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

Old Dominion University Hosts 43rd Annual Literary Festival, “Grit and Grace”

Old Dominion University will host its 43rd annual Literary Festival, "Grit and Grace," as a series of virtual programs (free and open to the public) from Oct. 4 to 8. The festival will feature 20 writers, including musician Kishi Bashi, and readings will be followed by conversation and questions from the audience.

Festival headliners include poet, essayist and cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib, author of The New York Times best-selling biography on A Tribe Called Quest called "Go Ahead in the Rain."His forthcoming book, "They Don't Dance No Mo'," is a history of Black performance in the United States. Also featured is poet, essayist and immigration advocate Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, whose work includes the collection "Cenzontle," which won the 2017 A. Poulin Jr. prize, and a recent memoir, "Children of the Land."

Also appearing will be Maggie Smith, whose poem "Good Bones" was dubbed the Official Poem of 2016 by Public Radio International and translated into nearly a dozen languages. Her most recent work is "Keep Moving." Jake Skeets, who is from the Navajo Nation and a winner of the 2020 Whiting Award, will do a reading. His first collection, "Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers," won the 2018 National Poetry Series. The ODU MFA program's Fall 2020 Edie and Forrest P. White Writer-in-Residence, Marie Mutsuki Mockett, will also read at the festival. Her new book, "American Harvest: God, Country and Farming in the Heartland," follows her journey through seven agricultural states in the company of evangelical Christian harvesters.

A festival highlight is "Omoiyari: A Musical Conversation with Kishi Bashi." Kishi Bashi is the pseudonym of singer, virtuoso violinist, multi-instrumentalist songwriter-composer and now filmmaker Kaoru Ishibashi. He graduated from Maury High School in Norfolk, studied film scoring at Berklee College of Music and has recorded and toured internationally with artists such as Regina Spektor and Sondre Lerche. Kishi Bashi will perform selections from his latest album, "Omoiyari" (a Japanese word conveying the idea of creating compassion toward other people by thinking about them), and will show segments from the feature-length documentary of the same name that he co-directed. The film focuses on minority identity and the incarceration of Japanese Americans in World War II.

Other events will feature novelist and journalist Suzanne Strempek Shea, fiction writer Daniel Mueller and memoirist Grace Talusan who received the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.Newly appointed Virginia Poet Laureate Luisa A. Igloria, who teaches at ODU and serves as co-director of the festival, will read in a special program with fiction and nonfiction writer Rebecca Bengal, who was the Mina Hohenberg Darden Chair in Creative Writing in the ODU MFA program this past spring. Students who graduated from ODU's MFA creative writing program will also be featured at several events. Guggenheim Fellow and National Endowment for the Arts award-winning poet and essayist Aimee Nezhukumatathil will round out the festival's roster of diverse writers.

A full schedule of events is available online at odu.edu/litfest, where instructions for joining the events will be posted.

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