Thursday, March 08, 2007

Amazing And Free

Via Becky Benedict's Writerzbuzz

Giving Voice: The Art of Memoir
Trinity College Hosts Three-Day Symposium

What: On March 29-31, 2007, a dozen prominent authors of
memoir will gather at Trinity College to discuss the art, craft, and
implications of their chosen genre and to give readings from their
groundbreaking and sometimes best-selling work.

Panelists include A. Manette Ansay, whose book
Vinegar Hill was selected for Oprah's Book Club; Rand Richards Cooper,
whose short story, "Johnny Hamburger," is included in Best American
Short Stories 2003; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author
Madeleine Blais; award-winning author Scott Russell Sanders, whose
most recent book is A Private History of Awe; Croatian-born Josip
Novakovic, whose textbook Fiction Writer's Workshop was a Book of the
Month Club selection; Connecticut author Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, who
wrote Girls of Tender Age; and Leila Philip, who recently published
the award-winning memoir, A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three
Centuries, Five Wars, One Family. Keynote speaker Francine du Plessix
Gray, a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, is the author of Them,
winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for Memoir and

Memoir, we are constantly being told, is the
new fiction. In fact, the art of shaping one's life into literature
is at least as old as St. Augustine 's Confessions, written around 400
A.D. "Giving Voice" will explore the project of memoir in its many
permutations—as cultural history, as family chronicle, as a mode of
self-discovery, as a search for truth.

All events on the schedule are free and open
to the public, but registration is required for entrance to panel
discussions. For detailed information and to register, please visit or call (860) 297-2466.

Authors will be available to sign books.

When: Thursday, March 29, 2007, to Sunday, March 31, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

4:00 p.m.
Introduction by Lucy Ferriss
Welcome by Trinity College President James Jones
Plenary session

5:30-6:30 p.m.
Concurrent panel discussions:

Room One: Time Recaptured: Memoir and History
Francine du Plessix Gray
Josip Novakovich
Sheila Fisher

Room Two: Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Memoir and Identity
Madeleine Blais
Leila Philip
Dana Brand

6:30 p.m.
Dinner on your own

8:00 p.m.
Keynote address: Francine du Plessix Gray

Friday, March 30, 2007

10:30 – 12:00 p.m.
Concurrent panel discussions:

Room One: The Long Road Home: Memoir and Place
Josip Novakovich
Clare Rossini
Rand Richards Cooper

Room Two: Truthiness: Memoir and the Facts, Ma'am
Mary-Ann Tirone Smith
Madeleine Blais
Irene Papoulis

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Noon readings, bring your lunch:
Deborah Digges
Karen McElmurray
Rand Richards Cooper

2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Concurrent panel discussions:

Room One: "The Scribe of the Soul": Memoir as Meditation
A. Manette Ansay
Karen McElmurray
Debra Dickerson

Room Two: Me, You, and Everyone We Know: Memoir and Family
Bret Lott
Deborah Digges
Lucy Ferriss

3:30 – 4:00 p.m.

4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Scott Russell Sanders: Honoring the Ordinary

5:30 – 6:00 p.m.
Dinner on your own

8:00 p.m.
Evening readings:
Josip Novakovich
Leila Philip
Debra Dickerson

Saturday, March 31, 2007

10:00 – 12:00 p.m.
Master classes led by:
Deborah Digges
Bret Lott
Karen McElmurray
Josip Novakovich
Leila Philip

12:00 p.m.
Noon readings; bring your own lunch:
A. Manette Ansay
Bret Lott

1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Goodwin Branch, Hartford Public Library
Master Class: Mary-Ann Tirone Smith

For more details on master classes, please visit

Where: The Trinity College campus

Background: Biographies of participating authors:

A. Manette Ansay
A. Manette Ansay was born in Lapeer , Michigan
, in 1964, and grew up in Port Washington , Wisconsin , among 67
cousins and over 200 second cousins. She started writing as a New
Year's resolution on January 1, 1988, after developing a muscle
disorder which made it necessary for her to find a career she could
manage sitting down.

Her first novel, Vinegar Hill, was published
in 1994, followed by a story collection, Read This and Tell Me What it
Says, in 1995. She has since published three more novels: Sister
(1996), River Angel (1998), and Midnight Champagne (1999), which was a
finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She's been
awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Friends of American Writers Prize, and two
Great Lakes Book Awards, among others. Vinegar Hill was chosen by
Oprah Winfrey as her November 1999 Book Club Selection. Ansay's
memoir, Limbo, was published in 2001.

Currently she teaches in the MFA program at
the University of Miami in Coral Gables , where she is associate
professor of English.

Madeleine Blais
Madeleine Blais is the author of The Heart Is
An Instrument, a collection of journalistic pieces; In These Girls,
Hope Is A Muscle, a finalist in the category of general nonfiction by
the National book Critics' Circle; and Uphill Walkers: Portrait of a
Family, selected by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
for its national book award in 2002 and was also chosen as
Massachusetts Book of the Year. She began her career in journalism and
worked at several newspapers, including at Tropic Magazine of the
Miami Herald where she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in feature
writing. She has taught a variety of writing courses at the University
of Massachusetts since she started there in 1987, including diaries,
memoirs, and journals, the subject of her new book, The Truest
Sentence. She serves on the editorial board of two leading nonfiction
literary journals, River Teeth and Points of Entry, and she is also on
the advisory board for the masters program in creative nonfiction at
Goucher College .

Dana Brand
Dana Brand is a professor of English and
American literature at Hofstra Univ ersity. He is the author of The
Spectator and the City in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (
Cambridge , 1991) and numerous articles on 19th and 20th-century
American literature and film. He is currently at work on a collection
of personal essays entitled The Middle of My Life and he has completed
a volume of essays entitled Mets Fan, soon to be published by
McFarland, about his 45 years as a fan of the New York Mets. His Web
site is and the associated blog is

Rand Richards Cooper
Rand Richards Cooper grew up in New London ,
CT , and graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College . He is the
author of a novel, The Last to Go (Harcourt Brace), and a story
collection, Big As Life (The Dial Press). His fiction has appeared in
Harper's, The Atlantic, Esquire, and many other magazines, as well as
in the Selected Shorts series on NPR; his short story, "Johnny
Hamburger," is included in Best American Short Stories 2003 (Houghton
Mifflin). The Last to Go was produced for television by ABC. Cooper
has been writer in residence at Amherst and Emerson colleges.

A frequent contributor to the New York Times
Book Review, Cooper serves as a film critic for Commonweal and a
contributing editor for Bon Appétit, where his features have been
included in Best American Food Writing. His 1997 Commonweal essay on
assisted suicide won a citation from the Catholic Journalists of
America, and his cover story on "The Great Profs of Connecticut" for
Northeast Magazine was awarded first prize by the Education Writers
Association of America. Cooper is also the recipient of a 2002 Lowell
Thomas Gold Medal Award from the American Society of Travel Writers
and the recipient of a fellowship in fiction from the Connecticut
Commission for the Arts, he lives in Hartford , CT.

Debra Dickerson
Debra Dickerson was born in St. Louis , MO.
After dropping out of college, she enlisted in the United States Air
Force in 1980 and went on to become a Korean linguist and eventually
chief of intelligence at Ankara Air Station as the Persian Gulf War
began. She attended Harvard Law School in the 1990s, and began her
writing career with an essay in the New Republic in 1996, which was
included in Best American Essays. Since then she has written for the
Washington Post, the New York Times, Slate, and many other
publications. She is the author of the memoir An American Story and
the nonfiction book The End of Blackness.

Deborah Digges
Deborah Digges was born and raised in Missouri
. She is the author of three books of poems. Her first book, Vesper
Sparrows, won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize from New York
University . Late in the Millennium was published in 1989, and Rough
Music, which won the Kingsley Tufts Prize, was published in 1995.
Digges has written two memoirs, Fugitive Spring (1991) and The
Stardust Lounge (2001). She has received grants from the John Simon
Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the
Ingram Merrill Foundation. Digges lives in Massachusetts , where she
is a professor of English at Tufts University .

Lucy Ferriss
Lucy Ferriss is the author of eight books,
most recently the memoir Unveiling the Prophet: The Misadventures of a
Reluctant Debutante (U. Missouri, 2005) and Nerves of the Heart, a
novel (U. Tennessee, 2002). Her collection Leaving the Neighborhood
and Other Stories was the 2000 winner of the Mid-List First Series
Award. Other short fiction and essays have appeared most recently in
Missouri Review, Shenandoah , Michigan Quarterly Review, and Georgia
Review, and have received recognition from the National Endowment for
the Arts, the Faulkner Society, the Fulbright Commission, and the
George Bennett Fund, among others. She received her Ph.D. from Tufts
University and currently lives in Connecticut , where she is writer in
residence at Trinity College .

Sheila Fisher
Sheila Fisher received her B.A. summa cum
laude with highest honors in English from Smith College , where she
majored in English and Latin, and her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from
Yale University . She joined the English Department at Trinity in
1984, and she is currently chair of the department. As a medievalist
who specializes in Chaucer, late 14th-century English literature, and
medieval women writers, Sheila has published a book on Chaucer and
articles on the Gawain-poet and medieval romance, as well as
co-editing a volume of feminist contextual essays on medieval and
renaissance writings. She is currently at work on a poetic
translation of the greatest hits of The Canterbury Tales.

Francine du Plessix Gray (Keynote Speaker)
Francine du Plessix Gray has chronicled the
lives of Simone Weil, Marquis de Sade, and several exotic others, but
prior to Them, Winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award
for Memoir and Autobiography, she had never before written extensively
about two extraordinary people she knew quite well: her own parents.
Her mother, Tatiana du Plessix, was a gorgeous, sophisticated White
Russian fashion icon who had been linked romantically to famed poet
Vladimir Mayakovsky. Alexander Liberman, Gray's stepfather, was a
gifted magazine editor and artist who eventually presided over the
entire Condé Nast empire. Both had been married before they began
their passionate affair, Tatiana to a prominent French diplomat. After
Hitler seized Paris , they fled to America with young Francine. Them
presents both Alexander and Tatiana as brilliant and bold but also as
neurotic, narcissistic, and ruthlessly ambitious. The author refuses
to airbrush her parental portraits, but her insights about them are
gently reflective, even forgiving. A much-acclaimed biographer, Gray
is also a frequent contributor to The New Yorker.

Bret Lott
Bret Lott is the author of the novels The Man
Who Owned Vermont, A Stranger's House, Jewel, Reed's Beach, and The
Hunt Club; the story collection A Dream of Old Leaves; and the memoir
Fathers, Sons and Brothers. Originally from Los Angeles , Lott
attended the University of Massachusetts , Amherst , where he studied
writing under the late James Baldwin and taught at Ohio State
University and the College of Charleston before taking over the
editorship of the venerable Southern Review. He is also on the faculty
of the MFA Program in Writing at Vermont College .

Karen McElmurray
Karen McElmurray earned her B.A. at Berea
College , an M.F.A. at the University of Virginia , and the Ph.D. at
the University of Georgia . She has taught at the latter two
institutions and several others, including Georgia State University ,
where she is now assistant professor of English. Her short fiction has
been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and published in The Kenyon
Review, The Alaska Quarterly Review, and other journals. Her books are
Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven (a novel) and Surrendered Child: A
Birth Mother's Journey (a memoir of the relinquishment of her son to
state-supported adoption in Kentucky in 1973), which won the
Associated Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction.

Josip Novakovich
Croatian-born Josip Novakovich moved to the
United States at the age of 20. He has published a novel, April Fool's
Day (HarperCollins); three story collections, Infidelities: Stories of
War and Lust, Yolk, and Salvation and Other Disasters; two collections
of autobiographical essays, Plum Brandy: Croatian Journeys and
Apricots from Chernobyl; and was anthologized in Best American Poetry,
Pushcart Prize, and O.Henry Prize Stories. His textbook, Fiction
Writer's Workshop, was a Book of the Month Club selection. His work
has been published in translation in a dozen countries, including
Russia , Switzerland , Turkey , and Italy . He received the Whiting
Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for
the Arts Fellowships, the Ingram Merrill Award, and an American Book
Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and he has been a writing
fellow of the New York City Public Library. His work has appeared in
many journals, including Paris Review, Threepenny Review, the New York
Times Magazine, and European Magazine. He teaches in the MFA program
at Penn State University .

Irene Papoulis
Irene Papoulis is a senior lecturer in the A.K. Smith Center for
Writing and Rhetoric at Trinity. She teaches creative nonfiction

Leila Philip
Leila Philip is the author of The Road Through
Miyama (Random House 1989, Vintage 1991, 1992), for which she received
the Martha Albrand Citation for Nonfiction in 1990; Hidden Dialogue; A
Discussion Between Women in Japan and the United States (Japan Society
Public Affairs Publishing Program 1993); and her most recent book, the
award-winning memoir, A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three
Centuries, Five Wars, One Family (Viking 2001, Penguin 2002). Her
writing has been recognized by numerous awards including fellowships
from The National Foundation for the Arts, The National Endowment for
the Humanities, The Radcliffe Research and Study Center , The American
Association of University Women, the Deming Memorial Fund and the
Furthermore Foundation. She has been the James Thurber Writer in
Residence at the Ohio State University and a Granville Hicks endowed
resident at Yaddo.

Clare Rossini
Clare Rossini has published three collections
of poems: Lingo (University of Akron, 2006); Winter Morning with Crow
(University of Akron, 1997), which was selected by Donald Justice for
the 1996 Akron Poetry Prize, then was a finalist for a Small Press
Book Award and for PEN's 1999 Joyce Osterweil Award; and Selections
from the Claudia Poems (Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, 1996).
Rossini's poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The
Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, The Georgia Review, and Poetry, as
well as in textbooks and anthologies, including Manthology (University
of Iowa, 2006); Poets for the New Century (David Godine, 2002); An
Introduction to Poetry (ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, Longman,
2002); and Best American Poetry ( Scribners, 1997). She has received
fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, the Minnesota
State Arts Board, and the Bush Foundation. Rossini teaches in the
English Department at Trinity College , where she is director of the
InterArts Program.

Scott Russell Sanders
Scott Russell Sanders' 19 books include novels
Bad Man Ballad, Terrarium, The Engineer of Beasts and collections of
short stories Wilderness Plots and Fetching the Dead, but his chief
work has been in literary nonfiction, including The Paradise of Bombs,
Secrets of the Universe, Staying Put, Writing from the Center, Hunting
for Hope, The Force of the Spirit, and The Country of Language. His
writing has appeared in Harper's, Audubon, Orion , Georgia Review, and
other magazines, and in numerous anthologies. He has been awarded
fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for
the Arts, and the Lilly Endowment. Sanders' work has also received the
Associated Writing Programs Award in Creative Nonfiction, the Kenyon
Review Award for Literary Excellence, the Great Lakes Book Award, and
the Ohio Book Award. For his work in nonfiction, Sanders received a
Lannan Literary Award in 1995. He has been honored with Indiana
University 's highest teaching award, as well as the rank of
Distinguished Professor.
Sanders has been the subject of two videos
from the Lannan Foundation and of interviews or profiles in Fourth
Genre, The Kenyon Review, The Sun, Iron Horse Literary Review, The
Chronicle of Higher Education, and elsewhere. For an essay which
appeared in Audubon, where he is a contributing editor, he won the
John Burroughs Natural History Essay Award for 2000. His essay "The
Force of Spirit" appeared in The Best American Essays 2000, the fourth
time his work has been selected for this annual collection of
outstanding nonfiction. Sanders' most recent book is A Private History
of Awe (Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 2006), a coming-of-age memoir, love
story, and spiritual testament.

Mary-Ann Tirone Smith
The recovery of repressed memories of the 1953
murder by a serial killer of an 11-year-old friend and neighbor in a
blue-collar enclave in Hartford , CT , triggered Smith's absorbing
memoir, Girls of Tender Age. In recalling her childhood, she is
compelled to describe her upbringing in a fractured family whose
existence centered on placating her psychotic older brother, Tyler,
who today would be identified as an autistic savant. The narrative is
further enriched by the author's investigations into the life and
crimes of the psychopath who preyed on her friend and other little
girls, and by her insights about the unequal rights of girls and women
before feminism. The making of a writer is the subtext here; forbidden
by her strict Catholic upbringing to question her parents, Smith was
forced to develop her imagination. She was blessed with a nurturing
father, who was the lifesaving antidote to her disillusioned and
resentful mother. Smith's ironic narrative voice, familiar to readers
of her Poppy Rice mysteries and her sensitive and witty novels, serves
her well. Larger than the sum of its parts, this book illuminates a
social class as it recounts a tangled story of a family and a crime.

Mary-Ann Tirone Smith is the author of eight
novels as well as this memoir. She has lived all her life in
Connecticut , except for two years when she served as a Peace Corps
volunteer in Cameroon .

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