Creative Writing & Literature

Contemporary Writers Series 2007-08 « Return to Creative Writing & Literature Resources

Beth Lisick
Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Beth LisickBeth Lisick has long been an important local performer and arts community member. Dave Eggers says: "Lisick has built a huge following in San Francisco and elsewhere because she's wickedly funny...she speaks to a new kind of urban youngish person, who loves the city without being blind to the absurdities within. She's a complete original." With her newest book, Lisick's following has gone national–Everybody Into the Pool (Regan Books, 2005) was a New York Times extended list bestseller and made Entertainment Weekly's list of Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2005. Lisick has also published poems, essays, a short fiction collection, and wrote a weekly nightlife column at SF Gate for eight years. For the past five years, she has co-organized the Porchlight Storytelling Series, a monthly show for amateur storytellers in San Francisco.

Ron Silliman
Tuesday, October 2, 2007, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Ron SillimanSince its inception in 2002, Ron Silliman's weblog ( has become one of the most widely read and influential locations for discussion of contemporary poetry and poetics. His near-daily analysis of historic and current writing often spurs intense debate. This work is only one extension of Silliman's long-term editorial and critical commitment. He edited In the American Tree (National Poetry Foundation, 1986), an important anthology of language poetry, and between 1979 and 2004, wrote a single poem entitled The Alphabet. Volumes from that project have included VOG, Jones, Lit, N/O, Paradise, ®, Toner, What, and Xing. Charles Bernstein says of Silliman's most recent book, Under Albany (Salt, 2004), "This constructivist memoir provides an exquisitely rich exploration of the relation of context to reference, subtext to meaning, back story to presented experience, and composition to poetics." Silliman works as a market analyst in the computer industry.

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
Tuesday, October 16, 2007, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Elizabeth Cook-LynnElizabeth Cook-Lynn, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe, was born in 1930 in Fort Thompson, South Dakota, and raised on the reservation. A professor of English and Native American Studies for many years at Eastern Washington University, she was a founding editor of Wicazo Sa Review. Cook-Lynn is a scholar, activist, and widely anthologized award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. Lisa D. Chávez calls her Notebooks, a collection of poetry, prose, and politics published by the University of Arizona Press in 2007, "lyrical and sharp, fierce, and heartbreaking." Other books by Cook-Lynn include New Indians, Old Wars (University of Illinois Press, 2007), The Power of Horses and Other Stories (University of Arizona Press, 2006), The Politics of Hallowed Ground: Wounded Knee and the Struggle for Indian Sovereignty (University of Illinois Press, 1998), and Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays (University of Wisconsin Press, 1996).

The Chana Bloch Reading of Writers in Translation:
Brent Hayes Edwards

Tuesday, November 6, 2007, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Brent Hayes EdwardsBrent Hayes Edwards is a translator of essays, poems, and fiction by writers including édouard Glissant, Jacques Derrida, Jean Baudrillard, Sony Labou Tansi, and Monchoachi. A professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, his book The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Harvard University Press, 2003) was awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association and the Gilbert Chinard Prize of the Society for French Historical Studies. Recent essays and articles have appeared in Bookforum, Critical Inquiry, the New York Times, Positions, Research in African Literatures, Small Axe, and Transition. Edwards is co-editor of the journal Social Text, serves on the editorial boards of Transition and Callaloo, and with Robert O'Meally and Farah Griffin he co-edited Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies (Columbia University Press, 2004). His next book is a study of the interplay between jazz and literature in African American culture.

Wanda Coleman
Tuesday, February 12, 2008, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Wanda ColemanWanda Coleman–poet, performer, scriptwriter, journalist–was born in Watts and raised in South Central Los Angeles. About her writing, Camille Paglia writes "Coleman's vernacular is so alive it practically jumps off the page." Sometimes termed the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles, Coleman is a nationally and internationally celebrated writer, the recipient of NEA and Guggenheim fellowships, the first African American woman to receive the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and the first African American to receive an Emmy in daytime television writing. Her books in print from Black Sparrow Press include award-winning volumes of poetry, short stories, and a novel. Widely anthologized, Coleman is a dynamic performer and has appeared in venues diverse as The Nuyorican Café and the Smithsonian Institute. Her discography includes solo CDs High Priestess of Word and Berserk on Hollywood Blvd. (New Alliance Records), available online.

Peter Ho Davies
Tuesday, February 26, 2008, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Peter Ho DaviesBorn in Britain to Welsh and Chinese parents, Peter Ho Davies now makes his home in the U.S. and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan. His much-anticipated debut novel, The Welsh Girl (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), is the latest from an award-winning and widely anthologized writer who Publishers Weekly calls "an acute cultural observer." His first collection, The Ugliest House in the World (Mariner Books, 1998), was awarded the prestigious Llewelyn Rhys and PEN/Macmillan Prizes in the UK, and the H.L. Davis Oregon Book Award in the U.S. His second book, Equal Love (Mariner Books, 2000), was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. In 2003, Davies was named by Granta magazine as one of 20 "Best of Young British Novelists" and he is also a recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships.

Kenneth Goldsmith
Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Kenneth GoldsmithKenneth Goldsmith's writing has been called some of the most "exhaustive and beautiful collage work yet produced in poetry" by Publishers Weekly. The author of nine books of poetry, Goldsmith's work is also provocative and conceptually ambitious; in Fidget (Coach House, 2000), he set out "to record every move my body made on June 16, 1997" and for Day (The Figures, 2003), Goldsmith retyped an entire issue of the New York Times, part of his project in "uncreativity as a creative practice." A founding editor of the online archive UbuWeb (, Goldsmith is also the host of a weekly radio show on New York City's WFMU and teaches writing at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a senior editor of PennSound, an online poetry archive.

Peter Orner
Tuesday, April 8, 2008, 5:30 pm7:00 pm

Peter OrnerPeter Orner's debut novel, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo (Little, Brown, 2006), won the Bard Fiction Prize, was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, and is being translated into French, Italian, and German. Publishers Weekly says of the book, which is set in Namibia where Orner lived and worked in the early 1990s, "These telling snapshots stand in for the larger sociopolitical, cultural, and religious issues facing a country emerging from a century of colonization." Orner is also the author of a prizewinning short story collection, Esther Stories (Houghton Mifflin, 2001), and is a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow. Currently a writer-in-residence at Bard College, Orner has also recently trained in Chiapas as a human rights observer.

Directions to Mills

The literary events at Mills College are funded in part by the English Department, The Place for Writers, and Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

For more information, please call The Place for Writers, 510.430.2236, or Stephanie Young, 510.430.3130.