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 Four poets – four voices

All free, public invited
[Photo Essay, Videos]

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (Jan. 22, 2010) – Four dynamic American poets who have helped shape the literary landscape of the nation will highlight Tidewater Community College’s ninth annual Literary Festival – April 5-8.

The free, public festival launches with Kay Ryan, U.S. Poet Laureate, as the keynote speaker at 7 p.m. on opening night, April 5, in the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center in downtown Norfolk.

Photo by Christina Koci Hernandez

Kay Ryan

With a theme of “Four poets – four voices,” this year’s festival showcases landmark writers, diverse and profound in their acclaimed styles and presentations. (Please see 

Guest poets (by order of appearance): Kay Ryan has written six books of poetry including Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends, Say Uncle and The Niagara River. Her writing, often compared to that of Emily Dickinson because it illuminates the ordinary, has been selected four times for The Best American Poetry and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Yale Review and The American Scholar. She was named to the “It List” by Entertainment Weekly, and one of her poems has been permanently installed at New York’s Central Park Zoo. Her poems have been widely reprinted and internationally anthologized. Since 2006, she has been a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Taylor Mali, one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement, studied drama in Oxford with members of The Royal Shakespeare Company and puts those presentation skills to work in his performances. One of the original poets to appear on the HBO series, Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry, Mali was the “Armani-clad villain” of Paul Devlin’s 1997 documentary film SlamNation. He has written two books of poetry, The Last Time As We Are and What Learning Leaves. He makes his living entirely as a spoken-word and voiceover artist. He has narrated several books on tape including The Great Fire, for which he won the Golden Earphone Award for children’s narration.


Widely published Charles Wright received a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1998 for Black Zodiac and a National Book Award in 1983 for Country Music: Selected Early Poems. In 1993, he received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for his lifetime achievement. Wright began writing poetry in Italy when he was stationed there with the U.S. Army. He returned to the states to pursue his writing, attending a writers’ workshop at University of Iowa, and later earning a master’s degree. He spent a year at the University of Rome as a Fulbright Scholar and also taught at the University of California at Irvine. He is currently a chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and the Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia.


Nikki Giovanni, one of the most widely-read American poets insists on presenting the truth as she sees it, maintaining a prominent place as a strong voice of the African-American community. Her autobiography, Gemini, was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Love Poems, Blues: For All the Changes and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea were honored with NAACP Image Awards. Blues: For All the Changes reached No. 4 on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list, a rare achievement for a book of poems. Giovanni has come to be called both a “National Treasure” and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends.” The author of some 30 books for both adults and children, Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.


TCC faculty, including published authors, as well as students, will read from their works throughout the festival on TCC’s four campuses (Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach). The Literary Festival also unveils the best-of-student writing in ChannelMarker, an annual publication.

With an emphasis on offering community access to diverse writing and presentations, TCC’s Literary Festival is free and open to the public; seating is first come, first served. For more information, contact TCC’s Information Center, 822-1122. For campus maps and driving directions, visit the web: and type in Campus Maps.


Monday, April 5 – Opening night:

7 p.m.
Keynote address by Kay Ryan - reception and book signing follow

TCC Jeanne and George Roper Performing Arts Center, 340 Granby St., Norfolk Campus

Tuesday, April 6

12:30 p.m.

Campus readings by students and faculty

Martin Building, room 2505, Norfolk Campus

12:30 p.m.

Campus readings by students and faculty

Building A, The Forum, The New Portsmouth Campus

12:30 p.m.

Campus readings by students and faculty

Pungo Building, room F-133, Virginia Beach Campus


7 p.m.

Performance poetry by Taylor Mali

TCC Roper Performing Arts Center, 340 Granby St., Norfolk Campus

Wednesday, April 7

2 p.m.

Campus readings by students and faculty

Pass Building, Studio Theatre, Room 157, Chesapeake Campus

7 p.m.

Readings by Charles Wright

Pass Building, Studio Theatre, Chesapeake Campus

Thursday, April 8

12:30 p.m.

An evening with Nikki Giovanni

Advanced Technology Center, Virginia Beach Campus

7 p.m.

An evening with Nikki Giovanni

Building A, The Forum, New Portsmouth Campus

Media Coverage:


Laurie White

Tidewater Community College - the largest provider of higher education and Workforce Solutions services in Hampton Roads - will serve a projected 47,000 students in 2009-10. The 15th highest associate-degree producer in the nation, TCC offers more than 150 programs including business administration, culinary arts, general studies, modeling & simulation, network security, nursing, and automotive technology. Among the fastest-growing two-year institutions in the United States, TCC was founded in 1968 as a part of the Virginia Community College System. The college serves the South Hampton Roads region with campuses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach as well as the TCC Jeanne and George Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk’s theater district, the Visual Arts Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth, the Regional Automotive Center in Chesapeake, and the Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach. Forty-six percent of the region’s residents attending a college or university in Virginia last fall were enrolled at TCC. For more information, visit