2017 Authors

J MAE BARIZO

First Person Plural Interviews J Mae Barizo
Book trailer for The Cumulus Effect

Born in Toronto, J. Mae Barizo is the author of The Cumulus Effect. A prize-winning poet, critic and performer, her recent work appears in AGNIBookforumBoston Review, Hyperallergic and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from Bennington College, the New School, the Jerome Foundation and Poets House. Phillip Lopate wrote that Barizo’s “exquisite poems display throughout a mastery of poetic form and a thoroughly professional command of surface and tone. It is clear we are in the hands of a highly cultivated, intelligent writer.”

A classically-trained musician and a champion of cross-genre work, J. Mae has performed sound/text collaborations with musicians from The National, Bon Iver and the American String Quartet. As a musician, she has performed with Mark Morris Dance Group, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Kanye West and Pharrell, among others.    She lives in New York City.

 

HERMÉNÉGILDE CHIASSON

Herménégilde Chiasson speaks at 2017 Starts Now Conference

Herménégilde Chiasson, OC, ONB, artist, poet, playwright, film director, lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick (born 7 April 1946 in Saint-Simon, NB). An Officer of the Order of Canada, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award, and New Brunswick’s 29th lieutenant-governor, Chiasson is considered the father of Acadian modernism and is one of Canada’s foremost advocates of Acadian culture and the arts. He is also notable for his insistence upon Acadian culture being a living culture rather than a persecuted and exiled one.

Of Acadian descent, Chiasson was born and educated in Saint-Simon, New Brunswick. He earned a BA from the Université de Moncton in 1967, a BFA from Mount Allison University in 1972, a master’s degree in aesthetics from the Université de Paris 1 in 1976, an MFA from the State University of New York in 1981 and a doctorate at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1983.

Chiasson has enjoyed an exceptionally distinguished career in the Canadian arts both during and following his graduation from five degree programs. His first placement was as the director of the Galerie d’art de l’Université de Moncton in 1974, and he assumed the position of president at Galerie Sans Nom in 1980. From that time onward, Chiasson began to found and chair arts organizations, including Éditions Perce-Neige in 1984, the Aberdeen co-operative in 1985, the Imago workshop in 1987, and Productions du Phare-Est in 1988. In 1994, Chiasson assumed the position of curator of the Marion McCain exhibit at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and he served as president of the Association acadienne des artistes professionnel.le.s du Nouveau-Brunswick from 1993 to 1995. Chiasson was also employed by Radio-Canada as a director, playwright, journalist and researcher intermittently from 1968 to 1985, and served as a member of the teaching staff at the Université de Moncton’s fine arts department from 1988 to 2003.

Visual Art

In addition to his numerous tenures throughout his career, Chiasson has pursued his own love of art, poetry, theatre, and film, and his work has been celebrated both in Canada and worldwide. He has participated in over 100 exhibitions of his painting and photography, including 18 solo exhibitions such as La frise des archers (1983) and Mythologies (1996). He is also the co-author (with Patrick Condon Laurette) of a monograph on the New Brunswick sculptor and painter (and founder of the fine arts department and art gallery at the Université de Moncton), Claude Roussel, Claude Roussel Sculpteur/Sculptor (1985).

Poetry, Film, and Theatre

Chiasson is the author of 18 books of poetry, including his first two groundbreaking examinations of Acadian identity, Mourir à Scoudouc (1974) and Rapport sur l’état de mes illusions (1976), reflecting shifts brought about by student demonstrations at the Université de Moncton in 1968 and 1969 and the formation of the Parti acadien in 1972.Climat (1996) was translated into English under the title Climates (1999). Conversations won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 1999.

He has directed more than 15 films, mostly focused on Acadian identity, notably Robichaud (1989), Marchand de la mer (1991), Les années noires (1994), L’Acadie retrouvée (1995) and Épopée, which won Best Documentary Film at the Festival international du film francophone de Namur. He has also written 25 plays, including popular productions such as L’exil d’Alexa (1993) and Aliénor (1998).

Politics

On 29 August 2003, Chiasson was installed as New Brunswick’s 29th lieutenant-governor, succeeding Marilyn Trenholme Counsell. His term ended in 2009, and he was succeeded by Graydon Nicholas. He is the honorary chairperson and patron for numerous charitable organizations, both in New Brunswick and across Canada, and he is Artist-in-Residence at Mount Allison University and Université de Moncton.

Honours

Prix France-Acadie (1986 and 1992)

Chevalier de l’Ordre français des Arts et des Lettres (1990)

l’Ordre des francophones d’Amérique (1993)

Governor General’s Literary Award (1999)

Grand Prix de la francophonie canadienne (1999)

Prix littéraire Antonine-Maillet-Acadie Vie (2003)

Honorary Doctor of Literature, Université de Moncton (2009)

 

FAIZAL DEEN

Ploughshares interviews Faizal Deen
Poets Resist Interviews Faizal Deen

Faizal Deen was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1968 and arrived in Canada in 1977. He is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston ON. He left Canada in 1992 to pursue graduate work at the University of the West Indies (Mona) in Kingston, Jamaica, and while living in Jamaica taught at Jamaica College and in the Department of Linguistics at the University of the West Indies. He returned to Canada in 1996 to complete further graduate work at McGill University. During this time he wrote and published what would become Guyana’s first LGBTQ poetry collection, Land Without Chocolate, a Memoir, published by Wolsak & Wynn in 2000. He was shortlisted by the Quebec Writers Federation for the AM Klein Prize in Poetry for 2000 and also received a Canada Council grant to travel to Trinidad and Guyana. In 2002, he left for East Asia and worked as a textbook writer and teacher trainer, traveling through Southeast Asia where he compiled notebooks on the architectural traces of European colonial occupations. In 2012, he returned to Canada and completed a creative writing MA at the University of Windsor. In 2014, he began doctoral work in Caribbean diasporic poetry at Carleton University in Ottawa. The Greatest Films is not only the final product of his graduate work but is also informed by over a decade of travel throughout Asia, the Caribbean and North America. He lives with his beloved cocker spaniel, Sabrina-Elizabeth, a rescue from Seoul, and is presently working on a new book of poems, Another Georgetown Jumbie, and an experimental novel, Uncle Sultan’s Book of Disasters.

Faizal on the Visual Influence of Movies He’s Loved & His Attempt to Employ a Filmic Language in His 2016 Collection The Greatest Films

I am very interested in how the page opens up a world within which I might reassemble the memories of dispersion and encampment between the Caribbean, Canada and wherever else. But I am also engaged by how I might present my poems in ways that are stimulated by the visual influences of the films I have loved over my lifetime of watching movies. My poems, as a result, attempt to retell a story of adoption and immigration through filmic language and through the violence of sharp edits, splices. I am interested in what it means to live in identities that are truncated and where, rather than mourn such slicings, individuals come to celebrate states of becoming something else entirely. There is, of course, a sadness to my poems, a sorrow, a melancholy, a confusion, even states of madness, but I want to suggest that there are acceptances to diasporic struggles and, for my speaker, those acceptances are the result of his sexuality, his desire to make art and a curiosity about the ways in which the Caribbean and its signifiers might spill out into the larger world.

 

DANIEL H. DUGAS

Three Performances about Economy (2003)
Insomnie – English subtitles (2012)

Daniel H. Dugas is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar. His mediums include video, photo, interactivity, audio, music, graphic design and writing. In his work, Daniel seeks to address social and political issues. Ecology, technology and the shifting boundaries of life are themes often explored in his work. He has participated in festivals and literary events as well as exhibitions and performances in the United States, Mexico, South America, Europe and Australia. You can learn more about Daniel and what he does at daniel.basicbruegel.com and danielhdugas.tumblr.com. Or you can tweet him at twitter.com/danieldugas. A selection of his short films can be found at vimeo.com/user2259306

 

MELISSA FEBOS

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017). Her work has appeared in venues including The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Granta, The Believer, Prairie Schooner, Glamour, Salon, New York Times, Guernica, Dissent, Poets & Writers, Lenny Letter, The Guardian, Elle UK and Vogue.com. Her essays have won prizes from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly and The Center for Women Writers. She is a three-time MacDowell Colony fellow and has also received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Ragdale and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Monmouth University, serves on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and co-curated the Manhattan reading and music series, Mixer, for ten years. She lives in Brooklyn.

 

MARY DINGEE FILLMORE 

Mary Dingee Fillmore is the author of An Address in Amsterdam, an acclaimed historical novel about a young Jewish woman who risks her life in the anti-Nazi underground. Published by She Writes Press in October 2016, it has been selected by Kirkus Reviews as an Indie Book of the Month and has been praised by such diverse sources as PopSugar, Brit+Co, Redbook, Bookstr and BuzzFeed.

Since Mary’s first lengthy stay in Amsterdam in 2001, she has been visiting, researching, writing and speaking about the Holocaust and resistance in the Netherlands. Living in a house where Jewish people were hidden inspired her novel and her desire to speak as widely as possible about the choices to collude, collaborate or resist. The Vermont Humanities Council Speakers’ Bureau sponsors Mary’s presentation of “Anne Frank’s Neighbors: What Did They Do?,” which explores the many shades of grey in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam and the wrenching choices which confronted good people.

Mary has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center and a graduate assistant at Vermont College’s MFA program, where she graduated in 2005. Since 1982, Mary’s other work has been as a facilitator bringing people together for a purpose, particularly strategic planning for nonprofits. She still enjoys it after more than thirty years working throughout the US and abroad.

 

MAJOR JACKSON

Major Jackson is Curator of the 2017 Grace Paley Poetry Series

Roll Deep by Major JacksonAuthor Major JacksonMajor Jackson is the author of four collections of poetry: Roll Deep (2015, Norton); Holding Company (2010, Norton); Hoops (2006, Norton) and Leaving Saturn (2002, University of Georgia Press), winner of a Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. He has published poems and essays in recent issues of The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Tin House, and in Best American Poetry. Jackson is the recipient of fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Guggenheim Foundation, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress and has been awarded a Pushcart Prize and a Whiting Writers’ Award. He is the Richard A. Dennis Professor at the University of Vermont and the Poetry Editor of the Harvard Review.

 

DAVID LEHMAN

Poet David Lehman on Sestinas
Writing Fun | Ep. 7 : Sinatra’s Century with David Lehman

One of the foremost editors, literary critics and anthologists of contemporary American literature, David Lehman is also one of its most accomplished poets, known for his use of humor and everyday language to illuminate the intricacies of life and language. Born in New York City in 1948, he graduated from Columbia University and attended Cambridge University in England as a Kellett Fellow. He received a PhD in English from Columbia University.

He is the author of numerous acclaimed collections including Poems in the Manner Of (Scribner, 2017), New and Selected Poems (Scribner, 2013), Yeshiva Boys (Scribner, 2009), When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005), Jim and Dave Defeat the Masked Man, coauthored with James Cummin (Soft Skull Press, 2005), The Evening Sun: A Journal in Poetry (Scribner, 2002), The Daily Mirror: A Journal in Poetry (Scribner, 2000), Valentine Place (Scribner, 1996), Operation Memory (Princeton University Press, 1990) and An Alternative to Speech (Princeton University Press, 1986).

His books of prose include Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World (HarperCollins, 2015), The State of the Art: A Chronicle of American Poetry, 1988-2014 (Pittsburgh, 2015),

A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs (Schocken, 2009), The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (Doubleday, 1998), which was named a “Book to Remember 1999” by the New York Public Library, The Big Question (University of Michigan Press, 1995), The Line Forms Here (University of Michigan Press, 1992) and Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man (Poseidon Press, 1991). His study of detective novels, The Perfect Murder (University of Michigan Press, 1989), was nominated for an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs won the Deems Taylor Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) in 2010. Lehman wrote and designed an exhibit based on the book, which visited fifty-five libraries in twenty-seven states on a tour sponsored by the American Library Association.

Lehman is also known as a prominent editor and literary critic. He is currently the series editor of The Best American Poetry, which he initiated in 1988, and is general editor of the University of Michigan Press’s Poets on Poetry Series. His other editorial works include The Best American Erotic Poems (Scribner, 2008) and The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2006).

According to the poet John Hollander, “This increasingly impressive poet keeps reminding us that putting aside childish things can be done only wisely and well by keeping in touch with them and that American life is best understood and celebrated by those who are, with Whitman, both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.”

His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award. Lehman’s work has been translated into 16 languages including Chinese, Mongolian, Spanish, French, German, Danish, Russian, Polish, Korean and Japanese.

He has lectured widely in the United States and abroad and is on the core faculty of the graduate writing programs at the New School and New York University. He lives in New York City and Ithaca, New York.

 

MARK LEYNER

Team Leyner: The Unofficial Mark Leyner Links Pagehttp://www.spesh.com/leyner/
David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen and Mark Leyner interview (5/1996)
Mark Leyner and T.C. Boyle | 2016 L.A. Times Festival of Books
LATE SHOW with David Letterman May 3, 1994 Robin Williams, Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Mark Leyner

“By turns imaginative, verbose, and iconoclastic, Mark Leyner is a humorist and experimentalist who tackles the often ridiculous products of post-modern culture and squeezes new hybrids out of them, ranging from military academies of beauty to weight-loss camps for terrorists to custom-built designer electric chairs,” wrote Roy C. Flannagan in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Leyner’s novels and short story collections to date—I Smell Esther Williams and Other Stories, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, Et Tu, Babe, Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, and The Tetherballs of Bougainville,—depict a warped, gonzo world in which literally anything can happen, and usually does. “I feel like I’m living a writer’s life at warp speed,” Mark Leyner told Boston Globe contributor Joseph P. Kahn. “In three years I’ve gone from being a fringe avant-gardist to a cult object to mainstream novelist.” Jonathan Yardley, writing in the Washington Post Book World, observed that reading Leyner’s books “is like watching a blend of Saturday Night Live and Monty Python; they have the energy and insouciance of high-risk, off-the-wall performance.” “When you have been called America’s best-built comic novelist by The New York Times, personal trainer to pop-culture heavyweights everywhere,” Kahn argued, “you are liable to say, do and write almost anything.”

Leyner began his writing career as a poet at his New Jersey high school. When he moved on to Brandeis University, he began experimenting with using poetic techniques in fiction. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have the kind of fiction that was as dense with imagery and dense with excitement and pleasure as poetry is,'” Leyner commented to Los Angeles Times contributor Irene Lacher, “‘and have a kind of fiction that didn’t have all kinds of dumb transitional pages where you’re getting people off a plane to a hotel?'” Leyner’s first venture into this type of prose was I Smell Esther Williams and Other Stories, which “was written in graduate school” at the University of Colorado, Kahn explained, “and is regarded today by its author rather like an old prom date who rebuffed his advances in the back seat of her father’s convertible.”

Leyner’s second book, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, was published in 1989 and established him as a favorite of the collegiate undergraduate literati. “That manic volume of surreal prose poetry,” wrote Lacher, “offered cameo appearances from the Pope’s valet de chambre and Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl—not to mention such unlikely inventions as Le Corbusier-designed jeans and the fearfully sexually over-mature Joey D., who at 4 1/2 revved a tricycle with a turbocharged V-8 engine.” Lacher went on to explain, “Leyner is regarded as the Writer for the MTV Generation, the spiritual stepson of William Burroughs and Lenny Bruce, only with a high-tech sheen.”

The author noted in a clip reprinted in Harper’s magazine that he supported himself “by doing advertising copywriting” while working on My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. The novel’s success allowed Leyner to devote himself full-time to writing and also gave him a theme for his next book, Et Tu, Babe. “The novel (using the term in the loosest imaginable sense),” stated Yardley, “is about ‘the most intense and, in a certain sense, the most significant young prose writer in America.’ His name is Mark Leyner.” The character Leyner, who in many respects resembles the author Leyner, is obsessed with self-promotion. He has even gathered a group of enthusiasts, called Team Leyner, to assist him in his publicity stunts.New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote, “The reader learns of such bizarre phenomena as weight-loss camps for terrorists; penile-growth hormones; medical cheese sculptures (sculptures of human organs, made of mozzarella and havarti), interactive computerized laser-video players that insert Mr. Schwarzenegger as the actor in any movie … and ‘visceral tattoos,’ that is, tattoos inscribed on people’s internal organs with radioactive isotopes.”

“I figured Team Leyner would reach some kind of apogee in the middle of the book, when it would be most powerful,” Leyner told Bloomsbury Review interviewers John and Carl Bellante. “The Leyner character would be at his most megalomaniacal. His delusions of grandeur would be full-blown. Then gradually, the Team Leyner minions, personnel, and staff would start deserting him.” In the end the Leyner character is left alone, and finally even he vanishes—mourned in passing by such celebrities as Connie Chung and Carl Sagan. “If the world is a leopard-print cocktail lounge on the Titanic,” declared Carol Anshaw in the Village Voice Literary Supplement, “Leyner is at the piano, noodling out ‘My Way.'” “Mr. Leyner,” concluded New York Times Book Review contributor Lewis Burke Frumkes, “is a very funny man who has written a very twisted book.”

Leyner’s 1995 collection of short stories, Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, continues his exploration through the manic world he perceives around him. “Tooth Imprints,” explained Kristan Schiller in the New York Times, “is based on occurrences in Mr. Leyner’s life … spun into surreal tales that satirize the media-crazed, image-obsessed society he beholds—and accepts.” “The results are intermittently hilarious,” Kakutani stated in the New York Times, “but also silly and highly sophomoric.” The work “lacks the abrasive, experimental edge of his previous fiction,” observed Jonathan Bing in Publishers Weekly, but “it nevertheless exhibits all the whimsy, irreverence and biting sat-ire of his best work. The protagonist is still, much of the time, Mark Leyner; yet his persona is gentler, more circumspect, given to tender reflections about the pressures of fatherhood and professional freelancing.” Rick Marin argued in aNewsweek review of Tooth Imprints that though the novel is “Leyner’s most accessible opus to date, it is emphatically not for everyone. Then again, what good book is?”

Leyner returned to Team Leyner with his 1997 title, The Tetherballs of Bougainville, “the most unified of Leyner’s books in terms of its formal structure and theme,” according to Flannagan. The same critic went on to note that the “book satirizes the conventional bildungsroman, complete with adolescent antihero (the thirteen-year-old ‘Mark Leyner’), the death-exile of the father (who, in Leyner’s twisted version, refuses to die), and the rites of sexual initiation with an older woman.” Written as autobiography, screenplay and movie review, The Tetherballs of Bougainville twists three familiar narrative forms into the story of Mark Leyner, a thirteen-year-old, who waits in a New Jersey prison to witness his father’s execution. It just so happens that this junior high schooler is on deadline to turn in a screenplay for which he has already been awarded the $250,000-a-year-for-life Vincent and Lenore DiGiacomo/Oshimitsu Polymers America Award.

When his father’s years of PCP ingestion save him from the lethal injection, all is not lost, for the female warden overseeing the execution only has eyes for young Mark. Infatuation turns into an extended and athletic sexual romp in this “gonzo parody of a wannabe writer’s coming-of-age,” as Paula Chin described the novel in People. Taking up the publishing theme, Trevor Dodge, writing in Review of Contemporary Fiction, concluded that this novel “is both postmodern product and parody, a full-blown riot in the coffers of the New York publishing industry and a testament to Leyner’s whipsmart comedic genius.” Chin however was less positive in her evaluation, finding that Tetherballs “may give you a few chuckles, but it gets tiresome pretty quickly.” Other critics had higher praise for The Tetherballs of Bougainville. Writing inEntertainment Weekly, A.J. Jacobs noted that “you don’t read Leyner for the plot. The plots just there so he has a place to hang his hilarious, postmodern prose poetry—a mixture of pop-culture references, brand names, scientific mumbo jumbo, and zeitgeist-skewering satire.” Similarly, Booklist‘s Joanne Wilkinson dubbed the same novel a twisted comic tale, further commenting that Leyner “turns in his funniest, most inventive novel yet.” For Library Journal‘s Michele Leber, the book is “impressively researched satire,” and for a Publishers Weekly contributor Leyner presented himself as “jaw-slackeningly inventive.” The same critic concluded that Leyner “is one of our most talented comic writers,” and that he is at “his horny, hip, encyclopedic best” in The Tetherballs of Bougainville.

Mark Leyner commented: “My work isn’t animated by a desire to be experimental or post-modernist or aesthetically subversive or even ‘innovative’—it is animated by a desire to craft a kind of writing that is at every single moment exhilarating for the reader; where each phrase, each sentence is an event. That’s what I’m trying for, at least. This, I think, is what gives my work its peculiar shape and feel—it’s because I want every little surface to shimmer and gyrate that I haven’t patience for those lax transitional devices of plot, setting, character, and so on, that characterize a lot of traditional fiction. I’m after the gaudiness, self-consciousness, laughter, encoded sadness of public language (public because language is the sea in which all our minds swim).

“I don’t feel part of any artistic movement or ‘ism.’ But I feel linked to artists who launched their careers reading billboards aloud in the back seats on family trips, who spent their formative Saturday mornings cemented to their television screens with Crazy Glue, who grew up fascinated by the rhetoric of pentecostal preachers, dictators, game show hosts, and other assorted demagogues, who were entranced by the outlandishly superfluous chatter of baseball announcers filling air-time during rain delays, and who could never figure out the qualitative difference between Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and E.C. Segar’s Popeye the Sailor.

“I said in an article once that we need a kind of writing that the brain can dance to. Well, that’s the kind of writing I’m trying to write—thrashing the smoky air of the cerebral ballroom with a very American ball-point baton.”

WRITINGS:

I Smell Esther Williams and Other Stories, Fiction Collective (New York, NY), 1983.

(Editor with Curtis White and Thomas Glynn) American Made, Fiction Collective (New York, NY), 1986.

My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, Fiction Collective (New York, NY), 1989.

Et Tu, Babe, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1995.

The Tetherballs of Bougainville, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1997.

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, Little, Brown and Company (New York, NY), 2012.

Gone with the Mind, Little, Brown and Company (New York, NY), 2016.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 92, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 292: Twenty-First Century American Novelists, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2004, pp. 222-230.

PERIODICALS

Bloomsbury Review, July/August, 1993, pp. 5-7.

Booklist, March 1, 1995, George Needham, review of Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, p. 1179; October 15, 1997, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Tetherballs of Bougainville, p. 388.

Boston Globe, November 9, 1993, p. 29.

Entertainment Weekly, October 9, 1992, Margot Mifflin, review of Et Tu, Babe, p. 54; March 17, 1995, Mar-got Mifflin, review of Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, p. 84; November 7, 1997, A.J. Jacobs, review ofThe Tetherballs of Bougainville, p. 80; April 26, 2002, Noah Robischon, “Wired for Weird.”

Harper’s, July, 1990, pp. 43-44.

Library Journal, September 1, 1997, Michele Leber, review of The Tetherballs of Bougainville, p. 218.

Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1992, pp. E1, E4.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 11, 1992, p. 6.

Newsweek, March 27, 1995, Cheech Marin review of Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, p. 68.

New York Times, October 13, 1992, p. C17; February 19, 1995, p. J13; March 7, 1995, p. C18.

New York Times Book Review, September 27, 1992, p. 14; April 23, 1995, p. 12.

People, April 24, 1995, Eric Levin, interview, p. 27; April 24, 1995, Nancy Jo Sales, review of Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, pp. 27-28; November 10, 1997, Paula Chin review of The Tetherballs of Bougainville, pp. 41-42.

Publishers Weekly, March 16, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, p. 65; August 24, 1992, review of Et Tu, Babe, p. 61; January 30, 1995, review of Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, p. 85; March 6, 1995, pp. 44-45; July 21, 1997, review of The Tetherballs of Bougainville, p. 181.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, fall, 1995, Steven Moore, review of Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, pp. 246-247; spring, 1998, Trevor Dodge, review of The Tetherballs of Bougainville, pp. 226-227.

San Francisco Review of Books, winter, 1992, p. 40.

Time, October 12, 1992, John Skow, review of Et Tu, Babe, p. 90.

Village Voice Literary Supplement, November, 1992, pp. 25-27.

Washington Post Book World, October 4, 1992, Jonathan Yardley, review of Et Tu, Babe, p. 3.

 

DAVID TOMAS MARTINEZ

David Tomas Martinez’s debut collection of poetry, Hustle, was released in 2014 by Sarabande Books. Martinez is a Pushcart Prize winner, CantoMundo fellow, a Breadloaf Stanley P. Young Fellow and NEA fellow. A second collection, Post Traumatic Hood Disorder, is forthcoming from Sarabande Books in 2018. Martinez lives in Brooklyn and teaches poetry at Columbia.

 

TRACY MEDEIROS

Tracey Medeiros is the author of The Connecticut Farm Table CookbookThe Vermont Farm Table Cookbook and Dishing Up Vermont. She writes The Farmhouse Kitchen: A Guide to Eating Local column for Edible Green Mountains magazine and is also a freelance food writer, food stylist and recipe developer and tester. She is often seen on various television cooking segments preparing one of her favorite recipes while sharing helpful culinary tips with the viewing audience. Tracey travels regionally as a guest speaker and cooking instructor, emphasizing her commitment to the sustainable food movement by using locally produced fresh ingredients to create dishes that are healthy and delicious.

 

SHENAAZ NANJI

Shenaaz Nanji is a squid who lives in the water-world but surfaces occasionally to read or write. A long-time resident of Calgary in Canada, she writes international fiction for children. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing for Children from Vermont College. Her publications include picture books, short stories and novels, some of which have won several awards. Her novel, Child of Dandelions, about the expulsion of Uganda’s Asians, was a Finalist for the prestigious Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature in 2008 as well as on CBC’s List of 100 Young Adult Books That Make You Proud To Be Canadian. She lives in Calgary.

 

APRIL OSSMANN

April Ossmann reads some of her poetry

April Ossmann is the author of the collections Anxious Music (2007) and Event Boundaries (2017) as well as the recipient of a 2013 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant. She has published her poems widely and is also both an editor and publishing consultant (www.aprilossmann.com) in addition to being an Editor-in-Residence for the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Sierra Nevada College. April was Executive Director of Alice James Books from 2000 to 2008. Event Boundaries considers ways our relationships and growth as individuals are interdependent, whether it’s possible to consider any relationship (including with ourselves) independent of the culture and environment it exists in; whether we create our culture and environment in part through the way we enact our relationships, to what degree reality is objective or a matter of perception and how we come to terms with our and others’ mortality. Of April’s latest book, the Pushcart Prize-winning poet Lynn Emanuel has written “This is a work of maturity and severity, a book that refuses to look away. Event Boundaries is, despite or because of its starkness, a pleasure to read, and, I would add, it is a necessary read.”

 

ANGELA PALM

Angela Palm is the author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here (Graywolf Press). Riverine was an Indie Next selection, winner of the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a Kirkus Best Book of 2016 and a Powerful Memoir by Powerful Women selected by Oprah. Palm has been a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference fellow in Narrative Nonfiction and her work has been published in Ecotone, Creative Nonfiction, At Length Magazine, Passages North, Brevity, Paper Darts and elsewhere. She lives with her two children in Vermont, where she works as an editor.

 

CASSIE PRUYN

Cassie Pruyn is a New Orleans-based poet, born and raised in Portland, Maine. Her poems have appeared in AGNI Online, The Los Angeles Review, The Common, Salt Hill Journal, Poet Lore and other publications. She is the author of a forthcoming narrative history of New Orleans’ Bayou St. John as well as the 2017 collection Lena, winner of the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry.

 

CARDY RAPER

Dr. Cardy Raper received a Masters in Science degree from The University of Chicago and a PhD from Harvard University. She has been extensively published in national and international scientific journals and was named a University of Vermont Research Associate Professor Emerita in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. She was recently honored by being elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her memoir, A Woman of Science: An Extraordinary Journal of Love, Discovery, and the Sex Life of Mushrooms was published by Hartherleigh Press in 2012 and distributed by Random House.

 

JOHN ELDER ROBISON

John Elder Robison

I was born in Athens, Georgia in the hot summer of 1957. My father was preaching in Ila-pronounced EYE-LA-Georgia, that summer. Both my parents were in college when I was born. We moved every few years while my father worked his way through college until finally settling as a professor of Philosophy in Amherst, Massachusetts. Me as a kid.

I was always a problem child, often sad, a loner, unable to make friends. My parents sent me to a number of different schools, and I saw many different therapists, but none of them had the answers. Some of them had some pretty strange ideas, though! My brother Augusten Burroughs chronicled some of our family’s misadventures in therapy in his 2002 book, Running With Scissors.
The problem was, Asperger’s Syndrome had not yet been “discovered” as a diagnosis when I was a kid. My social disability was dismissed as laziness, or deliberate misbehavior. I dropped out of high school in the tenth grade.
Luckily, my Asperger’s gave me a rare insight into electronics. Using that knowledge, I joined a band, which led to a bigger band, which led to a bigger band… I ended up designing special effects guitars for KISS by the late 1970s. From there, I made the leap into a real job as an engineer with a major toy and game company. I moved up the corporate ladder for ten years, when I hit a wall.
By the late 1980s I had become a manager at a Boston electronics firm, but I was miserable. I had no idea how to fit into a corporate environment, and I felt sure my differences would mark me as a fraud, someone who should tossed in the street or worse. Finally, I had enough. I quit my job. I began fixing Mercedes and Land Rover cars in my driveway. I never had to worry about fitting in with the world of machines. Soon, I was immersed in them.
From that beginning, J E Robison Service grew into one of the most successful independent repair businesses in New England. We specialize in Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor car work. Our company is known nationwide for our restoration and customization work, especially on Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley vehicles.
One day, a therapist with a lust for Land Rovers walked in the door at JE Robison Service, and we became friends. After studying me closely, he introduced me to Asperger’s Syndrome, and the knowledge changed my life forever. It took some time, and a lot of hard work, but the knowledge of how and why I am different transformed my life.
Today, we know Asperger’s syndrome is one form of autism. The collection of differences are called the autism spectrum. Autism is at its heart a communication disorder or difference. Some autistic people have difficulty speaking, or understanding language. Asperger people tend to be blind to the unspoken cues of other people.
My memoir of growing up different was published in 2007. Look Me in the Eye was an instant bestseller which launched me on yet another career. Today it’s sold in over 20 editions in 70+ countries worldwide. My second book, Be Different, is now following in its footsteps.
Read more about Raising Cubby:
I’ve found a new calling as a speaker and advocate for people with Asperger’s and other forms of autism. Read more about my speaking and workshops here:
The more I learned about autism and Asperger’s, the more I realized how diverse this autism spectrum really is. Science has identified a number of traits that tie us all together, yet on the surface we could not possibly look more different. There is no such thing as a “typical autistic person.”
Some describe us as gifted while others talk about disability. For every autistic person who has a family and a job, several others struggle but fail to attain those goals.
Seeing that, I began to understand the pressing need to develop therapies and services to help autistic people at all levels succeed in today’s world. At the same time, I realized the wider world needs us; and they need help understanding how to accommodate us and help us fit in.
In the past few years, I have become active on boards and committees of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, Autism Speaks, and a number of universities and colleges. I’m interested in selecting the most promising research that will improve the quality of life for people at all points on the autism spectrum and I’m interested in legal, ethical, and social issues relating to autism and advocacy.
In 2012 Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius named me to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee which develops-among other things-the Strategic Plan for autism research that guides NIH, CDC and many private researchers.
I’m continuing my academic work as well. In 2013, I began a collaboration with researchers and faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
With all that, I’m a pretty busy fellow. My newest book, Switched On, is on sale now. Meanwhile, I’m busy with my car business, teaching, speaking and advocacy work as well. There’s a lot going on!
Would you like to bring me to your college or conference? If so, contact Tom Gagnon or Sally Itterly, my speaking representatives at The Lavin Agency. Do you want to set up a program in your elementary, middle, or high school? I handle those directly; write me at john@johnrobison.com.
Discovery Science Channel: Last year I was profiled in an episode of Ingenious Minds on Discovery Science. The show is rerun with some frequency; check the Discovery Science Channel website for details. Meanwhile, you can watch it here on YouTube:
Want to hear me talk about my new book? Check out this interview on NPR’s Here and Now:
Read about Switched On in this New York Times review:
Or you can listen to Terry Gross, Alvaro Pascual Leone and me talk about TMS and Switched On, on Fresh Air:
I look forward to seeing you at the 2016 Burlington Book Festival. This will be my fouth appearance and I always enjoy meeting people and taking part in this wonderful event.

 

LEDA SCHUBERT

Leda Schubert has been a teacher, librarian and the State Department of Education library consultant but her dream was always to write picture books. After receiving an MFA in Writing for Children at VCFA, she went on to join the faculty while continuing to write. Her nine published picture books include Ballet of the Elephants and Monsieur Marceau, both from Porter/Roaring Brook.

Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing (Porter/Roaring Brook, illustrated by Raul Colon) is her most recent book. A starred Kirkus review said “Schubert and Colón capture with affection and respect Seeger’s remarkable lifetime of speaking truth to power through music and engaging the hearts of his audiences…Schubert and Colón ably demonstrate one of their book’s final assertions: “there really was nobody like Pete Seeger” (Leda loves this review).

Of Ballet, the New York Times said “…Schubert’s deft, incisive way of telling the incredible story will set young minds spinning,” and “for a young reader who has some as yet inchoate fascination with the arts, “Ballet of the Elephants” offers the excitement of glimpses, perspectives, possibilities” (Leda loves this review too). It was a New York Times Editor’s Choice as well.

Monsieur Marceau, illustrated by Gerard DuBois, won the Orbis Pictus Award for Excellence in Nonfiction from the NCTE, the Sugarman Award for Biography, was a Red Clover Award selection and was on several best books of the year lists. Kirkus’ starred review called it “a stunning achievement.” A “superb biography,” said School Library Journal (Leda loves these reviews).

Forthcoming in 2018 is Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson (little bee, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III) with an introduction (we think) by Misty Copeland. Leda has lived in Plainfield for many many years, watching the winters disappear and the summers get too hot. Her two dogs (one a saint, one a sinner) make every attempt to cheer her up, as does her husband. She plays guitar (fingerpicking) and some banjo, sings in a frog-like voice and hopes you will join her in song and a celebration of Pete Seeger’s life.

 

TIM SEIBLES

Tim Seibles reads from One Turn around the Sun
Tim Seibles gives a Ted Talk on “Why Poetry?”

Poet Tim Seibles was born and raised in Philadelphia. He earned a BA at Southern Methodist University and an MFA at Vermont College of Norwich University.

Seibles approaches themes of racial tension, class conflict, and intimacy from several directions at once in poems with plainspoken yet fast-turning language. In a 2010 statement he shared in From the Fishouse, Seibles states, “I think poetry, if it’s going to be really engaging and engaged, has to be able to come at the issues of our lives from all kinds of angles and all kinds of ways: loudly and quietly, angrily and soothingly, with comedy and with dead seriousness. […] Our lives are worth every risk, every manner of approach.” Praising Seibles’ ability to “navigate the terrain of American pop culture in order to ponder the state of the American psyche,” Bookslut reviewer Joey Rubin states in a 2005 review of Buffalo Head Solos, “If Frank O’Hara’s meandering monologues were meant to capture the performative design of Abstract Expressionism and Allen Ginsberg’s forceful riffing was meant to mimic the jazz stylings of Charlie Parker, then the back-bending, image-splicing, lyrical narratives in Tim Seibles’s sixth collection of poetry Buffalo Head Solos should invoke the fast-flipping frames of Hannah-Barbara animation. Seibles’s cartoon imagery, and cartoonish muscling of language, however, are not just trying to make us laugh. Which is to say, Seibles is playful—but he’s not kidding around.”

Seibles is the author of several collections of poetry, including Body Moves (1988), Hurdy-Gurdy (1992), Hammerlock (1999), Buffalo Head Solos (2004) and Fast Animal (2012), which won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize and was nominated for the 2012 National Book Award. His most recent work, One Turn Around the Sun (2017) has been described as “a panorama of poems that attempt to define the twilight during which a person becomes caretaker of parents and begins to grind against that old saying, ‘Life is too short’… and also studies the intricacies of being a self, a particular personality shaped by forces seen and unseen.”

His work has also been featured in the anthologies In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African American Poetry (1994, edited by E. Ethelbert Miller and Terrance Cummings), Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry(2009, edited by Camille Dungy), and Best American Poetry (2010, edited byAmy Gerstler).

Seibles’ honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center as well as an Open Voice Award from the National Writers Voice Project. In 2013 he received the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award. In 2016 Seibles was selected as the poet laureate of Virginia. Seibles has served as a professor at Old Dominion University for over twenty years and taught at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program and at Cave Canem. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia.

 

CORA SIRÉ

Cora Siré is the author of two novels, Behold Things Beautiful and The Other Oscar (both 2016) and a collection of poems, Signs of Subversive Innocents (2014). Behold Things Beautiful is about the power of words-how writing can land you in prison but also how words can provide solace in your darkest hours. Set in Latin America, the novel tells the story of Alma Álvarez, a 36-year-old teacher who returns to her home country after a period of exile in Montreal. A recent review described the novel as “richly textured” and “an ambitious but successful undertaking” with its portrayal of “a gallery of characters: torture survivors, relatives of the desaparecidos…and even the torturers themselves…At the novel’s core is the question: Why does humanity repeatedly commit such atrocities?” (mtlreviewofbooks.ca/reviews/behold-things-beautiful/.)

In her writing, Cora explores exile, identity and the redemptive powers of art. Born in Canada and based in Montreal, she often writes of elsewheres drawing on her encounters in faraway places, from Argentina to Vietnam, and her family’s history of displacement. Her first novel, The Other Oscar, is about a young Canadian cellist who arrives in a Chilean coastal town to appear in a film about madness. After partying with the film crew and experiencing a harrowing day of filming, Oscar sets off on a search that takes him into a prison and alters the course of his self-discovery.

Vermont appears among the settings in Signs of Subversive Innocents, her début poetry collection. In four connected poems, Cora pays tribute to the marble quarry in Dorset “carved with ice-age grace” into “the ever-greening mountainside,” to remind us “that chiselling love, while slow and hard, is still a possibility.” Of a slippery winter drive on the I-89 to Montpelier, she writes:  “A cold drive south, we have of it…as snow smothers the last bales / and sumac drowns by the mile / their bloody tips craning out of drifts.” A.F. Moritz, a celebrated American-born poet who now lives in Toronto, writes that “Cora Siré well expresses the chosen journey into the unknown of current Canadian poetry. Her work takes us on a descent into reality with its inevitable dread and then rewards us with the lift, an exhilarating release that surprises and deepens our perceptions. Here we encounter enlightenment and the triumph of creative joy.”

Her short stories, poems and essays have been published in numerous literary magazines and in anthologies such as The Best Canadian Poetry in English (2009) and Salut King Kong: New English Writing from Quebec (2014). She received second prize in the CBC Quebec Writing Competition (2013) and honorary mention for the Best Canadian Poem Prize (2008). Cora Siré has participated in literary festivals, events and readings across Canada, in the U.S. and Europe. For details, please visit her website: www.quena.ca.

 

TIM WEED

Mitch Wertleib of Vermont Public Radio interviews Tim Weed
The Fiction Writers Review interviews Tim Weed

Tim Weed’s first novel, Will Poole’s Island (2014), was named one of Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of the Year. His short fiction collection, A Field Guide to Murder & Fly Fishing (Green Writers Press, 2017)has been shortlisted for the International Book Awards, the New Rivers Press Many Voices Project, the Autumn House Press Fiction Prize and the Lewis-Clark Press Discovery Award. Tim is the winner of a Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Award and his work has appeared in The Millions, Colorado ReviewTalking Points MemoWriter’s ChronicleTalking Writing, Fiction Writers Review and elsewhere. He lives in southern Vermont​ and speaks regularly at nonprofit institutions around the state as a member of the Vermont Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. ​​​​​He works as a featured expert for National Geographic in Patagonia​,​Spain ​and Cuba, ​teaches writing at Grub Street in Boston and is the co-founder of the Cuba Writers Program. You can find out more about Tim at timweed.net

 

ELIZABETH CARTER WELLINGTON 

Elizabeth Wellington talks about Circus Girl

traveled the world alone at age sixteen and lived in India for a year. After earning a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from Boston University, she taught at Boston University, Simmons, Babson, and Wellesley College. Elizabeth lives with her husband outside Boston. Circus Girl is her debut novel, a skillfully woven tale of youthful adventure, love and self-discovery. It recalls a time when the fantasy of “running off to join the circus” presented all sorts of possibilities for dream fulfillment commingled with disillusionment. This dichotomy of experience is embodied in the variety of brilliantly drawn characters inhabiting her book and is especially true of the courageous young woman who wholeheartedly embraced her anomalous, nomadic lifestyle in all its vivid wonder and excitement. In its review of Circus Girl, Kirkus wrote “In her debut novel, Wellington vividly portrays both the traveling circus and the South in the early 1970s, and Sarah’s voice lends intimacy to these descriptions.”

 

BRUCE WILLARD

Bruce Willard reads some of his poetry

Bruce Willard’s poems have appeared in African American Review, Agni Online, NPR’s Writer’s Almanac, Harvard Review, Cortland Review, Ploughshares, Salamander, 5 A.M. and numerous other publications. His first collection of poems, Holding Ground, was published by Four Way Books (NYC) in 2013. Violent Blues, his second book, was published in 2016. Willard is a graduate of Middlebury College with a degree in American Literature and holds an MFA from Bennington College’s Writing Seminars program.

Bruce lives in California, Colorado and Maine. In addition to his work as a poet, he currently oversees several retail clothing catalog businesses-32 Bar Blues, True Measure and Carbon 2 Cobalt. More information is available on www.brucewillard.com. Of Bruce’s work, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera has written “Willard plays the notes in-between – the awakenings, loves and losses…of sending and receiving – perhaps like Thelonius Monk’s fractured piano… I am struck by the sincerity of the voice here, the relentless set of mind-heart puzzles, the tender, wisdom-lit aloneness in this collection…This is a rare gift, a magnificent wave of poems that will move with you forever.”