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Closing ceremony for Big Read program set for May 29 at Chesapeake Central Library

Poet Luisa Igloria, associate professor and director of the M.F.A. in creative writing program at Old Dominion University, will be the keynote speaker at the closing ceremony for ODU's Big Read program on Saturday, May 29.

The ceremony, which will also include an announcement of the winners of the Big Read haiku poetry contest, begins at 1 p.m. at Chesapeake Central Library, 298 Cedar Road.

The Big Read, which debuted in 2006 with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), brings communities together to read, discuss and celebrate one of 30 selections from U.S. and world literature. Lea Lee, associate professor of teaching and learning in ODU's Darden College of Education, was principal investigator for an NEA grant, which the college matched, to create a Big Read program this year.

Since May 1, when the local Big Read program kicked off at Chesapeake's Asian Fest, the focus has been on Amy Tan's popular 1989 novel, "The Joy Luck Club." Participants in the program - from high school-age on up - were given a copy of the book to read and since have had opportunities to engage in discussions and take part in various other activities related to the novel's themes.

"The Joy Luck Club" tells the stories of four Chinese American immigrant women who share their own views of the world, based on their experiences of growing up and living in China, with their American-born daughters.

ODU's Big Read organizers sponsored the haiku contest as part of the month-long activities. According to the contest rules, submitted poems had to be inspired by "The Joy Luck Club." Winners and runners-up will be selected to read their poems at the closing ceremony. Judges for the contest included local poet Jon Pineda, an adjunct faculty member in the ODU English department, and ODU student Sarah Stevenson.

Igloria, the speaker for the May 29 closing ceremony, is originally from Baguio City in the Philippines. Previously published as Maria Luisa Aguilar-Cariño, she has won various national and international literary awards, including the 2009 Ernest Sandeen Poetry Prize for "Juan Luna's Revolver" (University of Notre Dame Press), the 2007 49th Parallel Poetry Prize and the 2007 James Hearst Poetry Prize.

She is an 11-time recipient of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature, the Philippines' highest literary prize, in three genres: poetry, nonfiction and short fiction.

Igloria's work has appeared or been accepted in numerous anthologies and journals, including Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, The Missouri Review, Indiana Review and Poetry East.

This article was posted on: May 26, 2010

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