MFA Creative Writing Program
Visiting Writers Series
All Visiting Writers events are free and open to the public. A special thanks to Tisa Bryant, this year's event curator.
Jan. 24, 7:30 PM, BB4
Justin Torres is the author of We the Animals, a novel comprised of portraits and vignettes, published by Random House, to much deserved acclam, in 2011. He grew up in upstate New York. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Glimmer Train, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is the recipient of the Rolon United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Staford. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller.
About writing his first novel, he says, For me, the magic of fiction lies in the words chosen and the structure of the sentences. I could write about men on Mars or about a childhood similar to my own, but my goal would be the same: get the words right, cast a spell.
Feb. 7, 7:30 PM, BB4
David Shields is the author of thirteen books, including How Literature Saved My Life (forthcoming from Knopf on February 5, 2013); Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, 2010), named one of the best books of the year by more than thirty publications; The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), a New York Times bestseller; Black Planet: Facing Race During an NBA Season, a finlaist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, winner of the PEN/Revson Award; and Dead Languages: A Novel, winner of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award.
His essays and stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, Esquire, Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney's, and Utne Reader; he's written reviews for the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Boston Globe, and Philadelphia Inquirer. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. Shields has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA fellowships, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Ludwig Vogelstein Foundations grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle, where he is the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington. Since 1996 he has also been a member of the faculty in Warren Wilson College's low-residency MFA Program for Writers, in Asheville, North Carolina.
For me, Shields says of the lyric essay, it's the orchestration of theme, always. It's about how beautifully the mosaic comes together. I've always loved that. Like the way a great painting comes together. That's the formal challenge of the lyric essay or literary collage - this apparently rather random gathering of material.
February 21, 7:30 PM, BB4
Poet Eleni Sikelianos, the great granddaughter of the Nobel-nominated Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos, was briefly a biology student in her undergraduate career, drawn to oceanography and microbiology. Although those formal studies were abandoned, the language of wild oceanaria and cellular activity continues to inform her writing. Her latest book, The Loving Details of the Living & the Dead, is forthcoming from Coffee House. She is the author of seven books, most recently, Body Clock (Coffee House, 2008), The California Poem (Coffee House, 2004); and a hybridized memoir about her father, heroin, and homelessness, The Book of Jon (City Lights, 2004). She has won numerous awards for her poetry, nonfiction and translations, including the National Poetry Series, residences at La Maison des ecrivains etrangers in Brittany, a Fullbright Writer's Fellowship in Greece, awards from James D. Phelan, NYFA, the NEA, two Gertrude Steain Awards for Innovative American Writing and the New York Council for the Arts Translation Award. She currently teaches in and directs the Creative Writing program at the University of Denver, and spends her days with her husband, the novelist Laird Hunt and their daughter, Eva Grace. When asked about the process of hybridization in her poetry, Sikelianos responds, A feeling arises -- a feeling about language, an image in my head or seen in the world, a few words might cluster together -- and a poem comes about. Then, as I'm working or reworking, a feeling might arise about the necessary direction of the work. I might have questions I want to explore or answer, I might have a conscious thought "Oh, I need to include more history," but for the most part, thus far, I'm of the Frank O'Hara School. I can't imagine myself saying, "I want to write a hybrid book," and proceeding from there.
April 10, 7:30 PM, BB4
CalArts' MFA Creative Writing Program is pleased to welcome Edwidge
Danticat as the inaugural voice in its new writer-in-residence program!
Current and prospective students, alumni and the general public are
welcome to attend a reading by Danticat on April 10, 2013 at BB#4 on the CalArts campus from 7:30 - 9:00 PM. A special Q&A, open to current and accepted students, will follow with Danticat on April 11 from 4-6 pm in Langley Hall.
of the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, the
Pushcart Short Story Prize and a MacArthur “Genius Award," Danticat's
work focuses on Haitian and Haitian-American experiences, particularly
the lives of women and their relationships.
Danticat's eight books include Breath, Eyes, Memory; Krik? Krak!; The Dew Breaker; The Farming of Bones; Brother, I’m Dying and Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work. She
holds a B.A. from Barnard College and an M.F.A. from Brown University
and has served as a visiting professor of creative writing at New York
University (from 1996 to 1997) and the University of Miami (from 2000 to
April 11 @ REDCAT, 7PM
Sister Spit: Dave End, Danny Levesque, Ali Liebegott, Texta Queen, Cristy C Road, and Michelle Tea
Sister Spit began in 1994 through the efforts of co-directors, Sini Anderson and Michelle Tea. Sini and Michelle gathered a group of some of the most notorious, talented, and just interesting women and dykes, and went on tour all over the U.S. All kinds of performers, on and off the page, launched themselves and shaprened skills and wits to a variety of audiences. These days, the Sister Spit roadshow occurs under the auspices of RADAR Productions, a San Francisco based non-profit that produces literary happenngs around the Bay Area and beyond. Founded in 2003 by writer Michelle Tea RADAR conducts presenting, comissioning, publishing, professional development and touring programs that stimulate the production of queer and underground iterature and heighten San Francisco's reputation as a national literary center. RADAR gives voice to innovative queer and outsider writers and artists whose work authentically reflects the LGBTQA community's diverse experiences.
The 2013 Sister Spit Tour includes:
Genderqueer performance artist, writer and singer/songwriter Dave End.
Danny Levesque, a writer who has come thorugh RADAR'S writing retreat and has the novel he wrote there (his first!), Hairdresser on Fire, coming out on Manic D, Fall 2012.
Ali Liebegott, whose new novel, Ch-Ching!, will be freshly out on Sister Spit Books - an imprint of City Lights! (We'll have our first Sister Spit anthology at this time, too).
Australian visual artist Texta Queen, whose portraits-- all done with Sharpies-- are colorful, international profiles of wild outsider queers.
Cristy C Road, whose newest illustrated memoir will be out on The Feminist Press.
And your inimitable host, Michelle Tea!
Sept. 20, 7:30 pm, BB4
Janice Lee is a writer, artist, editor, designer, curator, and scholar. Her obsessive research patterns lead her to making connections between the realms of technology, consciousness studies, design theory, the paranormal & occult, biological anthropology, psychology, and literary theory. Her work can be found in antennae, sidebrow, Action Yes, Joyland, Luvina, Everyday Genius, elimae, Black Warrior Review, Peacock Online Review, and elsewhere. She is the author of two highly acclaimed novels: KEROTAKIS (Dog Horn Press, 2010), a multidisciplinary exploration of cyborgs, brains, and the stakes of consciousness; and Daughter (Jaded Ibis, May 2011). She also has several chapbooks Red Trees, Fried Chicken Dinner (Parrot/Insert Press, Forthcoming), and The Other Worlds (Eohippus Labs, June 2012). She is currently at work on a collaboration about conspiracy theories, time travel, and the Catholic church, and a novel about the technological singularity, the Christian rapture, and the consciousness of God. She holds a BA in Literature/Writing (with minors in Biological Anthropology & Film Studies) from UCSD and an MFA in Creative Writing from CalArts and currently lives in Los Angeles where she is Co-Editor of the online journal [out of nothing], Co-Founder of the interdisciplinary arts organization Strophe (which houses the curated series Novum), Reviews Editor at HTMLGIANT, and Founder/CEO of POTG Design. Most recently, she was selected by John D’Agata as Black Warrior Review‘s Nonfiction Grand Prize Winner and she currently teaches Graphic Texts & Interface Culture at CalArts.
When asked about whether her work contains a message for readers, Janice replied, What really interests me is what happens when someone reads a text, and not just any text, but one that really affects them, changes them somehow. I’m interested in these changes, both conceptually speaking, but also physically, how these changes get manifested neurologically. I’m interested in introspection and the construction of a phenomenological self-model during reading, and in narrativization versus narrative.
Oct. 4, 7:30 pm, BB4
Anna Joy Springer
Anna Joy Springer was lead singer and songwriter for the influential punk band Blatz that came out of The 924 Gilman Street Project and Lookout! Records, alongside bands like The Yeastie Girlz and Green Day. She later sang with The Gr’ups and Cypher in the Snow, and toured with Sister Spit, a raucous all-woman group of writers headed by Michelle Tea.
Springer’s fabulist memoir, The Vicious Red Relic, Love, re-enacts her relationship with [Gil], a sometimes endearing, sometimes frightening addict and cult survivor who did not disclose to Springer that she’d tested positive for HIV. Brilliantly conceived as a training manual, survival guide and time machine, the book returns to 1990s San Francisco and deftly weaves feminism, deviance, punk rock and Sumerian literature into a cauldron of post-Reagan/Bush-era neoliberalism and AIDs grief.
Anna Joy Springer received her M.F.A in Literary Arts from Brown University in 2001, and has just completed a lively summer book tour with author (and CalArts MFA Writing Program alum) Janice Lee. She teaches at UC San Diego, where she engages her students in graphic texts, punk rock, feminist ethics, non-traditional literary structures, and radical literary arts pedagogies. She lives in Los Angeles.
In an interview about The Vicious Red Relic Love:, Springer said, I want people to notice that the novel itself is designed as a metaforest, not an orchard and definitely not a city. It is not an efficient or efficiency machine. It tries in performance to prove what it postulates – that ease of reading reproduces belief in certainty. There is no certainty through narrative ease in this book, and that is the hopeful part. Hopeful, but not nice.
Oct. 18, 7 pm, BB4
My Heart is an Idiot: FOUND Magazine’s 10th Anniversary Tour, with Davy & Peter Rothbart
This fall, road warriors Davy and Peter Rothbart are hurtling your way on FOUND Magazine’s 10th Anniversary Tour, which celebrates the release of Davy’s book of personal essays, My Heart is an Idiot, Peter’s new album, and a brand-new issue of FOUND. The Rothbart Brothers are hopping back in the tour van, FOUND treasures in tow, for an epic cross-country romp, with stops in 37 states and 75 cities!
At each exhilarating show, Davy (FOUND’s plucky point guard) will share the latest magnificent and mesmerizing finds that’ve landed in the mailbox here at FOUND HQ, plus outrageous tales from his new book and his work on public radio's This American Life, while Peter (FOUND’s international heartthrob) will dazzle with beautiful, haunting, and hilarious songs based on FOUND notes. Come on out and join us!
Davy Rothbart is the creator of Found Magazine, a frequent contributor to This American Life, and author of the story collection The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas. He writes regularly for GQ and Grantland, and his work also appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Believer. His forthcoming book of personal essays is called My Heart is an Idiot, out in September, 2012, from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Los Angeles, California.
Peter Rothbart is an award-winning songwriter, and the frontman for folk/rock group The Poem Adept. His third solo album, First Sun, will be released in fall 2012, and his music was featured in McSweeney's Wholphin DVD and the 2012 documentary film Mister Rogers & Me. He is also an editor at FOUND Magazine, and the executive director of the urban gardening organization We Patch. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
“Davy and Peter Rothbart are utterly engaging performers!”
--The Los Angeles Times
Nov. 1, 7:30 pm, BB4
Patricia Spears Jones
Patricia Spears Jones is an award-winning poet and playwright. She is the author of Swimming to America (2011), Painkiller (2010), Femme du Monde (2006) and The Weather That Kills (1994) and three chapbooks. She has edited various projects in print and online, including the anthology 30 Days Hath September, the blog event, “another kind of noise" for blackearthinstitute.org; the collection Think: Poems For Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Hat (2009) and Ordinary Women: An Anthology of Poetry by New York City Women (1978). Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Angles of Ascent, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and broken land: Poems of Brooklyn. Mabou Mines commissioned and premiered her performance work, ‘Mother’ and Song for New York: What Women Do When Men Sit Knitting. She is also a regular contributor to Calabar, cultureid.com, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Essence, The Village Voice, www.tribes.org, and BOMB, where she is a contributing editor. She has been a Senior Fellow at Black Earth Institute, and the recipient of awards from the NEA, NYFA, Foundation for Contemporary Art and the New York Community Trust, where she received The Oscar Williams and Gene Derwood Trust Award. Ms. Jones teaches in various places, most recently at The Millay Colony, and lives in Brooklyn.
About prosody, she says, I’m not a formal poet as such. No sonnets or villanelles. But I love mid-rhyme, I love couplets. My poems are conversational, but they’re definitely not prose. A lot of this is about the weaving of things through text. For the ears, conversation. For the eyes, I show space.
Nov. 11, 7 pm, @REDCAT
Cities & Interiors: Amina Cain, Renee Gladman, Matias Viegener
External constructions and interior depths map this evening of new writing. Bridges and secret passageways, couplings and customs, private speech and public gestures and the multiple biomythic “I,” all collude to create affective and spectral relations between place and persona. The program celebrates the structure of city and self with readings from Matias Viegener’s recently published new book, 2500 Random Things About Me Too; a preview of the next volume in Renee Gladman’s Ravicka series; and new stories from Amina Cain, author of I Go to Some Hollow—all with an awareness that the map is not the territory.
Amina Cain is the author of I Go To Some Hollow (Les Figues Press, 2009) and CREATURE (Dorothy, a publishing project, 2013). Recent stories have appeared in publications such as Dear Navigator, Dewclaw, LRL, and The Encyclopedia Project; as a chaplet through Belladonna*; and in Polish and French translation in MINIMALBOOKS and Jet d'encre. She is also a curator, most recently for the literary/performance/video festivals Both Sides and The Center (with Teresa Carmody) at the MAK Center/Schindler House in Los Angeles, and When Does It or You Begin? Memory as Innovation (with Jennifer Karmin) at Links Hall in Chicago.
In an aesthetic statement, Cain writes, I sit, feeling as if the air is a part of my body. I sit in front of a fire, blazing and warm. Whose hands die when they sit in front of a fire? It snows and the snow covers a wire. Who looks at a wire?
Poet, novelist, and publisher Renee Gladman was born in Atlanta and earned a BA in philosophy at Vassar College and an MA in poetics at the New College of California. Gladman, whose work has been associated with the New Narrative movement, composes prose and poetry that tests the potential of the sentence with mapmaking precision and curiosity. Author of the poetry collection A Picture-Feeling (2005), Gladman has also published several works of prose, including The Ravickians (2011), Event Factory (2010), To After That (2008), Newcomer Can’t Swim (2007), The Activist (2003), Juice (2000), and Arlem (1994). She edits Leon Works, a press for experimental prose, and produced the Leroy chapbook series. Gladman lives in Massachusetts and teaches at Brown University.
When asked if she considers the reader when writing, Gladman responded, It’s bewildering enough trying to grasp “the person” in space and time; imagine trying to think about the reader as you write. For me, writing is a kind of pursuit of company that never comes.
Matias Viegener is a writer, artist and critic who works solo and collaboratively in the fields of writing, visual art, and social practice. He is a co-founder of Fallen Fruit, a participatory art practice focusing on fruit, urban ecology and public space, which has shown work internationally in museums and galleries. Viegener is the author of 2500 Random Things About Me Too. Neither memoir nor diary but with aspects of each, his new book is an experiment in the construction of identity in a Facebook-drenched world of self-manufacturing and short attention spans. Possibly the first book to have been composed entirely on Facebook, 2500 Random Things About Me Too is a text-cloud raining art, dogs, sex, death and fruit. Viegener has also co-edited two books, The Noulipian Analects and Séance in Experimental Writing with Christine Wertheim. He is the editor and co-translator of Georges Batailles’ The Trial of Gilles de Rais.
About creativity and protest, Viegener says, Frankly, I am quite puzzled as to how to make work about the moment in which we find ourselves. This feels like nothing else. The velocity is enormous. There is far too much information to absorb. Everything feels immediate and highly mediated; the reaction is often one of intense engagement and also alienation. We need new forms to express this.
Nov. 15, 7:30 pm, BB4
The son of white trash asphyxiation, CA Conrad’s childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. He is the author of A BEAUTIFUL MARSUPIAL AFTERNOON: New (Soma)tics (Wave Books, 2012), The Book of Frank (Wave Books, 2010), Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009), Deviant Propulsion (Soft Skull Press, 2006), and a collaboration with poet Frank Sherlock titled The City Real & Imagined (Factory School, 2010). He is a 2011 Pew Fellow, a 2012 Ucross Fellow, and a 2013 BANFF Fellow. He is the editor of the online video poetry journals JUPITER 88 and Paranormal Poetics. Visit him at http://CAConrad.blogspot.com.
About mentors and coming to poetry, CA says, I loved [Anne Sexton] as a kid. For the record, I dislike the confessional poets, every suicidal one of them. My work is not about wallowing in posttraumatic stress disorder, it’s about posttraumatic stress growth.
Nov. 29, 7:30 pm, BB4
Putting it Out There: Les Figues Press, Slake, and More!
These days, there’s nothing shameless about self-promotion, and with writers and indie publishers doing more and more inventive sharing of the heavy lifting, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the terrain of navigating a new press, keeping things buzzing around an upstart magazine, and to know what to expect when getting published or presented: from the press or venue, or from yourself. Les Figues Press and Slake Magazine have fast become a mainstay both on and off the page, with vibrant publications and events that have invigorated the region with fresh energy. Join Les Figues founding editor Teresa Carmody, Slake founding editors Joe Donnelly and Laurie Ochoa, along with two additional special guests.
Les Figues Press was founded in January 2005 by Teresa Carmody, Vanessa Place, Pam Ore and Sarah LaBorde. In December 2005, Les Figues incorporated as a nonprofit 501c3 organization. The Press is a member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), the California Association of Nonprofits (CAN), and the Green Press Initiative. Les Figues Press titles are distributed by Small Press Distribution (SPD). Les Figues Press creates aesthetic conversations between Writers/Artists and readers, especially those interested in innovative/experimental/avant-garde work. The Press intends, in the most premeditated fashion, to champion the trinity of Beauty, Belief, and Bawdry. Les Figues Press publishes TrenchArt, an annual series of new literature that posits literary works in an inter-textual conversation; participating writers and artists write an aesthetic essay or poetics, setting the terms and parameters of the serial conversation. In 2009, the Press expanded its projects with Fig.Analects, a periodic series of conceptual and critical books. Les Figues hosts a multi-author blog – Give A Fig – with rotating guest bloggers, including Les Figues authors, artists and others whom they admire. The Press also sponsors Mrs. Porter’s 2.0, a women’s art salon and discussion group Q.E.D.-- a short series of long conversations on queer art and literature, as well as sponsoring and participating in public readings, workshops and other events.
Slake: Los Angeles, the quarterly reader cofounded by former L.A. Weekly editors Joe Donnelly and Laurie Ochoa, is devoted to the endangered art of deeply reported narrative journalism and the kind of polished essay, memoir, fiction, poetry, and profile writing that is disappearing in a world of instant takes and unfiltered opinion. Slake marks a return to storytelling.
Designed with an artist's eye and published in a full-color, perfect-bound format, the Los Angeles Times–bestselling Slake sets a new template for the next generation of print publications—collectible, not disposable; destined for the bedside table instead of the recycling bin. It's a whole new way of looking at Los Angeles and the world.
Dec. 13, 7:30 pm, BB4
Miranda Mellis was born and raised in San Francisco, and earned a BA from Naropa University and an MFA from Brown University. She is the author of The Spokes (Solid Objects, 2012), None of This Is Real (Sidebrow Press, 2011) and Materialisms (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs). Her first novel, The Revisionist, has been translated into Italian by Leonardo Luccone (Nutrimenti, 2008) and Croatian by Zoran Rosko (Quorum, 2009). The Revisionist was a finalist for The Believer 2007 Book Award.
Mellis has received The John Hawkes Prize in Fiction, The Michael Harper Praxis Prize, and an NEH Independent Research Grant. Her writing has appeared in various journals & magazines including Conjunctions, Harper's, McSweeney's, The Believer, Cabinet and Fence. Her writing also appears in several anthologies including Conversations at The War Time Cafe and California Video: Artists and Histories. Currently she is working on a story with images in collaboration with artist Megan Vossler called The Quarry, due out from Trafficker in 2013. She is a coeditor at The Encyclopedia Project and teaches at The Evergreen State College.
In response to the question, “What is experimental writing,” Mellis said, Writing – even taking inventories which is how writing started – involves oscillations: losing and finding, locating and dislocating, delay and arrival, sleeping and waking, tracking and losing track. Experimental writers think of language as a medium and therefore do not ignore the fact that language, even univocal and transactional language (maybe even especially so) is imbricated with political life and systems: not neutral, after all, its what laws, mortgages, curses, roles, and rites of institution are made of.