Laurie Kenney

Helping Widowed Fathers Move Forward with Their Children: An Interview with Author Rosenstein ’80, MD

In The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life (Oxford University Press, 2018), Donald L. Rosenstein ’80, MD, and Justin M. Yopp, PhD, tell the stories of how seven men whose wives died from cancer came to terms with their grief and learned how to move forward into a meaningful future with their children. The book is based on the experiences of the men as members of a support group run by Rosenstein and Yopp at the Comprehensive Cancer Support Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All proceeds from the book will be donated to Rosenstein and Yopp’s clinical and research work at UNC with widowed parents. For more about the widowed parents group, visit widowedparent.org.

2 Wes Press Poets Named Finalists for L.A. Times Book Prize

Wesleyan University Press author-poets Shane McCrae and Evie Shockley have been selected as finalists in the poetry category for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. McCrae received the nod for In the Language of My Captor, which was previously honored as a finalist for the National Book Award, while Shockley was chosen for her latest collection, semiautomatic. In the Language of My Captor, by Shane McCrae

“We are thrilled for authors Evie Shockley and Shane McCrae to have their books recognized in this way,” said Susanna semiautomatic by evie shockleyTamminen, director and editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press. “These are both extraordinary books, and we feel truly honored to be their publisher.”

McCrae’s In the Language of My Captor examines the idea of freedom told through stories of captivity. Comprised of historical persona poems with a prose memoir at its center, the book addresses the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. Shockley’s semiautomatic traces a web of connections between the kinds of violence that affect people across the racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual, national and linguistic boundaries that do and do not divide us.

Winners of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes will be announced on April 21, 2018, at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

Bogin ’18 and Monson ’18 Participate In Creative Residency at Goodspeed

Tekla Monson '18 and Molly Bogin '18 are the first Wesleyan students to take part in a pilot program between the university and the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals.

Molly Bogin ’18 (left) and Tekla Monson ’18 (right) are the first Wesleyan students to take part in a pilot program between the university and the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals.

Molly Bogin ’18 and Tekla Monson ’18 represented Wesleyan in the university’s inaugural program with the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut, last month. The students joined 36 established and emerging composers and lyricists to participate in the two-week creative residency—the only one of its kind solely dedicated to the creation of new musicals. Kathleen Conlin, Theater Department chair, and Ellen Nerenberg, dean of the arts and humanities, initiated Wesleyan’s involvement with the program.

Bloom ’75 Goes Behind Closed Doors in “White Houses”

Award-winning author Amy Bloom ’75, Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, will release her latest novel, White Houses, on Feb. 13. The book centers on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s love affair and friendship with reporter Lorena “Hick” Hickok. Told from Hickok’s point of view, White Houses covers everything from the inner workings of the Roosevelt administration to Hick’s own brutal upbringing in rural South Dakota.

Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, says, “Bloom elevates this addition to the secret-lives-of-the-Roosevelts genre through elegant prose and by making Lorena Hickok a character engrossing enough to steal center stage from Eleanor Roosevelt.” While Publishers Weekly says, “Cleverly structured through reminiscences that slowly build in intimacy, Bloom’s passionate novel beautifully renders the hidden love of one of America’s most guarded first ladies.”

Amy Bloom ’75 is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing and director of the Shapiro Creative Writing Center.

Bloom will embark on a book tour in support of White Houses later this month, starting at R.J. Julia in Madison, Conn., on Feb. 13. A full list of events, including several additional Connecticut appearances, can be found on Bloom’s website.

We caught up with Bloom to ask about her experience writing White Houses.

Is this your first time attempting such a novel, based on historical figures and events? Why this story, in particular? And what were the biggest challenges involved?
Every novel is, for me, an attempt to do something new. The Roosevelts were fascinating: great leaders, complicated people. The story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok was a love story not just lost to history but literally torn out of the history pages. (Lorena was routinely cropped out of White House photos.) The greatest challenge was pretty much what it always is: Who are the people, how to the tell the story and who is telling the story. With the added burden that periodically a little voice would yell: These are real people!

How was this process different than creating characters sprung from your imagination (even if based on real people)?
The characters inevitably, even when based on fact and history, are products of my imagination, of empathy, of research and of a certain hard-to-describe leap.

How did you begin the process? Did you read the letters first and then decide to write a novel based on the relationship? Or were you always interested in exploring the genre?
I read Blanche Weisen Cook’s wonderful biography of Eleanor Roosevelt in which she mentions the 3,000 letters between Eleanor and Lorena and writes a bit about who Lorena was—crack reporter, first woman to have a byline in The New York Times, author—and about the love affair between them. Cook was pilloried for asserting that it seemed very likely there had been a love affair, until other historians finally read the letters and, slowly, too slowly, and privately, apologized and acknowledged that it was obvious from the letters that this had not been a schoolgirl crush on either side—between women in their 40s!—but a love affair that laid the foundation for a lifelong friendship.

How much did you know about the relationship, and about “Hick,” specifically, when you began writing? What additional research did you do, and how did that additional research inform your writing?
Research always offers one new rivers to follow, new gardens to visit. There have been tons of books about Eleanor Roosevelt and a few about Lorena Hickok in relation to Eleanor. I read an awful lot.

What did you find most interesting about (and what were the challenges involved in) inhabiting the mind of, and creating a voice for, Hick?
I struggled to find my narrator and there were parts of Hick I did not admire, but the Hick that I created from her letters and from her professional work is funny, frank, tough, clear-eyed, impulsive and a hell of a storyteller.

What about this story spoke to you—and what did you learn along the way that will stay with you?
Two things: A life of pretense is a death sentence, and love is not wasted, even when it ends.

Ganbarg ’88 & Miranda ’02 Score Grammy Gold

Producers Stacey Mindich, Alex Lacamoire, Justin Paul, Benj Pasek and Pete Ganbarg ’88, winners of Best Musical Theatre Album for ‘Dear Evan Hansen.’ (Source: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images North America)

The Broadway cast recording of the Tony Award–winning musical Dear Evan Hansen won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album on Jan. 28. The album was produced by Atlantic Record’s President of A&R (artists and repertoire) Pete Ganbarg ’88, along with music supervisor and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and Broadway producer Stacey Mindich.

“What a great weekend for Wes!” said Ganbarg. “I was so thrilled to be surrounded by so many amazingly talented alums. Got to finally meet Grammy winner Gail Marowitz ’81, be in the room where it happens when Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 won his latest Grammy for Moana and also had a lovely conversation with Beanie Feldstein ’15. She is awesome. And as an added bonus this year, so excited to have my boss Atlantic Records Chairman/COO Julie Greenwald P’21, join the Wes family. Julie’s leadership helped Atlantic win an industry-best 13 Grammys this year! Go Wes!!”

The win gives Ganbarg his second Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. Ganbarg won in the same category for Hamilton, created by and starring Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15, and directed by Thomas Kail ’99.

Lin-Manuel Miranda received the Grammy award for Best Song Written for Visual Media for “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana. The win marked Miranda’s third Grammy. He previously won the award for Best Musical Theater Album in 2015 for Hamilton and in 2008 for In The Heights.

In addition, Gail Marowitz ’81 received a Grammy nomination Best Recording Package for singer-songwriter Jonathan Colton’s Solid State. The nomination marked Marowitz’s third nomination. She won a Grammy in the same category in 2006.

For more on Pete Ganbarg ’88 and his career in the music industry, read “Ganbarg’s Greatest Hits” in Wesleyan magazine.

For more on Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, Hon. ’15 and Thomas Kail ’99, read “A Musical Revolution on Broadway” in Wesleyan magazine.

Sorey MA ’11 and Orr Awarded Artistic Fellowships

Tyshawn Sorey (Photo Credit: John Rogers)

Tyshawn Sorey MA’11 (Photo by John Rogers)

Assistant Professor of Music Tyshawn Sorey MA ’11, a MacArthur “Genius” Award-winner, and Distinguished Fellow in the College of the Environment Allison Orr, artistic director of Forklift Danceworks, have been chosen as 2018 fellows by United States Artists (USA), an organization that illuminates the value of artists to American society. Sorey and Orr will each receive a $50,000 unrestricted award as part of the honor.

A total of 45 recipients were announced for the annual awards, which recognize achievements and innovation across nine disciplines, including architecture and design, crafts, dance, media, music, theater and performance, traditional arts, visual art, and writing. Dancer-choreographer-performance artist Okwui Okpokwasili, recipient of the 2015 Danspace/Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance Creative Artist Residency, and jazz chanteuse Somi, who performed as part of the Center for the Arts’ Performing Arts Series in October 2017, were also recognized for their work.

Since its founding in 2006, United States Artists has awarded more than 500 accomplished and innovative artists with unrestricted awards totaling over $22 million of direct support.

Palmer ’98, Pope to Showcase Semester’s Work on Dec. 9

Palmer, a singer/songwriter in Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra, and the musical duo The Dresden Dolls, played ukulele at the Humanities Festival.

Singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer ’98 will perform on campus on Saturday, Dec. 9, as part of a free event that will also feature a screening of her new music video.

This fall, singer-musician-writer Amanda Palmer ’98 and award-winning independent filmmaker Michael Pope teamed up to teach The Art of Doing: Creative Project Production and Making It Happen. On Saturday, Dec. 9, at 8 p.m., Palmer, Pope and their students will screen the class’s final project—a music video for an original song by Palmer, inspired by a free-writing exercise with the students—at the Goldsmith Family Cinema at Wesleyan, followed by a short performance by Palmer. Seating for the free event is limited. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

In this Q&A, Palmer and Pope reflect on their experience this semester.

Williams ’89 Reads, Sings, Signs at Bookstore Event

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams '89 performed, and read from her new book, at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Oct. 10.

Singer-songwriter Dar Williams ’89 performed—and also read from her new book—at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Oct. 10.

Dar Williams ’89 read, sang and signed copies of her new book, What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician’s Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities—One Coffee Shop, Dog Run & Open-Mike Night at a Time (Basic Book, 2017), for an appreciative audience made up of members of both the Wesleyan and Middletown communities during an appearance at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore on Oct. 10. The book is a journey through America’s small towns, where the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter has toured over the past 20 years,

WesPress Book Longlisted for 2017 National Book Award for Poetry

For the second year in a row, a book of poetry published by Wesleyan University Press has been longlisted as one of ten nominees for the National Book Award for Poetry. This year’s nominee, In the Language of My Captor, by Shane McCrae, examines the idea of freedom told through stories of captivity. Comprised of historical persona poems with a prose memoir at its center, the book addresses the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans.

“We are delighted and honored that Shane McCrae’s book is on the long list for poetry—and to be in such esteemed company,” said Suzanna Tamminen, director and editor-in-chief of Wesleyan University Press. “It’s a tremendous achievement for our press, following on the heels of last year’s National Book Award finalist for poetry, Archeophonics, by Peter Gizzi.”

The Leavers, by Lisa Ko ’98, Longlisted for National Book Award for Fiction

The Leavers, the debut novel by Lisa Ko ’98, has been selected as one of 10 works longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction.

“I was surprised and thrilled to receive the news, which I hadn’t expected as a debut novelist,” says Ko. “I’m thankful to the judges and everyone who has read and supported The Leavers. It’s especially great to see how many women writers are on the longlist this year—women of color in particular.”

Inspired by the true case of an undocumented mother who was deported without her son in 2009, the book tells the story of 11-year-old Deming Guo, whose mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, fails to return home one day from her job at a nail salon in Brooklyn—leaving the boy alone to navigate a new life as the adopted son of a well-meaning American couple in upstate New York.

¡Bienvenidos a Wespañol!

Seeing a need and filling it—that’s the story behind the creation of Wespañol, a newly launched online program that uses original video to help people who want to review and supplement their previous knowledge of Spanish without taking an actual class. The program’s launch coincides with the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15).

Hyman ’85 to be Awarded French Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres

Visual artist and author Miles Hyman ’85 has been chosen for the prestigious title of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Ministry of Culture. The award will be bestowed during a ceremony on a future date to be determined.

Hyman studied drawing and printmaking with Professor of Art David Schorr at Wesleyan and went on to study at the Paris Ecole des Beaux-arts. Hyman’s award-winning drawings and paintings have appeared in books, magazines and galleries in the United States and Europe, with clients that include the New Yorker, the New York Times, Viking Press, Chronicle Books, GQ and Louis Vuitton. He is also the author and illustrator of several graphic novels, including his adaptation of his grandmother Shirley Jackson’s renowned short story “The Lottery” (Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”: The Authorized Graphic Adaptation, Hill & Wang/Casterman, 2016) and The Prague Coup, a graphic novel retracing Graham Greene’s voyage to Vienna in 1948 to write The Third Man (with writer J-L Fromental, Dupuis, 2017). The monograph Miles Hyman/Drawings, featuring more than 200 of Hyman’s works, was published in 2015 (Glénat).