Creative Writing & Literature

Contemporary Writers Series 2014-15 « Return to Creative Writing & Literature Resources


October 6, 2014 | 7:00 pm | Lisser Theater

Palestinian-American poet, Deema Shehabi and Jewish-American poet, Marilyn Hacker read from their collaborative book of poetry, Diaspo/Renga. This collaboration began when Marilyn Hacker, in Paris, sent Deema Shehabi, in California, an unexpected email containing a renga about a steadfast yet emotionally wounded child lamenting her fate during the invasion of Gaza in January 2009. It quickly turned into a long project, involving an alternate call and response between them in the tradition of the Japanese renga form, each poet picking up a word, phrase, or image from the poem preceding. The result was a sequence of renga, a fascinating poetic conversation called Diaspo/Renga. The two poetic voices are beautifully meshed together, so that it actually reads as one long poem.The poetry is very rich in imagery, and these images stay with you, as do feelings the poems generate, for example of unrest, of being in exile. Television shows you the pictures in the streets, this poetry takes you into the homes and minds of people. Diaspo/Renga is a dignified celebration of humanity in and among atrocities. Although triggered by events in Gaza, it cleverly weaves in other conflicts past and present.


Claiming Our Power: Judy Grahn, Coletta Reid, and Ginny Z Berson
October 14, 2014 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room

A Panel on Lesbian-Feminist Activism in the 1960s and 1970s

Many women-owned and operated presses, record companies, concert production companies, bookstores, coffee houses, and newspapers sprang up in the burst of creative energy of the Women's and Gay Liberation Movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Among them were Diana Press, the Oakland Women's Press Collective, and Olivia Records. The panelists will discuss their founding of these projects and their experience designing feminist institutions of power and purpose.


The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind: Helen Klonaris, Beth Loffreda, and Claudia Rankine
February 17, 2015 | reading at 5:30 pm, panel conversation 6:45-8:15 | Mills Hall Living Room

Is the imagination free from the racial dynamics that plague our times? Is there such a thing as a post-racial imaginary and what might that look like? How can we imagine change or new paradigms when the imagination is so often tethered to our cultural experiences? Join us for a dynamic reading and conversation about writing, creativity, race and the possibility of change.

Helen Klonaris

Helen Klonaris is a Greek Bahamian writer living in the Bay Area, where she teaches creative writing and mythology. She is co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Writing the Walls Down, and has been published in numerous journals and several anthologies, including Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writings from the Antilles, and The Racial Imaginary. Her story “Cowboy” was shortlisted for the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and she is working on the completion of her debut short story collection, The Lovers.


Beth Loffreda

Beth Loffreda is a nonfiction writer and the author of Losing Matt Shepard: Life and Politics in the Aftermath of Anti-Gay Murder and, with Claudia Rankine and Max King Cap, The Racial Imaginary. She teaches creative writing and American Studies at the University of Wyoming, where she directed the MFA program for six years. She grew up in Audubon, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Virginia and Rutgers University.


Claudia Rankine

Photo credit: John Lucas

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, and the plays, Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue, commissioned by the Foundry Theatre and Existing Conditions (co-authored with Casey Llewyllyn.) Rankine is co-editor of American Women Poets in the Twenty-First Century and The Racial Imaginary. A recipient of awards and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Lannan Foundation, Poets and Writers and the National Endowment for the Arts, she teaches at Pomona College.

This event is supported by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.

Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle
February 24 | Reading, 5:30 | Mills Hall Living Room

Victor LaValle is the author of four books, most recently the novel The Devil in Silver, a New York Times Notable Book of 2012. Of his third novel, Mos Def writes "Big Machine is like nothing I've ever read, incredibly human and alien at the same time. LaValle writes like Gabriel García Márquez mixed with Edgar Allen Poe, but this is even more than that. He's written the first great book of the next America." LaValle’s many awards include the American Book Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He's an assistant professor at Columbia University's writing program, and lives in New York with his wife and children.

MARCH 2015

Amy De’Ath, Jennifer Tamayo, and Cassandra Troyan
March 3, 2015, 5:30 | Mills Hall Living Room

Report from the Field
March 1, 2015, 5:30 | hosted by Small Press Traffic

Join us for an info-share with poets in, from, and moving between Vancouver, Chicago, New York, and London. How are other scenes, institutions, editors, and curators responding to rape and sexual violence in writing communities? Amy De'Ath, Jennifer Tamayo, and Cassandra Troyan will share their experiences organizing meetings, potlucks, and online interventions, in a discussion of the dynamics, difficulties, and benefits of their respective locations, actions taken and not taken. What does feminist solidarity look like? What might it look like? How can we take better care of one another? What kind of socialities and spaces do we want to create?


Amy De'Ath

Amy De'Ath's poetry books include Lower Parallel, Caribou, and Erec & Enide. With Fred Wah, she is the editor of a collection of poetry and poetics, Toward. Some. Air. Her critical writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Anguish Language, After Objectivism: Reconfiguring 21st Century Poetry & Poetics, and Cambridge Literary Review. For several years she worked in London, UK and in 2011 was Poet in Residence at the University of Surrey. She is now a PhD student at Simon Fraser University and works on the poetics journal Line. She lives in Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish Territories.


Jennifer Tamayo

Jennifer BAAAARRRRFFFF Tamayo is a Colombian-born transnational artist and activist based in New York City. JT’s most recent book is YOU DA ONE. Other publications include Red Missed Aches Read Missed Aches Red Mistakes Read Mistakes, a collection of poems and art work, and the limited edition chapbook POEMS ARE THE ONLY REAL BODIES. Since 2010, JT has served as the Managing Editor for Futurepoem, an independent NYC press publishing contemporary poetry and prose. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Chicago and her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University.


Cassandra Troyan

Cassandra Troyan is a writer, organizer, ex-artist, and former college employee. They are the author of THRONE OF BLOOD, BLACKEN ME BLACKEN ME GROWLED, and KILL MANUAL. Their writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Shifter Magazine, The Chicago Review, Elderly, ANCIENTS, and BOMB Magazine. Since 2010 they have curated the reading and performance series ARTIFICIAL EAR with numerous friends and collaborators. They received their MFA in Visual Art from the University of Chicago and work with sex workers, prisoners, and radical feminists in Chicago, IL where they currently live.

Trans Lit Now: Ariel Goldberg, Rachel Pollack, and Trish Salah
March 17, 2015
Talks and conversation, 2:30-5:00 | Bender Room
Reading, 5:30| Mills Hall Living Room


Ariel Goldberg

Ariel Goldberg's publications include Picture Cameras, The Photographer without a Camera, and, forthcoming in spring 2015, The Photographer. Ariel is completing the book-length essay The Estrangement Principle as a research fellow at the New York Public Library's Wertheim Study. They are the recipient of a Franklin Furnace Fund grant and have been an artist in residence at Headland's Center for the Arts, The Invisible Dog, n/a gallery, Residencias Artísticas Intercambios and SOMA in Mexico City. Ariel is the Friday Night Coordinator at The Poetry Project and teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.


Rachel Pollack

Photo credit: Rubi Rose

Rachel Pollack is the author of 36 books of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and translation, including two award-winning novels. Her books on the spiritual and psychological interpretation of tarot cards have earned her the title of Tarot Grandmaster. Her book 78 Degrees Of Wisdom, in print continuously since 1980, is known around the world as "the Bible of tarot readers." Rachel's work has been translated into fourteen languages.


Trish Salah

Photo credit: Ralph Kolewe

Trish Salah's books of poetry include Lyric Sexology: Volume I and the Lambda award-winning Wanting In Arabic. She is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Winnipeg. Her current research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s Insight Grant, investigates the emergence of Transgender and Transsexual Minority Literatures. In 2014 she co-organized and hosted Writing Trans Genres: Emergent Literatures and Criticism, a 3-day conference on Trans and Two Spirit Literatures and co-edited the fourth issue of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. She is working on a book of essays on trans literatures, and a novel.

This event is supported by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant it has received from The James Irvine Foundation.


For additional information, email Stephanie Young at