Currently a professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Rita Dove is coming to give a lecture at ASU’s Tempe campus. Called “An Evening with Rita Dove,” this event will be the highlight of ASU’s second annual Humanities Week. This is a series of special events that celebrate how students and faculty are exploring human adventure across culture, time, and space.
Born in 1952, Rita Dove has won the Pulitzer Prize, the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and others. She has written extensively; her most notable works include her poetry collections Thomas and Beulah (which won the Pulitzer Prize), Playlist for the Apocalypse, and Collected Poems 1974 – 2004. Although many of her awards relate to her poetry, Dove has also written essays, songs, a play, and a novel.
Dove’s lecture is free and open to the public; it will take place on Tuesday, October 18, at 7:00pm in the Roskind Great Hall. Go here to learn more and register!
Join ASU’s TomorrowTalks with Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, October 13th at 7pm AZ time. TomorrowTalks is a student-engagement initiative meant to put students in conversation with authors who explain how they use their writing to address society’s most pressing issues. It’s led by the Division of Humanities at ASU and hosted by ASU’s Department of English in partnership with Macmillan Publishers.
This event takes place over Zoom and is free, although registration is required. Johnson will be discussing her book My Monticello, published by Henry Holt and Company and winner of the Weatherford Award, the Balcones Fiction Prize, and the Lillian Smith Award. Set in the near future, her stories feature Da’Naisha—a Black descendent of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings—a university professor studying his son in secret, and a single mother grasping to purchase her first home. Johnson reckons with America’s past and present in this thrilling debut.
A badass debut by any measure—nimble, knowing, and electrifying.Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Nickel Boys and Harlem Shuffle
Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s work has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian, Kweli Journal, and elsewhere. To learn more about her, visit her website.
…’My Monticello’ is, quite simply, an extraordinary debut from a gifted writer with an unflinching view of history and what may come of it.The Washington Post
To learn more about TomorrowTalks and register for the event, go here.
This Friday at 9:00am AZ time, Dr. Paul Baker will be discussing global trends in anxiety and the intersection between anxiety and gender. The WHO estimates over 200 million people around the globe have anxiety, and women are more likely than men to be diagnosed. Some studies suggest that the way people conceptualize their emotions through language impacts whether they develop anxiety.
Dr. Baker has published over twenty books, conducting research on media, gender, sexuality, language, and more. He is a Professor of English Language at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University.
The linguistics and applied linguistics / TESOL program in the Department of English at ASU presents this free, open, and virtual talk.
Click here to learn more and register for this event!
The Narrative Storytelling Initiative‘s goal is to enhance access and public engagement with narrators and narratives. They are currently looking for messages written to Mother Earth in the future, with a maximum of 100 words. These messages will be included in a special exhibition piece at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory during the last two weeks of October.
Learn more and submit your message here!
Join ASU’s TomorrowTalks with Jonathan Franzen Wednesday, October 5th at 6pm AZ time. TomorrowTalks is a student-engagement initiative meant to put students in conversation with authors who explain how they use their writing to address society’s most pressing issues. It’s led by the Division of Humanities at ASU and hosted by ASU’s Department of English in partnership with Macmillan Publishers.
This event takes place over Zoom and is free, although registration is required. Franzen will be discussing his book Crossroads, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His book is set in December of 1971, and it examines a Midwestern family in the midst of a moral crisis. With careful attention to each of the family members, he interweaves their perspectives into a tale of suspense and complexity.
Thank God for Jonathan Franzen . . . With its dazzling style and tireless attention to the machinations of a single family, Crossroads is distinctly Franzen-esque, but it represents a marked evolution . . . It’s an electrifying examination of the irreducible complexities of an ethical life. With his ever-parsing style and his relentless calculation of the fractals of consciousness, Franzen makes a good claim to being the 21st century’s Nathaniel Hawthorne.Ron Charles, The Washington Post
Jonathan Franzen has written six novels. He has won a variety of awards: the National Book Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Award, the Heartland Prize, and others. Visit his website to read more about him.
To learn more about TomorrowTalks and register for the event, go here.
Today we are pleased to feature an interview with Sarah Viren. Sarah is a journalist, writer, and translator working at Arizona State University specializing in the art of the creative nonfiction essay. She is the author of an essay collection entitled MINE.
In this fascinating interview she discusses her experience with writing from her working in journalism to her transition to writing literary essays. During her time as a journalist, she found that she wanted to write about things that “had no place in newspapers” and essay writing provided a new solution. The literary essay presents its own problems as the author is dealing with real people and Sarah explains how she has learned to write ethically about close loved ones from her sister to her children. Literary essays allow the author to “find ways to let those people have their voice be heard” while also showcasing the uniqueness of their own.
Sarah also takes time to explain her writing process from inspiration to research and observation identifying herself as a fan of the idea of “writing something and giving it time.” She uses moments of inspiration and wants to write honestly about herself and others, to share meaningful stories. In memory writing she says “remembering the self I was” can be hard and that in writing of others it is the “people that are outside of our sympathies… those are the people you need to write about.” Her essays are dark and honest and real, and though they are at times difficult to write she remembers “it’s hard work, but good work.”
This interview is a culmination of immersive student work on non-fiction narratives for ENG 509 in the Narrative Studies program in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. In this class, students read longform non-fiction writing and listened to author interviews to theorize writerly practices related to a variety of non-fiction genres. Students’ final reading for the course was Sarah Viren’s essay collection Mine. After a semester of critically engaging with author interviews, they composed their own questions and interviewed Dr. Viren on Tuesday, November 19. Watch the full interview to learn more about her creative process and inspiration and be inspired yourselves by the reflections and advice of a fellow creative mind.
Sarah Viren is a writer, journalist, and literary translator. Her essay collection, Mine, won the River Teeth Book Prize, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and was longlisted for the Pen/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. Her translation of the novella Córdoba Skies by the Argentine author Federico Falco was published in 2016 by Ploughshares Solos, and her co-edited anthology of the essay in the Americas, The Great American Essay, is forthcoming from Mad Creek Books. An award-winning newspaper journalist for half a decade in Texas and Florida, Sarah holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and is now an assistant professor at Arizona State University.
Michelle Stuckey is a clinical assistant professor and the writing program administrator for the Writers’ Studio, a fully online first-year composition program in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. Stuckey is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research and teaching are informed by feminist and critical race theories.
Kendall Dawson is a current Narrative Studies Master’s student at Arizona State University. She holds a Bachelor’s in Communication and English Literature from Central Michigan University, enjoys reading, and loves her hometown of Chicago, IL.
Delena Humble is a first year graduate student in the narrative Studies MA program at Arizona State University. At ASU, she also serves as the primary research assistant to New York Times best selling author, Jewell Parker-Rhodes. Delena’s passions include writing and studying Latinx identity negotiation, ethical story representation, and autoethnography. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two cats.
Riley Hess is a second-year graduate student in the Communication Studies Master’s program at ASU’s West Campus. He is working on a short memoir about his trials and tribulations as a student-athlete in high school and college, as well as an applied project using persuasion theory to effectively fill out a general grant application form for nonprofit organizations.
Monique Medina is a second year graduate student. She is in the beginning stages of her Capstone project, which will focus on the relationships between parents and their trans children. This topic hits close to home as she has a trans nonbinary child and it’s been a journey in rediscovering who my child is, while building upon and redefining our relationship.
H. Rae Monk is a graduate student in the Narrative Studies Master of Arts program. She is currently doing grant funded public history research in the rural towns of eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. She resides and works in Mesa.
One of the most important realizations of my life was that people are not one way, that they often do and say conflicting things not out of malice or to deceit, but because it a necessary part of the ever-changing human condition. There is a sort of dialectic behavioral therapy that must take place within all of our minds when we consider that good people can do very bad things and bad people can do very good things. This is the dynamic nature of humanity. It is unavoidable. It might be the only unchanging and shared characteristic of humanity.
And it is for this reason that I am drawn to literary fiction. There often isn’t a clear line between good and bad. The characters in literary fiction make terrible choices and deal with the repercussions. As a reader and editor, I want to read stories that sink deep into these chasms between right and wrong, stories that teach us something about what it means to be fallible and imperfect. I want to read stories that challenge me, that make me so angry I hold my breath until the final sentence, so sad that I think of the characters long after I finish the stories. I want to see myself and my flaws laid out before me. I want to read narratives that do not pass judgement but present a situation and ask me to consider a point of view I may never have arrived at myself.
Literary fiction is a conversation between all of the writers in the world, constantly arriving at theses only to have them blown up and reordered by the next. Show me a side of humanity only you can construct, the things that make your perception unique.
But above everything, I want to feel something. I want to finish a story, let take root in my brain and change my long-held beliefs. Whether it is characters, setting, plot, language, form, it doesn’t matter. The stories that stick with me are the ones that make me think about life in a way I couldn’t or wouldn’t. This is the goal of fiction, and this is the fiction I want to see adding to the literary conversation.
Spencer Litman is the fiction editor for Issue 23. He is a fiction writer and essayist living in Phoenix with his wife, Kristine, and his two children, Jayden and Aubrey. He is finishing his undergraduate degree in English with a creative writing concentration and hopes to attend an MFA program somewhere cold, with pine needles and snow.
Today we are happy to share news about past contributor photographer Emily Matyas. Emily has a new book releasing this spring titled “Sol y Tierra: Views Beyond the U.S. – Mexico Border, 1988-2018.” The collection of photographs explores life just south of the border, beginning a conversation between the two countries. Along with the photographs, journalists Linda Valdez and Sergio Anaya have included essays and one of the photographic subjects have included a short memoir.
Some more of Emily’s work, published in our 14th issue, can be found here. Be sure to look out this spring for more information on the book and events!
Date: Saturday, February 23, 2019
Time: 1-6 p.m
Location: Ross-Blakley Hall (RBHL), Tempe Campus, 1102 S McAllister Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281
Cost: Free of charge and open to the public
Please join us at ASU Open Door 2019! All English activities will take place at ASU’s campus in Tempe in or near Ross-Blakley Hall, are free of charge, and are open to the public.
Swords Instead of Quips in YA Fantasy
1-3 p.m. | RBHL 196
Join NYT Bestselling Author Melissa Marr to learn how to integrate combat sequences into story. Using primarily Historical European martial arts (longsword and single-handed messer), but touching on kali sticks and improvised weaponry, Marr will discuss and demonstrate fighting as a realistic outgrowth of character, world, and setting. Marr will cover integrating action into story naturally and touch on tricks to stretch out the action in text without relying on historical inaccuracies, gross misuse of weapons, or action clichés like villain monologues.
Making the Star Wars Universe
1-6 p.m. | RBHL 101
ASU experts in film, television and literature share their perspective on the secret of Star Wars’ success. Mix and mingle with your favorite Jedis, hear the backstory of those vintage Star Wars toys and action figures, learn about the female heroes of Star Wars, enjoy themed face-painting and get your own balloon creature made by a Star Wars cosplayer. (Face-paint and balloons from 1:30-3:30 only).
RED INK Tipi Experience
1-6 p.m. | RBHL (outdoors on SDFC East Field)
ASU’s Red Ink Indigenous Initiative presents cultural stories from Indigenous communities for children and adults. Each session is facilitated in a traditional tipi setting by tribal storytellers.
Hogwarts Sorting Hat & Spell Casting
1-3 p.m. | RBHL 117
Welcome to Hogwarts! Inspired by the Harry Potter books, young visiting wizards get sorted into a “house” and receive a corresponding wand; use the wand to magically correct misspelled words! Teeny tiny wizards can just enjoy learning silly spells. Beware: Dementors may show up! Facilitated by professors Jim Blasingame and Peter Goggin and English Education students.
Hogwarts Wand-Making and Platform Photos
3:30-6 p.m. | RBHL 117
Members of Dumbledore’s Amy at ASU, a Harry Potter-themed student club, coach wannabe-wizards on the art of wand-making (supplies provided). Take a selfie at Platform 9 ¾ in London’s King’s Cross Station!
Giant Crossword and Word Search Puzzles
1-6 p.m. | RBHL Lobby
Interactive word games for all ages designed by Regents’ Professor and Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Ríos. Prizes for correct answers!
Writing Takes Place: Your Life in Haiku
1-6 p.m. | RBHL 119
Write your autobiography in Haiku, a short Japanese verse form. Take your finished poem with you! Coached by teachers in ASU Writing Programs (who are expert syllable-counters).
To learn more about the event, click here.