April 11, 2005
Living Writers series brings guest authors/poets
into UCSC classes
Each quarter, the Humanities Divisions Living Writers
Series brings eight to 10 visiting authors and poets into UCSC
classes to give students an in-depth look into the world of
the working writer.
Photo: Scott Rappaport
Sponsored by the campuss Institute for Humanities Research
and the Porter College Hitchcock Poetry Fund, the series is
coordinated by associate professors of literature Micah Perks
and Karen Yamashita, codirectors of the UCSC Creative Writing
Our primary goal is to bring in people whose work we
think will reach the students and broaden their horizons,
We really try to bring a large variety of writerspeople
just starting out, those who have been around a long time, older
people, younger peopleto give students a sense of whats
possible in the writing life and how the choices they make will
affect their lives and work.
The spring 2005 schedule will include guests such as Vietnamese
American writer Linh Dinh, novelist Stephen Elliott, and poet
Elizabeth Willis. It will also feature visits by Patricia Wakida,
an editor at Heyday Press in Berkeley, and Larry Siems, director
of the Freedom to Write international program of
the PEN American Center in New York City.
I wanted to bring Larry in because I think hes
an ideal person to talk about censorship issues and how writing
can be dangerous, Yamashita noted. I always want
students to think about the integrity of their work and the
consequences of their writing. And were bringing in Patricia
especially for students in the Senior Fiction Project--to give
them an idea of what its like to be an editor in the publishing
industry and to point them in other directions related to writing.
Yamashita added that one of the benefits of the Living Writers
Series is to help create a network in the publishing industry
and to facilitate contacts for internships.
Another guest this quarter will be Susan McCloskey, one
of our very talented former students who is now the buyer for
fiction at Bookshop Santa Cruz, Yamashita said. Shell
talk about what its like to work in a bookshopthe
process, the ins and outs of promotion, how she selects books.
Were trying to show students theres a world out
there that they might not be aware of; its a way of informing
them about possibilities.
Both Perks and Yamashita are themselves highly accomplished
writers. Perkss first published short story, in Epoch
magazine, was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize.
She has written a memoir, Pagan Time: An American Childhood
(2001); a novel of historic fiction, We Are Gathered Here
(1996); as well as a variety of short stories that have appeared
in numerous anthologies and literary magazines.
Yamashita is the author of Through the Arc of the Rain Forest
(1990), which received the American Book Award, and Brazil-Maru,
named by the Village Voice as one of the 25 best books of 1992.
Her third novel, Tropic of Orange (1997), was a finalist
for the Paterson Fiction Prize, and she followed that with Circle
K Cycles (2001), a book based on her research on the Brazilian
community in Japan.
Perks said that the Living Writers Series has particularly
struck a chord with advanced students in the Creative Writing
The students benefit by learning how real working writers
live, rather than the 10 percent who actually make a living
from creative writing every year, she observed.
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