2002 Blackburn Literary Festival (April 8-19, 2002)

This year was a landmark year for the Festival, which ran from April 8-19. The Festival officially began with a series of readings by Duke and Triangle authors – Elizabeth Cox, Joe Donahue, and Michael Malone. Not just Duke faculty read their work, however – there were opportunities for Duke students and anyone else interested to display their creative talent (as Professor Blackburn would have so loved) in the open-mic night – publicly co-sponsored with the new undergraduate literary society, the Duke Poets Society – hosted at the East Campus Coffeehouse.

The highlight of the Festival was two visits by internationally recognized authors – one by W.S. Merwin, the distinguished poet, translator, and essayist, author of such works as The Carrier of Ladders (which received the Pulitzer Prize in 1970), a translation of Dante’s Purgatorio, and a new poetry collection, The Pupil. Not only did Mr. Merwin give a reading of his new and upcoming work, but dinners and smaller, round-table discussions with Mr. Merwin and other Duke faculty also created an stimulating environment for teaching, learning, and growing in students’ literary lives. Mr. Merwin’s presence on campus proved to be dynamic and engaging, and, as his works are major figures in contemporary American poetry and culture, a hallmark for the Festival.

The end of the Festival coincided with the Duke Theater Studies Department’s stage adaptation of Mao II by Don DeLillo, the Blackburn Festival co-sponsoring the opening night’s run and a reception afterwards. Mr. DeLillo himself formally closed out the Festival by reading from his work and hosting an informal discussion afterwards.

Mao II
April 17-21, 2002
Schaefer Theater
Duke Players perform the first dramatic production of Mao II. Adapted and directed by Jody McAuliffe, associate professor of theater studies.
“The terrifying world of Mao II,” The Chronicle, 4/11/02

Don DeLillo Reading
April 18, 2002
Perkins Library Rare Books Room


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