Fall 2008 Writers Series

Fall 2008 Speakers

* See also Small Press Traffic reading series

** See also CCA Graduate Studies Lecture Series

Jeffrey Renard Allen

Jeffrey Renard Allen

Jeffrey Renard Allen is author of the novels Night Train and Rails Under My Back, as well as two collections of poetry.

His awards include a Whiting Award, The Chicago Public Library's Twenty-first Century Award, a Recognition for Pioneering Achievements in Fiction from the African American Literature and Culture Association, a support grant from Creative Capital, and the 2003 Charles Angoff Award for Fiction from The Literary Review.

Anita Amirrezvani

Anita Amirrezvani

Anita Amirrezvani is an Iranian writer who grew up in San Francisco. She has made a career in writing and editing, and worked as a dance critic and arts writer in San Francisco.

Her first novel, The Blood of Flowers, was published in 2007 and heralded by Publishers Weekly, Vogue, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. The novel also was featured in the 2007 Kirkus Reviews First Fiction Spotlight.

Kate Colby

Kate Colby

Kate Colby is the author of Fruitlands (Litmus Press, 2006), winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award, and author of chapbooks from Anadama and Belladonna. Recent work has appeared in Aufgabe, New American Writing and Vanitas. She grew up in Massachusetts and has recently moved to Providence after 11 years in San Francisco. She is an alumna of CCA's MFA in Writing Program.

Her latest book, Unbecoming Behavior (Ugly Duckling Press, 2008) is part autobiography, part revisionist biography of Jane Bowles. It is Colby's attempt to "wind [herself] like a stripe to a pole" in order to catch an honest glimpse of herself "in the corner of [her] eye." The long poem is about personal historicity, persona, performance, femininity, travel, exile, home, storytelling, and the act of writing itself.

See also Matvei Yankelevich

Doug Dorst

Doug Dorst

Dorst's first novel, Alive in Necropolis (Riverhead Books, 2008) was reviewed in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. Read the review (free-of-charge registration required to access).

Forthcoming in 2009 is Dorst's first short-story collection, The Surf Guru (also from Riverhead Books). His stories have appeared in McSweeney's, Ploughshares, The Atlantic Unbound, The Sun, ZYZZYVA, and other journals. His first play, Monster in the Dark, a collaboration with foolsFURY Theater Company, had runs in San Francisco and Berkeley earlier in 2008. The San Francisco Examiner praised Monster as "masterful… fascinating throughout," and SF Weekly cited the play in naming foolsFURY San Francisco's Best Theater Company as part of its annual "Best of the Bay" edition.

Dorst is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener / Copernicus Society, and the MacDowell Colony.

A longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Doug earned a bachelor of arts from Stanford and a Juris docotorate from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall. He also has taught writing at Stanford, as well as for CCA's MFA Writing Program.

He currently lives in Austin, where he is an assistant professor of creative writing at St. Edward's University and serves on the board of directors of Austin Bat Cave, a nonprofit writing center for children.

Susan Griffin

Susan Griffin

Susan Griffin is an award-winning poet, writer, essayist, playwright, and filmmaker, who has written 19 books, including Wrestling with the Angel of Democracy: The Autobiography of an American Citizen and A Chorus of Stones. She's been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Additional work includes The Book of Courtesans, What Her Body Thought, Woman and Nature, and Bending Home: Poems Selected and New 1967–1998. She also is coeditor of the forthcoming Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World.

Griffin has received an Emmy, a one-year MacArthur Grant for Peace and International Cooperation, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additionally her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Ms magazine, and several other publications.

She was born in Los Angeles in 1943 in the midst of World War II and the holocaust—events that have had a lasting effect on her. The time she spent as a child in the high Sierras and along the Pacific coast also have shaped her awareness. As she draws connections between the destruction of nature, the diminishment of women and people of color, and traces the causes of war to denial in both private and public life, her work moves beyond the boundaries of form and perception.

Griffin is known for her innovative writing style. Woman and Nature, her groundbreaking book, is an extended prose poem. A Chorus of Stones, the Private Life of War, blends history and memoir, as does Wrestling with the Angel of Democracy, her most recent book (Trumpeter, 2008). This work explores the state of mind that engenders and sustains democracy. Each book is part of a larger series of several volumes, comprising "social autobiography."

Utne Reader named Griffin as one of a hundred important visionaries for the new millennium. Her work, translated into 17 languages, is taught in colleges and universities internationally. She also has published several volumes of poetry: Unremembered Country won the Commonwealth Club's Silver Medal for poetry in 1987; and Bending Home, Poems Selected and New 1967–1998 (Copper Canyon Press, 1998), which was a finalist for the Western States Art Federation Award.

Griffin's more recent play, Thicket, performed in San Francisco by Ruth Zaporah, was published by The Kenyon Review. In addition to working as consultant for two other documentary films, she coauthored Berkeley in the Sixties, an Academy Award–nominated film; is currently writing a script depicting the life of a courtesan; has completed Canto, a play set to publish in 2009 about the massacres of villagers in Salvador that is written in poetry and set to music by the composer and musician Glenn Kotche; and is coediting an anthology titled, Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World (forthcoming form UC Press).

She lectures widely in the United States and abroad and teaches occasional courses at California Institute of Integral Studies and Pacifica Graduate School, as well as privately at her home in Berkeley, California.

Yiyun Li

Paul Muldoon

Yiyun Li was born and raised in Beijing. In 1996 she came to the United States where she earned an MFA from Iowa Writers' Workshop and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa.

Her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope: All-Story, Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, Glimmer Train, Prospect, and elsewhere. She has received grants and awards from Lannan Foundation and Whiting Foundation.

Her debut collection of work, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction. Granta recently deemed Li as one of the Best Young American Novelists.

Li's short story of the same name was recently been made into a feature film directed by Wayne Wang and starring Henry O and Faye Yu.

She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and two sons, and teaches in the MFA program at Mills College.

Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon

Born, raised, and educated in Northern Ireland, Paul Muldoon is known as one of today's most playful, allusive, and inventive poets. His subjects range from rock 'n roll to picaresque narratives that treat the "troubles" of Northern Ireland obliquely. Key to Muldoon's technique is the immense map of correspondences he sees between words—at times a correspondence made purely by sound.

Muldoon has lived in the United States since 1987. In 2007 he was appointed poetry editor of the New Yorker. He went was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2003 and the European Prize for poetry in 1996, to name two of the 10 major accolades he has earned. Author of 38 books, his latest two are Horse Latitudes (Faber and Faber, 2006) and The End of the Poem: Oxford Lectures in Poetry (Faber and Faber, 2006).

Muldoon's collections of poetry include New Weather (1973), Mules (1977), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Quoof (1983), Meeting the British (1987), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), The Annals of Chile (1994), Hay (1998), Poems 1968–1998 (2001) and Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), the later of which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. His tenth collection, Horse Latitudes, appeared in fall 2006.

A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Muldoon was given an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature for 1996.

Other awards: 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2005 Aspen Prize for Poetry, and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry.

Muldoon has been described by the Times Literary Supplement as "the most significant English-language poet born since the second world war."

(Bio source includes www.paulmuldoon.net and the independent website The British Council: Contemporary Writers.)

Ishmael Reed

Ishmael Reed

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Ishmael Reed is an internationally renowned, award-winning novelist, poet, playwright, and essayist with more than 25 published books and six plays to his credit.

In 1998 he became the 23rd UC Berkeley faculty member to be awarded with the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award.

Reed also is a publisher, editor of numerous anthologies and magazines, television producer, radio and television commentator, teacher, and lecturer. In addition to his 26 years spent as a lecturer at UC Berkeley, Reed also taught at Harvard, Dartmouth, and Yale.

New and Collected Poems, 1964–2006 (Carroll & Graf, 2006) was recently released in paperback and New and Collected Poems, 1964–2007 (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2007) was listed by the New York Times Book Review as one of the four best books of poetry published in 2006. The latter title also received the California Gold Medal in Poetry by the Commonwealth Club in June 2007.

In February 2008 Da Capo Press published Mixing It Up: Taking On The Media Bullies & Other Reflections, a new collection of Reed's essays. In July 2008 the same publisher released Powwow: American Short Fiction from Then to Now, which Reed edited. Random House will publish his nonfiction work on Muhammad Ali, Bigger Than Boxing, scheduled to release in 2008.

Two of Reed's books have been nominated for National Book Awards, and his book of poetry, Conjure: Selected Poems, 1963–1970 (1972), (University of Massachusetts Press, 1970) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. "Beware Do Not Read This Poem," written in Seattle in 1969, has been cited by Gale Research Company as one of the approximately 20 poems that teachers and librarians have identified as most frequently studied in literature courses. Harold Bloom designated Mumbo Jumbo one of the 500 important books of the Western canon. Library Journal called From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas 1900-2002, edited by Reed, "outstanding" and "one of the four best poetry anthologies of 2003."

Reed's other awards include writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, as well as New York State Council of the Arts fellowships for publishing and video production. He received the Langston Hughes Medal, awarded by City College of New York (1995); the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Award (1997), establishing a three-year collaboration with the Oakland-based Second Start Literacy Project in 1998; a MacArthur Fellowship (1998); a Fred Cody Award from the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association and was inducted into Chicago State University's National Literary Hall of Fame of Writers of African Descent (1999); a Rene Castillo OTTO Award for Political Theatre (2002); and a Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award and a Phyllis Wheatley Award from the Harlem Book Fair (2003).

In the last five years Reed has been honored with a Robert Kirsch Award, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize; the D.C. Area Writing Project's Second Annual Exemplary Writer's Award; the Martin Millennial Writers, Inc. Contribution to Southern Arts Award in Memphis, Tennessee, and an invitation to speak at Stanford University's Bill and Jean Lane Lecture Series.

Reed currently lives in Oakland's inner city with his wife, Carla Blank, a writer, educator, and director.

Matvei Yankelevich

Matvei Yankelevich

Matvei Yankelevich edited and translated Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook Press, 2007). His translation of Vladimir Mayakovsky's poem "A Cloud in Pants" is included in Night Wraps The Sky: Writings by and about Mayakovsky (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008) and he cotranslated Oberiu: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism (Northwestern, 2006). His translations of Russian poetry have appeared in several anthologies, as well as in many periodicals, including Circumference, Harpers, New American Writing, and The New Yorker. His writing has appeared in Boston Review, Damn The Caesars, Fence, Octopus, Open City, and other literary journals. He authored a long poem, The Present Work (Palm Press, 2006). He teaches Russian Literature at Hunter College in New York City. He is a coeditor of 6x6 poetry periodical and edits the Eastern European Poets Series at Ugly Duckling Press.

See also Kate Colby