8th Annual Literary Festival
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The Mace & Crown, Thursday, October 17, 1985

Notable 'Festival' writers return to ODU

Michelle Connelly

     David Bradley and Reginald Gibbons were two of the creative writers invited to participate in ODU's annual Literary Festival last week.
      Both Gibbons and Bradley have attended the festival in the past due to the yearly meeting of the Board of the Associated Writing Programs, of which Bradley is an active member. Bradley participated four years ago soon after his award-winning novel, The Chaneysville Incident, was published. Although Gibbons has attended once in the past, this was his first time actually participating in the festival by reading poems from his book, Saints.
      Gibbons, Editor of TriQuarterly magazine and a professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, is a notable, present-day poet. His honors include a Quarterly Review of Literature Prize for his first book, Roofs Voices Roads and his new book, Saints, will be published by Persea Books as one of the 1985 winners of the National Poetry Series.
      "Saints is a book about the sanctity of ordinary things and ordinary people. The suffering that everyday life brought these people interested me and so I wrote about it," said Gibbons.
      Gibbons attended Princeton University, where he received a B.A. in Spanish, then moved on to Stanford University to earn his masters in english and creative writing. Finally completing his formal education, Gibbons received his doctorate in comparative literature. He went on to divulge that he did not start writing until he was an undergraduate in college and was not convinced that he was a writer until he was about 25 years old.
      "It's one thing to write, another thing to just write, and a totally different thing to be convinced that one is truly a writer," said Gibbons.
      When analyzing Gibbons' main focal points, it is evident that he has no set topic or area of concentration in his works.
      "A narrow poet is one who knows, studies, and writes about specific topics," explained Gibbons. "I feel that poetry is response to experience. Before I'm through writing, I hope to have written about many different kinds of thoughts and experiences."
      Gibbons said he feels the same is true of his style.
      "I don't think that there is a real definition of style. If there is, then this is also a sign that the poet is narrow," he said. Gibbons said he viewed the festival in two perspectives. Overall, he hoped that the festival provided people with a better understanding of poetry and literature, while at the same time being interesting and a lot of fun.
      Bradley, currently an associate professor of English at Temple University in Philadelphia, read two excerpts from his novel, South Street, published in 1975.
      "When I first began to write South Street, I intended it to be about racism. By the time it was completed, it represented street life in general and not necessarily about black people in poverty." Bradley added, "l don't think that there is any such thing as 'black literature'. Literature should be Universal in theme."
      Unlike Gibbons, Bradley says that his writing "just came naturally." He remembers starting to write creatively when was just six years old.
      "I think I was born a liar and discovered this at an early age. I found writing was coming very easily to me and I just stuck with it," commented Bradley. Bradley said he was overall optimistic about the festival. In an analogy, he compared the Literary Festival to the Cool Jazz Festival.
      "This festival is entertainment and in my opinion, is one hell of a show," commented Bradley. "You can find good music and plays almost anywhere, but writers seem to congregate and it is not very often that one can enjoy good literature in one place."
      Bradley is currently working on several projects including a serious novel, film scripts, and an autobiography of Malcolm X. His novel South Street will be re-released in the Spring of 1986.