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"The Call of Stories," ODU's 31st Annual Literary Festival Begins Sept. 23

Old Dominion University's 31st Annual Literary Festival, sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters, will feature world-class storytellers, including novelists, poets, essayists and musicians, from Tuesday, Sept. 23, to Friday, Sept. 26.

According to Michael Pearson, professor of creative writing and the 2008 festival director, the theme for this year's festival, "The Call of Stories," is a phrase appropriated from the Harvard psychiatrist Robert Coles, who found narrative to be the best way of communicating with his patients. In Coles' words, "Their story, yours, and mine - it's what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them."

"The instinct to shape experience into story, using the most human of tools, language, may be one of our most primal drives," said Pearson. "For most of us, especially for writers, the door to the world was opened with tales we heard.

"Most of us yearn for stories, not because they will save us from the consequences of the world, but because they help us to find our humanity in facing those moments, both expected and surprising."

The festival will bring to campus many notable names: Mary Karr, author of the New York Times bestseller and award-winning "The Liars' Club;" Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Claudia Emerson; prize-winning novelist and short-story writer Richard Bausch; and Frank Deford, cited by American Journalism Review as the nation's finest sportswriter, to name just a few.

All daytime events will be held in the lawn area next to the University Village Bookstore on Monarch Way. The evening lectures, preceded by an author reception inside the bookstore, will be held in the Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center, with the exception of Deford's lecture, which will be held in the north cafeteria of Webb University Center.

Free shuttle bus service will be provided from the reception to the evening lectures. All festival events are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, Sept. 23

11 a.m. University Village Bookstore - lawn tent. Greg Bottoms, author of the memoir "Angelhead: My Brother's Descent Into Madness," an Esquire nonfiction "Book of the Year" in 2000; "Sentimental, Heartbroken Rednecks: Stories from the New South;" and the travel book "The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art," a Booksense Pick and one of Stride Magazine's (U.K.) best books of 2007. His new book, "Fight Scenes," will be published by Counterpoint Press this fall.

2 p.m. University Village Bookstore - lawn tent. John McManus, author of the novel "Bitter Milk" and two collections of short fiction, "Born on a Train" and "Stop Breakin Down," has been the recipient of fellowships from the James A. Michener Center for Writers and the Camargo Foundation. In 2000 he became the youngest-ever recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award. He currently teaches creative writing at ODU.

6:30 - 7:15 p.m. University Village Bookstore - Author Reception

7:30 p.m. Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center. Aztec Two-Step, with Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman, a folk/rock duo that continues to impress audiences with intelligent songwriting, dazzling acoustic lead guitar, and inspiring harmonies since their debut in the early '70s.

Wednesday, Sept. 24

11 a.m. University Village Bookstore - lawn tent. Peter Meinke and Michael Blumenthal: A Conversation. Meinke, recipient of many awards for fiction and poetry, held the Mina Hohenberg Darden Chair in Creative Writing at ODU in 2003-05. Blumenthal, winner of a Hadassah Magazine prize for the best work of Jewish fiction for his novel, "Weinstock Among the Dying," currently holds the Mina Hohenberg Darden Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at ODU.

2 p.m. University Village Bookstore - lawn tent. Lenore Hart, author of the novels "Waterwoman" (a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Authors title), "Ordinary Springs," "Black River" and a recent novel, "Becky: The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher."

4 p.m. University Village Bookstore - lawn tent. Shara McCallum, author of two books of poems, "Song of Thieves" and "The Water Between Us" (winner of the 1998 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize), directs the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University.

7 - 7:45 p.m. University Village Bookstore - Author Reception

8 p.m. Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center. Claudia Emerson, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book "Late Wife: Poems" and author of the poetry collections "Pharaoh, Pharaoh" and "Pinion: An Elegy," is a professor at the University of Mary Washington.

Thursday, Sept. 25

11 a.m. Newport News Room - Webb University Center. Writers in Community, an outreach organization sponsored by Old Dominion's MFA in Creative Writing Program, has promoted literacy and creativity in the Hampton Roads community for nine years. Join in a moderated discussion concerning the importance of bringing the roots and spirit of creative written work back where it's needed most.

12:30 p.m. Virginia Beach Higher Education Center. Shara McCallum, author of two books of poems, "Song of Thieves" and "The Water Between Us" (winner of the 1998 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize), directs the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University.

2 p.m. Newport News Room - Webb University Center. Gioia Timpanelli, often called the "Dean of American Storytelling," won two Emmy Awards for her series of programs on storytelling, "Stories from My House" on educational television, and Steve Almond, author of two story collections, "My Life in Heavy Metal" and "The Evil B.B. Chow," the novel "Which Brings Me to You" (with Julianna Baggott), and the nonfiction book "Candyfreak".

4 p.m. Newport News Room - Webb University Center. Mary Karr, whose first memoir, 'The Liars' Club," won the PEN Martha Albrand Award and held a spot on The New York Times best-seller list for more than a year, is also an accomplished poet and the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University.

6:45 - 7:15 p.m. University Village Bookstore - Author Reception

7:30 p.m. North Cafeteria, Webb University Center. Frank Deford, author, commentator and columnist, cited by American Journalism Review as the nation's finest sportswriter, will discuss "Sports: The Hype and The Hoopla" as part of the 2008-09 President's Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Literary Festival.

Friday, Sept. 26

11 a.m. Newport News Room - Webb University Center. Rishi Reddi, author of "Karma and Other Stories" and whose fiction has been performed at Symphony Space and read on National Public Radio. In addition to being featured in Best American Short Stories 2005, her work received an honorable mention in Pushcart Prize - Best of the Small Presses in 2004.

2 p.m. Newport News Room - Webb University Center. Douglas Kearney, accomplished poet and performer, who has received commissions from the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis and the Studio Museum in Harlem to create poetry in response to art installations.

7:15 - 7:45 p.m. University Village Bookstore - Author Reception

8 p.m. Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center. Richard Bausch, author of 10 novels and seven collections of short stories, including "Take Me Back" (1981), which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Recipient of many fellowships and awards, his short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, O. Henry, and Pushcart. Bausch currently holds the Lillian and Morrie A. Moss Chair of Excellence in English at the University of Memphis.

For more information about the authors, go to www.lib.odu.edu/litfest/31st

The Literary Festival is sponsored in part by the Dr. Forrest P. White Endowment, the Norfolk Commission for the Arts and Humanities, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the University Village Bookstore.

This article was posted on: September 11, 2008

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