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March 29, 2000

ULM to host Southern Literary Festival 2000, April 12 -14

"The South is absolutely different from anywhere else; there's something undeniably special and inspirational about it. It's the Ireland of the United States in a sense: the folks respect--even revere--writing and writers in the Southern states to an extent you don't find elsewhere in our great country," observed novelist Ralph Lombreglia in a recent interview.

Lombreglia, author of Men Under Water and Make Me Work, is one of three professional writers who will come to The University of Louisiana at Monroe as part of the Southern Literary Festival 2000.

For the first time in its history, the 63rd Annual Southern Literary Festival will be hosted by ULM on April 12, 13, and 14. This three-day celebration of creative writing in the South will bring together students and professors of creative writing from 21 participating universities as well as the three professional authors. Joining Ralph Lombreglia this year will be poet C. D. Wright and nonfiction essayist David Lenson.

During their careers each of these writers has earned critical praise as well as numerous awards for their original works. C. D. Wright is the author of nine collections of poetry. Her most recent volume is Deep Step Come Shining (1998). Poet W. S. Merwin said of her writing "The dramatic and emotional vitality of C. D. Wright's language...makes her poems, one after the other, surprising, outrageous, exciting, moving, funny. . . They give heart." Wright will read her poetry at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 13.

Ralph Lombreglia is now writing a novel for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whitting Writer's Award in 1998. He will read at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 14.

Essayist David Lensen, professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, will read his poetry at 4:30 on Thursday, April 13, and then speak at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 14. His book On Drugs was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 1999.

In addition to sponsoring readings by professional authors, the Festival seeks to recognize and reward the best student writers from the participating universities across the South. Undergraduate winners in the categories of poetry, fiction writing, formal essay, informal essay, and one-act play will receive cash prizes and be honored at the Awards Ceremony at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 13. These student winners also have been invited to read their manuscripts at the Festival.

Several professors from the ULM Department of English also will make presentations on various literary topics. Professors Fleming McClelland, Lea Olsan, Helen Lock, Clark Davis, Jeff Galle, and Janet Haedicke will speak and lead workshops during the Festival.

The Southern Literary Festival will be held in the Seventh Floor Conference Center of the ULM Library, and all events are free and open to the public.

This three-day spring festival promises to delight those who love literature and the arts with its stimulating readings, presentations, and discussions. Community members are invited to come and join some of the best professional writers, university and college writers, and professors of literature celebrate writing in the south.

The Festival is sponsored in part by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and a donation from Entergy also has helped to make the Festival possible.

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