New Voices in American Literature: A Multicultural Symposium celebrates tenth anniversary

New Voices in American Literature: A Multicultural Symposium celebrates tenth anniversary of multi-ethnic literature studies at UGA

Athens, Ga. — The English Department at the University of Georgia, in partnership with other UGA units, celebrates the tenth anniversary of multi-ethnic literature studies at UGA by holding New Voices in American Literature: A Multicultural Symposium on March 5 from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the UGA Chapel.

Four renowned young writers – Lorraine M. López, Natasha Trethewey, Major Jackson and Cathy Park Hong – will read from their works and participate in panel discussions about their writing. Graduate students in English – Billie Bennett, Jenn Blair, Ondra Krouse Dismukes and Sabrina Mark – will moderate the panel discussions. Following the panels and readings, a reception and book-signing will take place in Demosthenian Hall. The symposium will culminate in a musical performance by Susie Ibarra and Roberto J. Rodriguez, leaders of the percussion group Electric Kulintang. All symposium activities are free and open to the public.

Lorraine M. López, assistant professor of English at Vanderbilt University, holds a Ph.D in Creative Writing from UGA. She is the author of Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories (2003), a collection exploring the Chicano quest for identity, and Call Me Henri (2006), a young adult novel about a boy’s struggle to overcome the adversities of life in the barrio. Soy la Avon Lady is the recipient of the 2002 Miguel Mármol Prize for Latina/o Fiction, the Latino Book Award for Short Stories, and the Independent Publishers Book Award for Multicultural Fiction. With Molly Crumpton Winter, López has completed a collection of critical articles on the work of Judith Ortiz Cofer.

Natasha Trethewey, associate professor of creative writing at Emory University, holds a B.A. in English from UGA. She has published three collections of poetry including Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002) and Native Guard (2006). Domestic Work received the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet, the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry, and the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize. Trethewey has earned fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Major Jackson, associate professor of English at the University of Vermont, is a 2006-2007 Fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. He is the author of Leaving Saturn (2002), published by the University of Georgia Press, and Hoops (2006). A collection of poems based upon his experiences growing up in Philadelphia, Leaving Saturn earned the 2000 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a 2003 finalist for a National Critics Circle Award. Hoops is a collection of poems, set mostly in an urban landscape, that range over American culture and history. He is working on a long sequence of poems titled “Urban Renewal” and a verse narrative of the life of Phillis Wheatley.

Cathy Park Hong holds an M.F.A. from Iowa Writers Workshop and teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College. A Korean-American poet and journalist, Hong is the author of two poetry collections, Translating Mo’um (2002) and the forthcoming Dance Dance Revolution (2007). Translating Mo’um, a collection of lyrics and narratives that interprets the intersection of contemporary America and her Korean background, earned the 2002 Pushcart Prize and a Van Lier Fellowship. Her most recent work, a book-length sequence of poems in two voices, has been chosen by Adrienne Rich for the 2006 Barnard Women Poets Prize, given to the best second collection of poems by an emerging American writer.

The New Voices Symposium ends on a musical note. Electric Kulintang is led by Susie Ibarra, an accomplished Filipino-American percussionist and composer, and her husband Roberto J. Rodriguez, a Cuban-American percussionist and composer. The group delivers Filipino trance music, a hybrid of indigenous music, field recordings, live percussion, atmospherics and dance beats. Ibarra plays the kulintang, an ancient Filipino folk instrument consisting of a row of eight small gongs of different pitch. Her two most recent albums, Folkloriko and Flower After Flower, blend kulintang with free improvisation. Known for her dynamic range, expressive technique, and skill in free improvisation, Ibarra has been a resident artist at Juilliard, the University of Michigan, and the Manhattan School of Music.

The New Voices Symposium is cosponsored by the UGA English Department, the President’s Venture Fund, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, the Creative Writing Program, the Willson Center for the Humanities and Arts, the Sterling-Goodman Literature Funds, the Institute for African American Studies, the Institute for Women’s Studies, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute, and Regents Professor of English Judith Ortiz Cofer.