Saturday, October 24, 2009

Reads from the Title Story

Thursday night in the exquisitely fine Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Laura van den Berg made a triumphant return to her old college to read from her new book, the short story collection What The World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us. And what to say about the poise and smarts of this rising star. Her family circled around her and embraced her from the moment she arrived, and the celebration was large, thorough and complete. So was the fun.

Her stories have a dark surreal edge to them, and like Andrea Barrett she will make inquiry into science and quirky facts along the way. The stories emerge from the interactions of the characters, and she knows to let landscape act as a character, too. In a class of mine the following day, she explained that a story might click for her, in the writing, because of the oddest small thing. In the title story of her collection, she said, when she learned that in Madagascar the earth was red, the whole narrative came together and she was on her way. "Somehow," she said, "that small fact did it."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Patricia Smith!

On the occasion of the launch of Volume II of Rollins College's specs journal, a celebratory reading will take place this coming Thursday, Oct. 8, 7:30 in Bush Auditorium on the Rollins campus. I'm happy to pass along the news that the great Patricia Smith will read. Smith, who has two poems in this issue of specs, is something else entirely, let me tell you. Join us and see. You won't soon forget it.

Patricia is the author of five acclaimed books of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, a collection of poems (finalist for the 2008 National Book Award) chronicling the events of Hurricane Katrina.

A four-time Individual Winner of the National Poetry Slam (more than any other in the competition’s history), Smith has also appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and has performed three one-woman shows.

She was the winner of the first Hurston/Wright Award in Poetry for her book, Teahouse of the Almighty, which was also a National Poetry Series selection.

She currently teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine, and is a Professor of Creative Writing at the City University of New York/College of Staten Island.

Insider advice: Park in the SunBank parking garage, located directly across Fairbanks from Bush Auditorium. Maybe get there around 7. Join us to celebrate specs and show yet another national literary luminary who we are! :-)