May we have a quiet word? While we can’t wait for the big sights and big sounds of the Eaux Claires festival, we’re equally thrilled that this year’s gathering will include beautifully crafted literature in a beautifully crafted space. Throughout the festival six accomplished writers of diverse background, genre, and experience (Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Kao Kalia Yang, Joe Horton, Frank Bures, Alissa Nutting, and Dean Bakopoulos—see bios below) will speak their words for an audience of you.
Hosted riverside in the lightHouse these readings will serve as an intimate (audience limit 2-4; performance lasts 3-5 minutes) shelter from the crowd and the loud, the thump and the thousands—where words pass eye to eye and heart to heart. The crowds can wait.
Coming to Eaux Claires with words just for you:
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
The Glory. The Gospel. The Red Clay. The Blues. She lifts her voice. She sings. She poems. She calls in need of response. She offers in hopes of “woman, well-done.”
Honorée Fanonne is the author of four books of poetry, most recently, The Glory Gets (2015). Her current, in-progress book project, The Age of Phillis, imagines the life and times of the Revolutionary-era poet Phillis Wheatley, a former slave who was the first woman of African descent to publish a book. For the extensive research for this project, Professor Jeffers traveled to Senegal, West Africa, the United Kingdom, and New England. She has won fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Witter Bynner Foundation through the Library of Congress. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. A prose writer as well, Professor Jeffers is at work on her first novel; she is the recipient of the Tennessee Williams’ Scholarship in Fiction from the Sewanee Writers Conference and the Goodheart Prize for Fiction from Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee Review. She blogs on her online site Phillis Remastered, and her essays and stories have appeared in Black Renaissance Noire, Callaloo, Common-Place: the Interactive Journal of Early American Life, Indiana Review, JENda: A Journal of Cultural and African Studies, The Kenyon Review, The Kenyon Review Online, New England Review, StoryQuarterly, and Virginia Quarterly Review. A native southerner, she has lived on the prairie since 2002, where she is Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.
List of Publications
The Glory Gets (Wesleyan University Press, 2015)
Red Clay Suite (Southern Illinois University Press, 2007)
Outlandish Blues (Wesleyan University Press, 2003)
The Gospel of Barbecue (Kent State University Press, 2000)
Kao Kalia Yang
She asked the librarian, her voice a whisper, “Are there books about people like me, like my mom and my dad?”
The librarian handed the girl books about the Chinese, the Japanese, the Vietnamese…
Her hands full of books about other girls with black hair and brown eyes, the Hmong girl said, “One day, a little girl will be able to come to the bookshelves of a bigger world and find a book about the people she loves, the people who love her.”
Kao Kalia Yang was born on the eve of a new year in Ban Vinai Refugee camp in Loei, Thailand. Deprived of the celebrations, tens of thousands of Hmong waited in the dust for a future faraway. For Kalia, that future began on July 27, 1987 when her family immigrated to St. Paul, Minnesota, as remnants of America’s Secret War in Laos, a war that decimated two-thirds of her population.
Kalia grew up in the McDonough Housing Project, in a government-subsidized house haunted by the spirit of a dead boy, and a 900 square feet home with 2.5 bedrooms built in 1895. Kalia and her siblings had the privilege of their father’s poetry to shield them from the poverty of their lives. Her mother’s fortitude gave Kalia the courage to pursue degrees from Carleton College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts where she went as Deans Fellow and with funding from the Soros Fellowship for New Americans.
Kalia is the author of the award-winning The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, the first Hmong-authored book to gain national distribution from a literary press, the only book to have ever garnered two Minnesota Book Awards, and the bestselling book in Coffee House Press history. Her new book, The Song Poet, is the first Hmong book to come forth from a national publisher, to be represented by a literary agent, and fortifies Kalia’s literary voice, not only for her people, but for all those who’ve known displacement, war, hunger, and the power of hope in humanity.
Fleshed entropy channeling Black Dada Nihilusmus and the whole line of ancestral odes to the great river. Once word-septic. Cleansed by the irrational. Working to free every light dulled by order.
Best known for his work with experimental rap acts No Bird Sing and Mixed Blood Majority, emcee Joe Horton has gained an international following for his powerful live performances and stark, abstract writing style. In recent years, Horton has applied his distinctive artistic voice to essays, poetry, videos, and vocal improvisation. Horton was profiled in MPLS/STP Magazine as a part of the Young Poet’s Society and is a co-founder of F I X, a rap crew consisting of himself, Kill the Vultures, and Kristoff Krane.
The world is stories, a flow of tongues, the writer not a guide but guided.
Frank Bures is the author of The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death and the Search for the Meaning of the World’s Strangest Syndromes, His work has been included in the Best American Travel Writing, and selected as “Notable” in the Best American Essays and Best American Sports Writing.
More at frankbures.com
Alissa Nutting and Dean Bakopoulos
Two voices, cross-scripted, line by line by life.
Alissa Nutting is author of the short story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, selected by judge Ben Marcus as winner of the 6th Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, and the novel, Tampa, (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2013), which has been optioned for film by HBO. A new novel is forthcoming from Ecco in early 2017. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, Fence, BOMB, Elle, The New York Times, Conduit, and O: The Oprah Magazine, as well as the fairy tale anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. She holds and MFA from the University of Alabama, and a PhD from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She teaches at Grinnell College in Iowa.
Dean Bakopoulos’ first novel, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book; his second novel, My American Unhappiness was named one of the year’s best novels by The Chicago Tribune, and his latest novel, Summerlong was published to critical acclaim and made the independent bookstore bestseller list. His fiction and essays have appeared in many publications including Zoetrope, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, Real Simple, and the New York Times, and his screenplay adaptation of Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon will soon be released as a film starring James Franco and Rashida Jones. The winner of Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, Bakopoulos teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program and is writer-in-residence at Grinnell College in Iowa.