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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU to host 41st Annual Literary Festival

By Cullen Strawn

Old Dominion University will host its 41st annual Literary Festival, "Double Lives/Double Trouble," from Oct. 21-25. It will bring 16 internationally known writers and artists to Norfolk to present their work to students, faculty and the public. The festival's President's Lecture Series guest will be Imbolo Mbue, whose 2016 book "Behold The Dreamers" won the PEN/Faulkner Award and was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her book club.

For more on Mbue, go to this link.

Other writers headlining the festival will include Laurie Cannady, whose book, "Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul," was a 2015 a finalist for the Library of Virginia People's Choice Award for Nonfiction and was named one of the best nonfiction books by a black author by The Rootonline magazine; Nicole Sealey, whose 2017 collection, "Ordinary Beast," was a finalist for the PEN Open Book Award; John Murillo, whose 2010 collection "Up Jump The Boogie"was a finalist for the PEN Open Book Award and was also named one of Huffington Post's "Ten Recent Books of Poetry You Should Read Right Now;" and Franny Choi, whose debut collection "Floating, Brilliant, Gone,"released in 2014, received Poetry magazine's Frederick Bock Prize, as well as fellowships from Kundiman, VONA and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

Of the many readers at the festival, two serve as faculty members at ODU's creative writing MFA program. Quintan Ana Wikswo, the Mina Hohenberg Darden chair in creative writing, has had more than 35 projects published, performed and exhibited internationally. Her books include the 2015 acclaimed collection of photographs and stories "The Hope Of Floating Has Carried Us This Far"and the 2017 novel with photographs "A Long Curving Scar Where The Heart Should Be." Luisa Igloria served as the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University in 2018, and her chapbook "What is Left of Wings, I Ask"was the recipient of the 2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Poetry Chapbook award. Her third full‐length poetry book, "The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid‐Life Crisis," was released in 2018.

Additionally, the ODU MFA creative writing program's Fall 2018 Writer‐in‐Residence, Kaveh Akbar, will read from his widely praised, debut full‐length collection "Calling A Wolf A Wolf."Akbar was a recipient of a 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. "Calling A Wolf A Wolf"has won numerous prizes, including a 2017 NPR Best Book of the Year, 2017 Julie Suk Award, 2018 Levis Reading Prize and 2018 First Horizon Award.

Presented in conjunction with the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries' exhibition "Black Gods of the Metropolis: The Drawings of J. Alan Cumbey," the festival's final event will be a panel discussion at 6 p.m. Oct. 25. Three LGBTQ writers of color — Franny Choi, Sharon P. Holland ("The Erotic Life of Racism"), and L. Lamar Wilson ("Sacrilegion") — will discuss intersections of race, sexuality and gender among marginalized communities in the South.

Festival events are free and open to the public. Free parking is available in Garage D, 1070 W. 45th St., excluding spaces marked "Reserved." A full and updated schedule of events is available online at odu.edu/litfest.

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