibit of the history of the Literary Festival held Friday, Sept. 28, in Perry Library. Guest speakers will include Roseann Runte, Philip Raisor, Karen Vaughan and Sheri Reynolds.

The exhibit can be viewed on-line at http://www.lib.odu.edu/litfest. The site includes brochures, photographs, articles written about the festival, video recordings, and audio interviews.

"Creating a digital archive and Web exhibit is a way of preserving the Annual Literary Festival, which has always been an important and impressive event for Old Dominion University," said Karen Vaughan, Perry Library's digital services coordinator. The site was a collaborative effort between the English department and the library, she added.

"Although the project has been time- and labor-intensive, we're very proud of the results," said Vaughan.

Materials on the site date back to 1978 when the success of a Poetry Jam, featuring Richard Wilbur, W.D. Snodgrass, and Dave Smith, led to the first annual literary festival, "The Arts Reunion."

The festival kicks off Monday, Oct. 1, with readings by Master of Fine Arts graduates Terry Perrel, Temple West and Tom Yuill in the Hampton/ Newport News Room in Webb Center. The first day concludes with Roseann Runte, president of Old Dominion University reading a combination of her latest, unpublished poetry and a selection of her published work in the Chandler Recital Hall, Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center. She will accompany her reading with original photos and some musical selections.

On Oct. 2, Kwadwo Agymah Kamau, author of "Flickering Shadows" and "Pictures of a Dying Man" speaks in the Hampton/ Newport News Room of Webb Center. He is followed by poet, essayist and novelsit Sheryl St. Germain. Her books include "Going Home," "The Mask of Medusa," "Making Bread at Midnight" and "How Heavy the Breath of God." The second night of the literary festival concludes with a presentation by Holly Hughes, one of the most popular and controversial writer/performers in the nation in Chandler Recital Hall, Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center. Hughes, author of "Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler," is an "escape artist" who escaped her conservative upbringing in a part of the country "where silence was the first language." She has become an Obie award-winning performance artist and playwright. Her body of work includes "Dress Suits for Hire" (a collaboration with Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver), "No Trace of the Blonde," "The Well of Horniness," "Clit Notes," and "Cat O'Nine Tales."

Oct. 3 features productions of Edward Albee's plays, "Zoo Story" and "The Sandbox" by Old Dominion's Theatre Program in the Stables Theatre. In Webb University Center, poet Eugene Gloria will be in the Hampton/ Newport News Room. Poet and fiction writer Margorie Agosin will present a sample of her body of work in the Mills Godwin Jr. Auditorium located in the Life Sciences Building. Agosin is an award-winning poet recently honored with a United Nations Leadership Award for Human Rights. Her works include "In the Absence of Shadows," "Starry Night," "Dear Anne Frank," "Always From Somewhere Else," "Celebration of Memory: Growing up Jewish in Latin America," "The Alphabet in My Hands" and "A Cross and a Star: Memoirs of a Jewish Girl in Chile."

Oct. 4 begins with readings by faculty and staff members Matilda Cox, Julie Crichton, Eugene McAvoy and Amy Tudor in the Hampton/ Newport News Room of Webb Center. Author Joseph Skibell, author of the novel "A Blessing on the Moon" will speak in the Hampton/ Newport News Room. Edward Albee, long acclaimed by critics as "America's most important dramatist still writing," presents "The Playwright vs. The Theater" in the North and South Cafeterias of Webb Center. Albee, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (A Delicate Balance, Seascape and Three Tall Women) and recipient of the 1996 National Medal of the Arts, will speak as part of Old Dominion University's President's Lecture Series in conjunction with the Literary Festival.

The last day of the festival, Friday, Oct. 5, features readings by 3 authors, all to take place in Chandler Recital Hall, Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center. First is Greg Bottoms, the author of the memoir "Angelhead," which was named one of the best five works of non-fiction of 2000 by Esquire magazine. His second book, "Sentimental, Heartbroken Rednecks: Tales," was released in Sept. 2001 by Context Books. Karen McElmurray, the author of the novel "Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven" and the memoir "Mother of the Disappeared: An Appalachian Birth Mother's Journey" speaks afterwards. Last is Dorothy Allison, the author of "Bastard Out of Carolina," a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. Other popular works by Allison include "Cavedweller" (Dutton, 1998) a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, as well as the memoir "Two or Three Things I Know for Sure" (Dutton, 1995). Her first novel, "Bastard Out of Carolina" was made into a highly acclaimed film, directed by Angelica Huston. "Two or Three Things I Know for Sure" was translated into a short documentary that took prizes at the Aspen and Toronto film festivals, and was an Emmy-nominated feature on PBS.

The work of installation artist Roberly Bell is featured at the Old Dominion University Gallery in conjunction with the Literary Festival. The exhibition, "Always the Immigrant," runs through Oct. 21. Bell is a New York artist who has shown all over the world. She has been described as an artist with the mind of a poet seeking to "domesticate the gallery environment through the use of wallpaper, mundane vessels, and single word associations to their labors." She will be speaking about the role of text in art at the University Gallery in conjunction with her exhibit.

For more information on the 24th Annual Old Dominion Literary Festival, call 683-3991.