Thursday, February 28, 2008

STD updates

Okay, so there is all sorts of news for Western's chapter of Sigma Tau Delta.

We just had our Spring inductions and had the largest number of inductees since our chapter began. Included in those inductees was Scott Slawinski who has been invited to be an honorary member. Please make it a point to welcome and poke fun at all these English nerds. Also inducted were:

Kelly Bacon
Daniel Brim
JaCorey Broyles
John Carver
Alyssa Coffey
Laura Citino
Ashley Demsky
Sarah Durham
Daniel Ferency
Caitlyn Gulliver
Shannon Hill
Samuel Marshall
Renee Schroeder
Tricia Schultz
Alexander Smith
Shaina Tubergan
Stephanie Yates

In other STD news, we're going to Louisville! Ten members will be leaving for the international conference on Wednesday 5 March. We are holding a raffle the day before we leave for a weekend stay at a cabin on a lake. If you are interested in the least please contact me and I'll put you in touch with someone who can help.



Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Olsen & Rybicki Reading: 3/10

On Monday, March 10 at 6:30 the Portage District Library (at 300 Library Lane) will be hosting a poetry reading, book signing and reception by our very own Bill Olsen and WMU alumnus and New Issues Press author John Rybicki to celebrate their newest publications: Olsen's Avenune of Vanishing and Rybicki's We Bed Down Into Water, both published by TriQuarterly within the last year. The event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Culture and Ethnic Identities Lecture

As part of the Social Justice Lecture Series, Prof. Donaldo Macedo of the University of Massachusetts will be giving a public lecture on Tuesday, February 26th, at 7:00 PM in WMU's Fetzer Center. His talk is titled "Dancing with Bigotry: The Poisoning of Culture and Ethnic Identities."

Donaldo Macedo is Professor of English and Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, where he is the Graduate Program Director of the Master of Arts in applied linguistics. He has published extensively in the areas of linguistics, critical literacy, and bilingual and multicultural education. His publications include: Reading the Word and the World (with Paulo Freire, 1987), Literacies of Power: What Americans are not allowed to Know (1994), Dancing with Bigotry (with Lilia Bartolome, 1999), Critical Education in the New Information Age (with Paulo Freire, Henry Giroux and Paul Willis, 1999), Chomsky on MisEducation (with Noam Chomsky, 2000) and Ideology Matters (with Paulo Freire, 1997, 2001).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Joslin Featured by Fulbright

Katherine Joslin, currently a Fulbright Senior Specialist at Menoufyia University, Egypt, is featured on the Fulbright web pages:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reading Together / Finding Grace In Kalamazoo

Finding Grace in Kalamazoo
Reading Together’s closing event features talented musician Ken Medema in concert on Thursday, March 6, 7:00 pm, at the First Baptist Church, 315 W Michigan Ave. Free ticket required for admission; tickets are available at any public library in Kalamazoo County while supply lasts. Call 553-7913 for more information.
With his amazing gift of impromptu composition, Ken will help us to discover and celebrate dreams born and nurtured in our community and the people who have kept these dreams alive. Ken will listen to several people talk about their dreams then reflect their stories in song, in a performance that sounds as powerful as the final, masterful take in a recording studio.
Those who will talk about their dreams at the event include Kalamazoo College professor Dr. Kim Cummings, founder of Building Blocks; Chris Dilley, general manager of the People's Food Co-op; Judy Sarkozy, owner of Sarkozy Bakery; artist Conrad Kaufman, painter of murals, and others.

Teen Literature Seminar

Teen Literature Seminar Features Sharon Flake and Angela Johnson

Kalamazoo Public Library's 6th annual teen literature seminar on March 14, 2008, explores how to keep "Teens on Track" at the Fetzer Center, Western Michigan University.

At the daylong seminar, award-winning and very popular teen authors Sharon G. Flake and Angela Johnson will share the inside story of their work and describe how their books resonate with teens. Michael Cart will cover the use of literature as a bridge to teen patrons—both historically and today. Librarians Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan will review books that keep teens on track. Area teens will reveal, in their own words, how they feel about the future and what we can do to make it better for them. Flake's, Johnson's and Cart's books will be available for sale and signing.

The seminar runs from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The registration fee of $35 includes lunch. College students with valid ID may attend the seminar for $15, including lunch, or $5 for seminar only. Register online at or call Kalamazoo Public Library’s Teen Services at 269-553-7807. This seminar is designed for anyone who lives or works with teens: librarians, teachers, parents, counselors, youth group leaders, and college students preparing to serve teens.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

O'Hare Play: Feb. 26

Ph.D. student Kristian O'Hare's play The Gay American will be performed next Tuesday, February 26 at the Zack L. York Arena Theatre on WMU's campus at 7:30. Mitch Vemeersch's Noon is also on the bill. Each show runs about an hour long. Admission is free, so come show your support for Kristian's good work, but leave the kids at home on account of adult themes and content.

Integrity & Courage in Professional & Public Life

On February 27, the Fetzer Institute is hosting a free public lecture by Parker J. Palmer, "Integrity and Courage in Professional and Public Life," at Kalamazoo Central High School, 7 pm.

Parker Palmer--senior associate of the American Association for Higher Education and senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute--is an educational activist, "master teacher," and writer whose books include The Promise of Paradox, The Company of Strangers, To Know As We Are Known, The Active Life, The Courage To Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998), and Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999). For more information on Palmer's work, please consult:

Utz on Medieval Scholarship and Nationalism

Richard Utz recently published "Medieval Philology and Nationalism: The British and German Editors of Thomas of Erceldoune" in Florilegium 23.2 (2006 [2008]), 27-45, the journal of the Canadian Society of Medievalists. The essay attempts to shed light on the national and regional motivations welling up in the English, German, Scottish, and North American reception history of the late medieval lai/ballad/romance/prophecy Thomas of Erceldoune.

Gwen Frostic Series presents Lisa Kron, 2/25

Please join us on Monday, February 25 when the Gwen Frostic Reading Series presents playwright Lisa Kron.

Lisa Kron, founding member of the OBIE and Bessie Award-winning theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers, is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Cal Arts/Alpert Award, and NEA/TCG playwriting fellowship and grants from the Creative Chapel foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her play, Well, which is among her best-known, opened to critical acclaim on Broadway in 2006, received two Tony nominations and is included in the anthology, Best Plays of 2004-2005. Her other plays include 2.5 Minute Ride, which received an OBIE Award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations, an L.A. Drama-Logue Award, the GLAAD Media Award for best play on or Off Broadway, and was named the best autobiographical show of 1999 by New York Press; 101 Humiliating Stories; Charity and Montecore; 43/13; and Martha. She teaches at Yale Drama School.

The reading will begin at 8 pm at the Epic Center on the Kalamazoo Mall (359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, between South St. and Lovell). As always, the reading is free and open to the public. Please invite your students to attend.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Students and Faculty Present at Purdue Medieval Studies Conference

Two graduate students from Western presented papers at the 6th Annual Conference for Medieval Studies on Authority, Authorship, and Audience in the Middle Ages hosted by members of Comitatus, a medieval studies group at Purdue University. Jill Hebert spoke on “Authority on Ambiguity: Morgan le Fay as Author,” and Arthur J. Russell spoke on “Learning to Read Again: Sir Cleges and the Quest for Orthodox Readers.” Eve Salisbury’s “Anonymity, Attribution, and the Nearly Known: Medieval Authorship Revisited” provided the plenary address. Lisa Horton, Greg Laing, and Shannon Spratto also attended.

MLA Approaches to Teaching _The Taming of the Shrew_

Grace Tiffany and Meg Dupuis are the volume editors for Approaches to Teaching The Taming of the Shrew, the newest publication in the MLA Approaches to Teaching Western Literature series. They are currently surveying faculty from around the world who regularly teach the play and are also soliciting proposals for essays to be included in the book. If you would like to complete the survey, forward it to someone you know, or just take a look at it, please go to the following web site:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gwen Frostic Reading, Thursday February 21

The Gwen Frostic Reading Series celebrates New Issues Press on Thursday with a reading by New Issues poets David Keplinger and Heather Sellers.

David Keplinger’s third volume of poetry, The Prayers of Others, was published by New Issues Press in 2006 and won the Colorado Book Award. New Issues also published his volume The Clearing (2005) and his translations of the Danish poet René Carsten Nielsen, The World Cut Out With Crooked Scissors (2007). He was been awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize for his collection The Rose Inside (New Odyssey Press, 1999), as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Katey Lehman Foundation.

Heather Sellers is the author of three volumes of poetry including The Boys I Borrow (New Issues, 2007), Drinking Girls and Their Dresses (Ahsahta, 2002), and the chapbook Your Whole Life. She is also the author of the short story collection Georgia Under Water (Sarabande, 2001), a children’s book, and a series of books on the practice of writing. Her memoir in progress, Face First, describes life with prosopagnosia. Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for fiction, Sellers is a professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

The reading will be at 8pm at the Little Theatre. Hope to see you there. Please encourage your students to attend.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

News from Arnie and Debby Johnston

Debby and I are in sunny Florida (Fort Myers Beach) for the next week or so. Before leaving for the South we just got back from a January 20 NYC reading of our full-length Detroit play, Small Slam. We stayed at Debby’s brother Lee’s place (he’s off in LA editing a movie for HBO) and had a great time. The reading—at Workshop Theater—went very well. People said the kind of things about the play one could only wish for, and the company wants to move it on toward production. We spoke with Le Wilhelm the artistic director at Love Creek Productions, who has done a lot of our stuff there, and he wants to do both Out in the 45 (our play about the Jacobite rebellion) and another Brel revue (he did one back in 1995). We also spoke with attorney Bob Perlstein, who used to represent Mme. Brel but now represents me, and he had good advice about approaching the Brels again; he also asked to see several of our other pieces with a view to pushing them here and there.
When we got back from NYC we learned that our one-act, Banana War, is a semifinalist in the Tennessee Williams competition and that the Attic Theatre Center (LA), which has produced our one-act But If It Rage (remember the car plays?) a couple of times, wants to sell copies of and license the play for production through its online store. This also caused Greg Siers at IntroSpec Films to reemerge with plans to film Rage.
I just got a copy of the cover design (attached) for my Robert Burns novel, The Witching Voice, and it looks very good. The 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth is coming up on January 25, 2009, which will be the official pub date. The publisher—Wings Press—is very enthusiastic and plans to include illustrations in the form of period engravings to dress up the book. I’m really happy with the design, and the distributor for Wings is really good, international, and very active. The New Vic, where the play version of The Witching Voice was premiered 1n 1973, is thinking about a production for the 250th anniversary. We’re also sending copies of the WV play around the country and to Britain, hoping to capitalize on the anniversary and the novel, as well as on my ability to perform Burns’s songs and poems.
I’ve been getting lots of emails about my Jacques Brel translations (and orders for my CD) thanks to the Wikipedia entry on Brel that identifies me as the best translator of his work. Meanwhile, the Whole Art Theatre is thinking about a Brel revue, and Theo Ubique, the company in Chicago that ran my Brel revue to raves for six months, is definitely planning a new Brel revue for this coming June at the newly-enlarged No Exit Cafe. The new Play N Well Players (in Plainwell-Otsego) will produce our one-act Love Is Strange as part of an upcoming one-act festival. All in all, it’s been an interesting few weeks. We’re hoping to get a radio adaptation of Hansel and Gretel (for All Ears Theatre) substantially written while we’re in Florida—we’ll see!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Esrock to Speak on Sensing Literature in the Body

Dr. Ellen Esrock, Associate Professor of Literature at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will speak in the English Department's Scholarly Speakers Series on Thursday, February 14 at 7 p.m. on the 10th floor of Sprau Tower. Her talk, entitled "Sensing Literature in the Body: Empathy and the Somatosensory System," will be followed a Q&A session and a small reception. Dr. Esrock will also lead a workshop on the same topic on Friday, February 15, from 2-3:30 p.m. on the 10th floor of Sprau Tower. All are welcome to both events!

Third Coast Reading Friday: Love & Hate

This Friday, February 15, AGES and the Third Coast Reading Series presents a themed reading: Love & Hate. Those interested in reading or performing should e-mail Beth Marzoni at to get put on the roster. Readers will get three minutes to do with as they please. Come join us and help spread the word.

"Saddling Up" With the Wife of Bath

Students were encouraged to “saddle up” with the Wife of Bath in Eve Salisbury and Greg Laing’s British literature class last Wednesday. A mock pilgrimage—led by the Knight with his “Got Armor” emblem—captured the spirit of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as the company made its way from Dunbar 2210 to a conference room in Friedmann. Students took the initiative in approximating medieval garb, creating devices, and carrying banners and signs to commemorate the symbolic event.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gwen Frostic Reading, Monday February 18

The Gwen Frostic Reading Series is proud to kick off its line-up this semester with a reading by esteemed poet Carl Phillips.

Phillips is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2007) and Riding Westward (2006). His collection The Rest of Love (2004) won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His other books include: Rock Harbor (2002); The Tether (2001), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Pastoral (2000), winner of the Lambda Literary Award; From the Devotions (1998), finalist for the National Book Award; Cortége (1995), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and In the Blood (1992), winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. He is also the author of Coin of the Realm, a book of essays on poetry and poetics.

The reading will be at 8 pm at the Little Theatre. Please join us, invite your students, and help us spread the word.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Bush and Gordon Awarded ASTRA Grants

Jonathan Bush and Jaimy Gordon have been awarded College of Arts and Sciences Teaching and Research Awards (ASTRA), Bush for a research project entitled "A Gateway to Graduate Study in Rhetoric and Writing Studies," Gordon for attending an event at the Fine Arts Work Center in Massachusetts.