Creative Writing & Literature

Contemporary Writers Series 2015-16 « Return to Creative Writing & Literature Resources

Fall 2015


Rebel Girls: Debra Busman and MariNaomi
September 29, 2015 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room

In collaboration with Elmaz Abinader’s Creative Nonfiction class, Memoirs of Rebel Girls, the Contemporary Writers Series is excited to present two writers who create narratives of rebellion and liberation–stories of girls who broke through, broke out, and got broke from the different societies, families, cultures, and roles that bind girls.

Debra Busman

Debra Busman’s new novel, like a woman, is a vivid coming of age story revealing the lives of teenage girls on the streets of Los Angeles, trying to hold on to their sense of humanity against a backdrop of racism, poverty, sexism, and violence. The LA Times describes the novel as "gritty but tender: charming in its immodesty and sinewy as a junkyard dog." Busman co­edited Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action Writing and is co­director of the Creative Writing and Social Action Program at CSU Monterey Bay. Her work has been published in Combined Destinies: Whites Share Grief About Racism, Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape, The LA Review and elsewhere. She is a graduate of Mills College.



MariNaomi's books include the SPACE Prize-winning graphic memoir Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0–22, the Eisner nominated Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories, and the upcoming Turning Japanese. The creator and curator of the Cartoonist of Color Database and the LGBTQ Cartoonists Database, her artwork has been featured at the De Young Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco’s Asian American Museum and the Japaneses American Museum in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in over fifty print anthologies and online at The Rumpus, LA Review of Books, XOJane, and elsewhere. She toured with Sister Spit in 2011.


Eileen Myles
October 13, 2015 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room

Join us as we celebrate two new publications by Eileen Myles: I Must Be Living Twice: New & Selected Poems, and a reissue of her influential collection Chelsea Girls, first published in 1994 by Black Sparrow Books. Myles is a poet living in New York, a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow, recipient of a Slate/Whiting second novel award and, in 2014­15, recipient of a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She’s published 19 books, ranging from essays and criticism to memoirs and poetry and nonfiction novels. Her many accomplishments and contributions include directing St. Mark’s Poetry Project, co­editing The New Fuck You/adventures in lesbian reading, and teaching many places, most recently Columbia and NYU.


Robin Coste Lewis
October 20, 2015 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room

Voyage of the Sable Venus, Robin Coste Lewis' poetry debut, is a crucial lyric collection exploring and interrogating representations of the black female figure in Western art alongside personal history and autobiography. Her work has appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Transition, and VIDA, among others. She has received numerous residency fellowships and awards, and taught many places including Hunter College, Hampshire College, and the NYU Low­Residency MFA in Paris. Currently a Provost’s Fellow at USC, Lewis lives in Los Angeles.


Bangla Literature and Translation: Shabnam Nadiya, Mahmud Rahman and Arunava Sinha
November 3, 2015 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room

The English Department is excited to present a bilingual reading from a selection of Arunava Sinha's translations, followed by a conversation with Shabnam Nadiya and Mahmud Rahman focusing on the humanist values in Bangla literature as resistance to fundamentalist assaults on free expression in today’s Bangladesh.

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Shabnam Nadiya

Shabnam Nadiya grew up in Jahangirnagar University, a small college town in Bangladesh. She is currently completing her collection titled Pye Dogs and Magic Men, and translating Shaheen Akhtar's third novel Beloved Rongomala from Bangla. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Mahmud Rahman

Mahmud Rahman is a writer and translator resident in California. He is the author of Killing the Water: Stories and translator of Bangladeshi novelist Mahmudul Haque’s Black Ice. His fiction translations have also been published by Words Without Borders, World Literature Today, and The Daily Star. He is a graduate of the MFA creative writing program at Mills College.


Mahmud Rahman

Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bangla fiction, nonfiction and poetry into English. Thirty-one of his translations have been published; these works have won the Crossword Translation Award in India twice, and the Muse India translation award once. Born and educated in Calcutta, he lives and writes in New Delhi.


Spring 2016


Keith Hennessy

Keith Hennessy
February 16 | 5:30 | Mills Hall Living Room

Performer, choreographer, teacher, writer and organizer Keith Hennessy's interdisciplinary research engages improvisation, ritual and public action as tools for investigating political realities. Ideas and practices inspired by anarchism, critical whiteness, punk, and queer-feminism motivate and mobilize Hennessy’s creative and activist projects. Hennessy directs Circo Zero, and current projects include Turbulence (a dance about the economy), Bear/Skin a solo folk dance, Sara (the smuggler) a solo for Sara Shelton Mann, and two performances responding to the war and refugee crisis in Syria: future friend/ships a duet with Jassem Hindi, and Action (Syria) a museum solo.

MARCH 2016

Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson
March 1 | 5:30 | Mills Hall Living Room

Maggie Nelson is the author of nine books of poetry and prose, many of which have become cult classics defying categorization. Her nonfiction titles include the New York Times bestseller The Argonauts, The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, The Red Parts: A Memoir, and Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions; her poetry titles include Something Bright, Then Holes and Jane: A Murder. Since 2005 she has been on the faculty of the School of Critical Studies at CalArts, where she is currently the Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program. She lives in Los Angeles.

Beth Piatote

Beth Piatote
March 15 | 5:30 | Mills Hall Living Room

In her groundbreaking interdisciplinary work Domestic Subjects: Gender, Citizenship and Law in Native American Literature, Beth Piatote tracks the double movement of literature and law in the contest over the aims of settler-national domestication and the defense of tribal-national culture, political rights, and territory. The book received an honorable mention for the first MLA prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. Piatote is assistant professor of Native American studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Cheena Lo and Keenan Norris

March 29, 2016, 5:30 | Mills Hall Living Room

Join us for a reading with two alums of the MFA in Creative Writing program!

Cheena Lo

Cheena Lo co-founded the Manifest Reading and Workshop Series. They are the author of chapbooks NO FILTER, and Ephemera & Atmospheres. Their first book, A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters, is forthcoming from Commune Editions in 2016, and will be available at the reading.


Keenan Norris

Keenan Norris's first novel Brother and the Dancer is the winner of the James D. Houston Award for first books. He is the editor of Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape and his journalism and short fiction has appeared in, Boom: A Journal of California, and New California Writing 2013. His work has been anthologized in collections including Post-Soul Satire: Black Identity After Civil Rights, Inlandia: A Literary Journey through California's Inland Empire, Literature for Life 2015, and Akashic Press's forthcoming Oakland Noir. Keenan serves as a guest editor for the Oxford African-American Studies Center and teaches at Evergreen Valley College.