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Writers@Grinnell

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Writers@Grinnell: Hai-Dang Phan '03 & Rick Barot

Award-winning poet, translator, and scholar, Hai-Dang Phan ’03, along with award-winning poet Rick Barot, will read from their work and discuss writing on Thursday, Sept. 1 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

In addition, they will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. Sept. 1 in Rosenfield Center, Room 209.

Hai-Dang Phan photoHai-Dang Phan, born in Vietnam and raised in Wisconsin, is a poet, translator, and scholar who teaches courses in Ethnic American Literature and Creative Writing at Grinnell. His research interests include modern and contemporary American literature, race in American literature, war literature, reconciliation, modern and contemporary poetry in English, and translation studies. A former Thomas J. Watson Fellow, he received his bachelor’s in English from Grinnell College and his doctorate in literary studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is completing his master of fine arts in creative writing (poetry) from the University of Florida.

His poems and translations appear or are forthcoming in literary journals such as AnomalousAsymptoteBarrow StreetThe Brooklyn RailCerise PressDrunken BoatKartika ReviewLana TurnerNOÖ Journal, and RHINO. He has interned at Harper’s Magazine, and for five years co-curated FELIX, a quarterly series of new writing based in Madison. He is currently working on a number of critical and creative projects: a book manuscript entitled A Rumor of Redress: Literature, the Vietnam War, and the Politics of Reconciliation, a book-length translation of new and selected poems by the contemporary Vietnamese poet Phan Nhien Hao, and a collection of poetry tentatively entitled Small Wars.

Rick Barot photoRick Barot has published three books of poetry with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002), Want (2008), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize, and Chord (2015).  Chord received the UNT Rilke Prize, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award.  It was also a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, The Paris Review, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review.

He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, the Civitella Ranieri, and Stanford University, where he was a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency master of fine arts program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University.  He is also the poetry editor for New England Review.  In 2016 he received a poetry fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.

Writers@Grinnell: Chris Martin

Chris Martin imageAward-winning poet, Chris Martin, will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 15 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

In addition, Martin will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. September 15 in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 209.

Chris Martin is the author of three collections of poetry, The Falling Down Dance (Coffee House Press, 2015), Becoming Weather (Coffee House Press, 2011), and American Music (Copper Canyon Press, 2007), selected by C. D. Wright for the Hayden Carruth Award. He is also the author of several chapbooks, including HISTORY (Coffee House, 2014), enough (Ugly Duckling, 2012), and How to Write a Mistake-ist Poem (Brave Men, 2011). Recent work can be found now or soon in The Cultural Society, Fence, Paperbag, SPOKE TOO SOON, and The Brooklyn Rail. He is an editor at Futurepoem books and lives in Minneapolis with his wife, the poet Mary Austin Speaker, and their son Atticus. He teaches at The Loft and is a visiting assistant professor at Carleton College. He is also a co-founder and teaching-writer at Unrestricted Interest.

2016 Creative Writing Contest Winners

The winners of this year’s creative writing contests are:

Nick Adams Short Story

Nelson Ogbuagu ’16, winner — $1000 for “Playing It Safe”

Grace Lloyd ’16, honorable mention — for “Crush”

James Norman Hall '10 Aspiring Writer Award

Alejandra Rodriguez Wheelock ’17 — $2000 for “The Basic Principles of Long Distance Running”

Selden Whitcomb Prize

Clara Trippe ’18, winner — $500 for “The Year of Cicadas; Lechuguilla Cave; Atmosphere; and Yours: Flesh and Ground”

Maya Elliott ’18, 2nd prize — $100 for “Bruises, CHURCHGOING, A HYMNAL?; and The Physicality of Atheism”

Emma Soberano ’17, 2nd prize — $100 for “Mi papá me llama ‘chile’; Duloxetine, 30 mg; Bruises are like post-it notes; and Cielito Lindo”

Henry York Steiner Memorial Prize for Short Fiction

Emma Soberano ’17, winner — $500 for “Sex”

Josie Sloyan ’18, 2nd prize — $100 for “Long Way Out”

Emma Thomasch ’16, 2nd prize — $100 for “Hold Your Peace”

Lorabel Richardson Prize, Academy of American Poets

Maya Elliott ’18 — $100 for “Witchblood: A Fantasy”

Writers@Grinnell: Alissa Nutting

Award-winning author Alissa Nutting will read from her work and discuss writing on Friday, April 22nd as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The free, public event will start at 4:15 p.m. in the Burling Library Lounge.

Alissa Nutting authored the short story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and GirlsAlissa Nutting photoselected by judge Ben Marcus as winner of the 6th Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, and the novel, Tampa. A new novel is forthcoming from Ecco in early 2017. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, Fence, BOMB, Elle, The New York Times, Conduit, and O: The Oprah Magazine, as well as the fairy tale anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. She holds and master's in fine arts from the University of Alabama, and a doctorate from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She is currently at work on two television pilots, teaches in UNLV’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, housed at the Black Mountain Institute, and is currently a visiting writer at Grinnell College in Iowa.

In addition, the winners of this year’s Creative Writing Contests will be announced after the reading.

Writers@Grinnell: Rob Spillman

Award winning author, Rob Spillman, will read from his work and discuss writing on Monday, April 18 at 8:00 p.m. in ARH 302.

In addition, Spillman will lead a roundtable discussion which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. April 18 in JRC 209.

Rob Spillman is Editor and co-founder of Tin House, a sixteen-year-old bi-coastal (Brooklyn,Rob Spillman photo New York and Portland, Oregon) literary magazine. He is the 2015 recipient of the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing as well as the 2015 VIDO Award from VIDA. Tin House is the recipient of the 2015 Firecracker Award for General Excellence and has been honored in Best American Stories, Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, O’Henry Prize Stories, the Pushcart Prize Anthology and numerous other anthologies. He is also the Executive Editor of Tin House Books and co-founder of the Tin House Summer Workshop, now in its thirteenth year. His writing has appeared in BookForum, the Boston Review, Connoisseur, Details, GQ, Guernica, Nerve, the New York Times Book Review, Rolling Stone, Salon, Spin, Sports Illustrated, Time, Vanity Fair, Vogue, among other magazines, newspapers, and essay collections. He is also the editor of Gods and Soldiers: the Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing, which was published in 2009. He is on the board of CLMP (the Community of Literary Magazines and Small Presses), the Brooklyn Book Festival Literary Council, Narrative4, and is the Chair of PEN’s Membership Committee. He has guest taught at universities around the world, including Queensland University in Brisbane, the Farafina Workshop in Lagos, Nigeria, the SLS Workshops in St. Petersburg, Russia and Nairobi, Kenya, the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile, the University of Florida, New York University, Brooklyn College, Amherst, Williams, and is currently a lecturer at Columbia University. His memoir, All Tomorrow’s Parties, will be published by Grove Press in April, 2016.

CANCELLED: Writers@Grinnell: Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay's visit to Grinnell on April 7, 2016 has been cancelled. 

Bestselling author and feminist scholar Roxane Gay will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, April 7, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series and Scholars’ Convocation at Grinnell College.

Roxane Gay ImageThe Scholars’ Convocation lecture will start at 11 a.m. in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.  

In addition, Gay will lead a free, puplic roundtable discussion at 4:15 p.m. April 7, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

An accomplished scholar, Gay is an associate professor of English at Purdue University in Indiana. Her research interests include the intersections between race, gender, and popular culture; contemporary fiction; and the political novel.

Gay uses her personal experience with race, gender identity, and sexuality to inform her analyses and deconstruction of feminist and racial issues in her work. In addition to her more serious scholarly and creative work, she is a well-known figure on social media, with tens of thousands of Twitter followers, many of whom are drawn to her often irreverent and humorous “instant” commentaries on major news events, politics, pop culture, and reality television.

"Bad Feminist," her bestselling essay collection, is a personal manifesto that takes readers through the journey of Gay's evolution as a woman of color and describes how feminism affects Gay's own life — for better or worse. The essays cover a wide a range of topics, from competitive Scrabble to novels written by women to advice on acknowledging privilege.

Gay's writings on gender and racial inequality have won numerous awards in recent years and have appeared in Tin House, Oxford American, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, and many other media outlets.

Gay's debut novel, Untamed State, explores the privilege that made Haitian-American Mireille Duval Jameson a target for kidnapping and the strength she must draw on to survive the kidnapping and reclaim her life. Deadline.com recently reported that the novel will be adapted for film by Beyond the Lights director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Gay is co-writing the script with Prince-Bythewood. Gugu Mbatha-Raw has been selected to portray Jameson.

Gay's latest book, Hunger, is scheduled to be released in June. Hunger focuses on Gay's experience with weight, body image, and building a positive relationship with food.

Writers@Grinnell: Stephanie Ford

Stephanie Ford '95 is next in Writers@Grinnell series.

Stephanie Ford will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, March 3 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Stephanie_Ford image

In addition, Ford will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at  4:15 p.m., March 3 in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 209.

Stephanie Ford is the author of All Pilgrim (Four Way Books, 2015). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Tin House, Boston Review, Harvard Review, and The Iowa Review. She holds a bachelor's degree in studio art from Grinnell and a masters in fine arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan; her honors include the Hopwood Award as well as fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she now lives in Los Angeles, where she has worked as a high school creative writing teacher and, most recently, as a freelance museum editor.

Writers@Grinnell: Edwidge Danticat

Haitian American best selling author and social activist Edwidge Danticat will read from herEdwidge Danticat image work and discuss writing on Thursday, Feb. 25 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

In addition, Danticat will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. Feb. 25 in Mears Cottage Living Room.

Edwidge Danticat has written ten books and has received numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Story Prize, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Edwidge Danticat published her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, at the age of twenty-five. The book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and was immediately recognized by readers and critics alike as heralding the emergence of a shining new literary talent. Danticat’s profound connection to her native Haiti has not only informed her literary output, but has made her a powerful and passionate advocate.

Her newest book, Claire of the Sea Light, is a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl has gone missing. It was published in 2013, to much critical acclaim.

Previous works include Brother, I’m Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a National Book Award finalist; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. Danticat has also received the MacArthur “Genius Grant” and been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

So You Think You Can Write

Grinnell alumni return to campus for a two-day symposium on written communication Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, 2016.

The free, public symposium features informational panels, writing challenges, an internship and information fair, and plenty of opportunities to talk directly with successful alumni in the field.

Schedule

Friday, Feb. 19

4 p.m. Freelance Writing Panel
Tequia Burt ’98, Courtney Sherwood ’00, and Molly McArdle ’09
Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302
5:30 p.m. Dinner (Open only to those who preregistered by Feb. 12)
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Saturday, Feb. 20

10 a.m. Writing Challenge Events
Students can take part in writing challenges judged by
Christa Desir ’96 and Katie In ’13.
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
12:30 p.m. Lunch With Alumni
Rosenfield Center Marketplace,
Rooms 224 A and B
2 p.m. Writing Careers: Years in the Making Panel
Dan Weeks ’80, Jeanne Pinder ’75, Jim Bickal ’82, and Molly Backes ’02
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
3:30 p.m. Internship and Information Fair
Speak one-on-one with our guest alumni.
Bucksbaum Center for the Arts rotunda
5 p.m. Networking Hour with Alumni
Refreshments will be served.
Rosenfield Center, second floor lobby
6 p.m. Dinner (Open only to those who preregistered by Feb. 12)
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Guest Alumni Panelists

M. Molly Backes ’02

M. Molly Backes ’02 is the author of the young adult novel The Princesses of Iowa (Candlewick Press, 2012), which was named Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Fiction for Teens (2013) and Forever Young Adult’s Best YA Books of 2012 and was a finalist on NPR.org’s Best-Ever Teen Novels list in 2012. She has performed her personal essays at reading series including Essay Fiesta, Funny Ha-Ha, Is This a Thing?, and Sunday Salon and is a frequent guest at writing conferences and festivals across the country. Since graduating from Grinnell, Backes has had a number of careers, including middle school English teacher, wildlife conservation educator, arts administrator, marketing department copy writer/editor, and writing coach. She is currently an M.F.A. candidate at Iowa State University, where she teaches composition and creative writing.

Jim Bickal ’82

Jim Bickal ’82 began his career in 1984 as an unpaid intern for Minnesota Public Radio News. He has worked as a reporter and producer for MPR and Twin Cities Public Television. Some of the stories he has covered include the Minnesota Twins’ improbable 1987 World Series championship, the election of Jesse Ventura as governor of Minnesota in 1998, the 2002 Minnesota Senate campaign after the death of Paul Wellstone, and the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007. He has produced two hour-long radio documentaries. One traces a song (“The Rock Island Line” by Little Richard) to its origins, and the other looks at how growing up in Minnesota shaped Bob Dylan’s music. He is currently developing a podcast centered around the events of May 10, 2013. That’s when an unarmed man fleeing arrest broke into Bickal’s home in Minneapolis and was killed by police officers in his basement.

Tequia Burt ’98

Tequia Burt ’98 is a veteran editor and writer with more than 10 years of experience covering marketing, business, media and government. Before becoming a freelancer last year, she was editor in chief of FierceCMO. Burt earned her M.S.J. from Medill in 2005.

Christa Soule Desir ’96

Christa Soule Desir ’96 writes contemporary fiction for young adults. Her novels include Fault Line, Bleed Like Me, and Other Broken Things. She lives with her husband, three children, and overly enthusiastic dog outside Chicago. She is a founding member of the Voices and Faces Project, a nonprofit organization for rape survivors that conducts an international survivor-based testimonial writing workshop, including working with incarcerated teens. She also works as a romance editor at Samhain Publishing and once a week can be found working the stacks at Anderson’s Bookshop.

Katie In ’13

Katie In ’13 is an interdisciplinary media artist and musician based in Grinnell. She graduated from Grinnell College in 2013 with a B.A. in sociology and was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and recipient of the Ladies Education Society Award. A socially-minded observer of the world and creator of things, In uses video, music, and performance to tell stories and communicate ideas. She is part of the collaborative group Tiny Circus as well as the Midwest-based collective and band called The Plain Mosaic.

Molly McArdle ’09

Molly McArdle ’09 is Brooklyn Magazine’s books editor and a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure. She’s also founding editor of The Rumpus’ Tumblr (The Rumblr) and the creator of The Daily GIF. Her essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in The Believer, the Los Angeles Review of Books, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, Atlas Obscura, Bitch Magazine, Pacific Standard, Audubon Magazine, The Oyster Review, Fusion, and Library Journal, where she was an editor on the book review. She was a member of Grinnell’s first D.C. Posse and is working on a novel.

Jeanne Pinder ’75

Jeanne Pinder ’75 is founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts.com, a New York City journalism startup bringing transparency to the health care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs. She founded ClearHealthCosts after volunteering for a buyout in 2009 from The New York Times, where she worked for almost 25 years as an editor, reporter and human resources executive. Pinder is a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. She was born and raised in Grinnell. She started working as a journalist in middle school at The Grinnell Herald-Register, her family’s twice-weekly independent paper. Before The Times, she also worked at The Des Moines Register and The Associated Press. She is a graduate of Grinnell College with a bachelor’s in Russian and studied Slavic linguistics in graduate school at Indiana University. She used to teach Russian, and she lived for a time in what was then the Soviet Union.

Courtney Sherwood ’00

Courtney Sherwood ’00 worked in newspapers for 12 years, first as a reporter then as an editor, before frustrations with the shrinking print industry prompted her to quit her day job to freelance in 2012. She continues to cover hard news from Portland, Ore., with pieces appearing in a wide range of outlets, including Science magazine online, Vice, The Irish Times, the Canadian Broadcast Corp., and many others. Most of her time is divided between NPR-affiliate Oregon Public Broadcasting, where she is a radio editor and web producer; Thompson Reuters, a news service for which she is one of two Oregon correspondents; and The Lund Report, which publishes her wonky analyses of how money moves the health care industry.

Dan Weeks ’80

Dan Weeks ’80 majored in American Studies at Grinnell and earned an M.A. in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa Graduate Writing Program. He has spent the past  30-plus years as a magazine and book writer, photographer, editor, ghostwriter, editorial manager, publishing consultant, and freelancer. His magazine profiles, features, essays, and photographs on subjects ranging from adventure travel to zinnias have appeared in dozens of national, international, and regional magazines. His book Deadliest Catch: Desperate Hours, a companion to the Emmy-nominated reality show about Bering Sea crab fishermen, was a Discovery Channel best seller. He edited The Grinnell Magazine from 2010–2013 and currently edits The Iowan magazine.

Bakopoulos Receives 2016 Creative Writing Fellowship

Dean BakopoulosIn the first grant announcement of its 50th anniversary year, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded individual creative writing fellowships of $25,000 each to 37 fiction and creative nonfiction writers including Dean Bakopoulos, writer-in-residence at Grinnell College.  

Since its establishment in 1965, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion in grants in every state and U.S. jurisdiction, the only arts funder in the nation to do so.

The NEA selected Bakopoulos from among 1,763 eligible applicants evaluated by 23 readers and panelists. This is his second NEA fellowship, a rare accomplishment.

Through its creative writing fellowships program, the NEA gives writers the time and space to create, revise, conduct research, and connect with readers. Fellows must wait 10 years before applying for a second fellowship. Bakopoulos won an award for fiction in 2006; the 2016 award is for creative nonfiction.

"Since its inception, the creative writing fellowship program has awarded more than $45 million to a diverse group of more than 3,000 writers, many of them emerging writers at the start of their careers," said NEA Director of Literature Amy Stolls. "These 37 extraordinary new fellows, including Dean Bakopoulos, provide more evidence of the NEA’s track record of discovering and supporting excellent writers."

"I’m so grateful to the NEA for recognizing my work for a second time," Bakopoulos said. "This is an important boost for me on many levels, not just financially, but also emotionally. I’m finishing a difficult and somewhat perplexing book, and this fellowship has given me the courage to keep working, to finish the manuscript I was very close to throwing away.

"The nonfiction manuscript, titled 'Undoings,' is a book-length meditation on the way things fall apart, and how we, as individuals, as families, as artists, often become undone by our own obsessions and our own pasts. I wrestle with many demons and blessings in that book: marriage, divorce and parenthood; my own family's history as war refugees and the long shadows cast by war trauma; as well as everything from country music to fast food to the role of religion in clinical depression. Right now, it's a mess of a book, and this fellowship gives me the time to give it the focus it needs." 

Bakopoulos, who teaches fiction and creative nonfiction courses at Grinnell, is the author of three novels — Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, My American Unhappiness, and Summerlong. The film version of his first novel, co-written by Bakopoulos, wraps shooting this month and stars James Franco, Rashida Jones, and Jeffrey Wahlberg. The film version of Summerlong, also adapted by Bakopoulos, is in the works. In addition to his two NEA awards, Bakopoulos is the recipient of a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship.

The NEA’s creative writing fellowships program is arguably the most egalitarian grant program in its field. Applications are free and open to the public; fellows are selected through an anonymous review process in which the sole criterion is artistic excellence. The judging panel varies year to year and is always diverse with regard to geography, ethnicity, gender, age, and life experience.

Since 1990, 81 of the 138 American recipients of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and Fiction were previous NEA creative writing fellows.

To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEAFall15.