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Writers@Grinnell Reading: Ocean Vuong

Poet and essayist Ocean Vuong will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, February 22, 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.

Ocean Vuong is the author of the best-selling, Night Sky with Exit Wounds. A New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, the debut was a winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.

Vuong's writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Harper's, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker, alongside Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon, and Warsan Shire, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, VICE, The Fantastic Man, and The New Yorker.

Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an assistant professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at Umass-Amherst. He is currently at work on his first novel.

Writers@Grinnell: Mark Montgomery & Irene (Tinker) Powell

Mark Montgomery, professor of economics and Donald Wilson Professor of Enterprise and Leadership along with Irene (Tinker) Powell, professor of economics, will read from their newly published book, Saving International Adoption: An Argument From Economics and Personal Experience, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, February 8, in Faulconer Gallery, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

International adoption is in a state of virtual collapse, rates having fallen by more than half Saving International Adoption book coversince 2004 and continuing to fall. Yet around the world millions of orphaned and vulnerable children need permanent homes, and thousands of American and European families are eager to take them in. Many government officials, international bureaucrats, and social commentators claim these adoptions are not “in the best interests” of the child. They claim that adoption deprives children of their “birth culture,” threatens their racial identities, and even encourages widespread child trafficking. Celebrity adopters are publicly excoriated for stealing children from their birth families.

This book argues that opposition to adoption ostensibly based on the wellbeing of the child is often a smokescreen for protecting national pride. Concerns about the harm done by transracial adoption are largely inconsistent with empirical  evidence. As for trafficking, opponents of international adoption want to shut it down because it is too much like a market for children. But this book offers a radical challenge to this view — that is, what if instead of trying to suppress market forces in international adoption, we embraced them so they could be properly regulated? What if the international system functioned more like open adoption in the United States, where birth and adoptive parents can meet and privately negotiate the exchange of parental rights? This arrangement, the authors argue, could eliminate the abuses that currently haunt international adoption.

  - Vanderbilt University Press

Writers@Grinnell: Thisbe Nissen & Jay Baron Nicorvo

Award winning author Thisbe Nissen, and novelist Jay Baron Nicorvo, will read from their work and discuss writing on Tuesday, January 30 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 6 p.m. at the Pioneer Bookshop located at 933 Main Street, Grinnell.

Thisbe Nissen is the author of three novels, Our Lady of the Prairie, Osprey IslandThe Good People of New York, and a story collection, Out of the Girls' Room and into the Night (winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award). She is also the co-author with Erin Ergenbright of The Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook, a collection of stories, recipes, and art collages. Her fiction has been published in The Iowa Review, The American Scholar, Seventeen, and The Virginia Quarterly Review, and anthologized in The Iowa Award: The Best Stories 1991-2000 and Best American Mystery Stories. Her nonfiction has appeared in Vogue, Glamour, Preservation, and The Believer, and is featured in several essay anthologies.

 She has been the recipient of fellowships from the James Michener-Copernicus Society, The University of Iowa, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Yaddo, and the MacDowell Colony, and was the 19th Zale Writer-in-Residence at Tulane University. She has taught at Columbia University, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Brandeis University, The New School's Eugene Lang College, and in the low residency MFA program at Pacific University. These days, she teaches undergraduate, masters, and doctorate students at Western Michigan University.

Jay Baron Nicorvo is the author of a novel, The Standard Grand (St. Martin's Press), picked for IndieBound's Indie Next List, Library Journal's Spring 2017 Debut Novels Great First Acts, and named a best book of the year by The Brooklyn Rail. He's published a poetry collection, Deadbeat (Four Way Books, 2012), and his nonfiction can be found in The Baffler, Poets & Writers, and The Iowa Review. He's been an editor at Ploughshares and at PEN America, the literary magazine of the PEN American Center, and was membership director for the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP). 

New Grinnell Guide to Writing, Research, and Speaking

The Writing Lab is pleased to announce the launch of the Grinnell Guide to Writing, Research, and Speaking, an online resource for students and faculty, written by mentored advanced project students Vincent Benlloch '18 and Helen Eckhard '18 under the supervision of Tim Arner, associate professor of English, and Janet Carl, director of academic writing and speaking.

The guide, written by students primarily for students, addresses key issues and concepts in college writing, research, and oral presentations. It is free, accessible to all readers, current (updates and additions possible at any time), and local (written from a Grinnell perspective).

Writers@Grinnell: Lynn Powell

Award-winning poet Lynn Powell will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, Nov. 16, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The reading will begin at 8 p.m. in  Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

In addition, Powell, who teaches in the creative writing program at Oberlin College, will lead a roundtable discussion at 4:15 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 209. The discussion will focus on teaching imaginative writing, specifically the work of the Oberlin Writers in the Schools program, which Powell directs. This nationally recognized program engages Oberlin students in teaching creative writing in local schools.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Powell is the author of three books of poetry, including Season of the Second Thought, winner of the 2017 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. Her poems have been published in many journals, including Poetry, the Georgia Review, and the Paris Review, and anthologized in 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day and The Norton Introduction to Literature.

Her book of nonfiction, Framing Innocence, won the Studs and Ida Terkel Award from the New Press. Her other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Writers@Grinnell Brings Carmen Machado, Alissa Nutting to Campus

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the story collection Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf Press), which is currently shortlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in fiction. Her memoir House in Indiana is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2019. She is a fiction writer, critic, and essayist whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Guernica, Electric Literature, AGNI, NPR, Gulf Coast, Los Angeles Review of Books, VICE, and elsewhere. Her stories have been reprinted in Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and Best Women’s Erotica. She was named as a "Writer to Watch" for Fall 2017 by Publisher's Weekly. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the University of Iowa, the Yaddo Corporation, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Artist in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.  

Grinnell College assistant professor Alissa Nutting is the author of three books, including Made for Love, which was published in July 2017 by Ecco Press/HarperCollins. Along with her writing partner Dean Bakopoulos, she is currently developing a television series based on the novel for Paramount. Her story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls will be reissued by Ecco in Summer 2018, as part of its Art of the Story series, and Ecco will publish her collection of nonfiction essays in 2019.

Writers@Grinnell: Kiese Laymon & Dwayne Betts

Award winning authors Kiese Laymon and Dwayne Betts will read from their work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 28, 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 (JRC) room 101.

In addition, a conversation with Kiese Laymon and Dwayne Betts will be held at 4:15 p.m. in JRC 101.

Kiese Laymon is currently a Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, New York Times, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Fader, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony, and Guernica. He is a contributing editor of Oxford American. Three essays in How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America have been included in the Best American series, the Best of Net award, and the Atlantic's Best Essays of 2013. He was selected a member of the Root 100 in 2013 and 2014 and Ebony Magazine Power 100 in 2015.

Reginald Dwayne Betts, is a poet, memoirist, Yale law graduate, and activist. He is the author of three books: the recently published Bastards of the Reagan Era, the 2010 NAACP Image Award winning memoir, A Question of Freedom, and the poetry collection, Shahid Reads His Own Palm. Dwayne is currently enrolled in the PhD in Law Program at the Yale Law School. He has earned a J.D. from the Yale Law School, an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College’s M.F.A. Program for Writers, and a B.A. from the University of Maryland and served on a presidential advisory board during the Obama administration.

Writers@Grinnell: Jamaal May and Tarfia Faizullah

The Saadi Simawe Memorial Reading will be given by award winning poets, Jamaal May and Tarfia Faizullah  on Thursday, October 5th 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, May and Faizullah will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m., also in the Faulconer Gallery.

Jamaal May is the author of Hum (Alice James Books, 2013) and The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James Books, 2016). His first collection received a Lannan Foundation Grant, American Library Association’s Notable Book Award, and was named a finalist for the Tufts Discovery Award and an NAACP Image Award. Jamaal’s other honors include a Spirit of Detroit Award, the Wood Prize from Poetry, an Indiana Review Prize, and fellowships from The Stadler Center, The Kenyon Review, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy. Jamaal May’s poetry explores the tension between opposites to render a sonically rich argument for the interconnectivity of people, worlds, and ideas. He co-directs OW! Arts with Tarfia Faizullah.

Bangladeshi American poet Tarfia Faizullah grew up in Midland, Texas. She earned an MFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University program in creative writing. Her first book, Seam (2014), won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Focused around a long sequence “Interview with a Birangona,” the book explores the ethics of interviewing as well as the history of the birangona, Bangladeshi women raped by Pakistani soldiers during the Liberation War of 1971. Faizullah received a Fulbright award to travel to Bangladesh and interview the birangona. Faizullah lives in Detroit where she teaches at the University of Michigan. Her second book is Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf Press, 2018).

This event is dedicated to the memory of Saadi Simawe...

Saadi Simawe joined Grinnell’s English department in 1992. He gained tenure in 2000, went on to SFS in 2008, and transferred to emeritus status in 2012. His Ph.D. was awarded by the University of Iowa and his teaching and research interests included Arabic language and literature, Middle Eastern literatures, and the study of literary interconnections between the West and the Islamic East. From 1994 to 1998, he was director of the Grinnell Writers’ Conference, inviting significant authors to come to Grinnell to read from their work. He convened a Race and Ethnicity Reading Group of faculty members, and helped plan a number of symposia at the College.

In addition to teaching and service to the College, Simawe taught at Nanjing University as part of the Grinnell-Nanjing exchange and was a Fulbright teacher-scholar at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal. He specialized in African-American literature and maintained a keen scholarly interest in the constructions and expressions of blackness in Arabic literature. He brought this into his classes, introducing in his African-American literature courses elements from Arabic and Islamic literature and Grinnell recognized his scholarship with a Rosenbloom Award for Interdisciplinary Study of the Arts in 1999. In 2000, he published Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison. He also published widely on Arabic literature.

A native of Iraq, Simawe was imprisoned as a dissident under the Saddam Hussein regime during the 1970s. He came to the United States for graduate studies and never returned to Iraq. After becoming a U.S. citizen, he frequently traveled abroad to maintain a close network with the Iraqi diaspora. He was well known as a sensitive translator and an advocate for Arabic literature, particularly Iraqi art and literature.

Simawe was highly regarded by early career faculty at Grinnell as an excellent and thoughtful mentor. A scholar whose body of work bridged cultures, he was known to deploy a formidable wit and a wonderful sense of language to confront the sorrows of history. Regarded by all as a lovely, gentle man with a soaring heart and quiet sense of humor, he will be missed by his faculty colleagues, his students, and the many writers who knew him.

Writers@Grinnell: Roy Scranton

Writers at GrinnellAward winning author, Roy Scranton will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 7, 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 Burling Lounge.

In addition, Scranton will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public at 4:15 p.m. September 7 in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 209.

Roy Scranton is the author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization (City Lights, 2015) and the novel War Porn (Soho Press, 2016). His essays, journalism, short fiction, and reviews have appeared widely. In addition, Roy co-edited Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War (Da Capo, 2013). Roy's New York Times essay “Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene” was selected for The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014, and his essay “The Terror of the New” was selected as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2015. He was the recipient of a Mrs. Giles G. Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities (2014–2015), won the Theresa A. White Literary Award for short fiction (2009), and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice University (2016).

Roy’s current project, The Politics of Trauma: World War II and American Literature, is a critical genealogy of American World War II literature, tracing how a complex array of texts exploring the problem of the hero in industrial capitalism was obscured and displaced, during and after the Vietnam War, by a literary canon centered on narratives of American trauma.