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Talented authors highlight festivals

Grace Myers | Friday, February 10, 2006

The highly anticipated Notre Dame Literary Festival will occur this upcoming week, starting Feb. 13, bringing together diverse and highly acclaimed writers, novelists, journalists, poets and our most promising student writers.

Laura Fox, the Student Union Board (SUB) Chair for the Literary Festival, worked diligently to gather respected writers that will appeal to everyone on campus. She worked to continue and improve the Festival’s tradition of promoting scholarly and creative study of contemporary literature.

Fox said her main goal is to make this week “about a celebration and love of literature.” This Festival is created for and run by students, offering a unique opportunity for the entire student body to better acquaint itself with the literature of this generation.

The 2006 Literary Festival includes readings, discussions and workshops given by authors of very different backgrounds and genres, and is open to all students and faculty members. Fox organized the workshops to be “intimate discussions with the author,” where one can speak with the author about how he or she developed their style and their work.

The opening author will be James Salter, a novelist, short story and prose writer. The Bloomsbury Review called him, “one of the best writers in this country,” and Publishers Weekly praises his work as “some of the most esteemed fiction of the past three decades.” Salter’s lecture and workshop are co-sponsored by the English Department and the Creative Writing Program. His writing focuses on human desire in its different forms, with an admirable style noted for its brevity and impressionistic tones.

Salter will be followed by Tasha Alexander, a South Bend native and Notre Dame graduate. She wrote her fist work of historical fiction, “And Only To Deceive,” and is now working on a second novel.

The Literary Festival’s Student Night will take place on Feb. 14. One of the highlights of the Festival will be host Kevin Guilfoile, a Notre Dame graduate published in short humor collections and author of the thriller novel “Cast of Shadows” – one of the Chicago Tribune’s “Best Books of 2005.” The Student Night will also feature Saul Williams, the renowned slam poet and former Grand Slam Champion. He appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and is the author of four unique poetry collections. The Student Night will include 15 student performances. These highly dedicated student writers range from freshmen to graduate students and will perform poetry, slam poetry, prose and short stories.

Rane Arroyo will be giving a lecture on Feb. 15 on his poetry, experimental short stories and playwriting. His lecture and workshop are co-sponsored by the Institute for Latino Studies. He is the author of five well-respected poetry books, his newest work, “The Portable Famine,” focuses on his personal struggles of being a homosexual Puerto Rican and a Midwestern writer. It won the 2004 John Ciardi Poetry Prize. He has also won the 1997 Pushcart for “Breathing Lessons” and the 2004 Gwendolyn Books Prize.

Buzz Bissinger is the final author of the Literary Festival. He is most recognized for being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work at the Philadelphia Inquirer on the Philadelphia Court System, his writing for Sports Illustrated and as being the author of the acclaimed “Friday Night Lights.” Undoubtedly one of the most distinguished and multi-talented writers of our time, he has received numerous prestigious awards for his work as a reporter, magazine writer, sports writer, non-fiction and television writer.

A great deal of effort has been put into this year’s Literary Festival, not only by the Student Union Board, but also the English Department, the Creative Writing Program and the Institute for Latino Studies. Interest in improving literary opportunities seems to be growing around campus with the creation of organizations such as Mustard, an undergraduate creative-writing club, and Notre Dame’s new slam poetry team.

This year’s annual Literary Festival is sure to be a great experience for all. For the complete listing of all activities, times, locations and available workshop sign-ups, visit www.nd.edu/~sub/ndlf.html.