Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent collection, Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011), won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. The collection draws on sources as disparate as Arthur C. Clarke and David Bowie, and is in part an elegiac tribute to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope. Duende (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question (2003) 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.
Smith’s poems embody the lyrical, rhythmic quality of masters such as Lorca. At times political, whimsical, and always meditative, they speak largely to the role of art and to the conception of what it means to be American, dealing with the “evolution and decline of the culture we belong to.” Her work also explores the dichotomy between the ordered world and the irrationality of the self, the importance of submitting oneself willingly to the “ongoing conflict” of life and surviving nonetheless. For Smith, in her own words, poetry is a way of “stepping into the mess of experience.” Continue reading →
Emily Bernard is associate professor of English and ALANA U. S. Ethnic Studies at the University of Vermont. Her first book, Remember Me to Harlem: The Letter of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten (2001), was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her essays have been published in several journals and anthologies, such as Best American Essays, Best of African American Essays, and Best of Creative Non-Fiction. Bernard has received fellowships from the Alphonse A. Fletcher Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Beneicke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. Her most recent book, the highly acclaimed Carl Van Vechten: A Portrait in Black and White, was published by Yale University Press in February 2012.
Emily Bernard giving a lecture based on her book Carl Van Vechten: A Portrait in Black and White for Black History Month at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont:
Emily will read at this year’s Burlington Book Festival as part of the “Women’s Work” reading at Phoenix Books Burlington on Sunday, September 23 at 1 PM.
Sydney Lea is Poet Laureate of Vermont. His most recent collection of poems is Six Sundays Toward a Seventh: Selected Spiritual Poems, from publishers Wipf and Stock. His 2011 collection is Young of the Year (Four Way Books). Later this year, the University of Michigan Press will issue A Hundred Himalayas, a sampling from his critical work over four decades. A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters and Wildlife (Skyhorse Publishing), a third volume of outdoor essays, will be published in early 2013, and his eleventh poetry collection, I Was Thinking of Beauty, will follow in that year from Four Way Books. Other recent books include Ghost Pain, poems, and his second nonfiction volume, A Little Wildness: Some Notes On Rambling.
He is widely known as an adept in several genres. He founded New England Review in 1977 and edited it until 1989. Of his nine previous poetry collections, Pursuit of a Wound (University of Illinois Press, 2000) was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The preceding volume, To the Bone: New and Selected Poems, was co-winner of the 1998 Poets’ Prize. In 1989, Lea also published the novel A Place in Mind with Scribner, and the book is still available in paper from Story Line Press. His 1994 collection of naturalist essays, Hunting the Whole Way Home, was re-issued in paper by the Lyons Press in 2003. Lea has received fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations, and has taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Wesleyan, Vermont and Middlebury Colleges, as well as at Franklin College in Switzerland and the National Hungarian University in Budapest. His stories, poems, essays and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, and many other periodicals, as well as in more than forty anthologies. Continue reading →
The Endangered Alphabets Project, which was such a hit at the last two Burlington Book Festivals, returns in 2012 in new and expanded form.
Tim Brookes with one of his Endangered Alphabets wood carvings.
Here’s the plot: the world has only about 100 alphabets and fully a third are endangered—no longer taught in schools, no longer used for commerce or government, understood only by a few elders, restricted to a few monasteries or used only in ceremonial documents, magic spells, or secret love letters.
Artist/writer Tim Brookes has spent the past three years tracking down the few people who can still read and write in these vanishing scripts, then carving pieces of text in Vermont tiger maple to preserve these remarkable, beautiful, exotic letterings and draw attention to the need to preserve cultural identity.
One of Tim Brookes’ astonishing wood carvings.
This year he has created a series of remarkable monumental carvings for the Festival that will become part of the architecture of the Fletcher Free Library. They will be installed for the duration of the weekend.
The Endangered Alphabets Project, which had one of its first public exhibitions at the Festival, has since become a global cause celebre, appearing at Yale University, Cambridge (UK) University and Barcelona University with future appearances scheduled in Australia, Thailand, England, Ireland and at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Check out the videos below for more information the the Endangered Alphabets.
An introduction to the Endangered Alphabets:
Tim discusses Tifinagh, the astonishing writing used by the Berber people of North Africa:
Endangered Alphabets book trailer:
About Tim Brookes:
Endangered Alphabets founder and author Tim Brookes.
Tim Brookes is Director of the Professional Writing Program at Champlain College. He was a regular essayist on NPR for twenty years and is the author of twelve books, some of which he barely remembers writing. Now he comes to think of it, much of his life seems highly improbable, and though he mainly writes non-fiction, he suspects he may be the fictional invention of another writer altogether. His collected blatherings can be found at www.timbrookesinc.com.