Archive for the ‘visiting writers’ Category

Haiti Benefit, Part II

March 19, 2010

We were treated to a fabulous event of music and poetry the other night. The evening began with music by Cornell’s living & learning music group “Octave.” They played a set of jazz tunes as the crowd congregated, followed by a set of more experimental music at the intermission.

We then heard brief readings from both Kiki Petrosino and Patrick Rosal. You can see their bios in the previous post.

But no doubt the highlight of the evening was after the intermission. After a raffle, silent auction and more music by Octave, Patrick and Kiki gave an impromptu collaborative reading with the two poets going back and forth, choosing poems sparked by the previous poet’s poem. Theme and image bounced back and forth, sometimes directly, sometimes obliquely, but always throwing the individual’s work in a new light as we listened through the lens of the previous poem. The energy between the readers was incredible and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed this lively, spontaneous reading.  One of the finest events I’ve been proud to be a part of at Cornell.  Many thanks to Kiki and Patrick for the wonderful evening. And now I’m especially looking forward to having Patrick on campus when he teaches an advanced poetry course for us, “Strangers on a Personal Level.” Will be a great addition to next year’s curriculum.

Haiti Benefit Poetry Reading

March 17, 2010

I’m looking forward to tonight’s poetry reading/Haiti benefit. Music, raffles, and two fabulous poets. Should be a great time, so come join us if you can.

The English Department presents:

An evening of Poetry to benefit Haiti
Featuring: Patrick Rosal & Kiki Petrosino

Poetry, Music, Raffles!

Wednesday, March 17
7:00, Hedges Lounge

Cornell College

Patrick Rosal is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive, which won the Members’ Choice Award from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and My American Kundiman, which won the Association of Asian American Studies 2006 Book Award in Poetry as well as the 2007 Global Filipino Literary Award

Kiki Petrosino is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first collection of poems, Red Fort Border, was published by  Sarabande Books in 2009. Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets, Forklift Ohio, POOL, Unpleasant Event Schedule, and elsewhere. She is programming director at the International Writers Program and the University of Iowa.

Farmer John Update

August 19, 2009

Awhile back I mentioned that “Farmer John” Peterson, the head of Angelic Organics and the subject of “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” will be visiting us at Cornell. At the time, though, I didn’t have all the details. Well, it took awhile to figure it all out, but we have finally got the details hammered out. So….

We will be screening the documentary at 7 PM in West Science Hall, Room 100 on September 11. This is free and open to the public. After the screening, John will join us for a discussion. He will possibly be joined by some other local organic farmers, most likely including Laura Krouse who, besides running her own CSA, taught at Cornell for many years (she is, as she notes, one of the few people who leave other jobs to farm full time).

I hope to see you all on September 11!

Global Voices 4

August 10, 2009

I’m happy to say that the details for this year’s “Global Voices” event at Cornell have been worked out. This is an annual reading/discussion with writers from the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.  Each year we bring two writers to campus to visit with classes and give a reading and panel discussion in the evening. These have been hugely successful and engaging events and I’m really looking forward to this year’s. We have the following two writers who will be visiting:

Maxine CaseMaxine CASE is a senior writer for the non-profit Cape Town Partnership.  She contributes to a number newspapers and magazines, including Real Simple, Reader’s Digest and O Magazine.  Her short story “Homing Pigeons” was included in African Compass:  New Writing from Southern Africa 2005. In 2007, her debut novel All We Have Left Unsaid won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in Africa, and, jointly, the Herman Charles Bosman Award.

Miloš DJURDJEVIĆ(poet, essayist, translator; Croatia) has published three volumes of poetry, with the fourthDurdevic forthcoming in 2010.  His work has been included in anthologies of contemporary Croatian poetry, and translated into English, Hungarian and German. The editor of the Croatian domain at Poetry International Web, a recipient of fellowships at the Ledig House in New York and the Civitiella Ranieri Center in Italy, Djurdjević is also the translator of a wide range of contemporary American poetry and prose.

They will be reading at 7:30 PM on Sept. 15 in the Hedges Conference room of the Commons on the Cornell Campus, 600 1st St. W, Mount Vernon, IA 52413. I hope to see you there!

“Farmer John” to visit Cornell

July 28, 2009

I’m in the process of lining up visitors for the next year at Cornell and I’m happy to say that I’ve just lined up a visit from John Peterson, the founder of Angelic Organics and the subject of the film “The Real Dirt on Farmer John.” If you haven’t seen this documentary, I highly recommend it. John grew up on a family farm in northern Illinois. After his father died, he took over the farm and in the 1960s (after being introduced to a world of artists at Beloit College) worked to make it an arts community as well as a farm. Like so many, though, his farm succumbed to the decline in small farms in the 1980s. He sold off almost all of the land and machinery and traveled and wrote. He later returned to the farm to give it another try, only to find his conservative neighbors didn’t want him there because he had the gall to be “different.” He was accused of being a satanist, a drug runner, a deviant etc and the farm went into decline again. But John persevered. With persuasion from people in Chicago who were hungry for organic foods and some connection with the source of their food, John turned the farm into a Community Sponsored Agriculture farm and it is now one of the largest CSAs in the country, providing healthy food to over 1,400 families,  with an impressive learning center and farmer training and biodynamics education program as well. It’s a great story of community as well as a great story of individual perserverance and dedication to a life of farming and connection with the earth on John’s part. Details of John’s visit are not set yet, other than a visit to my Amerian Nature Writers class, but I will update this when it is all set.  He will be on campus on September 11, and I think this will be an evening not to miss. In the meantime, check out the Angelic Organics website and/or watch the documentary (it’s depressing at times, but in the end it will give you hope about our future).


Scott Russell Sanders

February 23, 2009

Since I’ve been at Cornell, I’ve hosted quite a range of visiting writers. On the whole, these have proven to be wonderful events and I’ve managed through the program to meet some great writers. Last week’s visit by Scott Russell Sanders, though, really was one of the best events we’ve had.

In my introduction to Scott, I told the following story: about 10 years ago I was in a program at the Loft in Minneapolis called the Loft Mentor Series.  Each of us in the program had the opportunity to work with four nationally known writers over the course of the year. We also worked during the year with a local writer who offered continuity to the program.  That year, the local mentor was Barrie Jean Borich.  At the time, I was trying to figure out what it meant for me to be a writer, what it was I thought that writing should do.  In that context, Barrie said to me, “You really should read Scott Russell Sanders’ work.” She gave me a few essays and I was hooked.  The honesty, the generosity of spirit, and the clarity of vision in his work was incredibly important for me and has shaped what I think writing can do.

Hearing him read last week (and getting to talk with him when he visited an Environmental Studies course I am currently team-teaching) confirmed everything I already believed about him. His is an essential voice in contemporary America, and his voice and vision are as clear as they have ever been. Sanders’ nineteen books include novels (Bad Man Ballad, Terrarium) and collections of short stories (Wilderness Plots, Fetching the Dead), and most importantly, literary nonfiction (The Paradise of Bombs, Hunting for Hope, Staying Put, Writing from the Center). The most recent of his books, A Private History of Awe, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. I had not yet read Awe, but I have just started. He also read from his forthcoming book, A Conservationist’s Manifesto, and I’m really looking forward to spending some time with it. So, I guess I’ll just put in a plug here: if you don’t know Scott’s work, you should. Read it now. You can also learn more about him at his website here.

scottrussellsandersphoto by Robert Scheer