Writer’s Voice Spotlight: Lynn Freed

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Lynn Freed has been described as the literary love child of Joan Didion and Fran Lebowitz. Often wry and satirical, she writes with a powerfully determined voice about women, writing, and travel. Her most recent publication, The Romance of Elsewhere (Counterpoint Press), is a collection of essays about intense wanderlust and the struggle of defining “home.” Lynn says the central question of the collection is “where or what is home?’ To which I’d have to say, nowhere.” She continues, “Which is not to say there aren’t places in which I feel at home—Greece, for instance, and the African bush. I also feel at home in the past. And yet there is also a certain liberation in being untied from the past—from the bonds of home. And a sadness, a great sadness. As you see, I’m still looking for an answer.”

Freed grew up in Durban, South Africa, and moved to New York as a graduate student to study English Literature at Columbia University. She is Professor Emerita of English at the University of California in Davis and has published numerous, award-winning works in fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent novel is The Last Laugh (Sarah Crichton Books), about a group of older women who flee their previous lives by moving to a Greek island—something many of us have fantasized about. It delves into what freedom really entails and the dynamic complexity of friendships between women.

On writing, Lynn says “leaving home is perhaps the central experience of the writer’s life. The restless pursuit of a way back while remaining steadfastly at a distance — this is the enigma that informs the writer’s perspective.” By her own account she is neither fast nor disciplined as a writer. She says “I’m hard put to know which obsess me. The cult of the self? The self-promotion, selfies, self-this, self-that to which we’re all subjected? Old age? Grown children?…Something will come up, or nothing. If nothing, I’ll try not to force something onto the page.” The result is prose full of candor and wit that looks deeply at what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a writer.

To read more about Lynn Freed and her writing, check out this interview on The Rumpus.

Please join us for a thought-provoking evening with Lynn Freed this Thursday, November 1st at 7:30 pm in Zingg Recital Hall (ARTS 150). Thanks to contributions made by the Department of English and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Writer’s Voice readings are free and open to the public.

Written by Alyssa Cox

Writer’s Voice Spotlight: Rob Davidson

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Our next author for Writer’s Voice is our very own Rob Davidson, professor of creative writing and American literature at Chico State. Rob will be reading from his newest publication Spectators: Flash Fictions (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Kirkus Reviews has praised Spectators as “A small but mighty collection of textual snapshots… Flash fiction at its best that’s definitely worth a look.” Indeed, the collection of micro wonders has been nominated for Pulitzer Prize.

Rob talks about his writing process for Spectators in The Story Prize. The collection was inspired by photography and visual art of Stephani Schaefer, Sara G. Umemoto, and Tom Patton. He started off with ekphrastic exercises, simply literary responses to artistic production before trimming each piece down. This process, as I recalled Rob saying at his first reading at Arabica Café downtown Chico, allowed him to realize what was essential. By compacting each piece to less than a page, truly, each word is important and every line shines.

This work moves from the lyrical to the narrative and to the meta, reminding us that, just like memories, we may not remember moments in their entirety. We remember only certain instances or details. Rob expertly draws out those kinds of details to ground us in familiarity, something different, and gifts us with something we had not quite noticed before. After all, “We are spectators…We exist both to observe and be observed.”

Davidson’s previous story collections are The Farther Shore (Bear Star, 2012) and Field Observations (Missouri, 2001). He is also the author of a monograph, The Master and the Dean: The Literary Criticism of Henry James and William Dean Howells (Missouri, 2005). His fiction, essays and interviews have appeared in Zyzzyva, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Indiana Review, New Delta Review, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. Davidson’s honors include a Fulbright U.S. Senior Scholar award to lecture in Taiwan (2015-2016), the Camber Press fiction award, judged by Ron Carlson, and an AWP Intro Journals Project Award in fiction.

Please join us for an exciting evening with Rob Davidson, this Thursday at 7:30 pm Colusa 100B. Thanks to contributions made by the Department of English and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Writer’s Voice readings are free and open to the public.

Written by Jer Xiong

2017 Best of the Net Nominations

Watershed Review is pleased to nominate the following poetry and prose for the 2017 Best of the Net anthology. Good luck to all of our contributors!

Poetry:

Arfah Daud, “Dried Fruit” (Spring 2017): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2017-spring/poetry/daud-arfah.shtml

Nate Pritts, “No Dissonant Sound” (Spring 2017): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2017-spring/poetry/pritts-nate.shtml

David Moody, “Mythology” (Spring 2017): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2017-spring/poetry/moody-david.shtml

Stan Sanvel Rubin, “Einstein’s Streetcar” (Spring 2017): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2017-spring/poetry/rubin-stan-sanvel.shtml

Paulette Beete, “Freddy Gray Breaks Free” (Fall 2016): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2016-fall/poetry/beete-paulette.shtml

Crystal Boson, “what it is to be a white man” (Fall 2016): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2016-fall/poetry/boson-crystal.shtml

Fiction:

Josh Patrick Sheridan, “Zeal” (Spring 2017): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2017-spring/fiction/sheridan-josh-patrick.shtml

Ken Poyner, “The Disappearance” (Fall 2016): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2016-fall/fiction/poyner-ken.shtml

Nonfiction: 

Lita Kurth, “Are We Not Ladies?” (Spring 2017): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2017-spring/nonfiction/kurth-lita.shtml

Jason Arment, “The Oaths We Keep” (Fall 2016): http://www.csuchico.edu/watershed/2016-fall/nonfiction/arment-jason.shtml

 

Writer’s Voice Spotlight: Valerie Fioravanti

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CSU, Chico Writer’s Voice reading series is proud to welcome fiction writer Valerie Fioravanti on Thursday, September 22nd.

One of Valerie Fioravanti’s most recently published stories is “Loud Love,” winner of the inaugural Tillie Olsen Short Story Award and published in the July 2016 issue of The Tishman Review. This story is also part of Fioravanti’s second linked collection, Bridge & Tunnel.

“Loud Love” was a pleasure to read. The main character is a riot, endearingly imperfect and human, with a proclivity for hysterical honesty. All of the characterizations are complex and unique in a plot that keeps us engaged. The narrative tone in “Loud Love” is realistic and believable, with a tongue-in-cheek attitude that enfolds a story, not just entertaining, but meaningful as well.

Fioravanti is the author of the linked collection of short stories titled Garbage Night at the Opera, winner of the 2011 Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. Her published short stories have earned a total of six Pushcart Prize nominations and a Special Mention in Pushcart Prize XXVIII. Currently, Fioravanti lives in Sacramento, California, where she works primarily as a creative writing coach and leader of writing workshops.

Please join us for an exciting evening with Valerie Fioravanti, Thursday at 7:30 pm in Colusa 100B. Thanks to contributions made by the Department of English and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Writer’s Voice readings are free and open to the public.

By Heather Stogsdill