Contemporary Writers Series  


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2010 - 2011 Featured Writers

Anne-Marie Oomen Thursday, September 30, 2010
Mark Jarman Monday, November 1, 2010
Jack Ridl Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Diana Abu-Jaber Thursday, March 24, 2011
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all readings are at 7:30 p.m. and in the Wege Ballroom. All lunch talks are at 12:30 p.m. in the Grace Hauenstein Library.
Anne-Marie Oomen: September 30
Anne-Marie Oomen Anne-Marie Oomen is author of An American Map, a new collection of essays; two memoirs inspired by farm life, Pulling Down the Barn and House of Fields (both Michigan Notable Books from Wayne State University Press); as well as a collection of poetry, Uncoded Woman (Milkweed Editions).  She is also represented in two chapbooks of poetry, Seasons of the Sleeping Bear and Moniker (with Ray Nargis), and New Poems of the Third Coast: Contemporary Michigan Poetry.  She has written and produced several plays including the award-winning Northern Belles, as well as Wives of an American King. She edited Looking Over My Shoulder: Reflections on the Twentieth Century, an anthology of seniors’ essays funded by Michigan Humanities Council. She serves as instructor of creative writing at Interlochen Arts Academy where she is faculty editor for the Interlochen Review, and instructor for the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College, MA.  She and her husband, David Early, have built their own home in Empire, Michigan where they live with a large cat named Walt Whitman.
Mark Jarman: November 1
Mark Jarman Mark Jarman was born in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, and grew up in California and Scotland. He is a professor of English at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of eight additional books of poetry: North Sea (1978), The Rote Walker (1981), Far and Away (1985), The Black Riviera (1990), Iris (1992), Questions for Ecclesiastes (1997), Unholy Sonnets (2000), and To the Green Man (2004). Jarman's awards include a Joseph Henry Jackson Award for his poetry in 1974, three NEA grants in poetry in 1977, 1983, and 1992, and a fellowship in poetry from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for 1991-1992. His book The Black Riviera won the 1991 Poets' Prize. Questions for Ecclesiastes was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry and won the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets and The Nation magazine. (Published by Sarabande Books)
Jack Ridl: February 8
Jack Ridl Jack Ridl’s newest collection, Losing Season (September, 2009, CavanKerry Press), chronicles a year of hope and defeat on and off the basketball court in a small town. Ridl has been named one of the 100 most influential sports educators in America by the Institute for International Sport and he is the son of beloved Pitt Basketball Coach Buzz Ridl. A lifetime observing this world informs these poems.
Broken Symmetry was published in 2006 by Wayne State University Press and was selected by the Society of Midland Authors as the best book of poetry for 2006, an honor shared with poet Jeff Worley.
Ridl is the author of two other full-length collections, and three chapbooks, including Outside the Center Ring from Puddinghouse Publications, a collection of circus poems published in 2006, and Against Elegies, which was selected by Sharon Dolin and former Poet Laureate Billy Collins for the 2001 Chapbook Award from The Center for Book Arts in New York.
Ridl recently retired from teaching at Hope College after more than 37 years. Along with his wife, Julie, Ridl founded the college’s Visiting Writers Series. He is co-author with Peter Schakel of Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses, Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, and co-editor, with Peter Schakel, of both 250 Poems and Literature: A Portable Anthology, also from Beford/St. Martin’s. Their Approaching Literature in the 21st Century was published by Bedford/St. Martin’s in 2005. >>More about Jack Ridl
Diana Abu-Jaber: March 24
Diana Abu-Jaber Diana Abu-Jaber was born in Syracuse, New York to an American mother and a Jordanian father.   When she was seven, her family moved to Jordan for two years, and she has lived between the U.S. and Jordan ever since.  Life was a constant juggling act, acting Arab at home but American in the street. The struggle to make sense of this sort of hybrid life, or “in-betweenness,” permeates Abu-Jaber’s fiction. Her first novel, Arabian Jazz - considered by many to be the first mainstream Arab-American novel - won the 1994 Oregon Book award. Her second novel, Crescent (W.W. Norton 2003), which was inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello, is set in contemporary Los Angeles and focuses on a multi-cultural love story between an Iraqi exile and an Iraqi-American chef.  It won the PEN Center Award for Literary Fiction, the American Book Award and has been published in eight countries to date. Abu-Jaber speaks on Writing and Creativity; Multiculturalism and Identity; Women’s Writing; Food and Creativity; the Art of the Novel and the Memoir and related topics.
>>More About Diana Abu-Jaber