Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Updates + Congratulations & News

These summer days are zooming by. Although I haven't even been back in New Jersey for a full month, it feels almost or even double that long.  As I mentioned in a post a few weeks back I'd begun to set up my new office, and now it's much further along. I still need to figure out how to get into half of my desk, which appears to be locked from the inside (?), get a few office supplies, and hang more artwork (including a vèvè of La Sirène, who kept watch over my office in Evanston), but things are proceeding pretty well.

The office, coming into order
The office, now mostly in order

The books, in order on the shelves I have several DUPLICATES of books, so I am again putting out a call to find out if any J's Theater readers would like a copy of one of them. If not, I will donate them.

The books are:

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Raymond Carver, Where I'm Calling From
Luis Cernuda, Selected Poems (translated by Reginald Gibbons)
Therese Hak Kyung Cha, Dictée
Jason Epstein, The Book Business
William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
Allen Ginsberg, Howl
Thomas Glave, Whose Song? and Other Stories
Nalo Hopkinson, Midnight Robber
Tyehimba Jess, leadbelly
Adrian C. Louis, Bone & Juice
Michael David Lucas, The Oracle of Stamboul (my former undergraduate student!)
Claudia Rankine, Don't Let Me Be Lonely
Adrienne Rich, Diving Into the Wreck
Nathanaël West, Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust (2 copies)

A certain very dear person to me was quite skeptical that Newark has a subway system--it does, called the Newark Light Rail, and comprising the old Newark City Subway and an extended light rail component--so here are a few images of it and the Rutgers University-Newark campus. From Newark's Penn Station to the campus, it's 2 stops, or 70 cents. I was a bit incredulous at first at this price, but yes, it's cheaper to go back and forth to campus on Newark's subway than either one way on the PATH, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail or New York's MTA. The trains are almost identical to the light rail trains that run along the eastern spine of Hudson and Bergen counties, from Bayonne, through Jersey City, to Weehawken. But they do slip underground at first, before ascending to road grade. One line stays in Newark, I believe, and the other runs all the way to Bloomfield. Another line takes you to the now quite famous New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and also to the Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium.

The entrance to the Newark subway/lightrail station, in Newark's Penn Station
The entrance, at Newark's Penn Station

A mural in the Newark Penn Station stop

Newark subway/light rail train rolling in
One of the trains, barreling the station

Washington St. subway station, Newark
The Washington St. station entrance, in University Heights

Looking up the hill, Rutgers Newark
On campus, looking up the hill, toward New Jersey Institute of Technology

University Heights, Newark
One of the directional signs, along the campus


Now, for a few announcements and congratulations. First, to Dr. Laura E. Passin, newly minted Ph.D., who successfully defended her dissertation "The Lyric in the Age of Theory: The Politics and Poetics of Confession in Contemporary Poetry." Smart, brimming with insight, covering a range of noteworthy poets in unexpected combinations, theoretical without ever turning to theory as a crutch, it is a work much like its author, an incredibly sharp and talented poet and budding scholar I've had the good fortune to get to know from the time she passed her oral exams with panache, on through all of her dedicated efforts on behalf of the Poetry and Poetics Colloquium and the poetry workshops the undergraduate students conducted with the students at Evanston Township High School, and it has been a particularly joy to serve on her thesis committee. Congratulations to Laura, now Dr. Passin, who has a great book on poetry with her dissertation, and a great future ahead of her!

Congratulations also to Nathanaël, someone whose work and works in the world never fail to astonish me, who received a PEN American Center Translation Fund Grant, to support her translation of French writer Hervé Guibert's Mausoleum for Lovers. According to the site, this work is "a posthumous collection of the private journals that the well-known novelist and AIDS activist kept from 1976-1991—a series of literary snapshots of the author’s various objects of desire and mourning and already a classic of French autobiography," and will be published by Nightboat Books.  The PEN blog even features a snippet of Nathanaël's translation.  Congratulations again to Nathanaël, and it goes without saying that I am looking forward to her translation of this work and--I'll say more later--another work she has translated, which will appear this fall.

I've been waiting for the starter's gun to sound and permit me to announce the winner of the first Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, sponsored by the Northwestern University Poetry and Poetics Colloquium in conjunction with the Northwestern University Press, and she is Kristiana Rae Colón! As a member of the inaugural committee of judges, I can attest to how her book of poems, promised instruments, crackled with spirit and soul, and demonstrated how craft can transform one's life and imagination into powerful, memorable poetry. The press will also publish a companion chapbook, Closest Pronunciation, by poet Ed Roberson, who will be writing the introduction to Kristiana's début, and it too is full of poems which show a poet at the height of his girts rendering everyday experiences into artfully cadenced, pitched lyric. The 2013 chapbook guidelines are open, so if you qualify, please submit your work!

And finally, in the July 20, 2012 New York Daily News, the ever-amazing Kwame Dawes discusses the newly established African Poetry Book Series, an exciting, multi-dimensional program under the auspices of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s African Poetry Book Fund, that will include books to be published beginning in January 2014, and more, and which I have been fortunate to have been involved with since its conception. Some very exciting titles are in the works, and as things develop I'll announce them here, but many thanks to Kwame and to all the other poets, writers, sponsors, as well as Nebraska-Lincoln, for making this happen!

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