List of Panels (3rd June)


Saturday, 3 June, 8.30-9.45am


When Writers Repeat Themselves: New Disguises or Fresh Approaches?

Chair: Michael Steinberg
Mimi Schwartz, Hope Edelman, Desirae Matherly, Richard Hoffman
Háskólatorg - 101 (60)

Autobiographical writers often find themselves writing about ideas and relationships they’ve dealt with before. It’s important, then, for aspiring and experienced writers to recognize the difference between repeating themselves and discovering fresher ways to explore older material. Our panelists of nonfiction writers and teachers will offer a broad spectrum of
thoughts and opinions on this matter. Among other things, we’ll talk about what we’ve discovered about ourselves and our craft from revisiting the same materials at different stages of our lives; how we’ve overcome self-conscious doubts of becoming “one-note” writers; what we’ve learned about our recurrent thoughts, feelings and ideas from writing in other genres; and how repetition can serve as a reflective mantra that allows us to explore alternative forms and more innovative approaches. Immediately following the presentations, we’ll discuss, with each other and with the audience, how we distinguish between what constitutes repetition and what signifies new discoveries.

Participant Bios

Mimi Schwartz’s books include Good Neighbors, Bad Times, Thoughts from a Queen-sized Bed, and Writing True, the Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction. Her short work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Agni, Creative Nonfiction, The Writer’s Chronicle, among others. She is Professor Emerita at Richard Stockton University.

Michael Steinberg is founding editor of the journal Fourth Genre. He’s written and co-authored six books. Still Pitching won the ForeWord Magazine/Independent Press Memoir of the Year Another, The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction is in its sixth edition He's a writer-in-residence in the Solstice/Pine Manor MFA program.

Desirae Matherly teaches at Tusculum College, and is nonfiction editor for The Tusculum Review. Her recent work appears in The Essay Review and After Montaigne: Contemporary Writers Cover the Essays. Desirae earned a Ph.D. in nonfiction from Ohio University and is a former Harper Fellow at The University of Chicago.

Hope Edelman is the author of seven nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, and The Possibility of Everything. Her work has been published in seventeen countries and is widely anthologized. She coaches writers and teaches nonfiction at workshops and festivals throughout the year.

Richard Hoffman is the author of seven books: the memoirs Love & Fury and Half the House; the poetry collections Without Paradise; Gold Star Road; Emblem, and Noon Until Night, and the short story collection Interference and Other Stories. He is Senior Writer in Residence at Emerson College.


Making Stories (as) Matter: Process, Lifewriting, and Place

Chair: Sophie Cunningham
Francesca Rendle-Short, Robyne Latham, Jamie James, Quinn Eades
Háskólatorg - 102 (180)

Australia’s Pentridge Prison (1851-1997), and the land it was built on, is a layered and layering site that echoes or calls constantly between the past, present and future. It is an architectural iteration (in the tradition of Derrida, Deleuze, and Malabou) of time as plasticity itself. This panel asks: In what ways can nonfiction artists and writers engage with sites of memory that honors and reflects the proliferation of multiple forms of temporality—the doing of time. Nonfiction writers Quinn Eades and Francesca Rendle-Short, ceramicist and academic Robyne Latham, and photographer Jamie James come together on this panel to “bend time” around place, memory, hauntings, and story. Working both creatively and theoretically, through the site-specific lens that is Pentridge, this panel charts notions of “handlability,” poetics of cartography, hauntologies of place, time as plasticity, ritual, and sacred space.

Participant Bios

Francesca Rendle-Short is an award-winning novelist, memoirist and essayist. Her books include Imago, Bite Your Tongue, and The Near and The Far. Her work has appeared in anthologies, literary journals, and exhibitions. She is an Associate Professor in Creative Writing at RMIT University in Melbourne, co-director of non/fictionLab and WrICE.

Sophie Cunningham is a former editor of Meanjin; was, from 2011 to 2014, chair of the literature board of the Australia Council; and is a founding and current board member of The Stella Prize. She is the author of two novels, Geography (2004) and Bird (2008) and, two books of non-fiction, Melbourn (2011) and Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy (2014). She is an adjunct professor at RMIT University in the School of Media and Communication’s College of Design and Social Context.

Jamie James is an independent photographer who ran with the Midjungbal-Bunjalung mob of Northern New South Wales. James sits on the judging panel of the Head On International Photographic Festival and was a finalist for the National Gallery Photographic Prize in 2007 and 2015. Over the last thirty years James has built an extensive visual archive with Aboriginal, Torres Strait, and Australian South Sea Islander Peoples and continues to work on longitudinal social documentary projects.


Robyne Latham is a Yamatji woman, an artist, researcher and academic. She currently holds the position of Senior Indigenous Strategic Development Officer, Bouverie Centre, La Trobe University. Latham’s art practice spans some thirty years and her works are collected national and internationally. Robyne’s most recent works are the installation, ‘Empty Coolamons’, Bunjilaka Museum, Melbourne (2014), and the performance work, ‘The Aborigine is Present’, The Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Centre, Federation Square (2015). There are plans underway to tour ‘The Aborigine is Present’ nationally.

Quinn Eades is a researcher, writer, and award-winning poet whose work lies at the nexus of feminist, queer and trans theories of the body, autobiography, and philosophy. Eades is published nationally and internationally, and is the author of all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body, published by Tantanoola.


New Adventures in Poetic Biography

Chair: Jessica Wilkinson
Paul Munden, Benjamin Laird, Tim Tomlinson
Háskólatorg - 104 (100)

Continuing the discussion from our panel at NonfictioNOW, Arizona 2015, the four poet-scholars on this panel will extend their pioneering interrogations of the poetic medium as a valuable and innovative vehicle for conveying biographical subject matter. The panelists will not only explore the performative, playful, and philosophical dimensions to their poetic writing that allows for more attuned “contact” with their subjects, but will also consider the ways in which readers can engage differently with poetic biographies than with more traditional forms of biographical writing, offering new pathways for a biography readership to appreciate unique historical characters.

Participant Bios

Paul Munden is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Canberra, and Director of the UK's National Association of Writers in Education. His collection of poems, Asterisk, based on Shandy Hall, was published in 2011, and a new and selected, Analogue/Digital, was published in 2015. He is currently writing a poetic biography of Nigel Kennedy.

Jessica Wilkinson is the founding editor of RABBIT: a journal for nonfiction poetry. She has published two poetic biographies, marionette: a biography of miss marion davies (Vagabond 2012) and Suite for Percy Grainger (Vagabond 2014). She is currently writing up a third, on choreographer George Balanchine. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at RMIT University, Melbourne.

Tim Tomlinson is co-founder of New York Writers Workshop and co-author of its popular text, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing. He is also the author of the poetry collections Yolanda: An Oral History in Verse, and Requiem for the Tree Fort I Set on Fire. This Is Not Happening to You, a collection of short fiction, will appear in Fall 2017. He teaches writing workshops and seminars in New York University’s Global Liberal Studies program.

Benjamin Laird is a PhD candidate at RMIT University researching biographical poetry in print and programmable media. He writes print and electronic poems that have appeared in Peril, Unusual Work, Cordite, and Rabbit. His recent publication The Durham Poems (2016, SOd Press) is a chapbook of biographical electronic poems.



The Travel Writer as Cartographer

Chair: Amy Gigi Alexander
Angelo R. LaCuesta, aka “Sarge” LaCuesta, Lola Akimade Åkerström, Leslie Hsu Oh, Ernest White II
Lögberg-101 (106)

Travel literature has traditionally been a genre of storytelling, of stories true and untrue, running across landscapes infiltrated by our personal perceptions of place. But travel writing has studied its reflection in recent years, and it is changing. It is recognizing that place-based writing is about more than simply transformational narratives, inner dialogues, and rewritten histories. Travel writers are embracing their role as cartographers—responsible and responsive map makers of places. Our stories are not simply our experiences, but a way to re-map the world, and help people understand one another. This panel of editors and writers from the British literary travel journal, Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel, will explore how we create maps with words, through both our psyche and our psychogeographical journeys when we travel—and more importantly, how the way we write about a place shapes the way in which that place is seen by the world.

Participant Bios

Angelo R. Lacuesta has written several books and received numerous awards, among them two National Book Awards, the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award and several Palanca and Philippines Graphic Awards. He has been literary editor of the Philippines Free Press and is currently editor-at-large at Esquire magazine (Philippines). He is co-founder of Et Al Books, a digital publisher of Philippine contemporary literature. He is one of Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel’sNonfiction Editors.

Amy Gigi Alexander is the Editor-in-Chief of Panorama: TheJournal of Intelligent Travel. She has won the Solas award for travel literature four times, including the Grand Prize. She is included in numerous travel literature anthologies by Lonely Planet, and Best Travel Writing. Her forthcoming books include a guide on how to write about place and a memoir of mountains.


Leslie Hsu Oh is the Outdoor Literature Editor for Panorama: the Journal of Intelligent Travel. Her work has been named among the distinguished stories of the year by Best American Essays, Travelers’ Tales’ Best Travel Writing Solas Awards, and the North American Travel Journalists Association’s Travel Media Awards Competition. She is a Schweitzer Fellow for Life and White House Champions of Change in Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling.,, @lesliehsuoh

Nigerian-born Lola Akinmade Åkerström’s photography and travel writing are characterized by vibrancy and hope. Her award-winning work has appeared in Lonely Planet, the New YorkTimes, National Geographic Traveler, and more. She writes for Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel.


Ernest White II is a storyteller and explorer who has circumnavigated the globe three times. His writing includes fiction, literary essay, and travel narrative, having been featured in Time Out London, USA Today, Ebony, National Geographic Traveler’s Brazil and Bradt’s Tajikistan guidebooks, and at Ernest is the creator of multicultural travel portal Fly Brother, a contributing writer at literary travel journal Panorama, a former assistant editor at Time Out São Paulo, and founding editor of digital men’s magazine Abernathy. 


Centauroid Bodies, Illusory Empathy, and the Hybrid Heart: On Writing the Animal

Chair: Matthew Gavin Frank
Alison Hawthorne Deming, Amy Wright, Jericho Parms, Vasilis Manousakis
Oddi-101 (120)

 In his Moralia, Plutarch essayed about the ways in which “beasts have their share of reason,”—from parrotfish to elephants, lions to crows, Cretan bees to enchanted pigs. Essayists have long gazed at the natural world, while also turning inward. This panel will explore the problems and exhilarations of this dual-stare as applied to the writing of animals; the pitfalls found and discoveries made when attempting to braid engagements of the human with the non-human animal, from examinations of varying anatomies, to ways of feeling (loving, processing, suffering), ways of navigating, ways of ethicizing, and embodiments both manipulated and serendipitous. What happens when we hold our sentient experience up against the lens of the differently-sentient? How, as essayists, can we be both respectful and enchanting? Five authors of contemporary nonfiction will discuss their methods of essaying our planet’s fauna, and read attendant excerpts from their work.

Participant Bios

Alison Hawthorne Deming’s most recent books are Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit, Death Valley: Painted Light, a collaboration with photographer Stephen Strom, and Stairway to Heaven (Penguin 2016). A 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, Deming is Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona.

Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of four nonfiction books, including The Mad Feast and Preparing the Ghost, three poetry books, including The Morrow Plots and Warranty in Zulu, and two chapbooks. He teaches at Northern Michigan University, where he is the Nonfiction/Hybrids Editor of Passages North

Jericho Parms is the author of Lost Wax (University of Georgia Press). Her essays have appeared in Fourth Genre, The Normal School, Hotel Amerika, Brevity, and elsewhere. She is the Assistant Director of the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches at Champlain College.

Amy Wright is the author of Everything in the Universe, Cracker Sonnets, and five chapbooks. Together with William Wright, she co-authored Creeks of the Upper South. She is also Nonfiction Editor of Zone 3 Press, and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Austin Peay State University.

Dr. Vasilis Manousakis is an academic instructor, writer, and translator. He has published three books of poetry and one book of short stories, as well as numerous essays and translations. He teaches Literature and Literary and Audiovisual Translation at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Hellenic American University, Athens, Greece.


Of Cannibals: Writers on Food as Literary Lens

Chair: E.J. Levy
Jason Anthony, Nina Mukerjee Furstenau, Maureen Stanton, Sam Van Zweden
Háskólatorg - 103 (100)

 “Notice what you eat, and you will find in it the taste of your own flesh.”—Montaigne Hunger is universal, which perhaps explains why food has been an enduring literary subject, crossing boundaries of nation and class, ethnicity, religion, gender, and time. But food writing’s recent popularity raises questions: is our appetite for such writing meaningful or mere self-indulgence, the literary equivalent of Facebook photos of our meals? This panel of award-winning authors explores food literature in its rich variety, discussing how cuisine can expand rather than contract the writer’s lens. Representing a range of nonfiction—essay, journalism, memoir—panelists will consider how food functions in their work: as a means of making intimate the vast Antarctic; bridging cultural difference; baking as a measure of politics; and food’s connection to sex. Includes brief readings, discussion of methods, Q&A on the relevance of food literature in a hungry world, and tasting!

Participant Bios

Jason Anthony is the author of Hoosh: Roast Penguin, Scurvy Day, and Other Stories of Antarctic Cuisine, and numerous essays on Antarctica. Recent honors include a 2016 Brown Foundation Fellowship, a 2015 MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and a 2014 Bread Loaf Nonfiction Fellowship. He was the 2014 Literary Fellow for Maine.

E.J. Levy’s work has appeared in Best American Essays, Paris Review, The New York Times, and won a Pushcart Prize. Her collection, Love, In Theory, won the Flannery O’Connor Award, among other honors. Her anthology, Tasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction by New American Writers, received a Lambda Literary Award.

Maureen Stanton’s book, Killer Stuff and Tons of Money received the Massachusetts Book Award in nonfiction. Her essays have appeared in Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, The Sun, and received the Iowa Review Prize and a Pushcart Prize. She teaches at UMass Lowell.

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau, University of Missouri Science and Agricultural Journalism, is the author of the award-wining food memoir, Biting Through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland, and Savor Missouri: River Hills Country Food and Wine, a book on the flavors of region and the people who produce them.

Sam van Zweden is a Melbourne-based writer interested in memory, food and mental health. Her work has appeared in Voiceworks, The Big Issue, The Victorian Writer, Cordite, The Wheeler Centre and others. Her work has been shortlisted for the Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and the Lifted Brow and non/fictionLab Experimental Non-fiction Writing Prize.


Saturday, 3 June, 10.15-11.30am


At the Margins of the Word: The Multimedia Essay

Chair: Colin Dickey
Nicole Antebi, Amina Cain, Amarnath Ravva
Háskólatorg - 101 (60)

How does a genre defined principally by a relationship between the written word and objective truth respond to the intrusion of other media: photography, film, even animation? Do we experience the movement from one medium to another as a rupture, or do the mediums simply become layers, perhaps open to later inspection like geological strata? Does the seemingly authentic nature of film and photography reinforce the essay’s claims to nonfiction, or does it complicate it? Can less traditional modes of documentation—a gif, perhaps, or a piece of animation—bolster the objective truth of an essay? Considering various non-traditional forms of multimedia essays, this panel maps the relationship between non-fiction writing and other forms of expression, attending in particular to the themes of veracity, witnessing, and history. 

Participant Bios

Nicole Antebi works in non-fiction animation, motion graphics, installation while simultaneously connecting and creating opportunities for other artists through larger curatorial and editorial projects such as Water, CA and Winter Shack and she was recently awarded a Jerome Foundation Grant in Film/Video for a forthcoming animated film about El Paso and Ciudad Juàrez set in the early 90’s.

Colin Dickey is the author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places (Viking); Afterlives of the Saints: Stories from the Ends of Faith (Unbridled Books); and Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius (Unbridled Books). He is also the co-editor of The Morbid Anatomy Anthology (Morbid Anatomy Press).

California-based writer Amarnath Ravva is the author of American Canyon, a 2015 Pen Center USA finalist in creative nonfiction published by Kaya Press. For the past decade, he has helped run and curate events at Betalevel, a venue for social experimentation and culture located in Los Angeles’ Chinatown.

Amina Cain is the author of the short story collection Creature (Dorothy, a publishing project). Her essays have appeared in the Paris Review Daily, Full Stop, Puerto del Sol, and other places. She lives in Los Angeles.


Ekphrasis and the Black Female Gaze

Chair: Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Tisa Bryant, Samiya Bashir, Gabrielle Civil, alea adigweme
Háskólatorg - 102 (180)

At a time when nonfiction readers and editors are passionately invested in the politics of the black body, the ephemeral ambiguities of black interiority can get lost in the clamor of debate. But at the same time that a black body absorbs violence, she may be using Antonioni, Bearden, Mendieta and Weems to make sense of her politics, or to catalyze her grief. Are we embracing the full complexity of the black experience when we focus primarily on the black body as an object in the social sphere without consideration of the dreamscape? What might the black girl at the museum have to say about our disasters? In this panel, Aisha Sabatini Sloan will moderate a conversation between Samiya Bashir, Tisa Bryant, Gabrielle Civil and alea adigweme about the ways that they engage in ekphrasis with a fluid approach to genre classification, radical use of performance and unorthodox analysis of art and race.

Participant Bios

Tisa Bryant (MFA, Brown 2004) is the author of Unexplained Presence (Leon Works, 2007), [the curator] (Belladonna Books 2009), and Tzimmes (A+Bend Press, 2000). She is co-editor, with Ernest Hardy, of War Diaries, and of the hardcover cross-referenced literary/arts series, The Encyclopedia Project.

Aisha Sabatini Sloan is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White and the upcoming essay collection, Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit, chosen by Maggie Nelson as the winner of the 1913 Open Prose Book Contest. She is a contributing editor for Guernica: A Magazine of Art and Politics and a staff writer at Autostraddle.

Gabrielle Civil is a black feminist writer and performance artist, originally from Detroit, MI (USA). She is the author of Swallow the Fish, a memoir in performance (CCM, 2017). Her writing has appeared in Small Axe, Art21, Aster(ix) and Obsidian. The aim of her work is to open up space.

Samiya Bashir is the author of Field Theories (Spring 2017), Gospel, and Where the Apple Falls. Her work appears in the anthologies Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social & Political Black Literature & Art. She lives in Portland, Ore, and teaches at Reed College.

alea adigweme is a writer, artist, and educator based in Iowa City. Her written work has been published by Bustle, Gawker, Fightland, and the Iowa Review blog, among other outlets. She earned an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa, where she’s a doctoral student in Media Studies.


New Narrators

Chair: Mark Nowak
Lisa Arrastia, Peter Rachleff, Beth Cleary
Háskólatorg - 104 (100)

Oral histories, free schools, workers’ centers, digital youth archives, freedom libraries… These are just a few of the sites our panel will address as it examines ways to expand the creative nonfiction circle “from below and to left” (as the Zapatistas say) toward a more inclusive first person plural “we” of non-fiction narrators. Panelists will discuss and display (via podcast, video, etc.) their work with nonfiction via the Young People’s Archive (Arrastia), “Acute Care: Performing Emotional Labors” (Cleary, with Minnesota Nurses), the Worker Writers School (Nowak, in collaboration with PEN America), and the East Side Freedom Library (Rachleff). Participants will be urged to examine potentially unique new collaborators from their own communities as part of the panel discussion.

Participant Bios

Lisa Arrastia is the co-editor of Starting Up: Critical Lessons from 10 New Schools (Teachers College Press, 2012). She is founder and lead facilitator at The Ed Factory and the Young People’s Archive. She teaches in the Writing and Critical Inquiry program at University of Albany, SUNY.

Mark Nowak is the author of Shut Up Shut Down and Coal Mountain Elementary and the founding director of the Worker Writers School, a collaboration with PEN America. Recent awards include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (2015), the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism (2015) and a Guggenheim fellowship (2010).

Beth Cleary, Associate Professor of Theater at Macalester College, directed “Acute Care” in spring 2017. Based on oral histories with nurses in the Twin Cities—a major site of healthcare innovation and nurses’ union organizing—Acute Care is a new performance piece about the complex work of nursing.

Peter Rachleff is a labor historian and co-director of the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul, MN. Rachleff is the author of countless essays on working-class history and several volumes including Hard-Pressed in the Heartland: The Hormel Strike and the Future of the Labor Movement.


The Evanescent and Disposable Essay: Balancing Orality and Documentary in Modern Nonfiction Writing

Chair: John Proctor
Matthew Gavin Frank, Mary Cappello, Sarah Vap
Lögberg-101 (106)

Louis Menand, in his introduction the The Best American Essays 2004, said, “As a medium, writing is a million times weaker than speech. It’s a hieroglyph, competing with a symphony.” Perhaps now more than ever, serious nonfiction writing is seeking to capture both the dynamics and the evanescence of spoken, conversational, digressive language. Between digital culture’s oralization of the written word, through which we now toss off texts with the casual flippancy of a harrumph or a sigh, and the notion of essay-as-verb, by which we write not necessarily to document or even notate, but merely to speak and make something of the words, we are now in an age of linguistic fluidity. This panel intends to explore the dialectic between writing-as-document and writing-as-communication theoretically, practically, and performatively, encouraging conversation—and documentation!—with our audience.

Participant Bios

Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of four nonfiction books, including The Mad Feastand Preparing the Ghost, three poetry books, including The Morrow Plots and Warranty in Zulu, and 2 chapbooks. He teaches at Northern Michigan University, where he is the Nonfiction/Hybrids Editor of Passages North.

John Proctor’s work has been recently published in New Madrid, The Weeklings, The Normal School, DIAGRAM, and a 2016 anthology of microfiction (Iberoamericana-Vervuert). His essay “The Question of Influence” was a recent Notable selection in The Best American Essays 2015. He teaches writing and media studies at Manhattanville College.

Sarah Vap is the author of six books of poetry and poetics. Her most recent book, Viability (Penguin 2016), was selected for the National Poetry Series. She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, and is completing her PhD at the University of Southern California. She teaches in the MFA program at Drew University.

Mary Cappello’s five books include a detour (on awkwardness); a breast cancer anti-chronicle; a lyric biography; and, a mood fantasia, Life Breaks In. Devoted to forms of disruptive beauty, she is a Guggenheim and Berlin Prize Fellow, a recipient of the Dorothea-Lange/Paul Taylor Prize, and professor of English at the University of Rhode Island.


Making the Page a Stage: What Essayists Can Learn from Comedians and Monologists

Chair: Lucas Mann
Faith Adiele, Dave Madden, Xenia Hanusiak
Oddi-101 (120)

It’s a truism (nearly a cliché) to describe the essay as a performance of the self on the page. But how often do we take our cues from actual performers? Great stand-up often enacts the loftiest goals of the essay—it confesses, it moves from anecdote to argument, it freely associates, it willingly takes risks in subject matter. This panel explores the connection between performers (namely comedians and monologists) and essayists to discover what’s possible for us in honing our voices, and what’s stealable from the performative tradition. Margaret Cho, Chris Rock, and other such comedians captivate huge audiences with first-person, idea-driven, confessional story-telling—how can we read them as exemplars of the modern essay form? And, more importantly, how can we look to the boldness of their performances to help inform and inspire our prose?

Participant Bios

Faith Adiele is the author of The Nigerian-Nordic Girl’s Guide to Lady Problems, and Meeting Faith, winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award for Best Memoir. A winner of the Millennium Award from Creative Nonfiction, she teaches at California College of the Arts.

Lucas Mann is the author of Lord Fear: A Memoir, and Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. He earned his MFA from The University of Iowa, and teaches at The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Xenia Hanusiak is a New York based Australian cultural journalist, essayist, non-fiction writer, poet, and writer for stage. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing and a Masters in Music. In 2017-18 she is a Global Cultural Fellow for the University of Edinburgh. Presently she is published in Music and Literature, La Scena Musicale, The Log Journal (National Sawdust), New York Times, Boston Globe, South China Post, and literary journals.

Dave Madden is the author of If You Need Me I’ll Be Over There and The Authentic Animal: Inside the Odd and Obsessive World of Taxidermy. He's received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, as well as the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and he teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco.


Shaping the Wreckage: Illness Narratives and Form

Chair: Dr. Heather Taylor Johnson
Joanna Eleftheriou, Nanna Hlín Halldórsdóttir, Fiona Wright, Melinda Harvey
Háskólatorg - 103 (100)

To write of pain and illness is to struggle with fluency and form. In autobiographical writing, the dissonance between form and content is most pressing. Arthur Frank says of illness narratives, “Telling an interrupted life requires a new kind of narrative,” one of interruptions and wreckage that may encompass a “mute” story, beyond speech (1995: 74). The well-crafted paragraph and traditional prose narrative arcs may, in fact, seem alien to the experiences of physical or psychological illness. The lyric or poetic mode may be closer to such experiences with its opportunity for fragmentation and immediacy. This panel will explore the hybrid forms used for autobiographical writing about pain, illness, disability, and loss. We will identify how such forms attempt to replicate the individual’s experience of fracture, vulnerability and contingency. Such autobiographical acts challenge us, as readers and writers, to embrace both vulnerability and our own mortality.

Participant Bios

Joanna Eleftheriou is assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Her essays, poems, and translations have appeared in journals including The Crab Orchard Review, Arts and Letters, and The Common, and her current project is the book of linked essays This Way Back: Essays From Cyprus.

Heather Taylor Johnson is the author of two novels and four books of poetry. She is the poetry editor for Transnational Literature and the editor of the forthcoming anthology The Fractured Self Whole: Poetry of Chronic Illness and Pain (UWAP). She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide.

Fiona Wright’s book of essays Small Acts of Disappearance won the 2016 Kibble Award, and her poetry collection Knuckled, won the 2012 Dame Mary Gilmore Award. She has recently completed a PhD at Western Sydney University’s Writing & Society Research Centre.


Nanna is a PhD-candidate in philosophy at the University of Iceland, writing about Judith Butler, vulnerability and the work-system in contemporary capitalism. In her thesis she uses the illustrative example of a chronically ill person in a job-interview in order to shed some lights on the limits and possibilities of ethics of vulnerability but Nanna lives with the chronic illness of CFS/ME.

Melinda Harvey has worked as a critic for over a decade, writing for publications such as the Sydney Review of Books and The Lifted Brow. In 2012 she was an inaugural Hot Desk Fellow at the Wheeler Centre, working on a piece of creative non-fiction called Lip Service, which explores the real-world uses of literature in times of difficulty. She is Lecturer in Literary Studies at Monash University.


Saturday, 3 June, 12:30-1.45pm


Found in Translation: Connecting Cultural Heritage and Community through Sight and Sound

Chair: Dr. Diana Chester
Dr. Michele Bambling, L.C. Smith, Dr. Dionne Irving Bremyer
Háskólatorg - 101 (60)

This panel considers the role differing approaches play in translating materials of cultural heritage and authenticity into material for public consumption, and the impact such projects can have on community identity, both within and as seen from outside. Through a deeper exploration of three unique community-based creative projects: “Lest We Forget,” a vernacular photography collection in Abu Dhabi; “Radio=Community,” focused on a volunteer-operated, public radio station serving rural coastal communities of the American Northwest, and “The Call to Prayer,” a web-based sound map from mosques around the world, the panelists will consider how radio, online sound mapping, and art publications and galleries can provide forums for learning about community culture and heritage through the process of translating nonfiction techniques in interview, documentation, and observation into creative pieces of import within and beyond the community.  Panelists will present relevant video, audio recordings, and photographic outcomes, and discuss their findings and insights.

Participant Bios

Dr. Michele Bambling is Creative Director of Lest We Forget, an archival initiative under the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She is curator of several exhibitions including for the National Pavilion UAE at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition in La Biennale di Venezia in 2014. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University.

Dr. Diana Chester is an artist, musician, technologist, and educator. Her work draws from sound studies, archival studies, and ethnography. Diana holds a BA from Mount Holyoke   College, an MA from Columbia University, and is completing her doctoral dissertation, “DigitalMedia Archiving: Considering the Role of Creative Scholars and Artistic research in Preserving Cultural Heritage,” at the University of Porto.

Dionne Irving’s work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Boulevard Magazine, The Normal School, The Crab Orchard Review, and other places. She is a professor at St. Mary's College, a women’s college in South Bend, Indiana. Currently, Irving is working on a novel set in Jamaica.

L.C. Smith was once a senior producer for Seattle’s PBS station. And the manager of an independent public radio station in rural coastal Oregon. And the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives for NYU Abu Dhabi. And a graduate student at Harvard. And a foreign car mechanic. Among other things. S/he has made radio and television pieces, published articles, navigated the vast uncharted waters of social media. 


Nonfiction as Queer Aesthetic

Chair: Francesca Rendle-Short
Barrie Jean Borich, Lawrence Lacambra Ypil, Peta Murray, Quinn Eades
Háskólatorg - 102 (180)

Our question is (after Barrie Jean Borich): What if all nonfiction writers imagined a queer aesthetic at the center of our discourse? What might this imaginary look like, feel like? This is a nonfiction that, as Borich dreams it, is “attentive to form but difficult to classify, with quirky yet intentionally designed exteriors, slippery rules, a mutating understanding of identity, a commitment to getting past the bullshit and making unexpected connections, and a grounding in an unmasked, yet lyric, voice.” This panel embraces the imagined space of the queer aesthetic head on: Larry Ypil asks is there a queer looking; Francesca Rendle-Short falls from grace; Peta Murray performs (a) queer(ed) (and essayesque) resistance; Barrie Jean Borich considers the queerness of fragment; and Quinn Eades discusses trans autobiography as essay.

Participant Bios

Barrie Jean Borich is the author of Body Geographic, winner of a Lambda Literary Award in memoir, and My Lesbian Husband, recipient of a Stonewall Book Award in nonfiction. She’s an associate professor at DePaul University in Chicago where she edits Slag Glass City, a journal of urban essay arts.

Francesca Rendle-Short is an award-winning novelist, memoirist and essayist. Her books include Imago, Bite Your Tongue, and The Near and The Far. Her work has appeared in anthologies, literary journals, and exhibitions. She is an Associate Professor in Creative Writing at RMIT University in Melbourne, co-director of non/fictionLab and WrICE.

Peta Murray is an award-winning playwright (The Keys To the Animal Room, Salt) and final year PhD Candidate at RMIT making forays into creative nonfiction. Her queerest work is the extravaganza: Things That Fall Over: an anti-musical of a novel inside a reading of a play, with footnotes, and oratorio-as-coda.

Lawrence Lacambra Ypil is a poet and essayist from Cebu, Philippines. He received an MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Washington University on a Fulbright Scholarship, and has an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa. His first book of poems, The Highest Hiding Place was given the Madrigal Gonzalez Best First Book Award.

Quinn Eades is a researcher, writer, and award-winning poet whose work lies at the nexus of feminist, queer and trans theories of the body, autobiography, and philosophy. Eades is published nationally and internationally, and is the author of all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body, published by Tantanoola.


Ambulatory Creative Nonfiction

Chair Name: TaraShea Nesbit
Yanara Friedland, Michael Mejia, Joe Lennon, Shena McAuliffe
Háskólatorg - 104 (100)

The journey in literature is nothing new: from The Odyssey to poems by Wordsworth, narratives are often structured as journeys. Walking is a particular type of journey, one that demands engagement—through both body and mind—with one’s environment. A walker “reads” the world, she consumes the sights around her and produces thoughts, words, and new paths of navigation. And yet, the methods for exploring a walk and a walk’s potential on writer and reader now have new trans-genre and trans-medium practices. By speaking essays through audio tours and enacting stories through performance, contemporary writers are finding ways to reconsider the fluid state of story and space. This panel explores nonfiction as a spatial practice, from the experimental walking tour to dérive-inspired performance and political action. This panel of writers and scholars will discuss their work, and provide audience members with ideas towards teaching and creating their own ambulatory works.

Participant Bios

Yanara Friedland is a German-American writer, translator, and teacher. She holds a PhD from the University of Denver and is the recipient of a 2016 DAAD research grant at the B/ORDERS in Motion Institute. She is author of the novel Uncountry: A Mythology, the 2015 winner of the Noemi Fiction Prize. She is a member of the poets’ theater group GASP: Girls Assembling Something Perpetual and of the board of POG, a poetry reading series in Tucson, Arizona.

TaraShea Nesbit is an Assistant Professor of Nonfiction and Fiction at Miami University. Her first book, The Wives of Los Alamos, tells the story of the making of the atomic bomb, as toldfrom the first-person plural perspective of the scientists’ wives. The book was a PEN/Bingham Prize finalist, A New York Times’ Editor’s Choice, and has been translated into several languages.


Joe Lennon is an Assistant Professor in the Language Centre at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. He earned a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Denver and an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. He’s working on a book of poems and essays about the apostrophe.

Michael Mejia is the author of the novel Forgetfulness (FC2) and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies. He has received a Literature Fellowship in Prose from the NEA and a grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. He teaches creative writing at the University of Utah.

Shena McAuliffe’s stories and essays have been published in Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. She teaches Creative Writing at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from The University of Utah.


For the Record: Documentary and Archival Work in Creative Nonfiction

Chair: Lindsey Drager
Amy Benson, Jennifer Sinor, Selah Saterstrom, Sarah Minor
Lögberg - 101 (106)

Creative nonfiction has long been a field concerned with the personal, but what happens when we consider how the personal conflicts, converses, and contends with the collective? What is revealed when we reframe our experience as not autonomous, but part of the wider fabric of the human story—in other words, one entry in a mutable archive? In this panel, essayists explore the potential of documentary and archival work (broadly, fluidly defined) and consider how their work intersects with, widens the scope of, or revises The Archive. Working with documentary material can offer new avenues for discovery, but what are the ethical implications of borrowing from or building on others’ narratives? How might we responsibly engage with and contribute to the larger human tale? Panelists will briefly discuss their own projects and then address how the work of another panelist complicates or complements their approach to archival and documentary work.

Participant Bios

Amy Benson is the author of Seven Years to Zero (forthcoming, Spring 2017), winner of the Dzanc Books Nonfiction Prize, and The Sparkling-Eyed Boy (Houghton Mifflin 2004), winner of the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize in creative nonfiction, sponsored by Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. She teaches at Rhodes College in Memphis.

Lindsey Drager is the author of the novels The Sorrow Proper (Dzanc, 2015), winner of the 2016 Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Prize, and The Lost Daughter Collective (Dzanc) forthcoming in 2017. She is an Assistant Professor at the College of Charleston where she helps edit Crazyhorse.

Selah Saterstrom is the author of the novels Slab, The Meat and Spirit Plan and The Pink Institution. Her collection of essays, Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics is forthcoming in 2017. She teaches and lectures across the United States, and is the editor of the Denver Quarterly.

Jennifer Sinor’s work has appeared in The American Scholar, Utne, The Norton Reader, and elsewhere. She has two books forthcoming in 2017: a collection of essays entitled Letters Like the Day: On Reading Georgia O’Keeffe and a memoir, Ordinary Trauma. Jennifer teaches creative writing at Utah State University.

Sarah Minor is a writer and designer from Iowa. She is a PhD candidate in Nonfiction at Ohio University in Athens where she teaches, makes essays and text installations, and runs the quarterly Visual Essayists series at Essay Daily.


Authenticity vs. Universality: Translating ‘Otherness’ on the Page, Stage, and Radio

Chair: Felicia Rose Chavez
Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Idris Goodwin, Adriana Páramo
Oddi-101 (120)

Charged with creating artful, accessible, and relevant representations of The Other, many nonfiction writers fall prey to worry and guilt: How do we responsibly render someone else’s lived experience so that it is both culturally specific and universally true? Should our text speak to The Other or should it serve as an entry point into his or her community? How do we simultaneously illuminate and manipulate, reinforce and mold? This cross-genre panel will discuss strategies for negotiating the complexities of representation, including the double-marginalization that occurs when writers of color write about The Other. Together, we’ll grapple with power, agency, and activism in travel writing, performance writing, and audio essay.  

Participant Bios

Stephanie Elizondo Griest is the author of Around the Bloc, Mexican Enough, and the forthcoming All the Agents & Saints. She won a Margolis Award for Social Justice Reporting for her coverage of the US/Mexico border. An Assistant Professor of Creative Nonfiction at UNC-Chapel Hill, she blogs at

Felicia Rose Chavez is a digital storyteller whose work features regularly on National Public Radio. Former Program Director to Young Chicago Authors and founder of GirlSpeak, a literary webzine for young women, Felicia teaches creative writing and new media as a Riley Scholar-in-Residence at Colorado College. Find her at

Adriana Páramo is a cultural anthropologist, writer and women’s rights advocate. She is the author of “Looking for Esperanza,” and “My Mother’s Funeral.” Her essays have been noted in The Best American Essays of 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2014 she was named as one of the top ten Latino authors in the USA. She is an adjunct professor in the low-residency MFA program at Fairfield University and an active member of the travel writing workshop of VONA—Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation—a community of writers of color.

Idris Goodwin is a playwright, rapper, essayist and educator. Author of How We Got On, This Is Modern Art, Bars and Measures, and the essay collection These Are The Breaks, Goodwin has appeared on HBO, Sesame Street, and BBC Radio. He is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Colorado College.



Written on the Body: Women Writers Reinventing Nonfiction Forms  

Chair: Melissa Febos
Elissa Washuta, Lidia Yuknavitch, Syreeta McFadden, Lacy M. Johnson
Háskólatorg - 103 (100)

Within the evolution of creative nonfiction lie specific challenges for women writers breaking traditional forms—through the writing process, publication, and reception. Craft is often overlooked when a woman’s writing includes personal elements, especially of body and sexuality, and such works are often exiled to a shelf not shared by male writers who tackle similar content and suffer no deficit of artistic consideration. In women’s writing alone do critics draw false binaries between content of a personal nature and that of intellectual or creative legitimacy. Lack of allegiance to conventional structures is often seen as inferior knowledge of craft, rather than innovation. Five writers with distinctly varied styles discuss scrupulously crafting such work, and then navigating its reception in a culture with still rigid conceptions of form, its limits, and who can break them.

Participant Bios

Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the author of My Body Is a Book of Rules and Starvation Mode. She serves as undergraduate adviser for American Indian Studies at the University of Washington and MFA faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017). Her work appears in Tin House, Prairie Schooner, Granta, Kenyon Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts and Monmouth University.

Lacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based professor, activist, and is author of the memoir The Other Side (Tin House, 2014). For its frank and fearless confrontation of the epidemic of violence against women, The Other Side was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, the CLMP Firecracker Award in Nonfiction; it was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writer Selection for 2014, and was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus, Library Journal, and the Houston Chronicle. She teaches creative nonfiction in the Low-Residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada College and at Rice University.

Syreeta McFadden is a writer, photographer and professor of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York City. Syreeta’s work deals largely with gender, politics, race and culture, and explores the cultural narratives of communities. Her work has been featured in a range of publications which include the New York Times Magazine, The Nation, BuzzFeed News, NPR, Brooklyn Magazine, Feministing and The Guardian US, where she has been a regular contributor. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station. A former urban planner and housing development specialist, she holds degrees from Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College. She is currently working on a collection of essays.

Lidia Yuknavitch is the National Bestselling author of the novels The Small Backs of Children and Dora: A Headcase, and the memoir The Chronology of Water, as well as three books of short fictions and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories of Violence.


Saturday, 3 June, 2-3.15pm


On the Genre Spectrum: Boundary-Breaking Books

Chair: Padma Viswanathan
John Bennion, Beth Ann Fennelly, Gerður Kristný
Háskólatorg - 101 (60)

Despite a proliferation of nonfiction forms, North American literary culture still tends to divide fiction and nonfiction into relatively discrete categories, each governed by its own precepts. In contrast, the “Prose Narrative” shelf in a European bookstore might include fabulist works, long-form reportage, and romans-à-clef with author forewords testifying that every moment is as “true” as memory can make it. On this panel, an array of European and American authors walks the fiction to nonfiction tightrope: presenting favorite books “on the spectrum” and discussing how these have influenced our work. How might a strict separation of genres be valuable to writers and readers, and how might it be false? How does each approach operate on us, as writers shaping a vessel to contain a “true story,” and on our readers? 

Participant Bios

John Bennion writes about the arid lands of Utah. His collection of short fiction, Breeding Leah and other Stories (1991), and a novel, Falling Toward Heaven (2000), were both published by Signature Books. Another novel, Avenging Saint, is forthcoming. He teaches at Brigham Young University.

Padma Viswanathan’s first novel, The Toss of a Lemon, was published in eight countries and shortlisted for the PEN USA fiction prize. Her second, The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, was a finalist for Canada’s Scotiabank Giller Prize. She is also a playwright, journalist, essayist and translator.

Beth Ann Fennelly teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants from the N.E.A., United States Artists, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Her sixth book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-memoirs, will be published by Norton in October.

Gerður Kristný, born in Reykjavík, Iceland 1970, is a highly versatile and prolific author. For the past 25 years she has written poems, novels, YA stories, short stories, children’s books, stage plays and nonfictional works. She has received numerous awards for her work including Icelandic Journalism Awards for a nonfictional publication on children abuse and the Icelandic Literary Awards for the poem cycle Bloodhoof, also nominated for the Nordic Council Literary Awards. Her latest work is the novel Hestvík.


The Genius of Place: Landscape, Identity, Memory & Loss

Chair: Leila Philip
Gretel Ehrlich, Catherine McKinnon, Garnett Kilberg Cohen, Sophie Cunningham
Háskólatorg - 102 (180)

It can be argued that our sense of self emerges from the landscapes in which we grow up. In this panel, five writers from diverse regions explore the possibilities of writing about landscape as both subject and methodology, exploring landscape to reveal character, discover underlying themes and evoke modes of knowing and thinking. One writer learns from indigenous Australian understandings of landscape and memory, while another travels by dogsled through Greenland’s shrinking ice, chronicling the meltdown of both landscape and culture. Two writers from the United States use landscape to build character portraits of people who engage with landscape as history—contemporary fur trappers and Amish farmers. This panel considers topics such as landscapes as memory, geographies of the imagination, and the use of cartographic language, metaphor and subject matter to write about memory and loss, both personal and cultural. Lively dialogue with the audience will be a priority.

Participant Bios

Gretel Ehrlich is the author of 15 books. She has received many awards for her writing including from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and PEN USA. She has widely published in Harpers, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, and Orion among others.

Leila Philip is the author of 3 books of literary nonfiction and a collaborative work with artist, Garth Evans. She has received numerous awards, including from the Guggenheim and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a contributing writer for Art Critical and writes frequently for The Boston Globe

Garnett Kilberg Cohen has published three books of short fiction, most recently Swarm to Glory (2014).  Her writing awards include two Notable Essay Citations from Best American Essays(2011 and 2015).  The co-editor of Punctuate: A Nonfiction Magazine. Garnett is a professor at Columbia College Chicago.

Catherine McKinnon, a novelist and playwright, teaches Writing at the University of Wollongong and is a Material Ecologies research network member. Her novel, Storyland, will be published by HarperCollins in 2017. In 2015, she won the Griffith Novella111 Award. Penguin published her 2008 novel, The Nearly Happy Family.

Sophie Cunningham is the author of four books, including the critically acclaimed Warning: The Story of Cyclone Tracy (2014). Her recent essay on walking New York, ‘Staying with the Trouble’, was the winner of the 2015 Calibre Essay Prize. She is an Adjunct Professor at RMIT University (non/fiction Lab), Melbourne. 


At Work in the Apprehensive Art

Chair: Dan Beachy-Quick
Moderator: Patrick Thomas, Teresa Cohn, Danielle Deulen
Háskólatorg - 102 (180)

When the essay allows itself to turn aside from its declared topic, when the focus of its concentration lapses into forms of distraction, when the boundaries it sets upon itself begin to dismantle, then the knowledge it seeks, or the experience it would confer, alters, too. Intuition creates a flaw inside purpose, and in that flaw, art finds opportunity—that word, whose origin in poros means a passage through which the sea flows, the openings of the body, a means of discovery. To find such openings in the midst of one’s writing is apprehensive work: it fears; it grasps; it understands. This panel will discuss the gift and the trouble of writing essays that seek out their own flaws to discover the curious complexity of their concerns, one in which genres collide, memory and mind confound, and the result, while never predictable, pulses with apprehensive possibility.

Participant Bios

Patrick Thomas is the Managing Director at Milkweed Editions. Before moving into his current role, he edited the press’s nonfiction publications, including work by Amy Leach, Joni Tevis, Alison Hawthorne Deming, and numerous others. He currently oversees finance, marketing, sales, operations, and the development of the press’s digital presence.

Dan Beachy-Quick is a poet and essayist whose most recent collections include gentlessness (Tupelo, 2015) and A Brighter Word Than Bright: Keats at Work (Iowa UP, 2013). A new collection of essays, fragments, meditations, and poems, A Quiet Book, will be coming out from Milkweed Editions in 2017. He directs the MFA Writing Program at Colorado State University.

Danielle Cadena Deulen is the author of a memoir, The Riots (AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction), and two poetry collections, Our Emotions Get Carried Away Beyond Us (Barrow Street, 2015) and Lovely Asunder (U. of Arkansas Press).  She teaches at Willamette University and is poetry series editor of Acre Books.


‘All Fun and Games?’ – visiting the dark side in graphic memoir, comics, interactive video gaming, and other word/image juxtapositions

Chair: Elizabeth Kadetsky
Kelly McQuain, Threasa Meads, Sam Cooney, Rebecca Fish Ewan
Lögberg - 101 (106)

“Sideways thinking doesn’t fit neatly into text,” says comics author Nick Sousanis. For the nonfiction writer accustomed to text, composing in visual or aural forms that reject the linear can lead to surprising new thoughts and perceptions, often giving entry into otherwise inaccessible material. Using image can be truer to dark or childhood memories; a textual overlay can confuse a primal recollection, adding literal emotion when the tone is more aptly irrational. The visual is a freer space. As Lynda Barry writes, the image is “alive in the way thinking is not but experiencing is, made of both memory and imagination.” Our panelists draw on a panoply of visual mediums to explore, to use Sousanis’s term, an “unflattening” of the page, of concepts, of space, of hierarchies, of narrative. The panelists’ work in comics, graphic memoir, Twine video games, and other arrangements of image with text bring difficult issues to light.

Participant Bios

Kelly McQuain has published memoir, poetry, fiction and comics. He’s received a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship in nonfiction and a nomination for Best American Essays for his hybrid graphic/text essays. A Lambda Fellow and a Sewanee Scholar, he won the Bloom poetry prize for his chapbook Velvet Rodeo. He works as a professor in Philadelphia and tries to find new ways to combine words and pictures.

Elizabeth Kadetsky is author of a memoir (Little Brown, 2004), a story collection (C&R Press, 2014), and a novella (Nouvella, 2015). Her memoir chronicled a year in India as a Fulbright fellow studying with the yogi BKS Iyengar, and her investigations into the roots of modern yoga


Sam Cooney runs publishing organisation The Lifted Brow, which makes a quarterly literary magazine, maintains a dynamic website, produces events, awards writing prizes, and now publishes books. He is also overseeing its expansion into books publishing. Away from The Lifted Brow he is a writer, editor and teacher at universities.

Threasa Meads is the author of the liminal autobiographies, Nobody and Mothsong. She is a visual artist with a PhD in creative writing from Flinders University. Her cross-genre, lyric nonfiction has appeared in local and international journals including, TEXT, Still Point Arts Quarterly, LiNQ and Double Dialogues.

Rebecca Fish Ewan is a cartoonist, poet, author of A Land Between, with work in Brevity, Hip Mama, & Journal of Bicycle Feminism (forthcoming), Rebecca founded Plankton Press to celebrate micro hybrid nonfiction and publishes her zines, GRAPH(feeties) and Tiny Joys. Her cartoon/verse memoir ms. of childhood best friendship recalls tragic magic in seventies Berkeley.


Hope, Hype, and Apocalyptic Anxiety. How Can We Mobilize Nonfiction for Climate Change? 

Chair: Kristian Bjørkdahl
Ida Skjelderup, Alison Anderson, Esben Bjerggaard Nielsen, Douglas Haynes
Oddi-101 (120)

This panel will address the mobilizing power of nonfiction texts in the context of climate change. While examples of smart and startling climate change writing certainly do exist, the bulk of nonfiction texts on this topic is either extremely dull or plainly horrifying – and produces paralysis as its most significant effect. Drawing on a wide variety of different nonfictional genres, such as official reports and scientific articles, personal essays and narrative journalism, and even Facebook updates, this panel aims to open up a discussion on the poetics of climate change nonfiction, through a combination of academic addresses, panel and audience conversations, and an artistic element: What kind of metaphors are at play – and how do they affect our potential to engage? How do technical concepts like “Anthropocene” and “climate resilience” resonate with non-scientists? And how can we mobilize nonfiction to encourage readers to take action on climate change? 

Participant Bios

Ida Skjelderup holds a degree in Nordic Studies from the University of Oslo, and has written her thesis on the rhetorics of art criticism. Her research interests are activist prose and art and their potential for change, and she is currently focusing her studies on nonfiction text on climate change.

Kristian Bjørkdahl is a rhetorical scholar who has worked on the rhetoric of health and medicine, as well as on the rhetoric of the animal and environmental movements. He is currently writing a Norwegian-language book on climate rhetoric.


Esben Bjerggard Nielsen is a rhetorical scholar and assistant professor at Aarhus University, who has specialized in the narratives of climate change, in particular on climate rhetoric as a secular version of the apocalyptic genre.

Alison Anderson is professor of sociology and director of the Centre for Community, Culture and Society at Plymouth University. She is currently the editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Communication, and author of the books Media, Culture and the Environment (1997) and Media, Environment and the Network Society (2014).

Douglas Haynes is a nonfiction writer and poet whose work has appeared in Longreads, Virginia Quarterly Review, Orion, North American Review, and dozens of other publications. His narrative nonfiction book Every Day We Live Is the Future: Surviving in a City of Disasters is forthcoming from University of Texas Press. He is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.


More Like This Than Any of These: Creative Nonfiction in the Age of the Trans New Wave

Chair: Cooper Lee Bombardier
Ryka Aoki, Brook Shelley, Grace Reynolds, Colette Arrand
Háskólatorg - 103 (100)

Transgender authors writing nonfiction work under and with the extant pressure of the perceived/assumed arc of the transition narrative: who was once one thing is now another, entirely. But what of trans authors whose work extends beyond or subverts the transition narrative altogether? This panel seeks to expand possibilities for trans nonfiction through the investigation of process, praxis, and the generously assumed audience. Several prominent and emerging trans nonfiction writers will discuss the issues of writing beyond the transition narrative in an experimental panel performed in the tradition of Burroughs’ cut ups and Dodie Bellamy’s cunt-ups, where the thoughts of each panelist, along with some choice tidbits from the sage tomes of nonfiction writing, are taken up at random, allowing the conversation to transcend the narrative binary of transition, to challenge notions of authorship and expertise, and to shake up the talking head tradition of the typical literary panel.

Participant Bios

Ryka Aoki is an award-winning author, performer, and professor. She was honored by the California State Senate for “Extraordinary Commitment to the Visibility and Well-being of Transgender People.” She is the founder of the International Transgender Martial Arts Alliance, and is a professor of English at Santa Monica College.

Cooper Lee Bombardier is a writer and visual artist based in Portland, Oregon. His writing was recently published in The Kenyon Review, MATRIX, CutBank, Nailed Magazine, and Original Plumbing. His visual art was recently curated in an exhibition called “Intersectionality” at MOCA North Miami. Learn more at

Grace Reynolds is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker. Her work deals with the politics of identity, the friction of rubbing against societal expectations, and the resulting fallout. She’s been published in Toyon and The Steelhead Review, and she co-founded the Redwood Coast Writers’ Center. She lives in southern Oregon with her two sons and several other mammals, where she’s currently working on a poetry anthology.

Brook Shelley lives in Portland, OR with her cat, Snorri. She wrote for The Toast, and had her work published in Lean Out, and Transfigure. She regularly speaks at conferences on queer & trans issues around the world.

Colette Arrand lives in Athens, Georgia, where she attends the University of Georgia. She is the author of Hold Me Gorilla Monsoon and the founding editor of The Wanderer.


Saturday, 3 June, 3.45-5pm


Toward a More Inclusive Canon: Diversifying the CNF Syllabus

Co-chair: Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Co-chair: Felicia Rose Chavez
Angela Pelster
Háskólatorg - 101 (60)

Junot Diaz sparked a national debate over the urgent need to address inclusivity/exclusivity in CW programs with his New Yorker essay “MFA vs. POC.”  But have our syllabi and classroom practices in CNF truly changed in order to center the perspectives of writers of difference? Felicia Chavez and Stephanie Elizondo Griest will detail their experiences developing a “new canon” course at the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program as MFA candidates in 2010 and how that has had a lasting impact on their pedagogy.
Panelists will discuss the importance of diversifying syllabi to include work by essayists representing the widest possible range of human experience, including race, class, and gender identity, as well as facilitating nonracist classroom discussion and workshop rituals.
After sharing their suggestions for resources for syllabi, including essays, panelists will invite attendees to jot down their own, and all responses will be compiled and mailed to attendees.

Participant Bios

Felicia Rose Chavez is a writer and intermedia artist. Her teaching career began in Chicago, where she served as Program Director to Young Chicago Authors and founded GirlSpeak, a literary webzine for young women. An award-winning educator, Felicia received a Riley Scholar Fellowship to teach creative writing at Colorado College.

Stephanie Elizondo Griest is the author of Around the Bloc, Mexican Enough, and the forthcoming All the Agents & Saints. She won a Margolis Award for Social Justice Reporting for her coverage of the US/Mexico border. An Assistant Professor of Creative Nonfiction at UNC-Chapel Hill, she blogs at

Angela Pelster’s book Limber was a finalist for the PEN Essay Award, and won the GLCA Nonfiction prize. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, Granta, and The Gettysburg Review amongst others. She teaches creative writing at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Memoir Time

Chair: Barrie Jean Borich
Paul Lisicky, Ira Sukrungruang, Bich (Beth) Minh Nguyen, Amitava Kumar
Háskólatorg - 102 (180)

All memoir is about time. Memoirists write of eras that have passed or are passing, changes we can’t turn back from, memories skewed by remembering, places destroyed quickly and remade slowly, and our bodies themselves as containers of time. Memoir is both narrative and reflective, so the writer of memoir must be at once an historian of place and space, a curator of memory, and an architect of sequence. How does the memoirist encapsulate lifetimes and recreate spectacular hours, stretch time to create linkages between generations of oppression, pattern narration to evoke queer experience, navigate the shifting citizenry of places? The panelists will speak of summary and drama, simultaneity, juxtaposition, and emotional distance, how tragedy links the past and the present, how bodies change, and how urban spaces contain traces of so many stories that came before.

Participant Bios

Paul Lisicky’s five books include THE NARROW DOOR, a New York Times Editors' Choice; UNBUILT PROJECTS; and FAMOUS BUILDER. His awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Michener/Copernicus Society, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He teaches in the MFA Program at Rutgers University-Camden.

Barrie Jean Borich is the author of Body Geographic, winner of a Lambda Literary Award in memoir, and My Lesbian Husband, recipient of a Stonewall Book Award in nonfiction. She’s an associate professor at DePaul University in Chicago where she edits Slag Glass City, a journal of urban essay arts.


Bich Minh Nguyen, who also goes by Beth, is the author of the memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, which received the PEN/Jerard Award, the novel Short Girls, which received an American Book Award, and most recently the novel Pioneer Girl. She teaches in and directs the MFA in Writing Program at the University of San Francisco.

Ira Sukrungruang is the author of the story collection, The Melting Season; two nonfiction books, Southside Buddhist and Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, and the poetry collection, In Thailand It Is Night. He teaches creative writing at University of South Florida.

Amitava Kumar is the author of several books of nonfiction and a novel. His latest book is Lunch with a Bigot: The Writer in the World. Kumar’s essay “Pyre,” in Granta 130, was chosen by Jonathan Franzen for Best American Essays 2016. This year, he is a Guggenheim Fellow for nonfiction.


Essaying the Literary-Visual: Between Word and Image

Chair: Lucinda Strahan
Brad Haylock, Joshua Unikel, Ben Van Dyke, Jessica Wilkinson
Háskólatorg - 104 (100)

As the field of nonfiction expands, the term “literary-visual” suggests a way to describe hybrid works that use both literary and visual languages—lyric essays, text-and-image art, graphic memoirs, and book objects—those works sitting at the intersection of nonfiction, fine art, and/or graphic design. The term also brings nonfiction into contact with the ubiquity of images in contemporary global media culture, allowing nonfiction writers and essayists to use the full visual vocabulary of their time. As literary scholar Sarah Nuttal suggests, the contemporary moment calls for “a conceptual language that tries to move beyond the sharp image/text distinction we have relied on for so long.” This panel will discuss the unique opportunities and pressing questions raised by nonfiction works that move beyond a sharp distinction between text and image.

Participant Bios

Brad Haylock is a designer, publisher and academic. He is an Associate Professor of Design in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Melbourne, where he is program manager of the Master of Communication Design, and he is founding editor of Surpllus, an independent publisher focusing on critical and speculative practices across art, design and theory.

Lucinda Strahan is a writer of essay journalism and experimental nonfiction. She has published in major Australian newspapers and arts journals and her hybrid literary-visual works have been published in Defunctmag, and exhibited in ‘The Swapshop Laboratory’ (NonfictionNow 2012) and ‘Writing Naked’ (Melbourne Writers’ Festival 2009). Lucinda is a lecturer in the Professional Communication Program at RMIT.

Ben Van Dyke has exhibited his typographic installations across North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He was Artist-in-Residence at NLXL: The Hague as a Fulbright Fellow. Van Dyke recently joined the faculty in the Department of Art, Art History and Design at Michigan State University.

Joshua Unikel works at the intersection of literary and visual art. His work has been published in The Journal, Essay Review, [PANK], The Normal School, Sonora Review, Fugue, TriQuarterly, and other journals. He has shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Griffith University Art Gallery (AUS), DesignPhiladelphia, and elsewhere. He is the co-editor of Beyond Category and assistant editor of Seneca Review.

Jessica Wilkinson is the founding editor of RABBIT: a journal for nonfiction poetry. She has published two poetic biographies, marionette: a biography of miss marion davies (Vagabond 2012) and Suite for Percy Grainger (Vagabond 2014). She is currently writing up a third, on choreographer George Balanchine. She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at RMIT University, Melbourne.


New Voices from Iceland

Students of Creative Writing, University of Iceland
Lögberg - 101 (106)

Students in the Master’s Program in Creative Writing at the University of Iceland present their creative nonfiction: Þórdís Helgadóttir, Hlín Leifsdóttir, Auður Styrkársdóttir, Ásdís Ingólfsdóttir, Lárus Jón Guðmundsson, Olof Sverrisdottir, Þorvaldur Sigurbjörn Helgason, Vignir Árnason. 


‘There Is Nothing to Grasp’: A Reading and Discussion

Chair: Mary Cappello
Gregor Hens, Lance Olsen, Dawn Raffel
Oddi-101 (120)

Roland Barthes closed his nonfiction fragments on satori with the phrase, “There is nothing to grasp.” Osip Mandelstam’s prose work—The Noise of Time (Шум времени) is described as “untranslatable.” Four readings by leading cross-genre writers, and a wildcard discussion, will put translation, literal or metaphorical, to the test. What nonfiction forms can we invent to approach, without containing, the amorphous or incomprehensible—those matters that are everywhere apparent but that resist our gaze? Closer to home: mood, mortality, and habit; further afield: the lives of others, and the vanished worlds they lived in, that live in us still. Panelists will share work that animates the relationship between the ungraspable and the untranslatable, from subjects that require special “handling,” to those that elude our perceptual and cognitive frames, to those that fail easily to “move across” or between languages, locales, or audiences.

Participant Bios

Lance Olsen is author of more than 20 books of and about innovative writing, including, most recently, [[ there. ]], a trash-diary meditation on the confluence of travel, curiosity, and experimentation. A Guggenheim, Berlin Prize, Artist-in-Berlin Residency, N.E.A. Fellowship, and Pushcart Prize recipient, he teaches at the University of Utah.

Mary Cappello’s five books include a detour (on awkwardness); a breast cancer anti-chronicle; a lyric biography; and, a mood fantasia, Life Breaks In. Devoted to forms of disruptive beauty, she is a Guggenheim and Berlin Prize Fellow, and recipient of the Dorothea-Lange/Paul Taylor Prize from Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies.

Gregor Hens is a freelance writer and literary translator in Berlin, where he also teaches courses for Dartmouth College´s study abroad program and works with Syrian refugees. He has translated Jonathan Lethem, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Vonnegut and Will Self into German. His nonfiction book, Nicotine, appears this year from Other Press.

Dawn Raffel is the author of a non-linear memoir, The Secret Life of Objects, two collections and a novel. Her next book is a nonfiction account of a curious episode in American medical history. She has a passion for acoustical properties of the sentence and for interrogating structure.


Against the Invisible Audience

Chair: Amanda Dambrink
A. Kendra Greene, Sarah Viren, Joey Franklin
Háskólatorg - 103 (100)

In Against the Invisible Audience, we will explore what we gain or lose by essaying beyond the page through performance and direct audience participation. As we perform and invite our audience to participate in excerpts from our own work, we will lead discussions about authorship, audience, and collaboration in nonfiction. For example, how often is nonfiction truly authored by a single person? Does collaborating with a live audience make a work of nonfiction feel more personal or more universal? Can performative, participatory nonfiction find a home in supportive venues or publications?

Participant Bios

A. Kendra Greene is the Writer in Residence at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Center for Creative Connections. Her essays on Icelandic museums have been published as a chapbook series by Anomalous Press. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction from the University of Iowa. 

Amanda Dambrink works as the editor for the University of Wisconsin’s continuing education, outreach, and e-learning program in Madison, Wisconsin. She is also the Assistant Nonfiction Editor for Drunken Boat, an international journal of literature and the arts. Amanda holds an MA in Creative Nonfiction from Ohio University. 

Joey Franklin is the author of My Wife Wants You to Know I'm Happily Married (Nebraska, 2015). His essays have appeared in The Norton Reader, Ninth Letter, Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT.


Sarah Viren is the author of Mine, winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize (forthcoming, University of New Mexico Press) and translator of the Argentine novella Córdoba Skies by Federico Falco (Ploughshares Solos, 2016). Her poetry and prose have appeared in AGNI, the Iowa ReviewGettysburg ReviewTriQuarterly, and other magazines. She holds an M.F.A from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Arizona State University. 

Saturday, 3 June, 5.15-6.30pm

The Processes of Ekphrasis

Chair: Xu Xi 許素細
Christopher Mattison, Brenda Miller, Leila Philip, Paisley Rekdal
Háskólatorg - 101 (60)

Two writers collaborate, separately and together, to respond to the same set of visual images.  A writer in residence at an art museum responds to their collection monthly. One writer creates a hybrid memoir that combines photography, poetry, fiction and nonfiction to respond to the photographer Edward S. Curtis’s photo-text The North American Indian. A photographer begins a conversation with a writer by sending her a photo from his archive, and she continues the conversation with an essay she sends back to him, and so it goes. And how is the final outcome of such ekphrastic work presented to the world? As a book? As an art installation? One editor-curator shares his experience. These five panelists offer glimpses into the variety and possibilities in their creative processes for ekphrasis.

Participant Bios

Brenda Miller is the author of five essay collections, most recently An Earlier Life (Ovenbird Books, 2016). She co-authored Tell It Slant and The Pen and The Bell, and has received six Pushcart Prizes. She teaches in the MFA programs at Western Washington University and the Rainier Writing Workshop.

Xu Xi 許素細 ( is author of ten books of fiction & nonfiction, most recently An Elegy for HK (2017 memoir), Interruptions (2016 Ekphrastic essays) and That Man in Our Lives (2016 novel). She currently lives between New York and Hong Kong. Follow her @xuxiwriter, &

Christopher Mattison graduated with a Master’s degree in Literary Translation from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa. Over the past twenty years he has worked with a number of cultural organizations, most recently as a curator and publisher for UMAG, where he is developing a series of literary engagements based on the museum collection.

Leila Philip is the author of 3 books of literary nonfiction and a collaborative work with artist, Garth Evans. She has received numerous awards, including from the Guggenheim and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to teaching, she is the writer in residence at the Worcester Art Museum.

Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee; a hybrid-genre memoir entitled Intimate; and several books of poetry, including Imaginary Vessels, out from Copper Canyon Press. Her work has received the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes, and inclusion in the Best American Poetry series. She runs the web history archive project, Mapping Salt Lake City.


Third Culture Point of View: Writing from a Multicultural Perspective

Chair: Mieke Eerkens
Huan Hsu, Maria Tumarkin, Zaina Arafat, Johannes Klabbers
Háskólatorg - 102 (180)

Some of the most interesting and vibrant nonfiction writing emerges from the exploration of cultures and landscapes by those from hybridized backgrounds. “Third Culture Kids,” or TCKs, are people who identify as “cultural mutts” not aligned fully with one culture or another, but rather, to a mixture of two or more cultures identified as a “third culture” of transnationalism. Third Culture writers represent a growing demographic in the writing community, and their backgrounds influence their work on many levels. This panel of mixed-culture writers will draw on personal experience to highlight the ways that their writing has been influenced and/or challenged by their unique perspectives straddling cultural identities.

Participant Bios

Huan Hsu, born in the Bay Area and raised in Salt Lake City, is a former staff writer for the Washington City Paper in Washington, DC, and the Seattle Weekly. He is the recipient of two Society of Professional Journalists awards and has received recognition from the Casey Foundation for Meritorious Journalism. His essays and fiction have also appeared in Slate, The Literary Review, and Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts. He currently lives in Amsterdam and teaches creative writing at Amsterdam University College.

Mieke Eerkens has dual nationality with The Netherlands and The United States. Her work has appeared in Best Travel Writing 2011, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica/Pen America, Creative Nonfiction, and Norton’s Fakes, among others. She has an MA in English Literature from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and an MFA from The University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. Her book, All Ships Follow Me, is forthcoming from Picador and the Dutch translation from De Geus.

Zaina Arafat is a Palestinian-American writer. Her work has appeared in Granta, Iowa Review, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Vice, BuzzFeed, and NPR. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction from Iowa and a Master’s in international affairs from Columbia. She teaches writing in New York, and is working on two books.


Maria Tumarkin is the author of three acclaimed books of ideas – Traumascapes, Courage and Otherland – and many widely discussed essays. All books were shortlisted for literary prizes; her essay ‘No Skin’ was shortlisted for the Melbourne Prize for Literature. Maria was a 2013–14 Sidney Myer Creative Fellow in humanities. She collaborates with visual and sound artists, psychologists and pubic historians. Maria holds a PhD in cultural history from the University of Melbourne, where she teaches creative writing. 

Johannes Klabbers: I am an Australian writer and a posthumanist therapist currently living and working in Europe. My first book, I Am Here, was published in 2016 by Scribe in the UK and Australia. I am not affiliated with any institution. My email address is and my website is at


Writers Fighting for Social Justice: Outsiders, Insiders, and Voices in Between

Chair: Kathleen Blackburn
Ayşe Paptya Bucuk, Sarah Viren, Minal Hajratwala, Leslie Jill Patterson
Lögberg - 101 (106)

The nexus of nonfiction and social justice links writers and their words to a rich and broad range of issues: the fight against the death penalty in the U.S.; the responsibilities and hazards of claiming a national identity; the movement toward community building; the battle between segregation, the illegal drug trade, and violence; tracing the paths of global diaspora; representing the lives of LGBTQ Indians, India’s most misunderstood minority; and global climate change in the subantarctic. But complicated conflicts arise when trying to represent an “other” in the midst of one’s personal narrative. Identity can shape, enhance, or hinder our ability to write about social justice. Are we outsiders, insiders, or voices in between? This panel will examine how personal proximity to marginalized places and communities creates tension and meaning in nonfiction narratives. How are these conflicts generative? Do they become the “heat” of our work? When writing about some of society’s most troubling issues and most vulnerable places, how do we craft narratives that genuinely work toward solutions instead of simply capitalizing on the problems?

Participant Bios

Ayşe Papatya Bucak is an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University.  Her essays have been published in Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Aster(ix), and The Rumpus.  Her short fiction has been selected for the O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes; and, she is a contributing editor for the literary journal Copper Nickel.

Kathleen Blackburn is currently a PhD student at UIC. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared in Bellingham Review, DIAGRAM, Iron Horse Literary Review, Pilgrimage, The Pinch, Prime Number Magazine, River Teeth, etc., and has been listed as notable in Best American Essays.

Minal Hajratwala’s books include Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents (winner of four nonfiction awards), Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment (poetry), and Out! Stories from the New Queer India (anthology). She co-founded The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective and created Write Like a Unicorn, an online portal serving writers.


Sarah Viren is the author of Mine, winner of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize (forthcoming, University of New Mexico Press) and translator of the Argentine novella Córdoba Skies by Federico Falco (Ploughshares Solos, 2016). Her poetry and prose have appeared in AGNI, the Iowa ReviewGettysburg ReviewTriQuarterly, and other magazines. She holds an M.F.A from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Arizona State University. 

Leslie Jill Patterson’s essays have appeared in journals and anthologies. She has received awards for her writing and advocacy work, including the Embrey Human Rights Fellowship, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, and a Soros Justice Fellowship. Today, she is the narrative strategist for public defense teams representing indigent men and women charged with capital murder.


Third Narratives: Beyond ‘Fiction’ and ‘Nonfiction’

Chair: Laurie Stone
Margo Jefferson, Elizabeth Kendall, Amy Butcher, Erika Meitner
Háskólatorg - 104 (100)

Third Narratives explores writing, often called hybrid, that skirts the categories “fiction” and “nonfiction” while incorporating techniques drawn from novels and short stories, memoir, cultural criticism, essays, journalism, and photography. We are interested in the notion of “story” as opposed to the details of “memory” and in that sense the writing that emerges is some kind of fiction, created through language and the associations of the narrator. The writers WG Sebald, Chris Kraus, Adrienne Kennedy, and David Shields come to mind as practitioners. The panel will also discuss craft and form elements used in hybrid texts or “text objects,” among them bricolage and collage borrowed from visual art forms, cut-ups and exquisite corpse experiments promoted by William Burroughs, and film-editing techniques including jump cuts, fades, montage, close-ups, longshots, and exploded moments.

Participant Bios

Margo Jefferson is a cultural critic and the author of Negroland: A Memoir, and On Michael Jackson. Negroland received the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. In 1995, while a staff writer for The New York Times she received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. She teaches writing at Columbia University.

Laurie Stone is author of four books, most recently My Life as an Animal, a series of linked, comic stories. She won the Nona Balakian prize in excellence in criticism from the National Book Critics. Her work has appeared in Fence, Open City, Anderbo, Threepenny Review and many other journals. Her latest collaboration with musical composer Gordon Beeferman, “You, the Weather, a Wolf,” premiered in New York City in May 2016.

Amy Butcher is an essayist with recent work in the New York Times Sunday Review and The American Scholar. She is the author of Visiting Hours, a 2015 memoir that earned starred reviews and praise from The New York Times Sunday Review of Books, NPR, The Star Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and others.

Elizabeth Kendall is a dance and culture critic, an Associate Professor at New School’s Eugene Lang College and the author of 3 cultural histories and 2 memoirs. Her most recent book, published by Oxford U. Press in 2013 (paperback 2015), is Balanchine and the Lost Muse:  Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer.

Erika Meitner is the author of four books of poems, including Copia (BOA Editions, 2014) and National Poetry Series winner Ideal Cities (HarperCollins, 2010). She was a 2015 Fulbright Scholar in Creative Writing at QUB, and is currently an associate professor of English and MFA program director at Virginia Tech.


Quest(ion)ing Memoir’s GPS

Chair: Marc Nieson
Faith Adiele, Sabata-mpho Mokae, Carmella de los Angeles Guiol
Oddi-101 (120)

Each memoir is surely situated—in time, in voice, in place. Each one, a sojourn of self, exploring how any of us got from then to now, there to here. One could argue it’s impossible to separate your personal tale’s content from its context, your material from its material world. But what if your individual GPS isn’t so singular or simple? Your geography more peripatetic, your sense of time more fragmented, your identity more permeable? What limit does any map or passport or skin place upon us as memoirists? Does refuge play a role in one’s unfurling narrative? Does exile? DNA? GPS? The multiplicity of this international panel’s backgrounds and trajectories will enable us to broach questions not only of language and translation, but nuances of culture and dialect and identity. Where, precisely, does the self reside?

Participant Bios

Faith Adiele ( is author of Meeting Faith, a PEN-Award-winning memoir set in Thailand; subject of the PBS documentary My Journey Home; and co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology. She is completing Twins: An Afro-Viking Epic, a memoir set in Norden, Nigeria and the USA.

Marc Nieson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and NYU Film School. His background includes children’s theatre, cattle chores, and a season with a one-ring circus. His memoir — SCHOOLHOUSE: Lessons on Love & Landscape (2016). He teaches at Chatham University and edits The Fourth River.  More @

Carmella de los Angeles Guiol is the 2016 recipient of Crab Orchard Review's Charles Johnson Award for fiction. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, Bustle, The Toast, Thought Catalog, The Normal School, Slag Glass City, Kudzu House, Tahoma Literary Review, The Manifest-Station, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and elsewhere. You can often find her working in the garden or frolicking in a body of water, but you can always find her writing at

Sabata-mpho Mokae writes in English and Setswana, and has won a South African Literary Journalism Award. His work ranges from biography to young adult to poetry. His first novel, Ga Ke Modisa [I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper] won the 2013 M-Net Literary Award for Best Novel in Setswana. Mokae’s latest book, Kanakotsame: In My Times (2015), is a collection of short English stories. He is a creative writing lecturer at the Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley, South Africa.


Literary Countermapping: Uses of the Speculative and New Political Imaginaries in Nonfiction

Chair: Ailish Hopper
Amitava Kumar, Jen Fitzgerald, Jess Row
Háskólatorg - 103 (100)

Nonfiction maps what is real—but what if “the real” cannot be seen without imagination? The speculative is an important device in nonfiction, a countermapping that can air what remains unvoiced; illuminate marginalized histories; give coherence to what is fragmented, even hallucinatory; present ways that the past, present, and future come together; or reveal the body’s innate knowledges—pushing us past the reach of tangible. Addressing their own work and work by writers such as Dionne Brand, Maggie Nelson, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the essayists and memoirists on the panel will discuss specific strategies for populating received forms with subversive content, connecting motivation with formal choice, and approaches for cherishing the relationship with the reader while challenging them to push past the familiar and comfortable. The last twenty minutes of the panel will be reserved for questions and lively discussion about how to incorporate countermapping and the speculative into our work.

Participant Bios

Amitava Kumar is the author of several books of nonfiction and a novel. His latest book is Lunch with a Bigot: The Writer in the World. Kumar's essay “Pyre,” in Granta 130, was chosen by Jonathan Franzen for Best American Essays 2016. This year, he is a Guggenheim Fellow for nonfiction.

Ailish Hopper is the author of the poetry collection Dark~Sky Society (New Issues) and the chapbook Bird in the Head (Center for Book Arts). She’s received support from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and her nonfiction has appeared in Boston Review, The Volta, and the anthology, A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race.

Jess Row is the author of the story collections, The Train to Lo Wu and Nobody Ever Gets Lost, and the novel, Your Face in Mine. His nonfiction and criticism appear often in The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Threepenny Review, and Boston Review, among other venues.

Jen Fitzgerald is a poet and essayist and author of “The Art of Work” (Noemi Press). She is a member of the New York Writers Workshop and host of New Books in Poetry. Her writing has appeared/forthcoming on/in PBS Newshour, Tin House, Salon, PEN Anthology, and Colorado Review, among others.