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Past Series Archive
Literary Events: Fall 2010–Spring 2011

Contemporary Writers Series
All readings are held in the Mills Hall Living Room (unless otherwise noted).

Guillermo Gómez-Peńa
Tuesday, September 7, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm
Part of Latina Heritage Month 2010, co-sponsored with the Ethnic Studies Department and Mujeras Unidas.

Guillermo Gómez-Peńa

Guillermo Gómez-Peńa is a performance artist/writer and the director of the art collective La Pocha Nostra. He was born in Mexico City and came to the U.S. in 1978. Since then, Gómez-Peńa has been exploring cross-cultural issues with the use of performance, multilingual poetry, journalism, video, radio, and installation art. His performance work and eight books have contributed to debates on cultural diversity, identity, and U.S.-Mexico relations. His artwork has been presented at over 700 venues across the U.S., Australia, Canada, Russia, Europe, and Latin America. A MacArthur Fellow and American Book Award winner, Gómez-Peńa is a regular contributor to National Public Radio; a writer for newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe; and a contributing editor to The Drama Review (NYU-MIT).

Jen Bervin
Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm

Jen Bervin

Poet and visual artist Jen Bervin brings together text and textile in a practice that encompasses large-scale artworks, artist books, poetry, and archival research. Her books include The Desert, Nets, A Non-Breaking Space, The Red Box, and Under What Is Not Under. This fall, Bervin has new works forthcoming from Granary Books and Ugly Duckling Presse. Her pieces have been shown at the Walker Art Center and are part of many special collections, including the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has received fellowships in art and writing from the Camargo Foundation, Centrum, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the New York Foundation for the Arts and is an editor-at-large for jubilat. Bervin lives and works in Brooklyn. 

Hiromi Itō
Tuesday, October 19, 2019, 7:00–8:30 pm
(Note special start time)

Co-sponsored with Small Press Traffic.

Hiromi Ito

Born in Tokyo, Hiromi Itō is regarded as one of the most prominent poets of contemporary Japan. Since her debut in the late 1970s, she consistently has expanded her creative spheres: from issues of sexuality to the oral traditions of Native Americans, the lifecycles of plants, and migrant and transnational experiences. About Itō's first U.S. edition of work, Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Itō, renowned poet Anne Waldman writes, "Her poems reverberate with sexual candor, the exigencies and delights of the paradoxically restless/rooted female body, and the visceral imagery of childbirth....Hiromi is a true sister of the Beats." Itō has published more than 10 critically acclaimed collections of poetry; several novels; and a dozen books of essays, including Oume (Green plums, 1982), Watashi wa Anjuhimeko de aru (I am Anjuhimeko, 1993), and Kawara Arekusa (Wild grass upon a riverbank, 2005), which won the prestigious Takami Jun Prize.

Shahrnush Parsipur
Tuesday, November 9, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm

Shahrnush Parsipur

The author of 11 works of fiction and memoir, Shahrnush Parsipur was born in Tehran in 1946 and published her first novel, The Dog and the Long Winter, in 1974. Her novella Women Without Men, recently adapted for film by Shirin Neshat, has been translated into four languages. Like many of Parsipur's books, Women Without Men was an instant bestseller in Iran before being banned for its controversial subject. English translations of Parsipur's stories appear in Stories by Iranian Women since the Revolution (1991) and Stories from Iran: A Chicago Anthology 1921–1991 (1992). Once imprisoned by the Shah's security agency and the Islamic Republic, Parsipur now lives in exile in the U.S. This year, Parispur received an honorary degree from Brown University, where she also was the inaugural fellow in the International Writers Project. Parsipur lectures widely and currently lives in California.

Eileen Myles
Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm

Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles came to New York from Boston in 1974 and soon began reading her poems publicly, taking workshops at St. Mark's Poetry Project in New York's East Village. Her books of poems include Not Me, School of Fish, and Sorry, Tree. Her first work of fiction, Chelsea Girls, debuted in 1994, followed by the nonfiction novel Cool for You in 2000. Myles taught in the writing program at the University of California, San Diego, for five years, returning to New York in 2007. In 2009, her essays were collected in The Importance of Being Iceland. The Inferno: A Poet's Novel will be released this fall.

Karen Tei Yamashita
Tuesday, February 15, 2010, 5:30–7:00 pm

Karen Tei Yamashita

Heralded as a "big talent" by the Los Angeles Times and praised by Newsday for ""wrestl[ing] with profound philosophical and social issues" while delivering an "immensely entertaining story," Karen Tei Yamashita is the recipient of an American Book Award and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Her most recent book, I Hotel, which took over a decade to research and write, is her magnum opus. A multivoiced fusion of prose, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy divided into 10 novellas, I Hotel spins an epic tale of America's struggle for civil rights as it played out in San Francisco's Chinatown from 1968–77. The author of four previous novels, Yamashita is a California native who also has lived in Brazil and Japan. She teaches at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she received the Chancellor's Award for Diversity in 2009.

Ngűgĩ wa Thiong'o
Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 5:30–7:00 pm

Ngűgi wa Thiong´┐ŻoNgűgĩ wa Thiong'o was born in Kenya and lived through the Mau Mau War of Independence (1952–62) as an adolescent. His sharply critical writings about the injustices of neocolonial Kenyan society–Petals of Blood (1977) and his controversial play I Will Marry When I Want (1977)–led to Ngűgĩ's arrest and imprisonment without charge from 1977–78 by the Moi dictatorship until an international campaign secured his release. A few years later, Ngűgĩ learned about the Moi regime's plot against his life and he was forced into political exile, first in Britain (1982–89), then in the U.S. (1989–2002). Recognized as a pioneer in African literature since the 1960s, his novels have been translated into more than 30 languages. He is an award-winning novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, editor, academic, and social activist. Ngűgĩ currently is a distinguished professor of English and comparative literature and director of the International Center for Writing and Translation at the University of California, Irvine.

M. NourbeSe Philip
Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 5:30–7:00 pm

M. NourbeSe PhilipM. NourbeSe Philip is a poet, writer, and lawyer. Born in Tobago, she now resides in Toronto. She has published three books of poetry, two novels, three books of essays, and two plays. In 1988 she won the prestigious Casa de las Américas Prize for the manuscript version of She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, a book of poetry. Her most recent poetry project, Zong!, is "a haunting lifeline between archive and memory, law and poetry" that excavates the story of some 150 Africans who were murdered aboard a slave ship in 1781 so that the ship's owners could collect an insurance payout. Relying entirely on the words of the legal decision, Philip tells and "not-tells" these previously submerged and moving stories. Philip's essays on Canadian culture and the arts have spotlighted issues of social justice, equity, and racial representation. Her work has appeared in anthologies, magazines, and journals in England and North America.

Chana Bloch
Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 5:30–7:00 pm*
*Note special location:
Gathering Hall, Lokey Graduate School of Business Bldg.

Chana Bloch

Chana Bloch is professor emerita of English at Mills College, where she taught for more than 30 years and directed the Creative Writing Program. She is the author of four books of poems: The Secrets of the Tribe, The Past Keeps Changing, Mrs. Dumpty, and Blood Honey, which won the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. Bloch is co-translator of the biblical Song of Songs and six books of contemporary Israeli poetry, including The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai and his Open Closed Open, and Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch. Bloch also penned the award-winning critical study Spelling the Word: George Herbert and the Bible. She currently serves as poetry editor of Persimmon Tree, an online journal of the arts by women over 60. Recently dubbed "Best East Bay Poet" by East Bay Express, Bloch previously has been awarded fellowships in poetry and translation from the National Endowment for the Arts and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Born and raised in the Bronx, Bloch lived in Jerusalem for five years and currently resides in Berkeley.

Directions to Mills

The literary events at Mills College are funded in part by the English Department and The Place for Writers. Poets & Writers, Inc. also supports the events through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.

For more information, please call The Place for Writers, 510.430.2236, or Stephanie Young, 510.430.3130.

Last Updated: 2/27/13