Contemporary Writers Series
All readings are held in the Mills Hall Living Room (unless otherwise noted).
Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 5:30–7:00 pm
Celebrated poet, performance artist, and iconic figure of the Black Arts Movement, Jayne Cortez has authored 11 books of poetry, from Pissstained Stairs and the Monkey Man's Wares (1969) to Jazz Fan Looks Back (2002). Cortez has also released a number of recordings, many with her band The Firespitters. Her writing has been translated into 28 languages, and she has performed, lectured, and taught around the world. Cortez has received prestigious awards including the American Book Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Cortez founded Bola Press in 1972 and serves as the president of the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, which she co-founded in 1991. Cortez currently lives in New York City.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008, 5:30–7:00 pm
Sarah Schulman, "the lesbian writer Rent ripped off" (Slate), is a novelist, playwright, historian, and activist. Her 1998 book Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America (Duke University Press) won the Stonewall Book Award, and her plays have been widely workshopped and produced in respected venues. Schulman's novels include People in Trouble (Plume, 1991) and The Child (Carroll & Graf, 2007). In 1995, she published My American History: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years (Routledge), a book of journalism. Schulman co-created the ACT UP oral history project in 2001, and also co-founded The Lesbian Avengers, a direct action organization.
Combat Paper/Warrior Writers
Tuesday, October 14, 2008, 5:30–7:00 pm
(Please note special location: Lisser Theater)
A collaborative project initiated by Drew Matott and Drew Cameron in conjunction with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Combat Paper Project transforms uniforms of returning veterans into paper. The paper is used to create prints and handmade books under the Warrior Writers imprint, enabling veterans to reclaim their uniforms as art while they reconcile their experiences as soldiers. At this reading and performance, the audience will be invited to cut a uniform from a soldier's body as he discusses social responsibility in time of war. The Combat Paper Portfolio has been exhibited at various venues as part of the Iraq poetry broadside series, Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, and is part of several permanent collections, including the Library of Congress.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 5:30–7:00 pm
Mat Johnson takes a complicated look at racial identity in the United States in his second graphic novel, Incognegro (Vertigo Comics, 2008), which tells the story of an undercover reporter investigating lynchings in the Jim Crow South. A University of Houston professor and the 2007 James Baldwin USA Fellowship winner, Johnson's second novel, Hunting in Harlem (Bloomsbury USA, 2003), won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Publishers Weekly wrote that his nonfiction work, The Great Negro Plot (Bloomsbury USA, 2007), "convincingly re-creates New York City's stratified colonial society in 1741, while reinterpreting the only historical account of the rumored slave revolt, hysteria and kangaroo trial that led to the executions of many black New Yorkers."
Homelands Anthology: Leila Abu-Saba, Meeta Kaur, Jenesha de Rivera, and Patricia Tumang
Tuesday, November 11, 2008, 5:30–7:00 pm
Co-edited by Mills alumnae Patricia Justine Tumang and Jenesha de Rivera, with a foreword by Edwidge Danticat, Homelands: Women's Journeys Across Race, Place, and Time (Seal Press, 2006) collects essays by women writers exploring the complexities of immigration, war, exile, and diaspora. Cristina Garcia writes, "Homelands reminds us that 'home' is a moving target of associations and experiences." Leila Abu-Saba is currently completing a novel; she is living with metastatic breast cancer, diagnosed September 2007, and appreciates each moment as it comes. Meeta Kaur is writing a novel on three generations of Sikh women and their fate as self-saving heroines. De Rivera is currently working on her first novel. Tumang was recently awarded a Fulbright fellowship to conduct research for her novel based in the Philippines. All four earned their MFAs in creative writing from Mills College.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Written at the outer edges of procedural restraint, Christian Bök's second book, Eunoia (Coach House Books, 2001), won the Griffin Prize for Poetic Excellence. An acclaimed performer of sound poetry (particularly the Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters), Bök's conceptual artwork, which includes books built out of Rubik's cubes and Lego bricks, has appeared at New York City's Marianne Boesky Gallery as part of the exhibit Poetry Plastique. His first book, Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. He has created artificial languages for two television shows: Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict and Peter Benchley's Amazon. Bök is currently a professor of English at the University of Calgary.
Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry: Elmaz Abinader, Hayan Charara, and Fady Joudah
Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Edited by poet Hayan Charara, Inclined to Speak (University of Arkansas Press, 2008) collects poetry from 39 contemporary Arab American poets. Marilyn Hacker writes, "Some of these poets can think and sing in more than one language; they all can think beyond monoglot frontiers." Hayan Charara is the author of The Alchemist's Diary (Hanging Loose, 2001) and The Sadness of Others (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006). Elmaz Abinader teaches at Mills College and VONA (Voices of Our Nations Summer Workshops), which she co-founded. Her books include Children of the Roojme (University of Wisconsin Press, 1997) and In the Country of My Dreams (Sufi Warrior Publishing, 1999). Fady Joudah is a physician, member of Doctors Without Borders, translator, and poet. His translation of Mahmoud Darwish's recent works is collected in The Butterfly's Burden (Copper Canyon Press, 2007).
Tuesday, April 7, 2009, 5:30–7:00 pm
Sacred Games (HarperCollins, 2006), Vikram Chandra's highly anticipated second novel, has been described by the New York Times as "paying homage to both Ian Fleming and James Joyce" and appeared on 2006-07 "best of" fiction lists around the globe. His first book, the short story collection Love and Longing in Bombay (Little, Brown, 1997), was greeted with critical acclaim, and his first novel, Red Earth and Pouring Rain (Little, Brown, 1995), won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book and the David Higham Prize for Fiction. His work has been translated into 11 languages. Vikram Chandra currently divides his time between Mumbai, India and Berkeley, California, where he teaches at the University of California.
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.