Writing Programs Announces Fall Faculty Readings

Olivia DrakeSeptember 22, 20099min

Wesleyan Writing Programs begin Sept. 23 with a faculty readings and multiple guest speakers.

Lisa Cohen, assistant professor of English; Deb Olin Unferth, assistant professor of English and Elizabeth Willis, the Shapiro-Silverberg Associate Professor of Creative Writing, will read from their work at 8 p.m. Sept. 23 in the Russell House.

Cohen’s poetry and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals, including Ploughshares, Lit, Barrow Street, GLQ, Fashion Theory, Bookforum, The Boston Review, and Voice Literary Supplement. She is currently completing a group biography of three early 20th century figures—the fashion professional Madge Garland, the fan and collector Mercedes de Acosta, and the eccentric scholar Esther Murphy.

Unferth is the author of a collection of stories, Minor Robberies, and a novel, Vacation, both published by McSweeney’s. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, 3rd Bed, Fence, and other publications. She has received a Pushcart Prize, a Creative Capital Grant from the Warhol Foundation, and in 2009 the Cabell First Novelist Award.

Willis is the author of four books of poetry, Second Law, The Human Abstract, Turneresque, and Meteoric Flowers. Her work has been selected for the National Poetry Series and her awards include the Boston Review Prize, an award from the Howard Foundation, a Walter N. Thayer Fellowship for the Arts, and a grant from the California Arts Council. As a critic, she has written on 19th- and 20th- century poetry, and she has edited a collection of essays titled Radical Vernacular: Lorine Niedecker and the Politics of Place.

Guest speakers include:

Ethan Bronner ’76 will speak at 8 p.m. Oct. 7 in Memorial Chapel. Bronner is currently the Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times. He has also held positions as foreign editor, education editor, and editorial page editor at the Times, where he wrote a number of the paper’s editorials about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As editor he worked on a series of articles about Al Qaeda that were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism. Previously at the Boston Globe he served as Supreme Court and legal affairs correspondent. He is the author of Battle for Justice: How the Bork Nomination Shook America, chosen by The New York Public Library as one of the best 25 books of the year.

Bernadette Mayer will speak at 8 p.m. Oct. 14 in Russell House. The event is organized by Elizabeth Willis. Mayer’s poetry has been praised by John Ashbery as “magnificent.” Brenda Coultas calls her a master of “devastating wit.” Mayer is the author of more than two dozen volumes of poetry, including Midwinter Day, Sonnets, The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters, and Poetry State Forest. A former director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery and co-editor of the conceptual magazine 0 to 9 with Vito Acconci, Mayer has been a key figure on the New York poetry scene for decades.

John Brandon will speak at 8 p.m. Oct. 21 in Russell House. The event is organized by Deb Olin Unferth. Brandon is one of the nation’s most distinguished new fiction writers. His debut novel Arkansas has been widely praised. The San Francisco Chronicle describes it as “picaresque, sly, bitterly funny.” The novel “hooks us at once with its blithe, cunning insight.” Brandon received his MFA from Washington University.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan, the Connecticut Curcuit Poet, will speak at 8 p.m. Oct. 29 in Russell House. Gillan has published eleven books of poetry, including The Weather of Old Seasons (Cross-Cultural Communications), and Where I Come From, Things My Mother Told Me, and Italian Women in Black Dresses. Her newest book All That Lies Between Us received the American Book Award. She is the editor of the Paterson Literary Review and the founder and the Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, N.J . She is also the director of the Creative Writing Program and a Professor of Poetry at SUNY Binghamton.

Thomas Sayers Ellis will speak at 8 p.m. Nov. 4 in the Russell House. The event is organized by Elizabeth Willis. Sayers Ellis is the author of The Maverick Room (2005), which won the John C. Zacharis First Book Award, and a recipient of a Whiting Award. His poems and photographs have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, Callaloo, Best American Poetry (1997 and 2001), Grand Street, The Baffler, Jubilat, Tin House, Poetry, and The Nation. Ellis is a contributing writer to Waxpoetics, Poets & Writers and contributes to TSE’s Pick of the Week at www.tmottgogo.com. He is also an assistant professor of writing at Sarah Lawrence College and a faculty member of The Lesley University low-residency M.F.A Program. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. and spends his summers in Washington, D.C. working on The Go-Go Book: People in the Pocket in Washington, D.C. His new book, Skin, Inc., is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in fall 2010.

Amy Bloom will speak at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at Memorial Chapel. Bloom is the author of two novels, and two collections of short stories, and she has been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for the New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and The Atlantic, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. Her latest novel, Away, is an epic story about a Russian immigrant. A graduate of Wesleyan, she teaches at Yale University.

Jill Hunting will speak at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 in Russell House. The event is co-sponsored by Wesleyan University Press. Before turning to the story of her brother’s life and death in the early days of the Vietnam war, Hunting  published numerous reviews, profiles, and feature articles about food and wine. A regular “Perspectives” essayist for San Francisco NPR-affiliate KQED, the country’s largest public radio station, she initiated the sister-city relationship between Sonoma and Phan Rang. Hunting proposed and currently leads the drive to create a Book of Remembrance sculpture, to honor civilians claimed by war in Washington, D.C.

Renee Gladman will speak at 8 p.m. Nov. 18 in Russell House. The event is organized by Lisa Cohen. Gladman is the author of Arlem, Not Right Now, Juice The Activist, A Picture Feeling, Newcomer Can’t Swim, and most recently To After That (TOAF). Since 2004, she has been the editor and publisher of Leon Works, a series of books for experimental fiction. She was previously the editor of the Leroy chapbook series, publishing innovative poetry and prose by emerging writers. She currently teaches at Brown University.