This is a special year for creative writing at UC Davis. The popular Opening Night reading of new work by creative writing program faculty is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the visiting writers reading series will have a new home in the Peter J. Shields Library.
All are free, open to the public and start at 7 p.m.
The annual fall faculty reading on the Wyatt Deck in the UC Davis Arboretum was started by Lucy Corin, Department of English professor and director of the creative writing program, and Elaine Fingerett, academic coordinator for the arboretum. This fall’s reading takes place Oct. 5. Reading will be Corin, Margaret Ronda, Katie Peterson, Jacinda Townsend, Joe Wenderoth and Joshua Clover.
The visiting writers series kicks off Oct. 12 with Pulitzer Prize winner Rae Armantrout and continues with a wide range of writers throughout the academic year.
“This year continues our emphasis on writers working in multiple genres or in hybrid genres,” said Katie Peterson, coordinator of the series and associate professor of English. “They are also ‘westerners’ generally — either western transplants or people born in the west. They all show a striking originality in their relation to a writer's craft — their work emphasizes all that locates us politically, like citizenship, and space, and place — as perishable, strange, off kilter or odd.”
Pulitzer winner starts series
The first visiting writer Armantrout won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2010 for her volume of poetry Versed. She’s the author of 15 poetry collections. The most recent, Partly: New and Selected Poems, was published this year.
Publisher’s Weekly wrote of Armantrout and Partly, “For the last half century, (she) has stood as a quiet figurehead of American experimental poetry, and this formidable collection offers a look at her recent progression and her signature, language-centered style.”
Born in Vallejo, Armantrout is a professor emeritus at UC San Diego where she taught for more than two decades.
UC Davis faculty featured
The Nov. 1 reading is unusual in that it features two UC Davis faculty members. Maceo Montoya is a writer, artist and an assistant professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department and Jacinda Townsend just came to UC Davis as a creative writing assistant professor in the English department.
Townsend is author of the 2014 novel Saint Monkey, which won wide spread acclaim. The book follows the lives of two young African-American women from rural Kentucky in the 1950s. It explores their thorny friendship over many years as one goes to New York to pursue her musical dreams while the other remains behind. A native of Kentucky, Townsend was previously a broadcast journalist and attorney.
Montoya’s first novel, The Scoundrel and the Optimist was awarded the 2011 International Latino Book Award for Best First Book. His novel The Deportation of Wopper Barraza and Letters to the Poet from His Brother, a book combining images, prose poems and essays, came out in 2014, and his novella and short story collection You Must Fight Them was released last year. Montoya’s paintings, drawing and prints have been shown internationally. He teaches the Chicana and Chicano Mural Workshop at UC Davis and is director of Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer (TANA), a community-based arts organization in Woodland affiliated with the department.
Poems, novels and memoirs
Although best known as a poet, Brennan is the author of seven books of varying genres including the poetry collections little dark, The Real Enough World and Here on Earth and story collections The Garden in Which I Walk and the just-published Monsters.
Chiyuma Elliott’s first book of poems, California Winter League, came out last year. Her work has appeared in the African American Review, Callaloo, the Collagist, the Notre Dame Review and other journals. Elliott was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. She is an assistant professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley.
On March 6 Solmaz Sharif, whose first poetry collection LOOK was just released, will read. She is winner of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. A native of Istanbul, Sharif is Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.
Also presenting will be Donika Kelly, author of the poetry collection Bestiary, selected for the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and published in October 2016 by Graywolf Press.
Micah Perks will close the series May 1. Her books include the novel We Are Gathered Here, the memoir Pagan Time: An American Childhood and the novel What Becomes Us slated for October release. She is recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellowship Grant and five Pushcart Prize nominations.
Perks is a professor of literature and co-director of the creative writing program at UC Santa Cruz.
— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science