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Writers@Grinnell

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Writers@Grinnell: Jamel Brinkley

Award winning author, Jamel  Brinkley, will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 13, 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, Brinkley will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. September 13, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 209.

Jamel Brinkley is the author of A Lucky Man: Stories (Graywolf Press/A Public Space Books). His fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Best American Short Stories 2018, A Public Space, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, The Threepenny Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Epiphany, and LitMag. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he was also the 2016-17 Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. His work has received support from Kimbilio Fiction, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Tin House Summer Workshop, and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. Beginning this fall, he will be a 2018-2020 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University.

Writers@Grinnell: Adrienne Celt ’06

Award winning author, comic artist, and alum Adrienne Celt ’06 will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 6 as we kick off the 2018-2019 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, Celt will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. September 6 in the Rosenfield Center, Room 209.

Adrienne Celt is the author of the novels Invitation to a Bonfire, a June 2018 Indie Next pick, and The Daughters, which won the 2015 PEN Southwest Book Award for Fiction. Her collection of comics, Apocalypse How? An Existential Bestiary — which is based on her long-running webcomic Love Among the Lampreys was published in 2016. She's been awarded an O. Henry Prize, a Glenna Luschei Award, and residencies at Jentel, Ragdale, and the Willapa Bay AiR, among other recognitions, and her work has appeared in Esquire, Ecotone, Zyzzyva, Strange Horizons, Prairie SchoonerThe Kenyon Review, the Tin House Open Bar, and many other places.

She graduated from Grinnell in 2006 as a double major in philosophy and Russian, and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Writers@Grinnell: Deborah Whaley

Award-winning artist, curator, and author Deborah Whaley will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, April 26, 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. at the Periodic Table, in the Hotel Grinnell, 925 Park Street, Grinnell. 

Deborah Elizabeth Whaley is currently senior scholar for digital arts and humanities research for the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio (DSPS) and professor of American and African American Studies at the University of Iowa. Her research and teaching fields include the institutional history, theories, and methods of American and transnational American studies, 19th century to the present cultural history, comparative ethnic studies, black cultural studies, popular culture, the visual arts, digital humanities, and critical theory.

Her most recent book is Black Women in Sequence: Reinking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime (University of Washington Press, 2015), which won an award from AAUP for its graphic design and book cover. BWiS explores graphic novel production and comic book fandom, looking in particular at African, African American, and multiethnic women as deployed in television, film, animation, gaming, and print representations of comic book and graphic novel characters.

Winners of the spring writing contests will be announced at this event!

Renowned Author Stephen Kuusisto to Give Memorial Lecture

The second annual memorial lecture honoring Armando “Mando” Alters Montaño ’12 will feature renowned author Stephen Kuusisto, a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright scholar, whose new book, Have Dog, Will Travel, has just been released by Simon and Schuster.

The lecture on Tuesday, April 10, will honor the memory and spirit of Montaño, a gifted journalist who died at the age of 22 in June 2012 in Mexico City, where he was working as an intern for the Associated Press. His parents, Diane Alters ’71 and Mario Montaño, plan to attend the lecture, which they endowed, again this year.

Kuusisto, who is noted for his creative nonfiction and poetry, will read from his work at 8 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell.

“Stephen Kuusisto is a fiercely intelligent, wildly funny, and incredibly big-hearted writer,” says Dean Bakopoulos, co-director of the Writers@Grinnell series and a former professor of Montaño’s. “His work is a wonderful example of the perceptive, imaginative, and fearless writing that Mando cared about so deeply.”

In addition to Have Dog, Will Travel, Kuusisto has authored two other memoirs, Planet of the Blind (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year) and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening. He is also an acclaimed poet, and his poetry collections include Only Bread, Only Light, and Letters to Borges.

A frequent speaker in the United States and abroad, Kuusisto teaches at Syracuse University, where he holds a professorship in the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies. He formerly taught at the University of Iowa, Ohio State University, and Hobart and William Smith colleges.

In addition to the lecture, there will be a roundtable discussion about creative nonfiction with Kuusisto and Tessa Cheek ’12, a classmate of Montaño. It will begin at 4:15 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 101. Both the discussion and lecture, sponsored by Writers@Grinnell, are free and open to the public.

Cheek is a writer, reporter, and candlestick maker living in Ridgway, Colorado. She holds a master’s of fine arts from Hollins University, where she served as a teaching fellow, graduate assistant, and assistant poetry editor of the Hollins Critic.

She edits copy for the Groundhog Poetry Press and directs social media for political literary magazine Scoundrel Time. She has reported from Colorado’s Capitol and served as news editor for a small-town paper. In 2017, her novel-in-progress won the Melanie Hook Rice Award in the Novel and her short story, “The Devil’s Terrible Nearness,” was nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and a Pushcart Prize.

Armando Montaño ’12

The Armando Alters Montaño ’12 Writers@Grinnell Endowment Fund has been established by the parents of Armando “Mando” Montaño ’12, who died in June 2012 while working as an intern with the Associated Press in Mexico City.

Diane Alters ’71 and Mario Montaño have created the fund through a bequest to Grinnell College. The fund will support the Writers@Grinnell program in memory of their son’s dedication to nonfiction and fiction writing, journalism, and the creative process.

Armando Montano image   Armando Alters Montano image

 

Writers@Grinnell - Hugo Hamilton

Best-selling Irish author Hugo Hamilton, will read from his work on Thursday, April 12, as a part of the Writers@Grinnell series. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 8 p.m. in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Hamilton is author of the best-seller, The Speckled People, a German-Irish memoir of his experience growing up in Dublin with a fervent Irish nationalist father and a German mother whose family opposed the Nazis and who came to Ireland in the aftermath of World War II. The book has been praised by Colm Tóibín as a “masterpiece” and an “instant classic” by Colum McCann. Hamilton’s account of a family locked in a “language war” in which his father prohibited the use of English in the home, but permitted Irish and German, addresses all the “great issues of the 20th century,” according to the late Nuala O Faolain, an Irish journalist, writer, and book reviewer.

Translations of The Speckled People won the prestigious Prix Femina étranger in France, as well as the Berto Prize in Italy. The memoir also appeared on The New York Times’ notable books list. Hamilton’s equally rich and compelling second memoir, The Sailor in the Wardrobe, continues the story of his complex dual upbringing, and has also been widely praised as an “enchanting piece of work” by critic Terry Eagleton.

In addition to his memoirs, which have been transformed into screenplays and performed in Dublin theatre venues, Hamilton has written six acclaimed novels and a collection of short stories, all of which reflect on the compelling issues of cultural divisions and belonging.

Hugo Hamilton is currently teaching short course ENG 295-02 - Contemporary Irish Fiction.

This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Global Engagement.

Grinnell College to Host Award-Winning Authors Marlon James and Roxane Gay

Internationally acclaimed, bestselling authors Marlon James and Roxane Gay will visit Grinnell College on April 5 and 6, respectively, as part of Grinnell College’s Writers@Grinnell series.

James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for A Brief History of Seven Killings, making him the first Jamaican author to take home the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award. He will lead a roundtable discussion at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell. He also will give the Annual Distinguished Author Lecture at 8 p.m., in the same location. This annual event is funded by a generous donation from an anonymous donor.

In his presentations, James will discuss his writing process, as well as the issues he explores in his work—Caribbean history, race and gender in the U.S. and U.K., and youth subcultures as expressed in literature and music, especially hip hop and reggae. A professor of English and creative writing at Macalester College, James has had his work published in Esquire, Granta, Harper’s, The Caribbean Review of Books, and The New York Times Magazine, among others.

On Friday, April 6, Grinnell College Assistant Professor of English and award-winning author Alissa Nutting will interview Gay, a best-selling author and cultural critic whose writing is widely revered. The interview will start at noon in Harris Center Cinema, 1114 10th Ave., Grinnell.

Gay’s work has garnered international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism and social criticism. With a deft eye on modern culture, she brilliantly critiques its ebb and flow with both wit and ferocity. She recently became the first black woman to ever write for Marvel, authoring a comic series in the Black Panther universe called World of Wakanda.

Her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, is considered the quintessential exploration of modern feminism. NPR named it one of the best books of the year and Salon declared the book “trailblazing.” In 2017, she released her memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, as well as a collection of short stories titled Difficult Women. Gay also is a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, and formerly was co-editor of PANK and non-fiction editor at The Rumpus. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, The Nation, and many other publications. 

All events are free and open to the public.

Sponsoring the James events are the College’s Writers@Grinnell series, the Center for Humanities, the Institute for Global Engagement, and an anonymous alumni contributor. The Gay event is sponsored by the College’s Center for Humanities, the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Scholars’ Convocation Committee.

Writers@Grinnell welcomes Marlon James

Award winning Jamaican author, Marlon James, will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, April 5, 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. 

In addition, James will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for A Brief History of Seven Killings, making him the first Jamaican author to take home the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award. In the work, James combines masterful storytelling with brilliant skill at characterization and an eye for detail to forge a bold novel of dazzling ambition and scope. He explores Jamaican history through the perspectives of multiple narrators and genres: the political thriller, the oral biography, and the classic whodunit confront the untold history of Jamaica in the 1970's, with excursions to the assassination attempt on reggae musician Bob Marley, as well as the country's own clandestine battles during the cold war. James cites influences as diverse as Greek tragedy, William Faulkner, the LA crime novelist James Ellroy, Shakespeare, Batman and the X-Men. Writing for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani said of A Brief History of Seven Killings, “It’s epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting—a testament to Mr. James’s vaulting ambition and prodigious talent.” In addition to the Man Booker Prize, A Brief History of Seven Killings won the American Book Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. James is in the process of adapting the work into an HBO television series.

Marlon James’ first novel, John Crow's Devil, tells the story of a biblical struggle in a remote Jamaican village in the 1950s. Though rejected 70 times before being accepted for publication, John Crow's Devil went on to become a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, as well as a New York Times Editor's Choice. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, is about a slave women's revolt on a Jamaican plantation in the early 19th century. The work won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction, as well as an NAACP Image Award. James’ short fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized in Bronx Noir, The Book of Men: Eighty Writers on How to Be a Man and elsewhere, and have appeared in Esquire, Granta, Harper’s, The Caribbean Review of Books and other publications. His widely read essay, “From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself,” appeared in the New York Times Magazine. In early 2016 his viral video Are you racist? ‘No’ isn’t a good enough answer received millions of hits. He is currently working on the Dark Star Trilogy a fantasy series set in African legend (Riverhead, 2018).

Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1970. He graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1991 with a degree in language and literature, and from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania in 2006 with a master's degree in creative writing. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and teaches English and creative writing at Macalester College. 

In his presentations, James addresses topics related to writing and the writing process, as well as issues pertaining to the history of the Caribbean, race and gender in the US and UK, and youth subcultures as expressed in literature and music such as hip-hop and reggae.

Writers@Grinnell - Interview with Roxane Gay

Best selling author and cultural icon, Roxane Gay, will be having a conversation and answering questions during a one-hour interview with Assistant Professor, Alissa Nutting on Friday, April 6 at noon in the Harris Cinema Center, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event is free and open to the public.

Roxane Gay is an author and cultural critic whose writing is unmatched and widely revered. Her work garners international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism and social criticism. With a deft eye on modern culture, she brilliantly critiques its ebb and flow with both wit and ferocity.

Words like “courage,” “humor,” and “smart” are frequently deployed when describing Roxane. Her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, is universally considered the quintessential exploration of modern feminism. NPR named it one of the best books of the year and Salon declared the book “trailblazing.” Her powerful debut novel, An Untamed State, was long listed for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. In 2017, Roxane released her highly anticipated memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, as well as a collection of short stories titled Difficult Women.

Roxane is a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, was the co-editor of PANK, and formerly was the non-fiction editor at The Rumpus. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, The Nation and many other publications. She recently became the first black woman to ever write for Marvel, writing a comic series in the Black Panther universe called World of Wakanda. Roxane fronts a small army of avid fans on social media and when she finds the time, she dominates the occasional Scrabble tournament.

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