Bestselling author David Gilbert headlined the first event of the
semester for the 16th annual Literary Festival on Thursday, Jan. 30.
Around 40 people came to listen to Gilbert’s talk in the Falvey
Speaker’s Corner at 7 p.m. He had a “great time with the students,”
according to Alan Drew, director of the festival. The audience was
very interested in writing and reading.
“David Gilbert was very humorous and open about his work,” Drew said.
“He highlighted the things that he likes and doesn’t like about
writing. They were able to see that writers are regular people. This
sort of event opens up the idea that ‘you can do it’ if you are
passionate about literature.”
Gilbert has written stories that have appeared in The New Yorker,
Harper’s, GQ and Bomb. His novel “& Sons” is “a delectably mordant and
incisive tragicomedy of fathers, sons, and brothers, privilege and
betrayal, celebrity and obscurity” that “ingeniously maps the
interface between truth and fiction, life and art,” according to
Booklist. He lives in New York with his wife and three children.
The festival, which continues throughout the spring semester, will
also feature poets Frank Bidart and  Eamonn Wall and novelists, Jaimy
Gordon and Adelle Waldman.
Poet Frank Bidart, the next festival guest, will visit on Thursday,
Feb 13 at 7 p.m. in the Connelly Cinema. Bidart has published eight
volumes on his own.
He was a finalist for the National Book Award for his most recent
work, “Metaphysics.”
He is a recipient of many awards that include the Shelley Memorial
Award from the Academy of America Poets and the Frost Award from
Poetry Society of America. Bidart teaches at Wellesley College and
lives in Cambridge, Mass. He is a chancellor of the American Academy
of Poets.
Alan Drew, assistant professor of English and creative writing, taught
English literature for three years at a private high school in
Istanbul, after which he completed a master of fine arts degree at the
Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Drew himself has published several works, and
he now teaches fiction writing at Villanova..
Along with Lisa Sewell, Drew is the instructor for the Literary
Festival class. He  contacts potential writers for the festival each
year,  requesting  copies of their works and reading them before
inviting them to the University for the festival.
“I wanted the books discussed during the Festival to be ones worth
teaching and ones that give us things to talk about,” Drew said. “It
was important to choose works that explore who we are as people.” He
utilized the help of various graduate assistants in the
decision-making process.
There is no single theme to the Literary Festival because, according
to Drew, the Festival consists of fiction writers and poets writing
about a variety of subjects. Most of the authors are American and
frequently write about  American lifestyles, challenges and benefits.
“Every writer chosen is an excellent one and will provide unique
insight on his/hers own works, as well as on the process of writing as
a whole,” Drew said.  “One of the highlights will be March 13, when a
highly acclaimed poet, Eamonn Wall, be read and discuss his work.”
Wall has published six collections of poetry, while his individual
poems have been published in The Shop, Poetry Ireland Review, and
Nebraska Review, and others.
 He has lived in the United States since 1982 but is a native of
Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, Ireland. He is a professor at the University
of Missouri-St.Louis.
Drew added that Jaimy Gordon, a National Book Award winner, will speak
on April 10, while a new author, Adelle Waldman, will close the
Festival on April 24.
The Festival offers a unique experience because attendees enjoy a book
signing and reception where they can ask the writers direct questions
and get to know them on a more personal level.
Waldmanwill close the Literary Festival on Thursday, April 25 in the
Falvey Speaker’s Corner at 7 p.m. Her writing has appeared in The New
York Times Book Review, the New Republic, The Wall Street Journal,
Slate, The Village Voice, among others.
She worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and the Cleveland
Plain Dealer. Furthermore, Waldman has written a column on the website
of The Wall Street Journal before returning to fiction writing. “The
Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.” is her very first novel.
“Adelle Waldman may be this generation’s Jane Austen as she skewers
the mating mores of today’s aristocrats, the young literary elite of
Brooklyn, N.Y., in her funny and at times painfully acute debut
novel,” according to Clea Simon of The Boston Globe.     The Literary
Festival is open to anyone who is interested in either reading or
“The Festival is great for students interested in writing because the
authors discuss their writing process,” Drew said.
“However, the event is also a great opportunity for readers because
they can go ‘behind the reading’ and explore the book from the
writer’s perspective.”


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