Please note this date and venue change for the Peter Hessler reading.
Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series
Celebrating our 13th Season
There may be some rain or snow but don’t let that stop you from hearing these two amazing poets!
Let’s talk about Joshua Marie-Wilkinson:
Born and raised in Seattle, Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of eight books of poetry, the editor of five anthologies, and the director of a documentary film about Califone. As publisher and editor, he runs a poetics journal called The Volta, with Afton Wilky, as well as a small press called Letter Machine Editions, which was recently honored by the National Book Awards. He lives in Tucson, where he teaches at the University of Arizona.
His poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Boston Review, Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Quarterly, Jubilat,New American Writing, and Verse. Online, work can be found at the Poetry Society of America, the Academy of American Poets, and Pen America, among others. His work appears in the expanded Postmodern American Poetry anthology (W.W. Norton 2013) and in many other anthologies.
He earned an MA in film studies from University College Dublin and a PhD in English from University of Denver, and taught for four years at Loyola University Chicago. Currently, he is an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, where he was the recipient of the College of Humanities Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014. He teaches poetry and poetics to undergraduates and in the MFA program in creative writing.
Joshua Marie-Wilkinson sounds like a pretty cool guy, huh? His poetry is amazing! Check out our Facebook page for more quotes by him and Jen Bervin. See you all tomorrow!
Wipe your tears because we’re back! Our first Writers Series for the year will be a double – both Joshua Marie-Wilkinson and Jen Bervin will be reading and speaking.
Based in Brooklyn, poet and visual artist Jen Bervin works in hybrid forms that blend language, writing, and the visual arts; the combinations and emphases change with each project, but all of her works involve strong conceptual elements with a minimalist’s eye for the poetic and essential. Much of Bervin’s work rotates around the poles of text and textile, continually interrogating and elaborating that ancient connection through poems, archival research, artist books, and art.
In recent years, she’s done a number of projects focused on Emily Dickinson—a series of large-scale embroidered wall works which address Dickinson’s “variant markings,” the + signs in her manuscripts that direct readers to other possible words or phrases. A book on these were published by the country’s most important publisher of artists’ books, Granary Books: The Dickinson Composites (2010) followed by another,The Gorgeous Nothings with Marta Werner (2012), which makes available hitherto unpublished manuscript facsimiles of the “fragments” that Dickinson composed on envelopes, and frames them with a close look at her use of the envelope as both a charged and flexible artistic support. The poet Susan Howe called the new book an “absolute perfect combination of solid scholarship and art.”
Her current project, The Silk Poems, an experimental book that takes this textile as its subject and form, explores the cultural, scientific, and linguistic complexities of silk, mending and the body in poems imprinted on silk film. Currently in the research phase, this project includes consulting nanotechnology and biomedical labs, and over fifty international textile archives, medical libraries, and sericulture sites in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The Silk Poems has received support from a Creative Capital Grant in Literature (2013) and The Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship at the Liguria Study Center in Italy (2014).
Bervin’s honors also include a Rauschenberg Foundation Residency (2015), The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Residency (2012, 2009), Von Hess Visiting Artist Fellowship at the Borowsky Center for Publication Arts in Philadelphia at University of the Arts (2012), Visual Studies Workshop Residency (2010), New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship (2007), The MacDowell Colony Residency (2006), The Camargo Foundation Fellowship in Cassis, France (2006), Mellon Research and Travel Grant (2005), Centrum Arts Residency (2004), The Center for Book Arts, Fine Printing and Letterpress Workshop Fellowship (2003), and an Edward M. Lannan Prize from the Academy of American Poets (2000).
Bervin’s works are held in more than thirty collections including the Walker Art Center, J. Paul Getty Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, Stanford University, Harvard University, the Beinecke Library at Yale University, The Sackner Archive of Visual and Concrete Poetry, the British Library, and le Bibliothèque nationale de France. Current and upcoming exhibitions include “Material Fix” curated by Alison Ferris at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, “Behind the Personal Library: Collectors Creating a Canon” curated by Alexander Campos at The Center for Book Arts, “Word and Image” curated by Francesca Capone at The Cohen Gallery and an upcoming solo show, both at Brown University’s Granoff Center.
Jen Bervin’s work has been covered in national and international publications and media outlets such asNPR, The Nation, Artforum, Art in America, Frieze, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Poetry Foundation, The Brooklyn Rail, and Hyperallergic. She is on the faculty of the graduate program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. In 2015, she will teach a master class at Yale University and will be a Fitt Artist in Residence at Brown University.
As you can see, Jen Bervin is an amazing artist. Are you as excited to meet her as we are?
Hello Pittsburgh! I hope you’re all bundled up and protecting yourself from this sudden, cold weather. In a week’s time, NoViolet Bulawayo will be coming for the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series.
NoViolet Bulawayo is the author of We Need New Names (May 2013) which has been recognized with the LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Pen/Hemingway Award, the Etisalat Prize for Literature, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award (second place), and the National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Fiction Selection. We Need New Names was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award, and selected to the New York Times Notable Books of 2013 list, the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers list, and others. NoViolet’s story “Hitting Budapest” won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing.
NoViolet earned her MFA at Cornell University where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she now teaches as a Jones Lecturer in Fiction. NoViolet grew up in Zimbabwe.
Adam Hochschild will be joining us tonight at 8:30pm in the auditorium of Frick Fine Arts. As always, it is free and open to all! Here’s my favorite quote by Adam Hochschild, found in his book, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa. It talks about imperalism and its vast and important effects on art.
Most striking about the traditional societies of the Congo was their remarkable artwork: baskets, mats, pottery, copper and ironwork, and, above all, woodcarving. It would be two decades before Europeans really noticed this art. Its discovery then had a strong influence on Braque, Matisse, and Picasso — who subsequently kept African art objects in his studio until his death. Cubism was new only for Europeans, for it was partly inspired by specific pieces of African art, some of them from the Pende and Songye peoples, who live in the basin of the Kasai River, one of the Congo’s major tributaries.
It was easy to see the distinctive brilliance that so entranced Picasso and his colleagues at their first encounter with this art at an exhibit in Paris in 1907. In these central African sculptures some body parts are exaggerated, some shrunken; eyes project, cheeks sink, mouths disappear, torsos become elongated; eye sockets expand to cover almost the entire face; the human face and figure are broken apart and formed again in new ways and proportions that had previously lain beyond sight of traditional European realism.
The art sprang from cultures that had, among other things, a looser sense than Islam or Christianity of the boundaries between our world and the next, as well as those between the world of humans and the world of beasts. Among the Bolia people of the Congo, for example, a king was chosen by a council of elders; by ancestors, who appeared to him in a dream; and finally by wild animals, who signaled their assent by roaring during a night when the royal candidate was left at a particular spot in the rain forest. Perhaps it was the fluidity of these boundaries that granted central Africa’s artists a freedom those in Europe had not yet discovered.
Here’s an excerpt from Adam Hochschild’s book, To End All Wars. It focuses on World War I’s critics from an investigative journalism angle. The excerpt was taken from the introduction, Clash of Dreams.
Those sent to jail for opposing the war included not just young men who defied the draft, but older men — and a few women. If we could time-travel our way into British prisons in late 1917 and early 1918 we would meet some extraordinary people, including the nation’s leading investigative journalist, a future winner of the Nobel Prize, more than half a dozen future members, of Parliament, one future cabinet minister, and a former newspaper editor who was publishing a clandestine journal for his fellow inmates on toilet paper. It would be hard to find a more distinguished array of people ever behind bars in a Western country.
Please join us for our second reading of the 2014/15 season with Adam Hochschild on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 8:30pm in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium. Free and open to the public.