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New Writing Series Fall 2014

Ricardo Abreau Bracho and Sarah Fran Wisby – Wednesday, October 8. 2014 – de Certeau Room (155) Literature Building at 4:30 pm

sarah and Ricardo

Sarah Fran Wisby

If you've ever been lonely, if you've ever been in a love triangle with an astronaut and a black hole, if you've ever tried to give yourself mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, if you sometimes wish you didn't have a body, if you sometimes wish you were only a body, flopping down the sidewalk, spangled with want, queasy with sex, throbbing with despair, if you've ever thought "I am neither male nor female but pure muscle pushing the universe in and out," the heart's progress may have been written for you.

Sarah Fran Wisby is an exceptional person, possibly a saint or a genius, but probably neither, marred by bad habits and nearing middle age, and quite poor compared to her millionaire neighbors. Still, she believes she knows how to have fun. Her new book, the heart's progress, was called “a raucous joyride and moving confession” by Maggie Nelson. Robert Glück called her first book, VIVA LOSS, “harsh, juicy, learned, and tender.” Wisby writes poetry, fiction, essays, pornography, and status updates, preferring always to deepen and subvert genre by way of the hybrid form. She lives in San Francisco and works in the food trenches. See more pictures of her wearing fur and read her woefully outdated blog at www.sarahfranwisby.com

Ricardo A. Bracho

The Enticement of Seven Moons: We are all familiar on a bodily level with gravity’s effect.  I have been thinking about gravity’s affect.  Specifically how so many metaphors for righteous living (feeling grounded, centered, etc) as well as those for when we muck up life – falling flat on one’s ass, for instance – are devised around gravitational pull as an emotional system.  I am writing of a place, Universe 1-B, with seven moons and a small dark sun, a lunar rather than solar system.  The characters, a black-brown gay couple, discuss ontology and space travel, play the dozens and kick back in this sci-fi stoner comedy, entitled Whitey Ain’t On This Moon. I am also pondering how it is I have to come to this place in my “writing career” – twenty years in and still at odds with the art market, the compulsion to conventional form and politics in the American theater and the wtf of Gaza, Ferguson, the drought and endless US imperial war.  This looking back at my writing practice and rage, I call, #KWEEN, I just need to know your journey.  

Ricardo A. Bracho writes plays and essays, produces theater, edits creative and critical work, and teaches and lectures at universities and community orbs. In San Francisco, where two of his shows premiered, he worked in the Mission District with the feminist Brava Theater Center, queer Theater Rhinoceros, Latina/o LGBT Proyecto ContraSIDA Por Vida and fly Intersection for the Arts/Campo Santo.  In New York, the Latino theaters Intar and Pregones produced and developed his work, and he was a participant in Mabou Mines’ Resident Artists Program, as well as the Tribeca Film Festival’s one-time theater festival for playwrights of color.  In Los Angeles, he has received commissions from the Center Theater Group and his plays have been performed at Company of Angels, LACE, and Casa 0101.  He has collaborated with visual and performance artists including Dorian Wood, Rafa Esparza and Ivan Monforte; he has also worked on the film and video projects of Cristina Ibarra, Ela Troyano, Jules Nurrish, Angela Reginato and Augie Robles.  His plays have had staged readings and workshop productions at UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, DePaul University, Brown University, Stanford University, and Vassar College. He has been a visiting faculty at The Theater School at DePaul University in Chicago and Artist/Scholar in Residence in The Center for Chicana/o Studies of UC Santa Barbara. His works include The Sweetest Hangover, A to B, Sissy, Puto, Mexican Psychotic and Querido.  He lives in Los Angeles and is working on a new play.  

Robin Coste Lewis and Tisa Bryant – Wednesday, October 29, 2014 – de Certeau Room (155) Literature Building at 4:30 pm


Tisa Bryant

When she was an adolescent, Tisa Bryant’s mother lured her into the basement to watch old black-and-white movies on television, simultaneously setting her up in front of an ironing board and baskets of wrinkled clothes.  In exchange, the young Bryant subjected her mother to an endless stream of critiques of the uses of race, gender and class in both the movies and in the commercial breaks. Through this duplicitous bonding-cum-domestic boot camp/critical Black nerd revenge, a complicated creative and critical process took shape that persists in Bryant’s work.  As a result, archival research, film, theft (of “genderless” time, story, space), montage, freedom and Black female subjectivity feature prominently in Tisa Bryant’s work.

Tisa Bryant is the author of Unexplained Presence, a collection of fiction-essays that remix narratives of black presences in film, literature and visual art.  She is co-editor and publisher of the cross-referenced journal of narrative and storytelling possibility, The Encyclopedia Project, and co-editor of War Diaries, an anthology on black gay men’s desire and survival.  A member of the Dark Room Collective, she recently participated in a reunion tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of their nationally-renowned African diasporic reading series and arts exhibition.  Her writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Animal ShelterBlack ClockBombay GinMandorla, Reanimation Library's Word Processor series, and Viz.  She is at work on a novel, The Curator, and teaches fiction and hybrid forms in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the California Institute of the Arts. She lives in Los Angeles.

Robin Coste Lewis

As a child, I secretly colored all the girls in my Dr. Seuss books brown.  I did not remember this fact at all, until a few years ago, when I found my well-worn forty year old copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  I opened the page and there was the little girl's face covered in brown waxy scribbling.  It felt like a note from my child self to my adult self.  If I have an ars poetica, this is surely a part of it––unfortunately.  There are these grand, brilliant, much-beloved narratives in the world, and yet, like an old photograph, so much of our world lives outside of that frame.   Simultaneously, my work is also informed by the ancient world of mythology, where characters shapeshifted thousands of years before the notion of a citizen was even invented.  My work lives somewhere between these two worlds, or where these two worlds meet.  I love the darkness living in the hand of a child who refuses not to see herself in the book she loves.  Simultaneously, I also love that ancient darkness that insists that no single life is finite, or even distinct.

Robin Coste Lewis is a Provost’s Fellow in Poetry and Visual Studies at USC. A Cave Canem fellow, she received her MFA from NYU and an MTS in Sanskrit from Harvard's Divinity School. A finalist for the International War Poetry Prize, the National Rita Dove Prize, and the Discovery Prize, her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She has taught at Wheaton College, Hunter College, Hampshire College and the NYU/MFA in Paris. Born in Compton, her family is from New Orleans. Her book of poems, Voyage of the Sable Venus, is forthcoming from Knopf.

Daniel Levesque and TC Tolbert – Wednesday, November 12, 2014 – SME Performance Space at 4:30 pm


Daniel Levesque

My writing seeks to incorporate the comedic pitfalls of daily existence with the influences that I have been exposed to. I work with the cut-up as designed by Gysin and Burroughs, and am fascinated by the concept of the cut-up applied to the body, as witnessed in the work of the artist/s BREYER P-ORRIDGE. I am interested in the harnessing of chaos energies and the ability of the third mind to effect change on my own creative output. In my work I am interested in investigating how the seemingly small experiences we have as children go on to form our personal world views/truths. (All of our truths are true, all of the time.) I seek a shift in consensus reality via dissection of consensus perception, and I believe us all to be part of this shift regardless of our medium. In the interest of full disclosure, I am also hopelessly addicted to teevee, particularly trash reality shows and daytime court programs. I find this electronic sewage to be a form of conscious meditation, no different from the test patterns or white static that mesmerized me as a child watching UHF.

Daniel LéVesque is a burned out hairhopper and author of the novel Hairdresser on Fire (Manic D Press 2013). His work can be found in the anthology, Pills, Chills, Thrills and Heartache: Adventures in the First Person (Alyson 2004), as well as in countless magazines and online formats. Daniel is a frequent offender at San Francisco’s Radar Reading Series and Porchlight Storytelling Series. After receiving a fellowship at the Radar LAB in Akumal, MX in 2011, he finished his novel and became an official touring member of “Sister Spit: The Next Generation” in 2013. He has been touring Hairdresser on Fire extensively, both nationally and in Canada, and is currently working on a novella and a screenplay. A Leo with Aquarius rising, he lives in Oakland, California, with the love of his life and two scrappy dogs.

TC Tolbert

As a trans and genderqueer poet (FTM), my work deals with loss, inconsistencies in the body and the text, violence (deliberate or accidental, from outside or from within), and a longing for transformation. In Gephyromania (literally, an addiction to or an obsession with bridges), Tolbert’s choice isn’t between female and male, lover and self, or loss and relief, but rather to live (willingly, intentionally) in the places where those binaries meet. Questions arise: Is a bridge simply an attempt to connect one (seemingly) stable body back to itself? Whose body—which embodiment—is absent when we say “I miss you”? And who is adored when we say “I love”? Sensing the parallels between a lover who leaves and his own female body as it chooses (as he chooses for it) to recede, the poems in Gephyromania explore the spaces between, among, across, and even within bodies.

TC Tolbert often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, dancer, and poet but really s/he’s just a human in love with humans doing human things. The author of Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press 2014), Conditions/Conditioning (a collaborative chapbook with Jen Hofer, New Lights Press 2014),I: Not He: Not I (Pity Milk chapbook 2014),Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (co-editor with Trace Peterson, Nightboat Books 2013),spirare (Belladonna* chaplet 2012), and territories of folding (Kore Press chapbook 2011), his favorite thing in the world is Compositional Improvisation (which is another way of saying being alive). S/he is Assistant Director of Casa Libre, faculty in the low residency MFA program at OSU-Cascades, and adjunct faculty at University of Arizona. S/he spends his summers leading wilderness trips for Outward Bound. Thanks to Movement Salon and the Architects, TC keeps showing up and paying attention. Gloria Anzaldúa said, Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks. John Cage said, it’s lighter than you think. www.tctolbert.com

Heather Fowler and John Gery – Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – SME Performance Space at 4:30 pm

Heather and John

Heather Fowler

I like story collections that offer wild variety in voice and style—and authors who experiment with multiple genres.  I do experiment a lot with my work, which is why one day I’ll be writing a book of alexandrine sonnets and the next working on a screenplay or a novel, but stories and poems are my favorite vices. This November, I’ll be reading excerpts from my newest published collection, Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness, which is a book of modern and historical stories about the mentally ill—and also some recent poems.  The latest collection was illustrated by graphic artist Pablo Vision from the UK and also features an artist’s appendices. It was exciting to put together what I feel is a euro-centric book object. I hope to do more visually illustrated work for adults with fine artist collaborators. I also hope to do collaborations with music and text in the upcoming years. It’s always wonderful and fun to incorporate different impulses in the work.

Heather Fowler received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University and will have completed an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing at the University of New Orleans by summer  2015. Heather Fowler is the author of the story collections Suspended Heart (2009), People with Holes (2012), This Time, While We're Awake (2013), and Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness (2014). Fowler’s People with Holes was named a 2012 finalist for Foreword Reviews’ Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction and This Time, While We’re Awake was represented by artist Kate Protage’s artwork in the X-Libris 100 Artists, 100 Books 2014 Seattle art exhibit. Fowler’s forthcoming collaborative poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, written with Meg Tuite and Michelle Reale, was the winner of the 2013 Twin Antlers Prize For Collaborative Poetry and will be released in November 2014. Her stories and poems have been published online and in print in the U.S., England, Australia, and India, and have appeared in such venues as PANK, Night Train, storyglossia, Surreal South, Feminist Studies, Short Story America, and more, as well as having been nominated for the storySouth Million Writers Award, Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net, and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine. 

John Gery

As a classically trained poet, John Gery writes both formal and free verse; his work includes short, often Metaphysical poems on subjects such as grief, hatred, and grace, political diatribes, a book-length narrative poem on New Orleans during the Civil War, and a host of dramatic monologues by figures ranging from Charlemagne’s daughter and Edouard Manet to Lee Harvey Oswald, an Iraqi war widow, and the canary in a mine. If he has a prevailing obsession, it is with ghosts and spirits – not only those of the dead, but those dwelling among and inside us, whose voices dictate our most intimate experience, even though we don’t see them nor are sure they even exist. In his poetry, Gery’s muses are doubt, melody, paradox, breathlessness, and candor. “No things/ without the ideas we call them by,” he argues in his poem, “American Ghost,” sparring with W. C. Williams and the century after. Gery’s new collection gathers poems around lines taken from Hamlet, including his book’s title, Have at You Now!, the words Laertes utters at the moment he stabs Hamlet with a poisoned-tipped foil. While also active as a critic, editor and teacher, Gery is currently at work on poems in the voices of birds, as well as a sequence of dramatic monologues entitled The Ledger of Good Women.

John Gery’s books of poetry include Have at You Now! (2014), A Gallery of Ghosts (2008), Davenport’s Version (2003), American Ghost: Selected Poems (1999), The Enemies of Leisure (1995), and others. His poetry has appeared in more than fifty journals in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including Gulf Coast Review, The Iowa Review, New South, Paris Review, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and West Branch, and has been translated into seven languages. He has received an NEA Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship (Serbia), and a Research Fellowship from the University of Minnesota, among other grants, and has lectured in Rome, Belgrade, Venice, Beijing, and at universities and colleges throughout the U.S.  Gery has also published a wide range of criticism on American poetry and is the author of Nuclear Annihilation and Contemporary American Poetry: Ways of Nothingness (1996). With Rosella Mamoli Zorzi, he wrote the guidebook, In Venice and in the Veneto with Ezra Pound (2007), and with Vahe Baladouni the biography, Hmayeak Shems: A Poet of the Spirit (2010). He has co-edited two collections of critical essays and two anthologies of contemporary poetry and has collaborated on translations of poetry from Serbian, Italian, Armenian, Chinese, and French. A Research Professor of English at the University of New Orleans, Gery founded and directs the Ezra Pound Center for Literature, Brunnenburg, Italy.

Chinaka Hodge and Nikolai Beope – Wednesday, December 3, 2014 – SME Performance Space at 4:30 pm

Nikolai and Chinaka 12-3

Nikolai Beope

A lot of my narrative content revolves around my experiences navigating the city, specifically San Diego in the early 90’s with emphasis on: graffiti, gangbanging, mental illness, institutionalism, hip-hop, videogames, drug culture. I try to give voice to the overlooked, outsider, the delinquent, oversexed, young men raised by single parents in troubling neighborhoods, all the above for whatever reasons. As far as the aesthetic of my writing is concerned I still feel invested in things like ‘voice’, and creating imagery that allows my readers to ‘see’. Hopefully my work reflects my early influences, such as Phillips’ Black Tickets, or Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, as well as my long-standing relationship with hip-hop music.

Nikolai Beope writes surreal, energetic, sometimes rhythmic narratives, and usually about the city. His most recent publishing was in Ink & Coda's inaugural issue, an online journal dedicated to prose and music. He is currently an English adjunct in the Imperial Valley. He will be reading from his novel in progress about incarcerated youth during the early 90's, who were sent to boot camp like institutions in states where child abuse laws differed.

Chinaka Hodge

I write plays, short stories, music review, screenplays, poems, rap songs and opinion/ editorial all towards the illusive goal of penning the self I know best into the literature, film, and music that have always omitted me. In short, I write for young, I write for black, I write for the unknown and unseen. I hope my telling resonates with all who experience or empathize with my stories.

Chinaka Hodge is a poet, educator, playwright, and screenwriter. Originally from Oakland, California, she graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in May of 2006, and was honored to be the student speaker at the 174th Commencement exercise. In 2010, Chinaka received USC’s prestigious Annenberg Fellowship to continue her studies at its School of Cinematic Arts. She received her MFA in screenwriting in 2012. In the fall of that year, she received the San Francisco Foundation’s Phelan Literary Award for emerging Bay Area talent. Chinaka was a 2012 Artist in Residence at The Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin, CA. In early 2013, Hodge was a Sundance Feature Film Lab Fellow for her script, 700th & Int’l. Since its early days, Chinaka has served in various capacities at Youth Speaks/The Living Word Project, the nation’s leading literary arts nonprofit. During her tenure there, Hodge served as Program Director, Associate Artistic Director, and worked directly with Youth Speaks’ core population as a teaching artist and poet mentor. When not educating or writing for page, Chinaka rocks mics as a founding member of a collaborative Hip Hop ensemble, The Getback. Her poems, editorials, interviews and prose have been featured in Newsweek, San Francisco Magazine, Believer Magazine, PBS, NPR, CNN, CSpan, and in two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry.

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