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New Writing Series Winter 2015

Peter Middleton – Wednesday, January 21, 2015 – Visual Arts Presentation Lab (SME 149) at 4:30 pm

Peter Middleton

What role does poetry play in public life? This question has led my research for many years. I have studied poetry performance, the gender politics of poetry, poetry as cultural memory, the role of little magazines, changing readerships, and most recently the interplay between poetry and science. Given the rigor required by scientific research, what possible use is a form of writing not grounded in exact knowledge other than as a cheerleader or critic on the sidelines? Recently I have been working with clinical researchers who are challenging the dogma that DNA is our medical fate. They are finding signs that the actions of the genes can be altered by environmental factors, alterations that may even last for generations. We appear to be on the verge of a new era of genetic medicine or epigenetics. Can poetry play any part in this? My talk explores the contribution that poetry can make to the wider public assessment of the linguistic, metaphorical, cultural, and ethical implications of such developments.

                                                              --Peter Middleton

Peter Middleton is the author of the forthcoming Physics Envy (Chicago), a book about American poetry and science in the Cold War due to appear later in 2015. He is also the author of books on poetry and performance, a co-authored book on memory, and a study of masculinity, as well as many essays on modern poetry, and on literature and science, including climate change. He is currently the Secretary of the British Society for Literature and Science. Educated in both the United Kingdom and the United States, he is a Professor of English at the University of Southampton, UK.

PodcastPodcast of event

Fred Moten and Michael Palmer – Wednesday, February 11, 2015 – Visual Arts Presentation Lab (SME 149) at 4:30 pm

Red and Michael

Moten’s field is black study, where he works at the intersection of poetry, critical theory, and literary and performance studies. He is interested in the poetics of black social life and the social life of art.

                                                       --Fred Moten

Fred Moten is author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, Hughson’s Tavern, B. Jenkins, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (with Stefano Harney), The Feel Trio and The Little Edges. He lives in Los Angeles and teaches at the University of California, Riverside.

Twenty Questions Regarding Poetics

Do we not write to enhance awareness and to retune body and mind to their latent, or repressed, potentialities – to what is always already there? To reclaim the uncanny? To make strange the ordinary? To sing the unsayable? To deepen both celebration and mourning? To dwell? To dwell inwardly with Dickinson and outwardly with Whitman? To dwell upon and dwell among? To dwell in the future-past? (To be, as Edward Said once said, untimely?) To gather shards? To suffer fools gladly? To peer into the well at the reflection of spectral selves and stars? To confuse and conjoin one’s body with another’s? To write upon the walls? To listen? To question? To find the measure? To grow into silence? To get lost?

In the words of Nichita Stănescu:

To be inside phenomena, always

inside phenomena.

In those of George Oppen (after Shelley):

Poets are the legislators of the unacknowledged world.

                                                               --Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer, poet and translator, has lived in San Francisco since 1969. He has worked with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company for over forty years and has collaborated with many composers and visual artists. His most recent collections are Active Boundaries (Selected Essays and Talks), (New Directions, 2008), Madman With Broom (selected poems with Chinese translations by Yunte Huang, Oxford University Press, 2011), and Thread, (New Directions, 2011). His new book of poems, The Laughter of the Sphinx, is scheduled for publication from New Directions in 2015. He has taught at various universities in the United States, Europe and Asia, and in May of 2012 received the Arts and Letters Prize in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Previously, among other awards, he received the Shelley Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the Wallace Stevens Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a Guggenheim Fellowship. From 1999 to 2004 he was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. His work has been translated into over thirty languages.

PodcastPodcast of event

Harold Abromowitz and Amanda Ackerman – Wednesday, February 18, 2015 – Visual Arts Presentation Lab (SME 149) at 4:30 pm

harlod and amanda

Much of recent work focuses on trauma: that which is unseen and unspoken, yet wields a distinct influence over our daily lives. In my work, I attempt to use innovative narrative and poetic structures to capture these felt experiences. For example, my book Dear Dearly Belovedconsists of a series of letters in which the narrator tries, and fails, and tries again, to make sense of an incredible loss. Loss becomes the subject, the desire, and the point of no return. In my novella Not Blessed, an unmentioned public trauma—war—disintegrates the shifting narrator’s empathy, as he idealizes an idyllic childhood memory that cannot possibly be true. My hope is that my work will challenge the reader to rethink—both emotionally and intellectually—our relationships in an increasingly interconnected world.

                                                            --Harold Abramowitz

Harold Abramowitz is a writer and editor from Los Angeles.  His books include Blind Spot (forthcoming from Les Figues Press), Man’s Wars And Wickedness: A Book of Proposed Remedies & Extreme Formulations for Curing Hostility, Rivalry, & Ill-Will (with Amanda Ackerman, forthcoming from Bon Aire Projects), UNFO Burns A Million Dollars (with Amanda Ackerman, Gauss PDF), Not Blessed (Les Figues Press), and Dear Dearly Departed (Palm Press).  He has contributed, alone and collaboratively, to various publications and anthologies, including Fold Appropriate Text, P-Queue, Ixnay Reader, String of Small Machines, Area Sneaks, A Sing Economy, The Physical Poets Volume 2, Moonlit, sidebrow, Source Material: A Journal of Appropriated Text, Sand, Abraham Lincoln, Aufgabe, MATERIAL, West Wind Review, and LIT.  Harold co-edits the short-form literary press eohippus labs (www.eohippuslabs.com) and writes and edits as part of the collaborative projects, SAM OR SAMANTHA YAMS and UNFO.

Organisms interact with other organisms to create worlds, create words. My work collapses distinctions between poetry and prose, and much of it arises from collaborative processes. However, I also think of narrative writing in ecological terms – recognizing that stories compete with other stories, often reframing or erasing each other – as when, for example, one story wishes to be the official version of events. On the flip side, stories call other stories into existence: they refract, allow, complement, and transform each other. I also see language as living, and not solely human, in origin. Therefore, I approach writing as a way of shifting our fields of interrelationship: our modes of proximity to and distance from each other, the nonhuman worlds, and to the Real itself. I attempt to make space for our humanimal feral selves.    

                                                        -- Amanda Ackerman

Amanda Ackerman is the author of the chapbooks The Seasons Cemented (Hex Presse), I Fell in Love with a Monster Truck (Insert Press Parrot #8), and Short Stones (Dancing Girl Press). She has co-authored Sin is to Celebration (House Press), the Gauss PDF UNFO Burns a Million Dollars, and the forthcoming novel Man’s Wars And Wickedness (Bon Aire Projects). She is co-publisher and co-editor of the press eohippus labs. She also writes collaboratively as part of the projects SAM OR SAMANTHA YAMS and UNFO. Her book The Book of Feral Flora is forthcoming from Les Figues press.

Lenelle Moïse and Corrine Goria – Wednesday, March 4, 2015 – de Certeau Room (155) Literature Building at 8:00 pm    

lenelle and corrine

I create jazz-infused, hip hop-bred poetry for the page and stage. I'm a Haitian-American queer feminist immigrant and often write about the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality and spirituality. My first book, Haiti Glass, explores environmental disaster and death-defying love. If my book had a soundtrack, it would feature hoarse voices scatting, bursts of laughter like thunder, shard crunch and the softest hums. The poems of Haiti Glass are full of music. There are dry palms clapping in “Remember Noah,” and soprano saxophone screams in “Where Our Protest Sound.” There’s a makeshift trumpet player in “Mud Mothers,” and Michael Jackson’s “Ow!” like a cymbal crashing in “Desire.” I am a poet by calling but all of my formal training is in the theatre. I love to perform poetry. My best readings are full of gesture, rhythm, breath, a little humor, and call-and-response.

                                                            --Lenelle Moïse 

Lenelle Moïse is a traveling poet, playwright, musician and the author of Haiti Glass (City Lights/Sister Spit). She is a Next Voices Fellow at New Repertory Theatre and a Huntington Theatre Company Playwriting Fellow. Her two-act comedy, Merit, won the 2012 Ruby Prize. She also wrote, composed, and co-starred in the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway drama Expatriate. Her other plays includeThe Many Faces of NiaMatermorphosis, Cornered in the Darkand K.I.S.S.I.N.G. (commissioned by the Clark University Department of Theatre). Moïse was the fifth Poet Laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts. Her writing has been featured in several magazines and anthologies, including Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution. She has received awards, residencies and/or commissions from the Gaea Foundation, Southern Rep, Kitchen Theatre Company, Hedgebrook, Astraea, Northwestern University, UT Austin, and the Black Women Playwrights’ Group. For more information, visit http://www.lenellemoise.com

I am fascinated with the liminal. With what happens at intersections. I was born and raised in San Diego, shuttled between halves of a bicultural family. I'm interested in the lines - geographic, emotional, artificial, metaphysical, temporal - that separate us and that draw us together, and the way art can bend those lines, warp them, melt them, recast them.  

                                                       --Corinne Goria

Corinne Goria is a writer and lawyer. Her fiction has ​appeared in The Silent History,​ ​AWP Conference, &Now Festival, The San Diego Writers Anthology, and other publications​. She is Assistant Editor of Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives (McSweeney’s 2008), a collection of oral histories from undocumented immigrants.​ Her book Invisible Hands: Voices from the Global Economy, was published in 2014 and was described by Kirkus Reviews as a “p​owerful and revealing testimony to the injustices of manual labor, infused with inspiration for global change." Invisible Hands has been featured in ​The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Truthout, Yes Magazine, and McSweeney’s and is currently being taught in colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

Sandra Doller and Camille Forbes – Wednesday, March 11, 2015 – Visual Arts Presentation Lab (SME 149) at 4:30 pm

sandra and camille

In The Language of Inquiry, Lyn Hejinian writes: “The language of poetry is a language of inquiry, not the language of a genre. It is that language in which a writer (or a reader) both perceives and is conscious of the perception. Poetry, therefore, takes as its premise that language is a medium for experiencing experience.” I find this statement helpful in thinking about writing as something beyond genre, style, or trend—rather, as an activity that is essential to human embodiment. To write and to read are to construct the world. That may sound a bit grandiose, but I believe we need to engage with grand forces beyond ourselves in order to subvert the pettiness of simply personal creation. Using language to make art is, for me, one of the most effective and exuberant means of staging a resistance to the dominant order.

                                                                 -- Sandra Doller

Sandra Doller is the author of four books, most recently Leave Your Body Behind from Les Figues (January 2015). Her poems, translations, collaborations, and essays frequently appear in literary venues of all sorts, including Jubilat, Fairy Tale Review, Dusie, Noo, Coconut, &Now Awards, Poets on Teaching, and Evening Will Come. The recipient of a Paul Engle-James Michener Fellowship, an Iowa Arts Fellowship, and two state arts awards, Doller completed her MFA in Poetry at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and her MA in Humanities at the University of Chicago. The founder & editrice of 1913 a journal of forms/1913 Press, Doller is currently Associate Professor of Literature & Writing Studies at Cal State University-San Marcos in San Diego.

My interest is in projects informed by extensive archival research, shaped by the burdens and freedoms afforded by the challenge of engagement with the historical record. Through such projects, I become attuned to gaps--spaces in the historical record where absence often indicates erasure or omission. Narrative thus becomes for me a process of making visible, troubling the rendering of, and imaginatively evoking, neglected and ignored actors in history. My current project, Minding the Territory,is set during the Civil War period, and traces the fortunes and misfortunes of a young enslaved woman. Hers is a story that attempts to address the gap. 

                                                              -- Camille F. Forbes

Camille F. Forbes holds a PhD in History of American Civilization from Harvard University. Her first monograph, Introducing Bert Williams: Burnt Cork, Broadway, and The Story of America's First Black Star, is a critical biography of 19th-century black Bahamian comedian, Egbert A. Williams. Her current work in progress, Minding the Territory, is a historical novel set during the Civil War, which traces the fortunes and misfortunes of a young in slave woman. Dr. Forbes's life in performance has been varied, taking her from standup comedy acts in Boston to her one-woman stage piece, "Tales of Suburban Squalor." An associate professor of Literature at UC San Diego, Dr. Forbes currently teaches courses in fiction and nonfiction writing, as well as standup comedy.


The New Writing Series is brought to you by the Literature Department and the Division of Arts and Humanities

The New Writing Series thanks the Department of Visual Arts for providing us with the SME Presentation Space

For more information contact Professor Anna Joy Springer



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de Certeau Room
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