2001 Blackburn Literary Festival (Feb. 22 – Mar. 8, 2001)

Ron Hansen
Thursday, February 22, 7pm
Thomas Room

Joe Ashby Porter
Thursday, March 1, 7pm
Rare Book Room

Reynolds Price
Monday, March 5, 5.30pm
Rare Book Room

A Tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks, with The Blue Roach
Thursday, March 8, 8pm
East Campus Coffehouse
The event will include performances by The Blue Roach Arts Collective and will be followed by a live band and open mic.

About the Festival’s Featured Authors

Ron Hansen is the author of Desperadoes (Knopf), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Knopf), Nebraska (Atlantic Monthly Press), Mariette in Ecstasy (HarperCollins), Atticus (HarperCollins), Hitler’s Niece, and a children’s book, The Shadowmaker (Trophy Press). A native of Omaha, he received the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters for Nebraska, a collection of short fiction. According to Contemporary Novelists, Hansen’s books “occupy … a curious half-way house between popular and high culture; between the worlds of art and entertainment.” A book by Hansen provides a good read as well as a searching study of morality. In an article in Publishers Weekly, Hansen said, “For me, the process of writing is the joy of writing. It’s the putting down individual sentences, making them fit together, making the story interesting. Once you’ve completed a book, you realize how ramshackle a thing writing a novel is. You’ve somehow made it seem like it was always coherent. That’s the satisfying aspect of writing, the really affirming thing about it.” His newest book, Hitler’s Niece, has been chosen as a Literary Guild alternate. He is Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ Professor of the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University. His novel Atticus was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1996.

Joe Ashby Porter is the author of the novels Eelgrass (New Directions) and Resident Aliens (New Amsterdam), which he will read at this year’s Festival. He has also published several collections of short fiction, including The Kentucky Stories, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, and Lithuania: Short Stories (both Johns Hopkins). His short stories have appeared in Antaeus, Fiction, Fiction International, Harper’s, Ploughshares, Raritan, Triquarterly, and The Yale Review. His fiction has been reprinted in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, The Store of Joys: Writers Celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the N. C. Museum of Art, God: Stories, Contemporary American Fiction, and other anthologies. His awards include two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. He has taught fiction writing at Virginia, at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and at Duke, where he is Professor of English. He has served as Writer-in-Residence at Brown and at the University Francois Rabelais in Tours. As Shakespearean Joseph A. Porter, he is author or editor of many scholarly books and articles.

Praise for Joe Ashby Porter

“Porter’s characters are vivid and believable, and their personal stories give us…a fascinating glimpse into the workings of the human heart.”–Booklist

“A prose of elegant and deceptive simplicity and a sly but unsleeping comic vision…Joe Ashby Porter is a literally first-class writer.”–Reynolds Price

“It is at the same time a sophisticated piece of fiction and a refreshingly capricious exercise that is totally original. Nowhere in the pages can much be taken for granted. One is not so much constantly taken aback as consistently delighted by the language droll one minute, lyrical the next, but always highly civilized…Porter’s prose is rich, yet strangely sparse, not actually a contradiction.”–Durham Herald-Sun

“An engaging and curious read…Porter delivers so much in so few pages. Resident Aliens is a rare and singular novel beautifully composed, cinematically arranged and delightful in nature.”–Raleigh News and Observer

“Everything except the language is French about this delightful novel of the American seventies: the characters (in varying degrees), the sexual sophistication, the imperturbable wit hovering above the agitate menage a quatre, the civilized, crystalline prose with which Joe Ashby Porter draws his point that love–when we are lucky–drives us.”–Jaimy Gordon, author of Bogeywoman and She Drove Without Stopping

“Reading it is like watching a kite rise into sunlight on a new summer morning.”–Harry Mathews, author of Tlooth and Cigarettes

“Joe Ashby Porter has written a Vietnam-era La Ronde, but with no villainy–it is as much a prayer for grace as a story about it–that is consistently lyrical, intelligent, and driven by hope.”–Frederick Busch, author of The Night Inspector and A Dangerous Profession: a Book About the Writing Life

Reynolds Price was born in Macon, North Carolina in 1933. Educated in the public schools of his native state, he earned an A.B. summa cum laude from Duke University, graduating first in his class. In 1955 he traveled as a Rhodes Scholar to Merton College, Oxford University to study English literature. After three years and the B.Litt. degree, he returned to Duke where he continues in his fourth decade of teaching. He is James B. Duke Professor of English. In 1962 his novel A Long and Happy Life received the William Faulkner Award for a notable first novel and has never been out of print. Since, he has published nearly thirty books. Among them, his novel Kate Vaiden received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1986. His Collected Stories appeared in l993, his Collected Poems in 1997; he has also published volumes of plays, essays and two volumes of memoir Clear Pictures and A Whole New Life. The latter is his account of a long survival of spinal cancer. A Palpable God in 1978 contained translations from the Old and New Testaments with an essay on the origins and aims of narrative; Three Gospels in 1996 contained his translations of Mark and John with introductory essays. His novel The Promise of Rest appeared in 1995 and completed–with The Surface of Earth and The Source of Light–a trilogy of novels entitled A Great Circle and concerned with nine decades in a family’s life. His eleventh novel, Roxanna Slade, was published in the spring of 1998; and in 2000 he published his first novel for children A Perfect Friend and a collection of the first fifty-two of the essays he broadcasts regularly on National Public Radio’s news program “All Things Considered.” He is now at work on his twelfth novel. His television play Private Contentment was commissioned by “American Playhouse” and appeared in its premiere season on PBS. His trilogy New Music premiered, with a grant from the Fund for New American Plays, at the Cleveland Play House in 1989; and its three plays have been produced throughout the country. In 1993 he served as host for PBS’s documentary on the ninth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition; and in 1994 Charles Guggenheim, three-time Oscar winner for the documentary, completed a film entitled Reynolds Price: Clear Pictures. It was shown nationally on PBS. Price’s sixth play Full Moon was performed by the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco in 1994. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and his books have appeared in sixteen languages.

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