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W&L English Professor and Alumnus Highlight the Virginia Festival of the Book

It’s March, and that means it’s time for the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville — and for two members of the Washington and Lee University literary community to shine.

First up is Lesley Wheeler, the Henry S. Fox Professor of English, on Thursday, March 17, at 2 p.m. at the New Dominion Bookshop (404 E. Main St., Charlottesville) for “Together and Apart: A Poetry Reading.”

Lesley’s latest book of poetry is “Radioland” (Barrow Street). “These poems concern many of the ways people send and receive their most urgent messages, including radio but also letters, cellphones, websites, newspapers, literary works, and even dreams and hauntings,” Lesley writes on her website. “Some of the trickiest communications in this book occur between my father and me. He was born in Brooklyn in 1925, so the dated sound of the word ‘radioland’ also conjures the generation gap between us, as well as the difficulties I have decoding my own teenagers.”

Matthew Neill Null, a 2006 graduate of Washington and Lee (and one of Lesley Wheeler’s former students), takes his stand on Saturday, March 19, at noon, also at the New Dominion Bookshop (404 E. Main St.), for “Haunted Souls and Public Hangings: Fiction.” His first novel is “Honey from the Lion” (Lookout Books).

In the Winter 2015 issue of the W&L alumni magazine, Matt talked about that book and about his upcoming volume of short stories, “Allegheny Front,” coming in May from Sarabande Books: “They balance one another. The book of stories ranges over more of an expanse of time. There are stories that take place 300 years ago. There are ones that take place in what signifies today. But ultimately it’s the same world as the novel, and they have the same thematic skeleton.”

The popular festival, now in its 22nd year, is a signature program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Its president also has a W&L connection: Rob Vaughan ’66.