Contemporary Writers Series
All readings are held in the Mills Hall Living Room (unless otherwise noted).
Tuesday, September 22, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Author of 28 plays and 13 screenplays, including 2005's Oscar-nominated The Motorcycle Diaries and adaptations of On the Road, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Three Apples Fell from Heaven, José Rivera is a writer who moves between worlds. Born in Puerto Rico, Rivera currently lives in Hollywood, where he is at work on a novel, Love Makes the City Crumble. His plays have premiered across the U.S. and in the Bay Area at ACT, Berkeley Rep, Campo Santo, and the Magic Theatre.
Andrew Sean Greer
Tuesday, October 13, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Praised for his imagination and lyricism and counted as one of the most talented writers of our time, Andrew Sean Greer is the author of four books, most recently The Story of a Marriage (an Amazon Best Book of 2008). John Updike described his 2004 bestseller, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, as "enchanting, in the perfumed, dandified style of disenchantment brought to grandeur by Proust and Nabokov." Greer worked in New York as a chauffeur, television extra, and unsuccessful writer before moving to San Francisco and releasing his first collection of short stories, How It Was for Me, in 2001. He is at work on an epic novel set in New York during the two world wars.
New Literary Scholarship
Wednesday, October 21, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Jesse Alemán is an associate professor of English at the University of New Mexico, where he teaches 19th-century American and Mexican American literatures. His many publications explore the intersecting literatures of the Americas; his talk at Mills will consider new paradigms for the concept of "national" literatures, specifically in the context of the Americas. Alemán is currently working on Wars of Rebellion, a book that places 19th-century Hispanic writings about the U.S. Civil War within a context that considers related wars of rebellion in Cuba and Mexico.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Howard Zinn calls Mark Nowak's new book, Coal Mountain Elementary, "a tribute to miners and working people everywhere.... It manages, in photos and in words, to portray an entire culture." For the past several years, Nowak has been designing and facilitating "poetry dialogues" with Ford autoworkers in the U.S. and South Africa (through the UAW and NUMSA), striking clerical workers (through AFSCME 3800), Muslim/Somali nurses and healthcare workers (through Rufaidah), and others. He edits XCP: Cross Cultural Poetics, a biannual interdisciplinary journal of poetry, poetics, experimental ethnography, and cultural and performance studies.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge was born in Beijing, grew up in Massachusetts, and has, since the 1970s, split her time between rural New Mexico and New York. Her poetry, known for its lush abstraction, use of collage, and exploration of the complexities of cultural and political identity, is influenced by her own experience of cultural and linguistic displacement, and deep engagement of local arts communities in New Mexico and the New York art world. Her volumes of poetry include several collaborations with artists–such as Endocrinology and Concordance, both with Kiki Smith. The University of California Press published I Love Artists: New and Selected Poemsin 2006.
Carolina De Robertis and Laleh Khadivi
Tuesday, November 17, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Join us for a special evening in celebration of two new books by alumnae of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Mills. Carolina De Robertis' first novel, The Invisible Mountain, has been published in 14 countries and nine languages. Prior to completing her first book, De Robertis worked in women's rights organizations for 10 years. Laleh Khadivi's debut novel, The Age of Orphans, is the first novel in a trilogy that follows the lives of three generations of Kurdish men as they grapple with landlessness, migration, and national identity. Khadivi has worked extensively as a documentary filmmaker. Both writers are at work on a second novel.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm
Kyle Schlesinger's work in poetry and publishing is integral to contemporary U.S. poetry communities. Cuneiform Press, established by Schlesinger in 2000, is a literary fine press that has published the works of Bill Berkson, Johanna Drucker, Craig Dworkin, Gil Ott, Ron Silliman, and many others. His books of poetry (and artists' books) include A Book of Closings, Look, Moonlighting, and The Pink. He is currently working on a book of interviews with printers about the relationship between poetry and typography.
Lasana M. Sekou
Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm
Lasana M. Sekou is considered the leading writer of St. Martin and one of the most prolific Caribbean poets of his generation. Born in Aruba, raised in St. Martin, and educated in the U.S., Sekou returned to St. Martin in 1984, where he has worked tirelessly in cultural roles from editor of The Independence Papers–Readings on a New Political Status for St. Maarten/St. Martin to producing drama and music festivals and coordinating the Creative Writing Program of the House of Nehesi Publishers. His books of poetry include Maroon Lives: For Grenadian Freedom Fighters, Quimbé: The Poetics of Sound, Big Up St. Martin: Essay & Poem, and The Salt Reaper: Poems from the Flats.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm
In his New York Times review of Vendela Vida's 2007 novel Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, Madison Smartt Bell writes: "Maybe there aren't any other books that walk this very fine line between high–camp comedy and the lyrical seriousness that Vida's title portends...." Vida is also the author of Girls on the Verge, an examination of modern coming-of-age rituals for young women, and her first novel, And Now You Can Go. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Dave Eggers. Eggers and Vida are tireless collaborators–together they co-founded the Believer and 826 Valencia, and most recently co-wrote the screenplay Away We Go.
The Chana Bloch Reading of Writers in Translation
Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm
A poet, translator, critic, and scholar, Ammiel Alcalay's multifaceted work in translation has been a crucial conduit for the recognition and appearance of many important writers in English translation. Alcalay's translations include Sarajevo Blues and Nine Alexandrias by the Bosnian poet Semezdin Mehmedinovic, Keys to the Garden: New Israeli Writing, and Outcast by Shimon Ballas. A collective translation of the Syrian poet Faraj Bayraqdar is forthcoming from Beyond Baroque, along with a reprint of from the warring factions, Alcalay's book-length poem dedicated to the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm
Laila Lalami's first novel, Secret Son, was described by the New York Times as "a nuanced depiction of the roots of Islamic terrorism, written by someone who intimately knows one of the stratified societies where it grows." Lalami was born and raised in Morocco and studied linguistics at Université Mohammed V in Rabat, University College London, and the University of Southern California. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and elsewhere.
The literary events at Mills College are funded in part by the English Department, The Place for Writers, and Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.
For more information, please call The Place for Writers, 510.430.2236, or Stephanie Young, 510.430.3130.