Writing and Literature News

Posted on Friday, January 8, 2010 by Jim Norrena

Award-winning Graphic Design associate professor Bob Aufuldish designed the marketing pieces for An Evening with David Sedaris

California College of the Arts saw countless events and happenings during 2009, yet one event in particular stands out for its remarkable success: An Evening with David Sedaris. CCA's benefit for scholarships, which attracted more than 2,000 attendees to the Marin Center Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium on Thursday, October 29, raised more than $150,000 for students in need—a whopping 50 percent above the goal!

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Posted on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 by Brenda Tucker

Sanjit Sethi will head ENGAGE at CCAView slideshow 

In 2010, students at California College of the Arts (CCA) will design furniture for Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland; help improve communications and systems for seniors at Bethany Center, San Francisco; create protective nesting modules for seabirds on Año Nuevo Island, off the Northern California coast; and work with high school students to publish an anthology of personal essays at 826 Valencia Book Project, San Francisco. These and several other projects are part of ENGAGE at CCA, an innovative initiative that will launch January 11, 2010.

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Posted on Friday, December 18, 2009 by Jim Norrena

2009 NEA fellowship awardee Aimee PhanView slideshow 

CCA Writing and Literature chair and assistant professor Aimee Phan, also an assistant professor in the college’s MFA Program in Writing, has been awarded a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 2010 Literature Fellowship in Creative Writing.

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Posted on Monday, August 17, 2009 by Jim Norrena

Students and alumni share their perspectives on the MFA Program in Writing.

Jack Bergquist

The night before my first class last year was also the first night in my new apartment. I slept on a thin futon mattress on a thinly insulated floor above a bass-thumping bar. The next morning I almost threw up from nerves and lack of sleep.

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Posted on Monday, July 27, 2009 by Jim Norrena

CCA’s MFA Program in Writing adjunct professor Holly Payne has been in the spotlight before, having authored The Virgin’s Knot and The Sound of Blue, but this summer seems to be shining the brightest. The spirited novelist, screenwriter, and writing coach released her third novel, Kingdom of Simplicity, in July—and it's already on the Bay Area best-seller list in the quality paperbacks category!

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Posted on Thursday, July 16, 2009 by Brenda Tucker

California College of the Arts (CCA) presents An Evening with David Sedaris on Thursday, October 29, 2009, at 8 p.m. at the Marin Center Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael, California. The evening will include a reading from new and unpublished materials, a book signing sponsored by Book Passage, and, for leadership donors to the event, a special cocktail reception with the author. All proceeds benefit scholarships at CCA.

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Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2009 by Jim Norrena

MFA in Writing alumna Laura LeHew's poetry is featured in the anthology Eating Her Wedding Dress

CCA Alumna and poet Laura LeHew (MFA in Writing 2003) is one of 100 contemporary poets being featured in Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems, published by Ragged Sky Press, which includes other noteworthy local writers and literary luminaries such as Kim Addonizio, Margaret Atwood, Billy Collins, Elaine Equi, Jorie Graham, Maxine Kumin, Paul Muldoon, and Charles Simic. Eating Her Wedding Dress celebrates clothing in its many forms and functions as: desire, ghost, body, poetry, talisman, and transformer of the soul.

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Posted on Monday, March 23, 2009 by Sarah Owens

Julian Myers, associate professor, Curatorial Practice and Visual Studies programsView slideshow 

Scholar, critic, and curator Julian Myers, PhD, associate professor in the Curatorial Practice and Visual Studies programs, has been selected as a grantee for the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program, a first-of-its-kind program "aimed to honor and encourage writing about art." Julian's proposed book project, Mirror-Travel in the Motor City, is one of 27 projects awarded a portion of the $635,000 total grant.

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Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2008 by Jim Norrena

Hard work and artistic vision paid off for Andy Nicholson (MFA Writing 2008) who was awarded the 2008 Schaeffer Fellowship in poetry

Congratulations to Andy Nicholson, 2006 graduate of CCA's MFA Program in Writing, who is a recipient of the Schaeffer Fellowship in poetry. This fall he began the PhD in English program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

UNLV's PhD in English with a creative dissertation focuses on English and American literature with the goal of preparing students to pursue writing careers—be they instructional at the college or university level or based in editing or publishing. The Atlantic heralded the program as among the top five in the nation.

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Posted on Friday, October 3, 2008 by Jim Norrena

Director Wayne Wang filming A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.)

(Yiyun Li will speak at CCA as part of the MFA Writers' Series on November 21 at 3:30 p.m. in the Writers' Studio.)

In a recent interview with CCA alum and celebrated writer/director/producer Wayne Wang (The Center of the World, The Joy Luck Club, Smoke), who has been making films for the past 30 years (starting when still a student at CCA) and who has remarkable influence on aspiring Asian filmmakers, he discussed his recent departure from Hollywood big films to focus more on smaller, independent films:

"I got on this treadmill of studio movies and I had fun, made a lot of good money, but I was having a hard time getting off of it so I sort of consciously just got off and said, 'How can I go back to some of my own films, independent films dealing with the Chinese in America again?' I found first of all one of the big changes with the Chinese community here is that there are a lot more new immigrants from China, and second, I found Yiyun Li's book, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. There were two stories that I really liked in there, so I ended up . . . making two films." (Read the full interview with Wayne Wang.)

Two stories indeed. "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" and "The Princess of Nebraska" are each featured in Li's award-winning collection of short stories, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, which impressed Wang.

Oakland-based Yiyun Li's debut collection of short stories won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction. She was recently selected by Granta as one of the Best Young American Novelists.

Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996. 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.

So it's not so surprising that a director as talented as Wang would recognize talent in a writer like Li.

Li was able to work extensively on the screenplay for Thousand Prayers (Magnolia Pictures); however, she was knee-deep working on her first full-length novel, and thus less involved in the film production of "The Princess of Alaska," which Wang codirected with Richard Wong under the same title.

The films had a back-to-back screening (as a single feature) at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival. Then Thousand Prayers opened the 2008 International Asian Film Festival. But it was only recently that Thousand Prayers had its theatrical release opening at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York September 19. (Interestingly, in France the two films were released simultaneously with theater venues offering viewers a choice of either or both.)

However, nowadays when a film releases is less intriguing as how it releases: on October 17 YouTube's Screening Room will air the U.S. premiere of The Princess of Nebraska, also from Magnolia Pictures. (Watch the exclusive YouTube Princess of Nebraska trailer.)

Much like the subject matter of either short story, Wang hopes the innovative release strategy will serve multiple audiences, thus uniting different generations and cultures—be it symbolically or otherwise.

"A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is classical and is being distributed classically," Wong says. "It's about an older generation. The Princess of Nebraska is about a new generation. It's shot in a very contemporary way. It was very guerrilla style, and we used a lot of cell phone stuff, and it made sense for [the film] to go to the Internet." (Listen to the complete NPR interview. Approximately five minutes.)

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