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Mace & Crown | March 21, 2018

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The ODU Literary Festival is still sexy at 40

Brooke Nicholson | A&E Assitant Editor

ODU’s annual Literary Festival is back again with its five-day long event that puts everything about literature on display. The tradition began back in 1978 as an annual poetry slam hosted by the English department, and with positive feedback and interest from the surrounding community, quickly spread into a week-long festival. The enthusiasm for the art of reading and writing has continued throughout the years and has attracted the attention of readers and writers from around Hampton Roads and the surrounding communities.

Each year, the English department at ODU chooses a new festival director to decide on the newest theme for the festival. For its 40th year running, the slogan for this years’ festival is “Lust for Life – ODU LitFest: Still Sexy at 40.”

The Literary Festival began on Sunday, Oct. 1 with an opening reception at The Green Onion to kick off the beginning of the festival week. Throughout the rest of the week, is the main event of the festival, jam-packed with multiple readings and signings by 18 writers of all genres. Writers interact with audiences throughout the week through reading excerpts of their novels, PowerPoint presentations and Q&A session, followed by a signing.

Held at multiple different locations in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, this festival is always free and available to everyone living in the areas. Writers from all over the country come together to discuss and display their works through readings, Q&A’s and book signings.

The literary festival catches the attention of writers from around the nation, including some of ODU’s own graduates who have gone on to pursue professional writing careers. Some of these notable writers include Don Lee, whose received multiple awards for his published works and dedication to writing, and Kaitlyn Greenidge, whose writing has appeared in publications and websites such as The New York Times, and The Believer.

Greenidge is a Boston native who received her MFA from Hunter College and a historian. She has gone on to publish several novels, including her debut novel “We Love You, Charlie Freeman” that touches on everything, from history to racism and the bond between a family.

Lee is an Asian-American writer who has strived his entire writing career to show publishers and readers alike that they can write anything their heart desires. Lee has struggled to get out the mold that has plagued Asian-American writers for years; from having the covers of their books being only of symbols of Asian cultures, such as fans, chopsticks, cherry blossoms and half Asian faces, to always getting advice about writing characters with Asian descent. Lee is determined to inspire writers of all backgrounds to write what you want, when you want, without pressure from society to stay with writing about what you know.

The published novels from each writer that speaks for ODU’s Literary Festival are available to purchase at the ODU Bookstore. If you didn’t get a chance to visit the Literary Festival this year, you can catch it at the beginning of October every fall at ODU.