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Festival enters its 41st year

Becca LaLonde | Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Students intrigued by good writing – or the TV show “The Simpsons” – may be in luck. A number of award-winning writers, including a poet, a novelist, a journalist and a writer for the famous animated comedy about the bright yellow denizens of Springfield will come to campus throughout the month for the Notre Dame Literary Festival (NDLF).

The festival, in its 41st year, brings award-winning authors and workshops to campus. Among this year’s festival authors are poet Patricia Smith, translator and novelist Lydia Davis, journalist and fiction writer Steve Almond and novelist Larry Doyle, who was a writer for “The Simpsons.”

Smith will present Tuesday and Davis Thursday.

The lineup will make for an enjoyable series of events, said Megan Baker, festival chair.

“If there’s one thing all of this year’s NDLF writers have in common, it’s their sense of humor,” Baker said. “They’re all incredibly funny.”

Almond, for example, writes extensively about his “man crush” on Kurt Vonnegut, while Doyle’s work for The Simpsons suggests his own capacity for jokes, she said.

“Each writer is very talented, but also very accessible,” Baker said.

Most of the authors invited to the festival will read portions of their work and answer questions.

“NDLF is an amazing opportunity for any ND student because of its focus on close

interaction between the writers and the audience” Baker said.

The festival has featured prominent writers. Past participants include Buzz Bissinger, author of “Friday Night Lights,” Norman Mailer, innovator of creative nonfiction, and prominent playwright Tennessee Williams.

In addition to hearing the authors read, students will also be able to read their own work and receive feedback from the authors and their peers.

All students are welcome to attend the festival’s sessions, Baker said.

“While Arts and Letters majors will certainly enjoy hearing authors speak about their craft, we designed the festival to be enjoyable for everyone,” she said.

Baker said she expects many students to attend because of changes made to the festival. Since 1967, the event has taken place in February. While students have a big interest in the festival, it was difficult to get them out in the cold winter weather to attend festival events, she said.

To attract bigger crowds, the Student Union Board (SUB) decided to change its scheduling so that one or two authors are invited each week for a month, she said. The workshops will now be held during the afternoons rather than evenings, as they were in recent years.

This event is being hosted by the SUB along with the Creative Writing Program.

Patricia Smith will answer questions at 4 p.m. Tuesday in Montgomery Auditorium in LaFortune. Lydia Davis will have a question and answer session Thursday at 5 p.m. in the McNeil Room followed by a reading at 8 p.m.

All events are free and open to the public. A schedule of events can be found at http://www3nd.edu/~sub/nd1f.php