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

45th Annual Literary Festival Focuses on ‘Sustaining Community’ Through Writing

By Jonah Grinkewitz

Update: Oct. 3 events are canceled due to weather and will be rescheduled for later in the semester.

Old Dominion University will host its 45th annual Literary Festival from Oct. 2 to 6, with in-person and virtual events that feature writers whose work explores how literature plays a role in "Sustaining Community."

Molly McCully Brown, assistant professor of English and creative nonfiction, and Kent Wascom, assistant professor of English and creative writing, are co-directors of this year's festival.

They said they wanted the programming to complement the University's wider theme of "Sustainability" for the fall 2022 semester.

"When we discuss sustainability, we often think in deeply important environmental and economic terms, but social sustainability - choices that help build and maintain inclusive, resilient, diverse societies - is another crucial facet of the practice, one we believe literature is uniquely positioned to help cultivate," the organizers said.

The festival's lineup features writers with deep ties to Southeastern Virginia and the broader American and Global South, they said.

It includes several current and former faculty members, with styles ranging from historical narrative to crime fiction, poetry, family saga and more.

Remica Bingham-Risher, Director of Quality Enhancement Plan Initiatives at ODU, and Alicia DeFonzo, senior lecturer at ODU, are both promoting new books.

"We invited writers whose work is deeply engaged - across genres, themes and styles - in thinking about the ways we live in relationship to one another; how we're shaped by the communities we come from, and how we shape those around us in turn."

For the first time since 2019, all events will be in-person, with the option to stream virtually.

Readings will take place at either the University Theatre or the Barry Art Museum, with an opening reception at The Green Onion Restaurant and a closing reception at Elation Brewing Co.

"We're so excited for folks to be able to engage in the kinds of conversations - before and after events, over meals and at receptions - that really build connections and cultivate curiosity and imagination," Brown and Wascom said. "We're thrilled that this year's readings will continue to be available via live stream in addition to in-person, and we hope this makes our Lit Fest community as wide-ranging and inclusive as possible, which is core to our values, and to sustainability."

Brown and Wascom gave special thanks to the following people and organizations for their contributions to the festival:

  • President Brian Hemphill, Ph.D., and the Office of the President
  • Cullen Strawn, Sarah Glaser and Arts@ODU
  • Michael Khandelwal and The Muse Writers Center
  • Charlotte Potter Kasic and the Barry Art Museum
  • Tosca Moore and the University Village Bookstore
  • The Edith White and Forrest P. White Endowment
  • Dean Laura Delbrugge and the Office of the Dean, College of Arts and Letters
  • Renée Olander and ODU Virginia Beach
  • Otha Nowlin and the Office of University Design and Publications
  • SuperCompStudios, logo design

A full schedule of events and instructions can be found here.


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