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From “An ‘Ideal Moment’ with Dustin Lance Black”

Oct 01 2012 Published by Barely South Review under ODU Literary Festival,Program News

We here at Barely South Review are excited about the week-long Literary Festival at Old Dominion University. One of the great benefits of this program is the opportunity to interview attending writers and artists for our annual craft issue. This year we are excited to offer a preview of Amana Katora’s interview with Dustin Lance Black on the blog here. The theme this year is “Words with Teeth,” and I think we can all agree that Dustin Lance Black’s writing has teeth:

If you’re a fan of Dustin Lance Black’s writing for film and television, thank Dostoyevsky. The Academy Award winning writer spent time studying Russian literature before earning his degree from the Theater, Film, and Television program at UCLA. Seeking an affordable creative outlet after college, he began writing. In an interview on the craft, I learned he appreciates truth, jazz, and a good joke. Here’s an excerpt:

Q: How does your ideal vision of what you sit down to write change from initial inspiration to fully realized film or television? Has the final product ever surprised or disappointed you?

Lance: “I can’t say I’ve ever had any project turn out the way I had originally envisioned it and I think—I  know—that’s a good thing. I always say I want to hold on to the ‘why’: why do you want to tell that story, why do you want to tell it right now. That’s what you can’t lose. But how you’re going to do it, who your characters are, what your plot is, you need to be willing to change those things and be excited about changing them. At a certain point when a draft is finished, you have to be willing to kill your precious little babies and continue to refine what you’ve done and get back to the original question ‘why.’ It always turns out your shooting draft is very different than that first aha moment of ‘let’s do this.’ That’s because of discovery, with your research or through executing an outline. You make discoveries and I think it’s best to leave yourself open to those discoveries.”

Dustin Lance Black is the writer of Virginia, Milk, J.Edgar, Pedro, and wrote for the HBO series Big Love. He will speak at 7:30 PM October 2nd, at Old Dominion University as part of The President’s Lecture Series and the 35th annual Literary Festival. Check out the January 2013 issue of Barely South Review to read his full interview.



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Best-Selling Author Steve Almond to Speak at ODU October 27th

Oct 18 2011 Published by Barely South Review under Events

ODU’s Creative Writing MFA program and the Friends of the MFA Program invite you to an afternoon with author Steve Almond! Almond’s new short-story collection God Bless America arrives in bookstores on October 25th, and on October 27th he’ll be reading selections, as well as answering some questions and signing books (as time permits). Almond is always an entertaining presence, and has been a real friend to the creative writing program over the last several years. The reading will take place in ODU’s Batten Arts and Letters building, room 1012, from 4:20 – 5:20 p.m. We expect this to be a popular event, so arrive early to make sure you get a seat!

Free parking is available in Garage C, located at 43rd and Hampton Blvd, from 3:00 to 6:00 PM on 10/27/11. Cars parked in other reserved spaces, or in Garage C at other times, are subject to towing.

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ODU – Poetry Society of Virginia – Academy of American Poets 2010-2011 COLLEGE POETRY PRIZE Winners

Mar 28 2011 Published by Barely South Review under Events,Program News

The MFA Creative Writing Program thanks all the fine poets who participated in this year’s College Poetry Prize, Co-sponsored by the MFA Creative Writing Program, the Poetry Society of Virginia, and the Academy of American Poets. The College Poetry Prize is one of the longest running poetry prizes offered to college students in the nation; many of our best poets received a College Poetry Prize as their first literary recognition in their careers. We hope you will send us your best work again next year!

Sarah Goughnor (Undergraduate Winner) and Wendi White (Graduate Winner)

Honorable Mentions:
Sarah Goughnor and Elizabeth Dwyer (Undergraduate); Wendi White, Jeffrey Turner, and Heather Weddington (Graduate).

Adrian Matejka


The 2010-2011 contest was judged by Adrian Matejka. Matejka’s first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden, won the 2002 Kinereth Gensler Award from Alice James Books. His second collection, Mixology, was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and was published by Penguin Books in 2009. Mixology was subsequently nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He is the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and fellowships from Cave Canem and the Lannan Foundation. His work has been featured in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry 2010, and Ploughshares among other journals and anthologies. He teaches at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he is the William and Margaret Going Endowed Professor for 2010-11.

Below are Matejka’s selections with comments:



“Thin Ice” by Sarah Goughnor is a lovely mediation on personal history and the way it relates to memory. What is so wonderful and surprising about the poem was the clarity of image. Moments like “My feet would glide over the glossy ripples / in the frozen water” and “I kept walking on thin ice just by believing I could” are engaging in their imaginary and stunning in their fragility, like the very ice itself.

Honorable Mentions:

“Mango” by Sarah Goughnor — The attention to detail and the tactile moments in this poem are striking. The imagery is reminiscent of one of my favorite William Matthews poems, “Onions.”

“Décor” by Elizabeth Dwyer — Really powerful allusions and surprising resolution in this poem. The tone reminds me of some of Charles Simic’s earlier writing.

“September, closet raider” by Elizabeth Dwyer — I love the play with tropes and emotional clarity in this poem. The tone is insistent while still maintaining its imaginative narrative.



“Galilei’s Glass” by Wendi White is a graceful and balanced poem that ruminates on our “proper position” in this sometimes unimaginable universe. The poem is full the kinds of linguistic revelations that bring the reader close like “the sidelines of the firmament” and “Jupiter festooned with moons.” Through these imaginative images, the poem reminds us to praise the smaller moments because it is through them that we understand the bigger world.

Honorable Mentions:

“Benediction” by Wendi White — This is a lovely poem of appreciation and reverence. The individual images are powerful and the linear rhythm is nearly a song in itself.

“Punctual” by Jeffrey Turner — I really appreciate the associative connections in this poem and the playfully expansive diction. It reminds me of some of Mary Jo Bang’s work in that way.

“Chosen Ancestry” by Heather Weddington — The way this poem weaves the historical and personal into one narrative is really wonderful. It draws its intellectual strength from the exterior and the emotional power from the poet’s insides.


Elizabeth Dwyer


Elizabeth Dwyer (two Undergraduate Honorable Mentions) is a senior at Old Dominion University and studies English with an emphasis in creative writing. She plans to attend graduate school and hopes to become a college Professor. She agrees with what T.S. Eliot has said about how genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.


Sarah Goughnor


Sarah Goughnor (Undergraduate Poetry Prize Winner plus Honorable Mention) is a native of Herndon, Virginia and a sophomore at Old Dominion University. She is majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, and hopes to minor in vocal performance. The College Poetry Prize is the first writing award Sarah has received since the sixth grade, and is a deeply appreciated boost to her self-confidence.


Jeffrey Turner (Graduate Honorable Mention) grew up in Plymouth, MA. He completed a baccalaureate degree in philosophy at Dickinson College. He is a first year MFA Creative Writing student at Old Dominion.

Heather Weddington (Graduate Honorable Mention) is a third year student in the MFA Creative Writing Program, and the recipient of the Sutelan Scholarship. In summer 2010 she received a work-study scholarship to the Juniper Writers Instutite at the University of Massachussetts in Amherst.

Wendi White


Wendi White (Graduate Poetry Prize Winner) comes to Norfolk, Virginia after an odd assortment of sojourns in Austin, Boston, Mexico, Guatemala, The Philippines, and originally, The Adirondack Mountains of New York. She was drawn to Tidewater by a siren song promising crab cakes and fried oysters on a regular basis. At home she keeps one husband, two sons, a dog named Charlie, and too many books to count.


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Mar 11 2011 Published by Barely South Review under Events,Program News

Kristin Naca, our writer-in-residence this semester, will be on campus next week. Check out the news posting for more.

Old Dominion University visiting poet-in-residence Kristin Naca, the author of “Bird Eating Bird,” will give a poetry reading and book signing at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 17, in the University Village Bookstore.

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Senior Scholar Lecture: Sheri Reynolds

Mar 07 2011 Published by Barely South Review under Events,Program News

Sheri Reynolds, one of our professors in the MFA Creative Writing Program, will be giving the College of Arts and Letters Spring 2011 Senior Scholar Lecture this year on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. She’ll be giving the lecture, titled, “A Story Untold: One Writer’s Exploration of Anxiety and Imagination” in the Burgess Room (9024) of the Batten Arts & Letters building (BAL).

The reception will begin at 3:30 and the lecture will start at 4.

We’ll see you there, right?

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This time tomorrow,

Feb 01 2011 Published by Barely South Review under Events,Program News

the pilgrimage of the ODU MFA faculty and students to DC for AWP 2011 will be well-underway. You can find us at table F31 in Hall A (check this nifty map if you want to hunt us down more efficiently). You can also catch our MFA faculty at the “Barely South: Writers from the MFA Program at Old Dominion University” panel, which will be held on Thursday, February 3rd from 1:30-2:45PM in the Hampton Ball Room located in the Omni Shoreham’s east lobby (details @ Facebook).

Speaking of the MFA faculty–we’ve got a real treat for you; drop by our table on Friday for book signings. You can catch John McManus, Luisa Igloria & Blake Bailey at 11AM, and Sheri Reynolds, Mike Pearson & Tim Seibles at 2PM.

If all else fails, just look for the cool kids.

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Ernest Rhodes to Read From “A Coal Miner’s Family at Mooseheart,” Sept. 21 at the University Bookstore

Sep 17 2010 Published by Barely South Review under Events

At age 95, Old Dominion University Professor Emeritus of English Ernest Rhodes has published a memoir of growing up in an orphans’ home-school in Illinois, and will give a reading from the book at noon Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the University Village Bookstore.

In “A Coal Miner’s Family at Mooseheart,” Rhodes recalls the period 1919-39, and particularly the years starting in 1926 when, as an 11-year-old, he and his three siblings moved with their recently widowed mother from a small coal-mining town in West Virginia to the City of Children at Mooseheart, Ill., a unique home-school near Chicago run by the Moose fraternity, which still operates today.

Read more at:

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Writer-in-Residence: Bonnie Jo Campbell

Aug 04 2010 Published by Barely South Review under Events,Program News

Bonnie Jo Campbell

Credit: John Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell, the ODU MFA Creative Writing Program’s Fall 2010 writer-in-residence, will spend two weeks at Old Dominion early in the semester. Campbell’s short-story collection, American Salvage, was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in fiction, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in fiction. While on campus, Campbell will work with students in the creative-writing program, give a talk on craft, and give a reading.

Bonnie Jo Campbell’s general schedule is as follows:

September 27 –October 4:
- Writer in Residence will meet in individual tutorials with ODU MFA Creative Writing students
- Craft Talk (open to the ODU community and general public)–Anecdotes: The Littlest Stories–(12:00 nn – 1:00 pm Wednesday, 29 September, Charles Burgess Room(BAL 9024), 9th floor BAL, ODU main campus)
- Reading at the 33rd Annual ODU Literary Festival: Monday 4 October, 2:00 pm at the ODU Village Bookstore (45th St. corner Monarch Way)

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2010 Literary Festival lineup announced

Jul 27 2010 Published by Barely South Review under Events,Program News

From October 4th to October 8th, the ODU MFA program will host the 33rd Annual Literary Festival.

This year’s festival, titled “Hard Times in America” will include writers Blake Bailey, Buzz Bissinger, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Ted Conover, Brenda A. Flanagan, Rodger Kamenetz, Randall Kenan, Dennis Lehane, Wilbert Rideau, Seni Seneviatre, Rebecca Skloot, Anne Waldman, and MFA Creative Writing alumni Natalie Diaz and Sarah McCoy, plus Writers-In-Community representatives.

You’ll let us know if you’re coming, won’t you?

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