Micro-Conference on Contemporary Fiction Writing

As part of the upcoming visit by fiction writers Christina Milletti and Dimitri Anastasopoulos for the Fall New Writing Series, a micro-conference on the current states of fiction writing will take place the first week of November.

In addition to the NWS reading on Thursday (2 November), Anastasopoulos will give a talk Wednesday (1 November) on how fiction can respond to the current mania for non-fiction in our culture. All are invited to a reception at the Kress Place following Dimitri’s presentation. On Thursday, before the reading in Soderberg, Milletti will present a talk on the poetics of fiction and the writings of Gertrude Stein and Christine Brooke-Rose.

Anastasopoulos and Milletti are both consummate stylists and thought-provoking scholars. Besides writing fiction, Milletti’s scholarship examines the intersections of gender, performance, and speech act theory in the work of twentieth century women writers. Anastasopoulos’ work emphasizes the tragicomic nature of botched translations, the development of the novel in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and the evolving properties of fictional language.

For anyone interested in contemporary fiction, experimental and innovative writing, avant-garde aesthetics, literary theory, poetics, gender, and cultural studies, these three events will be engaging, entertaining, stimulating, and most of all, intellectually provocative.

Schedule of Events

Wednesday, November 1

5:00pm—Dimitri Anastasopoulos: “Outside of Fiction: We Live”: Wick’s Room, Neville Hall

7:00pm—Reception: The Old Kress Manse

Thursday, November 2

3:00pm—Christina Milletti: “Innovative Fiction and the Poetics of Power: Gertrude Stein and Christine Brooke-Rose “Do” Language”: Wick’s Room, Neville Hall

4:30pm—NWS Reading: Soderberg Auditorium, Jenness Hall

The Readers
A professor of creative writing at SUNY Buffalo, Christina Milletti’s fiction includes a recently published collection of short stories, The Religious and Other Fictions. Her work has appeared in The Greensboro Review, Harcourt’s Best New American Voices, Scribner’s Best of the Fiction Workshops, The Chicago Review, and 13th Moon. Milletti has received a Thayer Fellowship from the New York Foundation of the Arts, and was granted a residency at the Fundacion Valpariso, an artist colony in Mojcar, Spain.

Dimitri Anastasopoulos teaches creative writing at the University of Rochester and is the author of A Larger Sense of Harvey, a novel, and has published fiction in 3rd Bed, Sudden Stories: An Anthology of Minuscule Fiction, Black Warrior Review, Rafters, and Willow Springs.

For more information, please contact David Kress on First Class or at 3845.

NWS Writers

Bob Grenier on “Close Listening” Radio Program

Close Listening is a poetry radio show hosted by Charles Bernstein (NWS S02) on WPS1. In the most recent installment, aired 20 October 2006, Bernstein hosted poet Bob Grenier for an hour-long conversation about his development as a poet, his relationship to Larry Eigner, and his long work “Sentences,” from which he reads in the second half of the program. The audiofiles, split into two mp3s of roughly 30-minutes each, can be heard here. The event report for Grenier’s 5 October 2006 reading in the NWS is here.

Poet Charles Bernstein Poet Bob Grenier

NWS Writers

What Brian Evenson’s Been Listening To

Fiction writer Brian Evenson will read in the NWS on 7 December 2006. Last week, he shared with readers of Largehearted Boy, an excellent music-centered blog, some of the songs from his youth that he listened to while working on his newest novel, The Open Curtain. You can read his liner notes here.

Events, NWS Writers

NWS Event Report: Bob Perelman Reading

Event Report — The poet Bob Perelman read to a capacity audience of more than one hundred people in a NWS event co-sponsored by the Honors College on Wednesday afternoon, 18 October 2006. Perelman read exclusively from his new book, IFLIFE, published earlier in the month by the New York-based Roof Books. He opened his set with “Against Shock and Awe,” a poem that first appeared on the Op-Ed pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer in February 2003. He then read “The Revenge of the Bathwater” (to the audible amusement of the audience), “The Dream of the Bed,” and several other short poems, before turning to a substantial excerpt from the book’s title sequence, “Iflife.” He closed the set with another extended poem, “Tank Top.” About 35 people remained for a lively question and answer period afterwards.

Archival Record — The event was documented on digital video tape (VHS and DVD duplicates of which will be available shortly); an mp3 file of the reading is also available upon request (contact the English Department).

Poet Bob Perelman Reading in the NWS, October 2006

Poet Bob Perelman Reading in the NWS, October 2006

Earlier in the afternoon, Perelman had visited Honors 180: A Cultural Odyssey, where he read from, discussed, and entertained questions about his work. In the photo reproced below, Perelman is shown talking about a “word ladder” employed in his poem “Against Shock and Awe.”

Poet Bob Perelman points to a “word ladder” in his poem “Against Shock & Awe”

NWS Writers

Nathaniel Mackey (NWS F03) National Book Award Finalist

Poet Nathaniel Mackey‘s New Directions book Splay Anthem has been named a finalist for this year’s National Book Award. Mackey read in the NWS in November of 2003; archival footage of his live reading is available through the English Department, as is a 45-minute “poet profile.”

Cover of Nathaniel Mackey’s Splay Anthem from New Directions


Upper Limit Music – Poetry on the Radio

Upper Limit Music is a new poetry radio show hosted by Steve Evans on WMEB (91.9FM in Orono & environs, and on the web here). On Thursday afternoons from 1-3pm the show will explore the sonic landscape of modern and contemporary poetry, mixing live recordings (many from past New Writing Series events) with studio and archival tracks, hosting local and visiting poets when possible, and perhaps even playing a song or two. Playlists for the first two shows can be found here and here. For more poetry audio on the web, check out PennSound and these other fine sites. Update The show is now on hiatus.

Upper Limit Music Playlist

Events, I Remember

I Remember: Silvana Costa Recalls a Favorite NWS Event

Silvana Costa, a poet completing a Masters degree in English at the University of Maine, kindly contributed the first in a projected series of NWS memories. She writes:

If it were not for The New Writing Series, many aspiring writers studying at the University of Maine would, quite frankly, be out of the poetic loop. Wait, let me rephrase that: The New Writing Series is the poetic loop. The reading series showcases a wide range of emerging and established poets and fiction writers providing the literary community at the university a chance to dialogue with an international circle of contemporary artists. The scene is so intimate, the writers so accessible, the poetry so multifarious, one cannot help but connect with one’s latent poetic diva, or at the very least shed a proverbial tear for the sheer joy of language. At least that’s the way I felt particularly after listening to the poet Anne Waldman perform. Picture it: Carnegie Hall, Robert Shetterly’s “Truthtellers” exhibit. Life-size portraits of the likes of James Baldwin, Rosa Parks, Chief Seattle, Bill Moyers, Martin Luther King, and Winona LaDuke staring through you from every angle. Anne Waldman—sporting a zebra-print kimono shirt and tight black jeans—dancing, chanting, ranting, ah, “This hag speaks true.”

Here’s a recent picture of Costa, chatting with fiction writer (and UMaine Assistant Professor) David Kress in the Soderberg cube after Robert Grenier’s reading:

Silvana Costa and David Kress after NWS Event

And here’s Anne Waldman, after her reading, with Maine Review editors (from L to R) Anne Mathieson, Emily Brock, and Kim Martul-March (with Shetterly’s portraits of Fanny Lou Hamer and Woody Guthrie partially visible):

Anne Waldman with Maine Review editors

Events, NWS Writers

Up next, Bob Perelman

The poet Bob Perelman, a recent recipient of the $50,000 PEW Fellowship, will read in the NWS on Wednesday, 18 October. He’s touring this fall in support of a brand new book from Roof Press, Iflife, some tracks from which can be heard via PennSound (scroll down to the 11 March 2006 reading at the Bowery Poetry Club). Later in October, he’ll be participating in Autostart, a festival of Digital Literature hosted by the Kelly Writers House.

You can read a 2002 interview with Perelman here. And check out slides from the “Playing Bodies” sequence, Perelman’s collaboration with his wife, the artist Francie Shaw, here. A videotape of Perelman’s 1 May 2003 reading in the NWS (with Kit Robinson) is available through the UMaine English Department (contact Steve Evans on First Class for more information).


NWS Event Report: Robert Grenier Reading

Poet Robert Grenier in the UMaine New Writing Series, Fall 2006
An audience of approximately forty people turned out for poet Robert Grenier’s reading in the UMaine New Writing Series on Thursday, 5 October 2006. Grenier interpreted his hand-drawn notebook poems from slides projected onto the Soderberg Auditorium’s large screen. A first set of slides, showing poems composed in the early spring of 2006, explored the natural landscape of Connecticut. After a short break, Grenier showed a second set of slides, rooted in the environment of Bolinas, California, where he has long made his home. Grenier offered a running commentary on the process by which his “drawn” poems are made, their quatrain-like character (four words, four colors), their relationship to conventional mimesis and the history of poetry, the ecological imperatives underpinning them, and the activity required of readers, including himself, of deciphering them. Audience members asked questions and assisted in the reading at various points. Archival record: digital video tape (VHS and dvd duplicates available shortly). See more photos on Ben Friedlander’s flickr page.

Prior to showing the slides, Grenier talked about the limited-edition prints he makes from the notebook poems (an example of which can be seen lower left):

Robert Grenier pointing to one of his prints

This picture shows Grenier and his partner Susan Friedland sorting slides before the event:

Poet Robert Grenier with Susan Friedland

After the reading, an audience member studies Grenier’s work:

NWS Writers

Some bio! (Robert Grenier)

The Marianne Boesky Gallery in Manhattan did a show of Robert Grenier‘s “Drawing Poems” in 2004. One senses the poet’s own hand in the dusie of a bio-note they put together: “Grenier is a 63-year-old, wiry/paunchy, white-haired, disaffected, formerly influential, prototypical/clean-shaven/Harvard-educated ‘Language Writer’ (from Minnesota) become wildly innovative, ‘neo-Romantic’/’old-fashioned’, hand-craft-writing/image-making, scruffy, corn, beans and squash-growing/blackberry-apple jam-making/set-in-his-ways type of opinionated, ‘archaic’-nuthead/vociferously ‘correct’, ‘liberal’/verbal/’extemporaneous’ person living in Bolinas, CA.” And there’s more where that came from!