Marilyn Abildskov, Brenda Hillman, Wesley Gibson, Rosemary Graham, Christopher Sindt, Lysley Tenorio, and Matthew Zapruder. Introduction by Brenna McNab.
Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015) and three books of poetry. Her collection Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Duende won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. In 2014 the Academy of American Poets awarded her the Academy Fellowship. Smith is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.
Juliana Spahr edits the book series Chain Links with Jena Osman and the collectively funded Subpress with nineteen other people and Commune Editions with Joshua Clover and Jasper Bernes. With David Buuck she wrote Army of Lovers. She has edited with Stephanie Young A Megaphone: Some Enactments, Some Numbers, and Some Essays about the Continued Usefulness of Crotchless-pants-and-a-machine-gun Feminism (Chain Links, 2011), with Joan Retallack Poetry & Pedagogy: the Challenge of the Contemporary(Palgrave, 2006), and with Claudia Rankine American Women Poets in the 21st Century(Wesleyan U P, 2002). Her most recent book is That Winter the Wolf Came from Commune Editions.
Friday, February 15th, 2017, 7:30pm.
Hagerty Lounge, SMC Campus
Natalie Baszile is the author of the novel, Queen Sugar, adapated for TV by writer/director Ava DuVernay of Selma and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey for the OWN network. Queen Sugar was named one of the San Francisco Chronicles’ Best Books of 2014, was long-listed for the Crooks Corner Southern Book Prize, and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Baszile has a MA in Afro-American Studies from UCLA, and an MFA from Warren Wilson College’s Program for Writers. She lives in San Francisco.
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017, 7:30pm.
Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and a faculty advisor in the low-residency BFA Creative Writing Program at Goddard College. White's debut collection, Hurrah’s Nest, was a finalist for the 2013 Wheatley Book Awards, the 82nd California Book Awards, and nominated for the 44th NAACP Image Award. A Penny Saved, inspired by the true-life story of Polly Mitchell, was published in 2012. Forthcoming is the full-length collection You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened.
Wednesday, April 19th, 2017, 7:30pm.
Hagerty Lounge, SMC Campus, free and open to the public
Joyce Maynard is the author of sixteen books including the novels To Die For and Labor Day (both adapted for film) and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World. A fellow of the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, she founded the Lake Atitlan Writers’ Workshop in 2001. Maynard makes her home in Lafayette, CA, where she is currently at work on the screenplay for her novel, Under the Influence. A memoir about finding her husband at age 58, marrying him at 59, and losing him to cancer three years later, will be published in Fall, 2017.
Publishing and the Literary Ecosystem by Ethan Nosowsky
October 5th | 2:30pm | Dante 204
In this talk Nosowsky will explain some of the changes that have rocked the publishing landscape over the past two decades, from the emergence of Amazon and the advent of ebooks to conglomeration and the rise of independent presses. He will help writers understand what it is that publishers look for in the books they acquire and the authors they work with, and he will urge writers to think more actively about what they need from their publishers and agents. The publishing industry has always walked a fine line between the desire for art and the exigencies of commerce, and we will discuss how writers can negotiate that sometimes uncomfortable terrain.
Ethan Nosowsky has worked as a book editor for more than twenty years, and is the Editorial Director for Graywolf Press.@Nosowsky
“The Politics of Poetry Production, The Politics of Poetic Form” by Juliana Spahr
November 9th | 2:30pm | Hagerty Lounge
This talk is part of a larger project about contemporary US literature that asks a very old question about the relation between literature and politics. I have recently finished a scholarly book that attempts to understand the peculiar challenges that writers who want to write against empire within empire in the contemporary moment face. Not just aesthetic choices and content concerns but also structural challenges such as distribution. Since the turn of the twenty first century, resistant US literary production is somewhat analogous to the earth’s ailing ecosystem: at risk because of multiple forces that mutually reinforce each other in ways that are expansive and self-reinforcing. I wanted to understand these forces. And I felt that specific attention to the complicated histories that shape contemporary literature might enhance the existing discussion around these issues. This discussion, for instance, felt caught between an Adorno-esque all is caught and a sort of willfully naïve optimism that literature is by default a meaningful tool of resistance. In short, this talk will attempt to understand and nuance that vexed and uneven relationship between literature and politics. Put more vernacularly one of the questions that it asks is why are the 90s not like the 70s when literature had a very close tie to various resistant social movements?
Juliana Spahr edits the book series Chain Links with Jena Osman and the collectively funded Subpress with nineteen other people and Commune Editions with Joshua Clover and Jasper Bernes. With David Buuck she wrote Army of Lovers. Her most recent book is That Winter the Wolf Came from Commune Editions.
Scavenger Hunts, Talking Mice, and Boy Wizards: Writing for Younger Audiences by Jennifer Bertman
November 30th | 2:30pm | Moraga Library, Community Room
This talk will give an overview of writing the middle grade and young adult novel, how the two differ, and what distinguishes writing for younger audiences from a craft perspective.
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman's debut novel, Book Scavenger, is a New York Times Bestseller and was named a 2015 Amazon Best Book of the Year, a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, and an Indie Next List Pick. A sequel titled The Unbreakable Code will be published in 2017. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary's College.
February 15th | 2:30pm | Hagerty Lounge
“Queer Imaginary: A Black Female Aesthetic”by Arisa White
This craft talk explores the personal and cultural inheritances that shape our imaginations and how that impacts our language and the building of a poem. In the introduction to The Racial Imaginary, editors Beth Loffreda and Claudia Rankine observe that “[O]ne source of creativity lies in the fact that each individual is essentially strange.” This essential strangeness is at the center of my aesthetic, and it took on a layered and expanded meaning when addressing queer desire and sexuality in my most recent poetry collection. Having grown up with a lesbian aunt and her friends, I learned to read queerness on black female bodies. As their own narrative about blackness and gender, they brought us into the intersections of an emotionally intelligent place. They were a different syntactical arrangement that shifted subjectivity and their embodiment of space and time made for a more nuanced perception of the individual. This talk will unpack the queer imaginary that informs my work, examining the way my aunt and her friends languaged themselves in the world and how that became a model for how to create a poem.
Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and a faculty advisor in the low-residency BFA Creative Writing Program at Goddard College. Forthcoming is the full-length collection You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened.
March 22 | 2:30pm | Hagerty Lounge
“The Anatomy of a Personal Essay” by Joyce Maynard
As an author who has published over a thousand personal essays, Joyce Maynard says the form of the short personal narrative (“a story that is about something small, and something big, at the same time”) remains a favorite in her writing life. In this talk, Maynard will work through, beginning to end, the process of creating a seventeen hundred word essay, from the raw material of the experience to the final piece of work. She’ll talk about all the old favorites; point of entry, structure, arc, conflict and resolution, the concept of locating “a container”, and talk about the decisions she made In the crafting of the essay she’ll explore with the audience.
Joyce Maynard is the author of sixteen books including the novels To Die For and Labor Day (both adapted for film) and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World—translated into seventeen languages.
April 19 | 2:30pm | Hagerty Lounge
“Species of Light and Bruised Landscapes: The Importance of Place in Fiction” by Natalie Baszile
Man Booker Prize winner Josip Navakovich says, “No matter what, give us a world.” Indeed, there’s nothing more satisfying than reading a story that tips us headfirst into another place, whether it be the gritty streets of 1920s New York’s East Village, Wyoming’s windswept plains, or the vast reaches of Alaska’s Yukon Territory. In this interactive lecture, we will dissect excerpts from published works to see how authors deepen the connection between place and character, tighten the link between place and emotion, and breathe life into their settings.
Natalie Baszile is the author of the debut novel, Queen Sugar, which is being adapted for TV by writer/director, Ava DuVernay of “Selma” fame, and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey for OWN, Winfrey’s cable network.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 12:15 P.M.
For most people who make the decision to continue their education, either to complete a...
Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 7:30 P.M.
De La Salle Hall: Hagerty Lounge
Join us to listen to Ryan Buell, John Ellis, Dan Alter, and Antoinette Farmer's reading.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 2:30 P.M.
Dante Hall, 204
Ethan Nosowsky, visiting editor in fiction is giving a craft talk in Dante 204....
Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 7:30 P.M.
3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549
Tracy K. Smith...
Listen to the first creative writing reading series with Brenna McNab (2011) introducing: Marilyn Abildskov, Wesley Gibson, Rosemary Graham, Brenda Hillman, Christopher Sindt, Lysley Tenorio, and Matthew Zapruder.
Alumnus Nestor Gomez recently had a reading at Sam's Grill to help support the MFA in Creative Writing fundraiser event.
Creative Writing Reading Series, May 2016