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ODU's 33rd Annual Literary Festival Looks at Hard Times in America

An impressive lineup of nationally known authors will visit the Old Dominion University campus Oct. 4-8 for the 33rd Annual Literary Festival, "Hard Times in America."

This year's theme will look at how the issue of poverty affects people, not only economically, but also on many other levels.

"Hard times are inevitably entwined with racism, crime, despair, an inequitable legal system, inadequate medical care and inequalities in education, but they sometimes provide examples of heroism, innovation and achievement," said Mike Pearson, professor of English, co-director of the festival with fellow English professor Janet Peery.

"The writers and performers at this year's festival are not here to solve the problems of poverty in America but rather to offer stories that will ask us to think honestly about our own experiences, to reach beyond self in order to enter another person's conflicts, to see with another person's eyes the problems that confront us all," Peery said.

Among this year's featured writers are Buzz Bissinger, best known for his book "Friday Night Lights," which became a successful film and television series; Dennis Lehane, author of "Mystic River," which was a finalist for the PEN/Winship Award and won the Anthony Award and the Barry Award for Best Novel; Wilbert Rideau, once a death row inmate and the author of the autobiography "In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance"; and poet Anne Waldman, the author of more than 40 books who, in 1974 with Allen Ginsberg and others, founded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute.

In conjunction with the festival, ODU's Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries will host an exhibition, "Lori Nix: The City and Other Stories," from Sept. 25 through Nov. 7. A reception at the galleries is scheduled for 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.

All of the festival talks and readings are free and open to the public. (To purchase tickets for the Jupiter String Quartet performance on Oct. 4 call 683-5305.) For more information about the festival and the authors, go to www.lib.odu.edu/litfest/33rd.

Monday, Oct. 4 - 2 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Bonnie Jo Campbell - Author of "Women and Other Animals," she was a 2009 finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction for "American Salvage."

Monday, Oct. 4 - 8 p.m., Chandler Recital Hall, Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center

Jupiter String Quartet - Award-winning chamber music ensemble and recipient of First Prize in the Banff International String Quartet Competition. (Tickets are $15 for the general public.)

Tuesday, Oct. 5 - 2 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Writers in Community - Under the auspices of the ODU Creative Writing Program, this nonprofit program is dedicated to helping the diverse communities of Hampton Roads by cultivating literacy and creativity. It works with local organizations to reach out to children and adults who can benefit from the opportunity to express themselves artistically.

Tuesday, Oct. 5 - 4 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Seni Seneviratne - Writer, singer, photographer and performer whose poetry and prose are published in the UK, Denmark, Canada and South Africa.

Tuesday, Oct. 5 - 7:30 p.m., Chandler Recital Hall, Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center

Blake Bailey - Well-known biographer of writers Richard Yates and John Cheever, he is also editor of the Library of America omnibus editions of Cheever's stories and novels. Bailey is on the ODU faculty this year as a visiting associate professor of English.

Wednesday, Oct. 6 - 2 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Brenda Flanagan - A native of Trinidad who worked as a domestic servant after coming to the United States, she is author of the novel "You Alone Are Dancing."

Wednesday, Oct. 6 - 4 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Randall Kenan - Author of novels, stories and nonfiction, including "A Visitation of Spirits." Among his many awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Writers Award.

Wednesday, Oct. 6 - 7:30 p.m., Kaufman Theater, Chrysler Museum of Art

Rodger Kamenetz - An award-winning poet and author who has been called "the most formidable of the Jewish-American poets," he wrote the international bestseller "The Jew in the Lotus."

Thursday, Oct. 7 - 12:30 p.m., Virginia Beach Higher Education Center

Anne Waldman - Author of more than 40 books and an active member of the Outrider experimental poetry movement, she and her son Ambrose Bye created a YouTube channel titled "Fast Speaking Music," which features music and poetry videos.

Thursday, Oct. 7 - 4 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Wilbert Rideau - Once a death row inmate in Louisiana's Angola Prison, he is the author of an autobiography and has devoted himself to educating people about the realities of life behind bars.

Thursday, Oct. 7 - 7:30 p.m., Mills Godwin Jr. Building Auditorium

President's Lecture Series

Buzz Bissinger - A Pulitzer Prize winner for investigative journalism, he is the author of "Friday Night Lights" and has written for The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair.

Friday, Oct. 8 - 2 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Ted Conover - Critically acclaimed author of "Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America's Hoboes," his "Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing" was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Friday, Oct. 8 - 4 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Sarah McCoy - Recipient of an M.F.A. in fiction from ODU, she is the author of the novel "The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico"

Friday, Oct. 8 - 4 p.m., University Village Bookstore

Natalie Diaz - Born and raised on the Fort Mohave Indian Reservation in Needles, Calif., Diaz is an ODU graduate who played on the Lady Monarchs basketball team. Her first poetry collection, "When My Brother Was an Aztec," is forthcoming from Copper Canyon.

Friday, Oct. 8 - 7:30 p.m., Chandler Recital Hall, Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center

Dennis Lehane - Before becoming a full-time writer, Lehane, author of the novel "Mystic River," worked as a counselor with abused children, waited tables and parked cars, among other jobs. He has written episodes for the acclaimed TV series "The Wire."

This article was posted on: October 7, 2010

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