Each semester, through the UCA Artists in Residence Program and the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the Department of Writing invites acclaimed writers to visit UCA, hold master classes with writing students, and give a free public reading/talk for the campus and community.
Damien Echols & Lorri Davis
November 11, 2013
As one of the West Memphis Three, convicted of the 1993 murder of three Arkansas boys, Damien Echols is one of few on earth to know what it means to persevere through false imprisonment and ultimately reclaim his freedom. There were many who stood by his side though his 18 years on death row, including such high-profile artists as actor Johnny Depp, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines, and former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins. Echols credits his wife and biggest supporter, Lorri Davis, for taking charge of his legal efforts, which led to his 2011 Alford plea deal and release. The media also played a crucial role in Echols' fight to clear his name, bringing to light new forensics in 2007 that revealed no DNA evidence existed to link him to the crime scene.
Echols' New York Times bestselling memoir, Life After Death, published in September 2012, focuses on his abusive childhood and brutal incarceration, as well as his stores of patience and perseverance that he drew upon to survive in prison. The book is also a deeply moving and profound account of Echols' and Davis' fight to prove his innocence, giving a voice to those who are persecuted for the way they look or anyone who has experienced an injustice. Their story gives hope to those who know what it's like to struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds. Actor Johnny Depp, who has optioned the movie rights to the novel, wrote "Damien Echols suffered a shocking miscarriage of justice. A nightmare few could endure. An innocent man on death row for more than eighteen years, abused by the very system we all fund. His story will appall, fascinate, and render you feeble with tears and laughter. A brilliant memoir to battle with literary giants of the caliber of Jean Genet, Gregory David Roberts, and Dostoevsky."
In 2012, West of Memphis, the documentary film based on Echols' story, directed by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Amy Berg and produced by Echols and Davis in collaboration with the multiple Academy Award winning team of Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh -- both long time supporters of Echols -- premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released to theaters in late December.
|November 11||7:30 pm||Public Reading & Book Signing||Reynolds Performance Hall|
Tickets are required. Two free tickets may be obtained through the Reynolds Box Office from 10-4, Mon-Fri, or by calling (501) 450-3265. Tickets will be released 10/10/13 for UCA students, and 10/17/13 for UCA faculty/staff and the general public. Seating is general submission. Doors open at 6:30. No re-entry will be allowed. No bags, purses, or backpacks. No cameras or video recording of any type will be permitted.
Selected Online Readings:
- Interview by Emma John of The Guardian/The Observer (includes excerpts from Damien's prison diary)
- Interview with Lorri Davis by Emily McCombs at XOJane
- Article by Geoffrey Gray of The New York Times about Damien & Lorri's move to New York, written not long after Damien was released from prison
- Interview with Alyssa Giacobbe of Boston Magazine that focuses on Damien & Lorri's story as well as their choice to live in Salem
- WGBH interview not long after Damien and Lorri's move to Boston
Interviews related to West of Memphis
- Interview by Adam Gold of Nashville Scene with Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis Three and West of Memphis director Amy Berg
- A Q&A by Mickey Rapkin of GQ with Peter Jackson and the makers of West of Memphis
Book Reviews of Life After Death
- Damien Echols reviews Rectify, a television series written by Ray McKinnon about a man released from prison after spending 19 years on Death Row
February 13, 2014
Miranda July is a filmmaker, artist, and writer. Her videos, performances, and web-based projects have been presented at sites such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and in two Whitney Biennials. July wrote, directed and starred in her first feature-length film, Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), which won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Camera d’Or. Miranda July’s most recent film is The Future (2011), which she wrote and directed and stars in. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, and The New Yorker; her collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You (Scribner, 2007), won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and has been published in twenty countries. Her latest book is It Chooses You (McSweeney’s, 2011). July created the participatory website, www.learningtoloveyoumore.com, with artist Harrell Fletcher and a companion book, Learning to Love You More, was published in 2007 (Prestel); the work is now in collection of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Eleven Heavy Things, an interactive sculpture garden she designed for the 2009 Venice Biennale, was on view in Union Square in New York in the summer of 2010 and is currently being presented by MOCA in Los Angeles. Raised in Berkeley, California, she currently lives in Los Angeles. Event times and venues to be announced.
Selected Online Readings:
Ed Sanders is an American poet, singer, social activist, environmentalist, author, publisher and longtime member of the band The Fugs. He has been called a bridge between the Beat and Hippie generations. Sanders wrote his first notable poem, "Poem from Jail", on toilet paper in his cell after being jailed for protesting the launch of nuclear submarines armed with nuclear missiles in 1961. In 1962, he founded the avant-garde journal Fuck You.
Sanders opened the Peace Eye Bookstore at 383 East Tenth Street in what was then the Lower East Side; the store became a gathering place for bohemians, writers and radicals. On January 1, 1966, police raided Peace Eye Bookstore and charged Sanders with obscenity, charges he fended off with the aid of the ACLU. Notoriety generated by the case led to his appearance on the February 17, 1967 cover of Life Magazine, which proclaimed him "a leader of New York's Other Culture." In late 1964, Sanders founded The Fugs with Tuli Kupferberg. The band broke up in 1969 and reformed in 1984. On October 21, 1967, Sanders helped The Fugs and the San Francisco Diggers in an attempt to exorcise the Pentagon. In 1968, he signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War. In 1971, Sanders wrote The Family, a profile of the events leading up to the Tate-LaBianca murders. He attended the Manson group's murder trial, and spent time at their residence at the Spahn Movie Ranch. There have been two updated editions of The Family, the most recent in 2002. The Process Church of the Final Judgement sued Sanders's U.S. publisher for defamation over a chapter linking them with Manson's activities. The case was settled by the publisher, who removed the disputed chapter from future editions. The Process Church then sued Sanders's British publisher, but lost the suit and were forced to pay the defendant's legal fees. Sanders is the founder of the Investigative Poetry movement. His 1976 manifesto Investigative Poetry, published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books, had an impact on investigative writing and poetry during the ensuing decades. In the 1990s, Sanders began utilizing the principles of Investigative Poetry to create a series of book-length poems on literary figures and American History. Among these works are Chekhov, 1968: A History in Verse, and The Poetry and Life of Allen Ginsberg. In 1998, Sanders began work on a 9-volume America, A History in Verse. The first five volumes, tracing the history of the 20th century, were published in a CD format with over 2,000 pages in length. Sanders received a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry in 1983, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry in 1987. His Thirsting for Peace in a Raging Century, Selected Poems 1961-1985 won an American Book Award in 1988. He was chosen to deliver the Charles Olson Memorial Lectures at SUNY Buffalo in 1983. In 1997, he received a Writers Community residency sponsored by the YMCA National Writer’s Voice through the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund. In 1997 he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. In 2000 and 2003 he was Writer-in-Residence at the New York State Writers Institute in Albany, New York.
October 25 & 26, 2011
Dan Chaon is the author, most recently, of the national bestseller Await Your Reply, which was named one of the ten best books of the year by Publisher's Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Janet Maslin of The New York Times, and Laura Miller of salon.com, as well as being named among the year's best fiction by the American Library Association and such newspapers as The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune. Dan is also the author of the short story collections Fitting Ends and Among the Missing, which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, and the novel You Remind Me of Me. Dan's fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, and he was the recipient of the 2006 Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.A new collection of short stories, entitled Stay Awake, is due out in Spring of 2012.Dan lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and teaches at Oberlin College, where he is the Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing and Literature. http://danchaon.com
November 8 & 9, 2011
Heather Sellers’ award-winning memoir, You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, has been featured by O, the Oprah Magazine, where it was a book of the month pick, Good Morning America, Rachel Ray, NPR, The New York Times, Dick Gordon’s The Story, Good Housekeeping, More, Elle, and many others.Heather Sellers was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. Her PhD in English/Creative Writing is from Florida State University. She’s a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where she teaches poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Awarded an NEA Fellowship for fiction, she published a short story collection, Georgia Under Water, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. She’s published a children’s book, Spike and Cubby’s Ice Cream Island Adventure, three volumes of poetry, and three books on the craft of writing. Her textbook, The Practice of Creative Writing, from Bedford/St. Martins, comes out in a second edition in fall 2011. She’s taught at the University of Texas—San Antonio and St. Lawrence University. She’s currently at work on a novel for young readers, essays, and a new memoir. http://heathersellers.com/site/index.html
February 26 & 27, 2013
Fiction writer Jennifer Egan is the author of the 2011 Pulitzer prize-winning novel A Visit from the Goon Squad. Her book, which chronicles characters involved in the San Francisco punk-rock scene, was optioned for a TV series by HBO in 2011. A Visit from the Goon Squad also won the National Book Critics award for fiction, and was named to the Best Novels of 2010 list of The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Slate, Salon, and People. She is the author of The Invisible Circus, a novel which became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz in 2001; Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction in 2001; Emerald City and Other Stories and the bestselling The Keep. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Granta, and McSweeney's. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction.
March 15 &16, 2012
Rick Steves advocates smart, affordable, perspective-broadening travel. As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of 40 European travel books, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." He helps American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe — and Europeans — for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay. Over the past 20 years, Rick has hosted over 100 travel shows for public television, and numerous pledge specials (raising millions of dollars for local stations). His Rick Steves' Europe TV series is carried by over 300 stations, reaching 95 percent of U.S. markets. Rick has also created two award-winning specials for public television: Rick Steves' European Christmas and the ground-breaking Rick Steves' Iran. Rick writes and co-produces his television programs through his company, Back Door Productions.Rick Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves. With a broader approach to travel everywhere, in each hour-long program Rick interviews guest travel expert, followed by listener call-ins. Travel with Rick Steves airs across the country and has spawned a popular podcast. Rick has also created a series of audio walking tour podcasts for museums and neighborhoods in Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice (with more tours, including London, coming in 2010).
Rick self-published the first edition of his travel skills book, Europe Through the Back Door (now updated annually), in 1980. He has also written more than 40 other country, city and regional guidebooks, phrase books, and "snapshot" guides. For several years, Rick Steves' Italy has been the bestselling international guidebook sold in the U.S. In 2009, Rick tackled a new genre of travel writing with Travel as a Political Act, reflecting on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives, and travel can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world. Rick's books are published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group.In addition to his guidebooks, TV and radio work, Rick is a syndicated newspaper columnist with the Tribune Media Services. He appears frequently on television, radio, and online as the leading authority on European travel.urope, and best-selling author of 40 European travel books, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." He helps American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe — and Europeans — for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.Over the past 20 years, Rick has hosted over 100 travel shows for public television, and numerous pledge specials (raisin http://www.ricksteves.com
Beth-Ann Fennelly & Tom Franklin
April 17 & 18, 2012
Award winning poet Beth-Ann Fennelly, whose poems have appeared innumerous periodicals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry (1996, 2005, and 2006 editions), The Kenyon Review, and The Bloomsbury Review, states “The time we share on earth is too precious,” and reminds us accurately of this in her life’s work and calling. She has written four books of poetry to date. Her first book, Open House, won the 2001 Kenyon Review Prize for a First Book and the GLCA New Writers Award. Tender Hooks, her second, uncovers explorations into motherhood, joyous and raw. Her third book is Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother. Most recently published was Unmentionables: Poems, in 2008. Often described as some of her best work, it holds accounts of life and captured thought. "Accurate perception, is a moral choice,” she says. “The more you look closely, the better you get at seeing.”The Edgar Award-winning author of Poachers, and recipient of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, Tom Franklin, has continued his success with two more books of historical fiction. Hell at the Breech is based on events that happened a close distance to the home where he was raised. “Along with breathtaking descriptions of Mitcham Beat's scenery...Franklin does what Harper Lee did in To Kill a Mockingbird; He lets his set of quirky characters run the story while he focuses on the repercussions of his characters' curiosity and age. Hell at the Breech is an impressive novel that should catapult Franklin into the big leagues." Nickolas Thomas, USA Today. Tom’s latest, Smonk, published in 2006 is another guilty pleasure for those who love dark tales, sinister characters and humor to match. Beth-Ann Fennelly's website: http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/pages/fennelly_b.html Tom Franklin's website: http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/english/pages/franklin_t.html
October 12, 2010
Renowned essayist, David Gessner, who is celebrated for 6 books and numerous articles in top-tier magazines, writes creative nonfiction about environmental politics. His book Soaring with Fidel (Beacon Press 2007) chronicles not only the migration of the osprey but also the bird-watchers, scientists, and filmmakers who follow them from Cape Cod to Cuba and back. Gessner is associate professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and editor-in-chief of the country's top eco-journal Ecotone. www.davidgessner.com
November 9 & 10, 2010
Poet C.D. Wright has published over a dozen books including Falling, Hovering (2008) and One Bog Self: An Investigation, a project with photographer Deborah Luster documenting inmates in Louisiana. Her work is deeply connected to her roots in the Ozarks; however, she has lived for many years in New York and San Francisco and now teaches at Brown University. www.blueflowerarts.com/booking/cd-wright-home
February 24 & 25, 2011
Anne Waldman is a poet & teacher, and with Allen Ginsberg co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado in 1974. During the late Sixties she ran the St. Mark's Church Poetry Project, and gave exuberant, highly physical readings of her own work. She was featured along with Ginsberg in Bob Dylan's experimental film 'Renaldo and Clara.'Waldman is one of the most interesting, vibrant and unpredictable members of the post-Beat poetry community.Her list of publications is voluminous. She has written more than 42 books, most recently Kill or Cure (Penguin Poets) and her book-length poem, Iovis (Coffee House Press). She is now working on Book III of Iovis. Waldman has been acknowledged as a major--and a mature--voice in American poetry. www.poetspath.com/waldman.html
Peter Carey, an Australian writer,has twice won England’s prestigious Booker Prize for the novels Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang. He has also received the Miles Franklin Prize three times and is often mentioned as Australia’s next contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Ibtisam Barakat, a bilingual speaker of Arabic and English, was given the Arab American National Museum Book Award for Children’s/YA Literature for Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. She is also a poet and a peace activist. Richard Miller, author of Writing at the End of the World, believes that creativity should be at the center of the humanities. He is a Professor English and spearheaded the construction of the Writer’s House at Rutgers, a building designed for writers to develop collaborative, media-rich, mixed-genre projects. Elise Blackwell, is the author of Grub, The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, and Hunger, which was chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of the best books of 2003. She is originally from southern Louisiana and teaches at the University of South Carolina. Davis Schneiderman, an innovative writer and academic, is the author of Drain, DIS, and Abedendarium(written with Carlos Hernandez). He is known for fostering experimental and collaborative projects, as well as his literary criticism of pioneering authors, particularly William S. Burroughs. He is the Chair of the American Studies Program at Lake Forest College in Chicago. Charlaine Harris, a New York Times best-selling author, has been writing mysteries for over twenty years. Her later books have been grounded in urban fantasy and include the Lily Bard (Shakespeare) Series, the Aurora Teagarden Series, and the Sookie Stackhouse (Southern Vampire) Series, which has been adapted for television by HBO as the Golden Globe and Emmy-winning series True Blood.
Scott Russell Sanders, Award-winning fiction author, literary critic, children's fiction author, and essayist, will conduct classes with students and give a public lecture followed by a book signing. Anne Perry, crime writer and creator of the characters Thomas Pitt and William Monk, will give a public reading from her latest novel Buckingham Palace Gardens. Chuck Klosterman, a satirical critic of contemporary popular culture who writes for Esquire, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and Spin, will present a public reading of his work, following by a book signing. Andrei Codrescu, a regular contributor to NPR, is famous for his political and social essays. He is the author of over 40 books and founder of the literary journal Exquisite Corpse. Leonard Marcus, historian of children's literature, will give a lecture on the history of children's literature in America, conduct a master class with UCA writing students, and work with elementary students and teachers in the public schools.
Michael Cunningham, is the author of By Nightfall, Specimen Days, and The Hours, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1999 and was later made into an Oscar-winning film starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore. He has written screenplays, produced films, and teaches creative writing at Yale. Naomi Shihab Nye, a songwriter and poet born to a Palestinian father and an American mother, is the author of Fuel, Red Suitcase, 19 Varieties of Gazelle, and Different Ways to Pray. She lives in San Antonio and has won many literary honors, among them four Pushcart Prizes, the Paterson Poetry Prize, and the Jane Adams Children’s book Award. George Singleton, whose stories appear frequently in national magazines, is the author of These People Are Us, The Half-Mammals of Dixie, and Why Dogs Chase Cars. He teaches writing at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.
Dave Eggers, who founded the literary project 826 Valencia and independent literary journal McSweeney’s, is the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity, What Is the What, and Zeitoun. He was named “one of fifty visionaries changing the world” by Utne Reader and received the Heinz Award given to recognize “extraordinary achievements by individuals." Garry Wills is a prolific and Pulitizer Prize-winning author, journalist, and historian who specializes in American politics, American political history, and ideology of the Roman Catholic Church. Among his many books are Nixon Agonistes, Lincoln at Gettysburg, Reagan’s America, John Wayne’s America: The Politics of Celebrity, Saint Augustine, James Madison, and What Jesus Meant. Neil Gaiman, listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living postmodern writers, is the prolific creator of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama. Among his many works are Anansi Boys, Mirrormask, Coraline, Stardust, Sandman, and American Gods, which won the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, SFX, and Locus Awards. Ellen Gilchrist, whose work has been compared to Carson McCullers and Tennessee Williams, is the author of The Annunciation, Nora Jane, The Writing Life, and Victory Over Japan, which won the American Book Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of Arkansas. Kim Stafford, who directs the Northwest Writing Institute and the William Stafford Center at Lewis and Clark College, is the author of a dozen books, including A Thousand Friends of Rain, Every War Has Two Losers(film), We Got Here Together, and Entering the Grove. He lives in Portland and notes that “the problems of our time are political, ecological, economic – but the solutions are cultural.” William Ivey, the seventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1998. He is the author of Arts Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights and (with Steven Tepper) Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life. Michael Chabon, “one of the most celebrated authors of his generation” according to the Virginia Quarterly Review, is a novelist, columnist, editor, screenwriter, comics author, and short story writer. Among his works are The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Werewolves in Their Youth, and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize.