Creative Nonfiction Week, 2008
Welcome from the Co-Chairs
Welcome to Creative Nonfiction Week 2008, an annual collaboration between the English, Fiction Writing and Journalism departments at Columbia College Chicago. Our goal is to bring you a range of voices, familiar and new, renowned and emerging, all helping to define and redefine the genre of creative nonfiction.
Creative nonfiction comes in many forms: memoir, narrative journalism, travel writing, personal essay, descriptive storytelling, and more. What they all have in common is a basis in reality, from careful observation to honest emotional truth.
This year, we are pleased to bring you a variety of writers, storytellers and journalists who are exploring creative nonfiction in many media through writing, sound, performance and image. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.
All events are free and open to the public. Creative Nonfiction Week is co-sponsored by the departments of English, Fiction Writing, and Journalism.
Jump to the schedule for:
M 20 October || T 21 October || W 22 October || R 23 October
Abraham Bolden || Mark Harris || Julia Keller || Jonathan Kozol || Phillip Lopate
Speaker Bios || Panelist / Reader Bios
For more information:
Please contact Paula Payton
by phone: (312) 369-8101
or email: ppayton [at] colum.edu.
Tuesday/ October 21
1 PM Student Reading
English: Kristen Radtke and Araceli Arroyo
Fiction: Colt Foutz and Santiago Martinez
Journalism: Ebony Haynes and Carlos Ardila
Moderated by Jotham Burrello, Fiction Department
Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash
Wednesday, October 22
3 PM Panel Discussion
Panel: Blogging Election '08
panelists include: Monroe Anderson, Dan Johnson-Weinberger, Steve Rhodes, and Tony Trigilio Moderated by: Teresa Puente, Journalism Department
Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash
7 PM Mark Harris
Introduction by Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, Journalism Department
Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, 8th floor
Thursday, October 23
3 PM Faculty Reading
English: Jenny Boully
Fiction: Deb Lewis
Journalism: Beni Enas
Moderated by Kenneth Daley, Chair, English Department
Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash
5 PM South Loop Review Release Party & Reading
Celebration and Reading for South Loop Review, Vol. 10, the nonfiction journal published by the English Department.
Hokin Annex, 623 S. Wabash, 1st Floor
Abraham Bolden was the first African American to serve on the U.S. Secret Service, working for JFK's administration. As part of Kennedy's detail, he became aware that his fellow Secret Service agents didn't take their job seriously and were lax in their job of protecting the President. He said he often saw them drunk on the job. After the assassination, Bolden decided it was important to reveal what he had learned. The day before he planned to met with a Warren Commission lawyer to discuss these issues, he was arrested on trumped-up counterfeiting charges and sentenced to six years in prison. He eventually served four years on the charges. To this day, he continues to fight to clear his name.
His memoir of these events, The Echo from Dealey Plaza, just came out this past spring from Crown Publishing Group/Random House. It's a moving story of his efforts to fight a racist infrastructure in the Secret Service in the early-1960s (while Kennedy was simultaneously trying to integrate the White House labor force), and of his struggle to maintain his wits and spirit after being falsely convicted and while serving four years in prison.
The book has been described by Kirkus Reviews as "an astonishing tale of aborted justice." Publisher's Weekly writes that the book portrays a "world of duplicitous charges and disappearing documents" that are "fit for a movie thriller."
Bolden graduated cum laude from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, with a B.A. in music composition. He served in the U.S. Secret Service from 1960 to 1964. Bolden is retired and now lives in Chicago.
Mark Harris is a former environmental columnist with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. His articles and essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Reader’s Digest, E: The Environmental Magazine, Hope, and Vegetarian Times. His profile of a foster care community for Chicago Parent won a journalism award for feature writing. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Mark lives with his family in eastern Pennsylvania.
For Grave Matters, Mark has been interviewed by Fresh Air host Terry Gross and CNN. His views on green burial and funeral matters have also appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and People magazine, among others.
Whatever Happened to ‘Dust to Dust’? You Can Still Find It in Green Burial. By the time Nate Fisher was laid to rest in a woodland grave sans coffin in the final season of Six Feet Under, Americans all across the country were starting to look outside the box when death came calling.
Grave Matters follows a dozen such families who found in “green” burial a more natural, more economic and ultimately more meaningful alternative to the tired and toxic send-off on offer at the local funeral parlor.
Eschewing chemical embalming and fancy caskets, burial vaults and costly funerals, they have embraced a range of natural options, new and old, that are redefining a better American way of death. Environmental journalist Mark Harris examines this new green burial underground, leading you into natural cemeteries and domestic graveyards, taking you aboard boats from which ashes and memorial “reef balls” are cast into the sea. He follows a family that conducts a home funeral and delivers a loved one to the crematory, another that hires a carpenter to build a pine coffin.
In the morbidly fascinating tradition of Stiff, Grave Matters details the embalming process and the environmental aftermath of the standard funeral. Harris also traces the history of burial in America, from frontier cemeteries to the billion-dollar business it is today, reporting on real families who opted for more simple, natural return.
Julia Keller, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. Her book, “Mr. Gatling’s Terrible Marvel: The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It,” was recently published by Viking. Her novel for young adults, “Back,” will be published in the fall of 2009.
Keller was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and served as McGraw Professor of Writing at Princeton University. She earned a Ph.D. in English Literature at Ohio State University; her dissertation explored literary biographies of Virginia Woolf. She is an essayist for the PBS program “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.”
Jonathan Kozol is an educator and activist whose 1967 Death at an Early Age detailed his experiences as a first-year teacher in Boston Public Schools. Nearly 25 years later, Kozol’s revelations about East St. Louis Public Schools in Savage Inequalities earned him finalist honors for the 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award.
Kozol is one of America’s most tireless and influential advocates for public education. He is the one man who put the nation’s public schools on the national political agenda, and he fights tirelessly for the rights and needs of children.
Kozol's books have set the agenda for social change for three decades. His book Death at an Early Age has sold over two million copies, while Illiterate America made public the debate on adult illiteracy. In 1985, Kozol spent a year working in a homeless shelter, and his book Rachel and her Children gave voice to the people living in desperate poverty and to the tragic death of an 8-month-old child. His other books include Savage Inequalities, Amazing Grace, and Ordinary Resurrections, which deals with one of the South Bronx's most dismal neighborhoods, Mott Haven, whose residents struggle with poverty, imprisoned fathers, asthma and AIDS.
In A New War on Poverty: Jonathan Kozol on Equality and Opportunity in America, Kozol asks the following questions: In a nation of such abundance, why do so many children go without a decent education? What are the true costs of childhood poverty, and why does the American political system seem incapable of addressing them?
Kozol is one of the few people who have worked tirelessly to keep these questions before the public. His talks are a searing expose of the tragedy of childhood poverty and sub-standard education. Audiences will leave the room with a deeper understanding of the challenges America faces, and practical solutions for meeting them.
Phillip Lopate Widely considered one of the foremost American essayists and a central figure in the recent revival of interest in memoir writing, Phillip Lopate is best known for his supple and surprising essays, which have been collected most recently in Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003). Lopate is the author of three essay collections, Bachelorhood (Little, Brown & Co., 1981), Against Joie de Vivre (Simon & Schuster, 1989), and Portrait of My Body (Doubleday-Anchor, 1996). He has also published two novels, Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1979) and The Rug Merchant (Viking, 1987); two poetry collections, The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open (Sun Press, 1972) and The Daily Round (Sun Press, 1976); and a memoir of his teaching experiences, Being With Children (Doubleday, 1975). He has also edited the anthologies The Art of the Personal Essay, Writing New York (The Library of America, 1998), Journal of a Living Experiment (Teachers & Writers Press, 1979), and a series collecting the best essays of the year, The Anchor Essay Annual (Anchor, 1997-9). Lopate’s work has been included in The Best American Essays and The Pushcart Prize series. His most recent book of nonfiction prose is the urbanistic meditation Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan, of which Conde-Nast Traveler wrote, “The celebrated essayist takes a tour of the city’s ever-changing perimeter, sharing his knowledge of New York’s history, mythology, and plans for the future. Poring over his informed, readable prose is like taking a stroll with a favorite professor: he is opinionated, casual, and erudite in equal measure.”
Also a film critic, Lopate has written about movies for The New York Times, Vogue, Esquire, Film Comment, Film Quarterly, Cinemabook, Tikkun, American Film, and the anthology The Movie That Changed My Life, among others. A volume of his selected movie criticism, Totally Tenderly Tragically, was published by Doubleday-Anchor in 1998. His most recent anthology is American Movie Criticism: From the Silent Era to the Present (The Library of America, 2006). His writings about architecture and urbanism have appeared in Metropolis, The New York Times, Double Take, Preservation, Cite and 7 Days, where he wrote a bimonthly architectural column. He was also a recipient of a Revson Fellowship in Urban Studies at Columbia, and served as a committee-member for the Municipal Art Society and as a consultant for Ric Burns' PBS documentary on the history of New York City. He has written on travel for the New York Times Sophisticated Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, European Travel and Life, Sidestreets of the World, and American Airlines Magazine.
Lopate’s many awards include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He also received a Christopher medal for Being With Children, the Texas Institute of Letters award for best non-fiction book of the year (Bachelorhood), and was a finalist for the PEN Diamondston-Spielvogel Award for best essay book of the year (Portrait of My Body). His anthology Writing New York received an honorable mention from the Municipal Art Society's Brendan Gill Award, and a citation from the New York Society Library.
Phillip Lopate was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, and received a bachelor's degree at Columbia in 1964, and a doctorate at Union Graduate School in 1979. He currently holds the Adams Chair at Hofstra University, where he is a Professor of English.
Cyber Columnist Monroe Anderson is a veteran Chicago journalist. A published author, he has worked for magazines, newspapers, television and posts his own political blog. A regular contributor to ebonyjet.com., Anderson is a member of the Trotter Group, a collective of African American columnists representing publications coast-to-coast and of the AfroSpear, a collective of black bloggers. He has been a freelance op-ed page columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. Anderson was previously the editor of Savoy Magazine and before that he was the editor of N'DIGO, a Chicago weekly publication that has the nation's largest African-American newspaper circulation. Anderson, the former host of Common Ground at CBS2 Chicago, took over the helm of N’DIGO in March of 2004. Anderson also worked at WBBM-TV in various roles and was the executive producer and host of the public affairs television talk show, Common Ground. Read his blog at http://monroeanderson.typepad.com.
Carlos Ardila, was born in Colombia in 1983, he has lived in the United States for the last six years. He is currently a senior at the Journalism Department and aspires to later pursue a Master’s in Public Development or International Relations. He has in the past two years written about immigration and social issues. As a native Spanish speaker, he can write in both languages, a skill which has given him a unique window into stories that would otherwise be difficult to report. A good example is his Senior Seminar Honors project which focused on personal profiles of employees and patrons of a Guatemalan bakery. These are the kind of stories that expose human happiness, hopes and anguish that revolve around the immigration issue everyday. His hope with this project was to provide a small glimpse into the people directly impacted by a contentious issue like immigration. Carlos hopes to present a more human point of view and make people understand that they are just like everyone else. His highest goal as a journalist is to to make a positive impact and inform the public.
Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, a full-time faculty member in the Journalism Department, came to Columbia College six years ago after 13 years as a magazine editor. She and Mark Harris worked together on stories for Vegetarian Times magazine and Chicago Parent magazine. Sharon currently advises the award-winning Echo magazine and teaches magazine writing and editing, travel-writing and interviewing classes. (She will be taking students to Honduras during J-term 2009.) Sharon continues to write for numerous publications, including Chicago magazine, the Chicago Tribune Magazine and Tempo section (RIP), the Sun-Times travel section, Chicago Journal and Magazine Matter, the publication of the magazine division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).
Jenny Boully is the author of The Book of Beginnings and Endings (Sarabande, 2007), [one love affair]* (Tarpaulin Sky Books, 2006), The Body: An Essay (Essay Press, 2007 and Slope Editions, 2002), and the chapbook Moveable Types (Noemi Press, 2007). Her work has been anthologized in The Next American Essay, The Best American Poetry, Language for a New Century, and Great American Prose Poems. She is a Ph.D candidate at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and holds previous graduate degrees in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame and Hollins University. Born in Thailand and reared in Texas, she joined the faculty at Columbia College Chicago in Fall 2008.
Jotham Burrello teaches in the Fiction Writing Department where he directs the Publishing Lab. He currently manages the multimedia company Elephant Rock Productions and is completing a historical novel set in early 20th Century New England. His writing has appeared in Oyez Review, Sudden Stories, Pennsylvania English, No Touching, Christian Science Monitor and elsewhere.
This is Beni Enas' second year as a full-time faculty member in the Journalism Department. Prior to arriving at Columbia she lived in Los Angeles and working as a Producer for Channel One News, a station that airs a daily newscast in 12-thousand high schools and middle schools around the country. She's worked at WLS ABC 7 in Chicago as well as CNN in Atlanta. She began her career as a reporter and producer at Cablevision's News 12 Long Island. She is the mother of two and in addition to teaching full time she is currently working on getting her master's in Education from North Central College in Naperville.
Dr. Kenneth Daley received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1993. A teacher of literature, poetry, literary theory, composition and rhetoric at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, he was the recipient of the 1999 Outstanding Teaching Award from Ohio University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Daley is a scholar of nineteenth century British literature and his recent publications include his 2001 book, The Rescue of Romanticism: Walter Pater and John Ruskin, as well as a number of scholarly articles, encyclopedia entries, and papers delivered at conferences in Canada, England, and the United States.
Colt Foutz is the author of Building the Green Machine, which tells the story of Chicago's musical dynasty, the Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps. The book was published in 2008 by Savas Beatie LLC. In six years as a journalist in Ohio and the Chicago suburbs, Foutz's newspaper writing earned national and statewide honors. His essays have been featured on Chicago Public Radio and in Chicago Parent magazine, the Youngstown Vindicator and Drum Corps Planet, among others. He is a recipient of Follett and Getz fellowships in the MFA/MA fiction writing/teaching writing program at Columbia College Chicago. He lives in Bolingbrook with his wife and sons.
Deborah H. Holdstein, PhD, is Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of English at Columbia College Chicago. Dr. Holdstein has published widely in such areas as film, literary studies, and rhetoric and composition; until December, 2009, she continues her term as Editor of the premier journal in rhetoric and composition, College Composition and Communication. As Editor, she is also an Officer of the international organization, the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Before her arrival at Columbia, Holdstein served as a member of the graduate faculty at Northern Illinois University, where she was Chair of the PhD-granting Department of English. For twenty years, Holdstein taught and advised graduate and undergraduate students at Governors State University, where she also led the program in English, chaired the Graduate Council, and served as Faculty Associate for Graduate Studies and Research in the Office of the Provost. From 1997-2000, she also led GSU's university-wide North Central Association re-accreditation effort. Dr. Holdstein's books include On Composition and Computers; Rhetorical Choices (with Charles Schuster and Keith Gilyard); The Prentice-Hall Anthology of Women Writers; and her most recent volume, Judaic Perspectives in Rhetoric and Composition (edited with Andrea Greenbaum). Deborah Holdstein also serves as a consultant to colleges and universities (and directs the Consultant-Evaluator Program of the Council of Writing Program Administrators), and is a regular speaker at major scholarly conferences. Holdstein received the B.A. from Northwestern University (English and French) and the A.M. and PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Comparative Literary Studies).
Dan Johnson-Weinberger is the president of Progressive Public Affairs. He has led advocacy marketing campaigns for mission-based organizations, agencies and political candidates for years. He is a licensed attorney, lobbyist, blogger and loves big ideas. Read his blog at http://djwinfo.blogspot.com.
David Lazar's books include The Body of Brooklyn (Iowa), Michael Powell: Interviews (Mississippi), Conversations with M.F.K. Fisher (Mississippi) and a forthcoming anthology, Truth in Nonfiction (Iowa), and book of prose poems, Powder Town (Pecan Grove). His essays and prose poem have appeared in The Southwest Review, The Ohio Review, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Arts & Letters, Best of the Prose Poem, Sentence, Denver Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review, and other journals and magazines. Four of his essays have been named Notable Essays of the Year by Best American Essays. Before coming to Columbia, where he is coordinating the creation of a nonfiction concentration, he taught for sixteen years at Ohio University, where he created one of five doctoral programs in the country in creative nonfiction.
Deb R. Lewis has earned a B.A. in English Rhetoric from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Her novel, These Mundane Freaks, recently made top-25 semi-finalist in the Project: Queer Lit competition (excerpts appear in past issues of Blithe House Quarterly, Velvet Mafia.com, and Hair Trigger.) Her novella, Asylum 9-1-1, was a semi-finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition and "Waiting at One End of Time" made top-ten finalist in the Many Mountains Moving Flash Fiction Contest. She has additional stories published or forthcoming in many journals, including: OutsiderInk.com (Artist Spotlight), Zahir: Unforgettable Tales, The2ndHand.com, Gertrude, Pigeon, Sleepwalk, Mobius, Dyversity (UK), International Drummer, and Bad Attitude. Her poetry, articles, and essays appeared in The Windy City Times Pride Literary Supplement, PoeticVoices.com, Little America, Word Volleys, Sandmutopia Guardian, and the Third Side Press anthology, The Woman-Centered Economy: Ideals, Reality, and the Space Between. Deb is currently working on her second novel and a number of short stories. She is a Certified Story Workshop Director and a former Artist-in-Residence at Columbia College. For additional information and updates, see: www.DebRLewis.com.
With more than 18 years of journalism experience, Teresa Puente has worked as a full-time reporter for the Chicago Tribune, The Orange County (Calif.) Register, the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram and Hispanic Link News Service in Washington, D.C. She has written extensively on the topics of immigration and urban affairs. Her freelance work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Houston Chronicle, USA Today and Hispanic magazine. In 2000, she received the Studs Terkel Award for her coverage of Chicago’s diverse communities from the Community Media Workshop. Puente has been a member of the journalism faculty at Columbia College Chicago since the fall of 2006. She previously taught journalism and writing at one of Mexico’s top private universities, the Tecnologico de Monterrey, Campus Guadalajara. She currently is an Editorial Board writer and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Puente has an undergraduate degree from Indiana University-Bloomington where she studied journalism and political science. She has an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
Steve Rhodes is publisher and editor of The Beachwood Reporter and a 20-year newspaper and magazine veteran whose work includes the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek and Chicago Magazine. Read his blog at http://beachwoodreporter.com.
Kristen Radtke is a senior creative nonfiction and magazine journalism student at Columbia College Chicago. She has been published in the Chicago Sun-Times, Language Travel Magazine, numerous newspapers throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, and served as editor at Echo magazine. She plans to attend graduate school for creative writing next fall.
Tony Trigilio is the Director of Creative Writing - Poetry and is the Associate Chairperson of the English Department. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Northeastern University in Boston. He is the author of the poetry collection, The Lama's English Lessons (Three Candles Press, 2006); the chapbooks, With the Memory, Which is Enormous (Main Street Rag Press; forthcoming, 2009) and Make a Joke and I Will Sigh and You Will Laugh and I Will Cry (e-chap, Scantily Clad Press, 2008); and two books of criticism, Allen Ginsberg's Buddhist Poetics (Southern Illinois University Press, 2007) and "Strange Prophecies Anew": Rereading Apocalypse in Blake, H.D., and Ginsberg (Fairleigh, Dickinson University Press, 2000). He also is co-editor, with Tim Prchal, of the anthology Visions and Divisions: American Immigration Literature, 1870-1930 (Rutgers University Press, 2008). Tony's poems have been anthologized in The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century (Cracked Slab, 2006); Digerati: 20 Contemporary Poets in the Virtual World (Three Candles, 2006); America Zen (Bottom Dog Press, 2004), and A Gathering of Poets, a volume commemorating the students killed at Kent State University and Jackson State University (Kent State University Press). Tony also co-edits, with Lisa Fishman, Arielle Greenberg and David Trinidad, the poetry journal Court Green. Read his blog at http://shimmykat.blogspot.com.
Sam Weller is the author of the highly acclaimed book, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury (William Morrow), winner of the 2005 Society of Midland Authors Award for Best Biography. Weller is the former Midwest correspondent for Publishers Weekly magazine and is a frequent literary critic for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and Playboy.com. He is a contributor to Stop Smiling magazine and the WBEZ radio program Eight-Forty-Eight. He was a host for the WBEZ program Hello Beautiful! As a staff writer for the Chicago alt. weekly NewCity, Weller received the Peter Lisagor Award for arts criticism. His essays have appeared on the National Public Radio program, All Things Considered, as well as in the literary journals Post Road, Annalemma, and other publications. His short fiction has appeared in Spec-Lit, Tales from the Dim Unknown, and the recently published anthology Who Can Save Us Now? (Free Press). Weller is currently at work on a creative nonfiction historical mystery, as well as a short story collection. Weller is a member of the full-time faculty in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago..