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Ohio University Spring Literary Festival kicks off May 10

ATHENS, Ohio (May 2, 2006) -- The 21st annual Spring Literary Festival will bring five of today's most distinguished and respected poets, novelists and essayists to Ohio University's Walter Hall Rotunda, beginning Wednesday, May 10, for a three-day event. 

The festival will "provide a nice pool of different authors, especially for creative writing students, but also the campus at large, students, faculty and community members ... to create a communal writing and reading experience," said David Bullock, special programs co-coordinator of the event.  Coordinators for the festival say the event will be interesting not only to creative writing and English students, but other students and the community as well.

"It doesn't feel like school; it's fun," said Megan Lobsinger, who is coordinating the event with Bullock.  "It's not like what you'd expect to hear in a classroom."

Each of the five authors will conduct an hour-long lecture regarding various topics and an hour-long reading of their work.  Authors for this year's festival are Rick Bass, Clair Bateman, Susan Stewart, Billy Collins and Francine Prose. 

Known as a "nature writer," Bass is an essayist whose work focuses mostly on the relationship between human nature and the natural world.  His essays mostly take place in the West and Southwest and have been influenced by his several years of work as a petroleum geologist. 

Bateman is a poet whose work explains the spirit as a busy, noisy and disturbing excitement that is constantly interacting with the physical world.  Bateman has published five books of poetry and currently teaches at The Fine Arts Center in Greenville, S.C., a public high school for the arts.

Stewart is known as a poet who writes philosophically and a philosopher who writes poetically.  Her work is based on the idea that all knowledge arises from nature.   

Collins's poems deal with both the comedy and the longing of our imaginations in daily life.  Collins currently works as a distinguished professor of English at the City University of New York.

Prose is a novelist who forces her readers to laugh at the flaws and blemishes of the adult world.  She has written a variety of work ranging from art criticism to young adult and children's literature as well as more traditional adult literature. 

Both Prose and Collins will be involved in outreach programs during their short time in Athens.  Collins will do a reading of his poems for the inmates at the Nelsonville Correctional Facility Thursday morning as part of a poetry seminar program at the facility; Prose will do a reading and mini-workshop for a seventh grade class at Athens Middle School. 

"We're trying to get the Spring Literary Festival moving toward more of a whole community involvement.  It's not just a group of authors coming on to campus to read to students and faculty," Bullock said.

The schedule for the event is as follows:

Wednesday, May 10

  • 7:30 p.m.- reading by Rick Bass
  • 8:30 p.m.- reading by Claire Bateman

Thursday, May 11

  • 11:00 a.m.- lecture by Francine Prose
  • Noon - lecture by Claire Bateman
  • 7:30 p.m.- lecture by Billy Collins
  • 8:30 p.m.- reading by Susan Stewart

Friday, May 12

  • 11:00 a.m.- lecture by Rick Bass
  • Noon - lecture by Susan Stewart
  • 7:30 p.m.- reading by Francine Prose
  • 8:30 p.m.- reading by Billy Collins

*Evening readings will be followed by a reception. 

The festival is free and open to the public, and there is no need to sign-up for lectures or readings in advance. 

The event is sponsored by the Program in Creative Writing of the Department of English and is funded by the College of Arts and Sciences.

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Media Contact:  George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794 or mauzy@ohio.edu

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