RSS Zell Visiting Writers Series

The Zell Visiting Writers Series is presented by the Helen Zell Writers’ Program in partnership with the University of Michigan Museum of Art, with support from the Department of English Language & Literature, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and Janey Lack. 

All of the events are free and open to the public. For additional information, including information about Q&A sessions in the Hopwood Room, please contact Megan Levad at mslevad@umich.edu or 734.615.3710, or visit www.lsa.umich.edu/english/grad/mfa.

Alison Bechdel Lecture

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 01/22/2015; 05:10PM
Location: Michigan Theater
Detailed Information:

Alison Bechdel is a cartoonist and graphic memoirist exploring the complexities of familial relationships in multilayered works that use the interplay of word and image to weave sophisticated narratives. Bechdel’s command of sequential narrative and her aesthetic as a visual artist was established in her long-running comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For (1983–2008), which realistically captured the lives of women in the lesbian community as they influenced and were influenced by the important cultural and political events of the day.

 

Garnering a devoted and diverse following, this pioneering work was a precursor to her book-length graphic memoirs. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006) is a nuanced depiction of a childhood spent in an artistic family in a small Pennsylvania town and of her relationship with her father, a high school English teacher and funeral home director. An impeccable observer and record keeper, Bechdel incorporates drawings of archival materials, such as diaries, letters, photographs, and news clippings, as well as a variety of literary references in deep reflections into her own past.

 

Bechdel composes an intricate, recursive narrative structure that is compelling on both the visual and verbal planes in Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama (2012), a meditation on her relationship with her emotionally distant mother seen through the lens of psychoanalytic theory. As in Fun Home, the images in Are You My Mother? do not always correspond to or illustrate the words; rather, they mutually interpret or often tug against each other, creating a space between them that invites a multiplicity of interpretations. With storytelling that is striking for its conceptual depth and complexity in structure as well as for the deft use of allusion and reference, Bechdel is changing our notions of the contemporary memoir and expanding the expressive potential of the graphic form.

 

Alison Bechdel received a B.A. (1981) from Oberlin College. She is the editor of Best American Comics (2011), and her comic strip work has been collected in numerous volumes, most recently The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For (2008). Her work has also appeared in such publications as Slate, the New York Times Book Review, McSweeney’s, Granta, and The New Yorker.

Co-hosted by the Penny Stamps School of Art + Design.

Emily Wilson & Michael Morse: Canarium Books Poetry Reading

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 01/29/2015; 05:10PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Detailed Information:

Emily Wilson is the author of The Keep, Micrographia, and The Great Medieval Yellows (forthcoming from Canarium Books in April 2015). She is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and designs and prints letterpress books under the imprint Spurwink Press.

Michael Morse has published poems in various journals—including The American Poetry Review, A Public Space, Agni, Field, jubilat, Ploughshares, The Hat, The Iowa Review, The Literary Review, Tin House, and Spinning Jenny—and in the anthologies Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn, Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama's First 100 Days, and The Best American Poetry, 2012. A recipient of residencies from The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo, he lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and teaches at The Ethical Culture Fieldston School.

Sergio Troncoso Fiction Reading

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 02/05/2015; 05:10PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Detailed Information:

Sergio Troncoso is author of From This Wicked Patch of Dust, which Kirkus Reviews named as one of the Best Books of 2012 in a starred review. The novel won the Southwest Book Award. Troncoso also wrote Crossing Borders: Personal Essays, winner of the Bronze Award for Essays from ForeWord Reviews. The Portland Book Review called the collection “Heart-wrenching.” He is also the author of The Nature of Truth, hailed by The Chicago Tribune as “impressively lucid.” Publishers Weekly said of Troncoso’s first book, The Last Tortilla and Other Stories, “These stories are richly satisfying.” Troncoso was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters, and in 2014 he was co-chair of the Literature panel for the New York State Council on the Arts. Steve Inskeep from NPR’s Morning Edition recently interviewed Troncoso for a series on the United States-Mexico border, and the El Paso City Council voted unanimously to rename the Ysleta public library branch in honor of Troncoso.

Jean Valentine Q&A

Department: writers
Date: 02/12/2015; 2:00PM
Location: Hopwood Room, 1176 Angell Hall
Detailed Information:

Jean Valentine won the Yale Younger Poets Award for her first book, Dream Barker, in 1965. Her eleventh book of poetry is Break the Glass (Copper Canyon Press, 2010). Her new book, Shirt in Heaven, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon in 2015. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003 was the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry. The recipient of the 2009 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, Valentine has taught at Sarah Lawrence, New York University, and Columbia. She lives in New York City.

Jean Valentine Poetry Reading

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 02/12/2015; 5:10PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Detailed Information:

Jean Valentine won the Yale Younger Poets Award for her first book, Dream Barker, in 1965. Her eleventh book of poetry is Break the Glass (Copper Canyon Press, 2010). Her new book, Shirt in Heaven, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon in 2015. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003 was the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry. The recipient of the 2009 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, Valentine has taught at Sarah Lawrence, New York University, and Columbia. She lives in New York City. 

Ross Gay Q&A

Department: writers
Date: 02/19/2015; 2:00PM
Location: Hopwood Room, 1176 Angell Hall
Detailed Information:

Ross Gay was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and grew up just outside of Philadelphia. He is the author of three books of poems, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), Against Which (CavanKerry Press, 2006) and Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), and he is co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook Two Gardens. His poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Massachusetts Review, and The Sun, among other magazines and anthologies. He is also the co-author, with the painter Kimberly Thomas, of the artists' books The Halo, BRN2HNT, and The Bullet. Ross is an editor with the chapbook press, Q Avenue, which has published early work by Matthew Dickman, Simone White, Chris Mattingly, and Layli Long Soldier. He has been a Cave Canem fellow and a Bread Loaf tuition scholar. Ross is also a founding member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a publicly owned, volunteer-run, free-fruit-for-all, organic orchard, where he serves as the co-chair of the education team. In this capacity he teaches or co-teaches ten classes a year on various aspects of orcharding, from pruning to propagation. Ross is currently at work on a non-fiction books about African American farming, in addition to his poetry projects. Ross is an associate professor in the M.F.A. program at Indiana University and in Drew University's Low-Residency M.F.A. program. He is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Ross Gay Poetry Reading

Department: writers
Date: 02/19/2015; 5:10PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Detailed Information:

Ross Gay was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and grew up just outside of Philadelphia. He is the author of three books of poems, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), Against Which (CavanKerry Press 2006), and Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), and he is co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook Two Gardens. His poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Massachusetts Review, and The Sun, among other magazines and anthologies. He is also the co-author, with the painter Kimberly Thomas, of the artists' books The Halo, BRN2HNT, and The Bullet. Ross is an editor with the chapbook press, Q Avenue, which has published early work by Matthew Dickman, Simone White, Chris Mattingly, and Layli Long Soldier. He has been a Cave Canem fellow and a Bread Loaf tuition scholar. Ross is also a founding member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a publicly owned, volunteer-run, free-fruit-for-all, organic orchard, where he serves as the co-chair of the education team. In this capacity he teaches or co-teaches ten classes a year on various aspects of orcharding, from pruning to propagation. Ross is currently at work on a non-fiction books about African American farming, in addition to his poetry projects. Ross is an associate professor in the M.F.A. program at Indiana University and in Drew University's Low-Residency M.F.A. program. He is the recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship. 

Adrian Matejka Q&A

Department: writers
Date: 02/23/2015; 2:00PM
Location: Hopwood Room, 1176 Angell Hall
Detailed Information:

Adrian Matejka was born in Nuremberg, Germany and attended Indiana University and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003), won the 2002 New York / New England Award. His second collection, Mixology (Penguin, 2009), was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature. His most recent book, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013) was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, the 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington and is working on a new collection of poems and a graphic novel.

Adrian Matejka Poetry Reading

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 02/23/2015; 5:00PM
Location: 3222 Angell Hall
Detailed Information:

Adrian Matejka was born in Nuremberg, Germany and attended Indiana University and the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003), won the 2002 New York / New England Award. His second collection, Mixology (Penguin, 2009), was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature. His most recent book, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013) was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, the 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington and is working on a new collection of poems and a graphic novel. 

Natalie Diaz Q&A

Department: writers
Date: 02/26/2015; 2:00PM
Location: Hopwood Room, 1176 Angell Hall.
Detailed Information:

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a recipient of a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellowship, a 2012 Native Arts Council Foundation Fellowship, the 2013 Narrative Prize, the 2014 Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, a 2014 Bread Loaf Fellowship, and a 2014 USA Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Rez MFA. She lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she directs the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program, working with the last Mojave speakers to teach and revitalize the language.

Natalie Diaz Poetry Reading

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 02/26/2015; 5:10PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Detailed Information:

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, when My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Cooper Canyon Press. She is a recipient of a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellowship, a 2012 Native Arts Council Foundation Fellowship, the 2013 Narrative Prize, the 2014 Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, a 2014 Bread Loaf Fellowship, and a 2014 USA Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Rez MFA. She lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she directs the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program, working with the last Mojave speakers to teach and revitalize the language. 

Norton Juster Q&A

Department: writers
Date: 03/12/2015; 2:00PM
Location: Hopwood Room, 1176 Angell Hall
Detailed Information:

Norton Juster is perhaps best known for his children’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth. Reviews of the book have appeared in many national publications including The New Yorker, which hailed the book as “a classic”‘ and The New York Times, which said “Norton Juster’s amazing fantasy has something wonderful for anybody old enough to relish the allegorical wisdom of Alice in Wonderland and the pointed whimsy of The Wizard of Oz.” The Phantom Tollbooth has currently sold close to four million copies since its publication almost 50 years ago.

Born in June of 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, Norton Juster was an architect and planner, and is professor emeritus of design at Hampshire College. In addition to The Phantom Tollbooth, he has also penned a number of other highly acclaimed children’s books, including The Dot and the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning animated film, and the recent The Hello, Goodbye Window, illustrated by Chris Raschka, which was awarded a Caldecott Medal. The musical adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth, which was first introduced 15 years ago, continues to be performed in schools and theaters nationwide, and was recently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, touring the country for eight months.

Norton Juster: Lamstein Lecture in Children's Literature (Film Screening + Q&A)

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 03/12/2015; 5:10PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Detailed Information:

Meet beloved author, Norton Juster! Best known for his classic children’s book, The Phantom Tollbooth, Mr. Juster will be available for a lively Q&A program, following a showing of the fascinating documentary, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH: BEYOND EXPECTATIONS. The film explores the creation, creators and lasting impact of one of the most universally beloved children’s books of our time. Mr. Juster will shed further light on the creative process and themes in the novel.

Film screening: 5:10pm

Q&A: 6:00pm

 

Norton Juster is perhaps best known for his children’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth. Reviews of the book have appeared in many national publications including The New Yorker, which hailed the book as “a classic”‘ and The New York Times, which said “Norton Juster’s amazing fantasy has something wonderful for anybody old enough to relish the allegorical wisdom of Alice in Wonderland and the pointed whimsy of The Wizard of Oz.” The Phantom Tollbooth has currently sold close to four million copies since its publication almost 50 years ago. 

Born in June of 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, Norton Juster was an architect and planner, and is professor emeritus of design at Hampshire College. In addition to The Phantom Tollbooth, he has also penned a number of other highly acclaimed children’s books, including The Dot and the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning animated film, and the recent The Hello, Goodbye Window, illustrated by Chris Raschka, which was awarded a Caldecott Medal. The musical adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth, which was first introduced 15 years ago, continues to be performed in schools and theaters nationwide, and was recently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, touring the country for eight months.

Martín Espada: Zell Distinguished Poet in Residence Poetry Reading

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 03/17/2015; 06:00PM
Location: UMMA Apse
Detailed Information:

Called “the Latino poet of his generation,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems, The Trouble Ball (NORTON, 2011), is the recipient of the Milt Kessler Award, a Massachusetts Book Award and an International Latino Book Award. The Republic of Poetry (NORTON, 2006) received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A previous book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (NORTON, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other poetry collections include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (NORTON, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (NORTON, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990).  He has received other recognition such as the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Robert Creeley Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  His work has been widely translated; collections of poems have been published in Spain, Puerto Rico and Chile. His book of ESSAYS, Zapata’s Disciple (South End Press, 1998), has been banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies PROGRAM outlawed by the state of Arizona. A graduate of Northeastern University Law School and a former TENANT LAWYER, Espada is currently a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Martín Espada Q&A

Department: writers
Date: 03/18/2015; 2:00PM
Location: Hopwood Room, 1176 Angell Hall
Detailed Information:

Called “the Latino poet of his generation,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems, The Trouble Ball (NORTON, 2011), is the recipient of the Milt Kessler Award, a Massachusetts Book Award and an International Latino Book Award. The Republic of Poetry (NORTON, 2006) received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A previous book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (NORTON, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other poetry collections include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (NORTON, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (NORTON, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990).  He has received other recognition such as the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Robert Creeley Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  His work has been widely translated; collections of poems have been published in Spain, Puerto Rico and Chile. His book of ESSAYS, Zapata’s Disciple (South End Press, 1998), has been banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies PROGRAM outlawed by the state of Arizona. A graduate of Northeastern University Law School and a former TENANT LAWYER, Espada is currently a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Martín Espada in Conversation with Tarfia Faizullah

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 03/19/2015; 05:10PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Detailed Information:

Called “the Latino poet of his generation,” Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published more than fifteen books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His latest collection of poems, The Trouble Ball (NORTON, 2011), is the recipient of the Milt Kessler Award, a Massachusetts Book Award and an International Latino Book Award. The Republic of Poetry (NORTON, 2006) received the Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A previous book of poems, Imagine the Angels of Bread (NORTON, 1996), won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other poetry collections include A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (NORTON, 2000), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (NORTON, 1993), and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (Curbstone, 1990).  He has received other recognition such as the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Robert Creeley Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.  His work has been widely translated; collections of poems have been published in Spain, Puerto Rico and Chile. His book of ESSAYS, Zapata’s Disciple (South End Press, 1998), has been banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies PROGRAM outlawed by the state of Arizona. A graduate of Northeastern University Law School and a former TENANT LAWYER, Espada is currently a professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Kazuo Ishiguro Fiction Reading

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 03/26/2015; 06:00PM
Location: UMMA Apse
Detailed Information:

Kazuo Ishiguro’s seven previous books have won him wide renown and numerous honors. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. Both The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go have more than 1,000,000 copies in print across platforms, and both were adapted into highly acclaimed films. 

Richard Siken Q&A

Department: writers
Date: 04/16/2015; 2:00PM
Location: Hopwood Room, 1176 Angell Hall
Detailed Information:

Richard Siken’s poetry collection Crush won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, a Lambda Literary Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two Arizona Commission on the Arts grants, two Lannan Foundation residencies, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His second book, War of the Foxes, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2015.

Richard Siken: Janey Lack Poetry Reading

Department: English Language and Literature
Date: 04/16/2015; 05:10PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium
Detailed Information:

Richard Siken’s poetry collection Crush won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, a Lambda Literary Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two Arizona Commission on the Arts grants, two Lannan Foundation residencies, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His second book, War of the Foxes, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2015.

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