Given the complexities of being human—the inward skirmishes with self and the more visible conflicts with the world we inhabit—it is easy to think of one’s own odd sensibility as rooted in some kind of perverse misunderstanding. This can result in a life defined by an apologetic silence. We turn to literature for three things: clarification, affirmation, and courage. The authors who dare to challenge the given script, who ask vital questions and make bold assertions, give us a new chance to live, an opportunity to revise ourselves.
Their words are not simply entertaining; their words have teeth. Through precise utterance and expansive imagination, their words give us the means to cut through the filmy stupor that pervades our daily lives. It is a literature that nudges, maybe knocks us from complacency. It seems that this power marks the best of literary endeavor.
The writers and artists of Old Dominion University’s 35th Annual Literary Festival, through fiction, poetry, memoir, visual media, music, and essay will offer an opportunity for a more electric wakefulness. Poet Sean Thomas Dougherty has said, “How can we wake up if the words don’t bite us—hard—sometimes?”
We hope this year’s line-up of world-renowned authors and artists will offer a refreshing sense of what words and other forms of expression can do.
John McManus and Tim Seibles
2012 Festival Directors