Subjects

Meet Priscilla Page, dramaturg who worked with Joy Harjo!

Joy Harjo and Priscilla Page in conversation at Yale University, March 2019.

Priscilla Page was co-editor and contributor to Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light: A Play by Joy Harjo and A Circle of Responses. The play was inspired by Harjo’s desire to see Native Americans accurately depicted on the stage, in the face of inaccurate contemporary depictions found in the likes of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Cry, Trojans!, in addition other recent plays. As Mary Kathryn Nagle points out in her introductory essay: “In contrast to the majority of contemporary Native representation onstage, the Native protagonist of Wings does not grunt incoherent sounds, nor does she portray the loss of her Muscogee ancestral homelands as a joke in a modern day rock musical.”

Priscilla Page is a writer, dramaturg, senior lecturer in the Department of Theater and coordinator for the Multicultural Theater Certificate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a member of the Latino Theater Commons and Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA). She served as the program curator at New WORLD Theater and managed the Asian American Women Playwrights Archive for five years.

Page’s dramaturgy works include My Bronx, written and performed by Terry Jenoure, sash & trim, written and performed by Djola Branner and directed by award winning actress Laurie Carlos, Changing the Air, written and directed by Ingrid Askew, and Lydia on the Top Floor, also written and performed by Terry Jenoure and directed by Linda McInerney. Page also contributed to widely published playwright Migdalia Cruz’s essay “My World Made Real,” a part of Cruz’s anthology, El Grito Del Bronx. She earned her BA at California State University Hayward, and her MFA in dramaturgy at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Question & Answer with Priscilla Page

Q Tell us about what led you to become a dramaturg?

A I have always loved theater and performance. I took dance classes with my cousins when I was really young and then I was in the choir and in plays in high school. Like many young people, I wanted to move to New York and become an actor. I had big dreams for a while. In college, I chose to have a child and then redirected my path in life. I finished college with an emphasis on costume design and an interest in dramaturgy. Right after college, I was able to work as an intern as dramaturg at UC Santa Barbara where my love for theater research continued to grow. That experience led me to study dramaturgy at UMASS Amherst where I earned my MFA in 2002. There are many facets to dramaturgy and dramaturgs perform a number of different functions that include research, translation, education, audience engagement, and new play development. As a dramaturg, I am most interested in working with writers (playwrights and poets) on new plays/performance texts. Laurie Carlos, my mentor and art-mother, helped forge what is known as the jazz aesthetics in theater and I see her influence on my work clearly. I appreciate theater that blends forms and that pushes creative and political boundaries. Joy’s play does these things and shows the readers a path toward self-actualization and healing.

Q  What do you envision, for the future of Indigenous Theater and Indigenous Performance?

A I envision respect, understanding, and resources. We chose to place Mary Kathryn Nagle’s essay first in the book because she lays out such a clear statement about the absence AND the distortions of Native American people on the American stage that is both historical and ongoing. Native American artists have rich and complex stories to tell. We need audiences to listen and we need resources to cultivate new voices and spaces for Native American writers and performers.

Q How did you come to work on Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, a book about Indigenous Theater?

A I met Joy in 2003 when she performed as part of the Global Women’s History Project at Westfield State College. My dear friend and incredible poet Magdalena Gomez also participated in that event and told me about it. I have loved Joy’s poetry since I first read it as a young woman in college in California in the 1990s. At the time that Joy and I met, I was having a hard time emotionally because my Aunt Linda had passed away and recently. It was sudden and it deeply affected my mother. I wasn’t able to travel home and felt very sad and lonely. I had never seen pictures of Joy but I knew many of her poems: “She Had Some Horses”, “Remember”, “Woman Hanging From the 13th Floor Window”. I expected to be moved by hearing her but what was totally unexpected was how I felt when I saw her. She looks just like my Aunt Linda. I ended up sitting in the back of the room and weeping through the entire reading. When it was over, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the space. In fact, I moved closer to the stage without really wanting to talk to Joy. I only wanted to be close to her as I grieved. I am sure she sensed that something was going on with me because I think I ended up being the only person in the auditorium. I vividly recall Joy sitting next to me and starting a conversation with me. I told her that she looked like my aunt and she simply said, “Tell me about her.” I shared with her that I knew a little about my family’s heritage as Native Americans but that my mom and her siblings were virtually silent about that part of themselves. We come from a very small tribe that endured incredible violence in Northern California, the Wiyot Tribe. Joy knew of this tribe and their history. She had even done work with them and visited their land. I had a copy of her poem “Remember” with me and I asked her to sign it. She wrote, “I hope this poem helps you find your people.”

I share part of this story in the book and with you now because it did help me continue to ask questions and do research; it’s a journey that I am still taking. I also learned from Joy and through my research that my family’s silence was really a form of self-preservation. White settlers intended to completely wipe them out and enacted a series massacres with the most horrific one taking place on Indian Island in Humboldt Bay on February 26, 1860. After that the surviving members went underground, joining other tribes nearby or inter-marrying. My grandmother Lila Keysner was born in 1910 and the word “half-breed” is listed on her birth certificate. Her grandparents would have lived during the time of the massacres. The only detail that I really know is that she lived on a reservation until she married my grandfather Raymond Chavarin, a Mexican man. They lived in Oakland, CA, and had nine children together.

After meeting Joy in 2003, I attended the reading of Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light at the Public Theater in 2009. I remember really loving the idea of telling the story of Redbird with poetry and music. It’s the perfect form for Joy because she has led bands over the years and because she often plays her saxophone at her poetry readings. In 2011, I was able to work with my colleague Professor Laura Furlan at UMASS Amherst and we hosted Joy and Larry Mitchell for a short residency that included a performance, a workshop version of “Wings” and the radio interview that I conducted with Joy and Ron Welburn, a leading figure in Native Studies and an expert on jazz. I included parts of that interview in my essay in the book as well. It was after that residency that Joy asked me to work with her on the book project. It actually took us a while and there were some starts and stops with shape of the book and the contributors. I am very happy that we worked with Mary Kathryn Nagle who wrote a strong and compelling essay and that I was able to interview both Randy Reinholz, a Native theater director and producer who I know and admire as well as Rolland Meinholtz who was very generous with his time and his recollections. And the book is stunning! I love the design of it and the inclusion of the production photos.

Photos from a production of Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light.
(Click on the photos to expand.)

Announcing “Letters from Amherst”

Entertaining and informative letters written from 1984 to 1991

In these personal and pointed letters written between 1984 and 1991, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning writer Samuel Delany comments on literature, art, politics, aging, academia, his family’s history in Harlem, and black and white social life in another century. He details a visit from science fiction writer and critic Judith Merrill and reflects on his colleague and former student Octavia E. Butler.

Samuel R. Delany is a science fiction author and a retired professor at Temple University. After winning four Nebula Awards and two Hugo Awards, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2002. Visit samueldelany.com for more author news.

Nalo Hopkinson was born in Jamaica. She is the author of six novels and numerous short stories. She has received the Campbell and Locus Awards, the World Fantasy Award, and the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Award for her contributions to science fiction and fantasy. Currently she teaches creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

Letters from Amherst gives readers insight into the personal and professional life and aesthetic assessments of the author, Samuel R. Delany, one of the most important literary figures of our time.”—Nisi Shawl, author of the Nebula Award Finalist novel Everfair, and the James Tiptree Jr. Award-winning story collection Filter House

“Letters from Amherst is significant and important…Delany provides unseen glimpses into his important familial lineages, personal friendship and partnership, his assessment of universities and their politics, and a general joy in anything that has to do with intellectual culture.” —L.H. Stallings, author of Funk the Erotic: Transaesthetics and Black Sexual Cultures

June 4, 2019
160 pp., 9 x 6″
Paperback, $17.95 9780819578518
Cloth, $45.00 9780819578204

Announcing “Staging Brazil”

How Capoeira Became A National Folk Form

“As elaborate and beautiful as capoeira itself! Drawing on interviews, manuals, sketches, photographs, and embodied knowledge, and highlighting the authorship of often overlooked actors, Staging Brazil demonstrates that capoeira elides and eludes the binaries purity/mixture, tradition/modernity, authentic/staged, angola/regional, and black/white.”
—Patricia de Santana Pinho, author of Mapping Diaspora: African American Roots Tourism in Brazil

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian combat game practiced today throughout the world. Staging Brazil: Choreographies of Capoeira is the first in-depth study of the process of legitimization of capoeira and its globalization as Brazil’s national folklore. Using early illustrated capoeira manuals, the book contextualizes the two main styles of capoeira, angola and regional, within discourses of race and nation in mid-twentieth century Brazil and reveals the mutual influences between capoeira practitioners, tourism bureaucrats, intellectuals, artists, and directors of folkloric ensembles.

Ana Paula Höfling is an assistant professor of dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She splits her time between North Carolina and Brazil.

“As elaborate and beautiful as capoeira itself! Drawing on interviews, manuals, sketches, photographs, and embodied knowledge, and highlighting the authorship of often overlooked actors, Staging Brazil demonstrates that capoeira elides and eludes the binaries purity/mixture, tradition/modernity, authentic/staged, angola/regional, and black/white.” —Patricia de Santana Pinho, author of Mapping Diaspora: African American Roots Tourism in Brazil

“In this tour-de-force of painstaking archival work and theoretical sophistication, Höfling brings capoeira alive as a crucial area of study for understanding the role of bodies and movement in post-colonial nation-building.” —Jane C. Desmond, author of Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World

“This book is at once a fine biography of capoeira in its kinesthetic specificities and a necessary examination of the narratives that sustain the invention of a modern Brazil . . . it is a valuable addition to a growing body of work that challenges us to see beyond staged and authentic, loss and retention dichotomies.” —Bianca Freire-Medeiros, author of Touring Poverty

Staging Brazil represents an important contribution to dance studies, martial arts studies, and Brazilian history . . . Rejecting false binaries of tradition versus innovation and Brazilian versus African, Höfling emphasizes choreographic authorship not as a sign of decline but as fundamental to capoeira. Meticulously researched and clearly articulated, Staging Brazil nuances understandings of capoeira by treating modernity and choreographic authorship as central to its practice.” —Janet O’Shea, author of Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training

June 4, 2019
280 pp., 40 illus., 6 x 9”
Unjacketed Cloth, $85.00x  978-0-8195-7880-8
Paper, $26.95 978-0-8195-7881-5
eBook, $21.99 Y 978-0-8195-7882-2

Announcing “Konnakkol Manual”

Exercises and theory for advanced students of Solkaṭṭu

“The South Indian rhythmic core, the demystifying strategies, transforming capability of the content and the manner of presentation, the authenticity of the rhythmic repertoire, the learning tips from the wealth of the author’s musical experience in South Indian drumming over half a century, gained from the acclaimed Karnatak music maestros—all this and much more, are most valuable for students, performers, teachers of improvisation in the world of music.”
— Karaikudi Subramanian, Founder and director of Brhaddhvani Research & Training Center for Musics of the World

 

Konnakkol Manual assists in the advanced study of Karnatak (South Indian) music. It picks up where Solkaṭṭu Manual left off, including advanced exercises and a discussion of the sources of Karnatak tāḷas (meters). In one chapter, the evolution of rhythmic compositions is illustrated through the work of three generations of musicians. The book contains full tani āvartanams (spoken percussion solos) in three tāḷas, together with instructions for practice and Solkaṭṭunotation. A hundred and fifty accompanying instructional videos are available at wesleyan.edu/wespress/konnakkol.

David P. Nelson has been performing and teaching South Indian drumming since 1975 and has a PhD. in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University, where he is currently adjunct assistant professor.

Konnakkol Manual is a very valuable addition to rhythm studies for any musician. The material is presented in a clear and systematic way, very appropriate for teachers and students.” —Glen Valez, New School

“The South Indian rhythmic core, the demystifying strategies, transforming capability of the content and the manner of presentation, the authenticity of the rhythmic repertoire, the learning tips from the wealth of the author’s musical experience in South Indian drumming over half a century, gained from the acclaimed Karnatak music maestros—all this and much more, are most valuable for students, performers, teachers of improvisation in the world of music.” —Karaikudi Subramanian, Founder and director of Brhaddhvani Research & Training Center for Musics of the World

“High caliber and innovative mrdangist David Nelson shares insights acquired over more than four decades in this well-paced guide to advanced rhythmic composition in South Indian music. Written in an inviting style and amply illustrated with video demonstrations, this manual will be useful for creative musicians of all backgrounds.” —Richard K. Wolf, author of The Voice in the Drum

“The lessons present the rhythmic concepts in a completely comprehensible and thorough way. This book may be the best way to dive into these concepts, short of getting on a flight to Chennai.” —Jamey Haddad, American percussionist

“Very courageous and musically friendly.” —Trilok Gurtu, percussionist and composer

June 4, 2019
200 pp. 28 illus., 8 1/2 x 11”
Paper, $34.95 978-0-8195-7878-5

Exploring Wild Nights with Emily with Open Me Carefully

In the recently premiered film, Wild Nights with Emily, directed by Madeleine Olnek, starring Molly Shannon (Emily Dickinson) and Susan Ziegler (Susan Huntington Dickinson), the famous nineteenth-century American poet is brought to life in a new sapphic light.

Based on Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith’s collection, Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, Olnek’s new film brings to the forefront Emily’s previously censured relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan. Departing from Terence Davies’ serious and abstinent film, A Quiet Passion (2016), Olnek partners with Smith to unveil the powerful intimacy of Dickinson’s letters, generating a new portrayal of Emily as someone who “lived on her own terms.”

Since its original publication in 1998 with Paris Press, Open Me Carefully, has struck a chord in the poetry world, compiling into a single volume for the first time, selections from Emily Dickinson’s thirty-six year correspondence to Susan Huntington Dickinson. Martha Nell Smith—who Olnek collaborated with to direct the film—is Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, Professor of English, and Founding Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland. Ellen Louise Hart is the author of articles featured in The Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin, Emily Dickinson Journal, An Emily Dickinson Encyclopedia, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, The Women’s Review of Books, and The Heath Anthology of American Literature.

To read more, visit your local bookstore or order a copy online with HFS Books.

excerpt from the book:

                                                             Sunday afternoon

So sweet and still, and Thee, Oh Susie, what I need more, to
make my heaven whole?

Sweet Hour, blessed Hour, to carry me with you, and to bring
you back to me, long enough to snatch one kiss, and whisper
Good bye, again.

The Age of Phillis, forthcoming from Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Wesleyan University Press is pleased to announce we have secured the world rights to The Age of Phillis, a new volume of poetry by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, who is represented by Sarah Burnes at The Gernert Company.

The Age of Phillis is the result of over a decade of research and contemplation by Jeffers. She draws on historical sources to take readers into the world of Phillis Wheatley, the first black American woman to publish a book. Wheatley published a volume of poetry entitled Poems of Various Subjects, Religion, and Morals on September 1, 1773. Jeffers imagines Wheatley’s thoughts as she navigates life as an intellectual, as an enslaved person, as an observant poet, and as a woman of African descent—eventually a freed woman, and wife, whose life would be cut short by poverty and illness.

Wesleyan plans for for a Spring 2020 publication date.

About the Author

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is the author of four previous books of poetry including The Glory Gets, published by Wesleyan University Press in May 2015. Her other books are: The Gospel of Barbecue (Kent State, 2000)—selected by Lucille Clifton for the Wick Poetry Prize and a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, Outlandish Blues (Wesleyan, 2003), and Red Clay Suite (Southern Illinois, 2007).

Her poetry has appeared in American Poetry Review, African American Review, Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Massachusetts Review, Obsidian III, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, and has been anthologized in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry (2011) and Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (Georgia, 2009). Her critical writing has appeared in The Kenyon Review and Virginia Quarterly Review. Jeffers has received numerous awards and honors, including a Witter Bynner Fellowship through the Library of Congress, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Julia Peterkin Award for Poetry, the Harper Lee Award for Literary Distinction, a lifetime achievement honor, and an award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation for Women Writers. For her research on Phillis Wheatley, Jeffers was elected into the American Antiquarian Society, a learned organization for the study of early American history and culture, to which fourteen US presidents have elected. She is a professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.

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Three Wesleyan University Press Authors Receive 2019 Guggenheim Fellowships

Congratulations to three Wesleyan University Press authors who have been awarded the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship. This year, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation chose 168 recipients from 30,000 applicants from the United States and Canada. Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

Winners from the Press include:

Ann Cooper Albright

Ann Cooper Albright is Professor and Chair of the Department of Dance at Oberlin College. She is the author of Moving History/Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 2001), Traces of Light: Absence and Presence in the Work of Loïe Fuller (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), and Engaging Bodies: The Politics and Poetics of Corporeality (Wesleyan University Press, 2014). She is a recipient of the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship for Dance Studies.

Camille Dungy

Camille Dungy is a professor in the English Department at Colorado State University. She is the author of Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award in 2018. She is a recipient of the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry.

Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae is an Assistant Professor of Writing at Columbia University. He is the author of In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Award in 2018. He is a recipient of the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry.

 

 

 

Spring has sprung: What are you doing for fun?

The sun is shining ever so radiantly, the morning breeze is just right, and if you are just as over the snow as I am, you are looking for any and every excuse to be outdoors. We have four insightful books that will cater to your favorite hobbies this Spring season. 

Fly Fishing 

In this beginner friendly guide to Fly Fishing in Connecticut , Kevin Murphy teaches novice anglers about the state’s trout hatcheries and stocking programs, the differences between brook, brown, and rainbow trout, and offers easy-to-follow instructions on the basics of fly fishing. In this concise text, the reader finds the essentials in fly fishing gear, stream tactics, casting, and a host of related topics. Whether you’re in the market for that first pair of waders, thinking of tuning up your casting technique, or just want to know where the fish are biting, this is the book to read.

KEVIN MURPHY is an independent historian and writer who lives in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. He is the author of Water for Hartford and Crowbar Governor.

 

How ’bout a Hike ? 

Lace up your boots and experience some of the best hiking in New England! The Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA) maintains over 825 miles of Blue-Blazed Trails in Connecticut. The 20th edition of the Connecticut Walk Book  is a comprehensive guide to these trails, including detailed, full color maps, mileage/destination tables, and a lay flat design for ease of use. The Connecticut Walk Book also offers descriptions of the hikes with maps and trip-planning essentials.

THE CONNECTICUT FOREST AND PARK ASSOCIATION (CFPA) is the first private, nonprofit member-based organization established in Connecticut, and the founder and maintainer of over 825 miles of Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails.

 

Want to explore different neighborhoods in Connecticut and their histories?

Frog Hollow  is an ethnically diverse neighborhood just west of the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford. Its row houses have been home to inventors, entrepreneurs and workers, and it was one of the first neighborhoods in the country to experiment with successful urban planning models, including public parks and free education. From European colonists to Irish and Haitian immigrants to Puerto Ricans, these stories of Frog Hollow show the multiple realities that make up a dynamic urban neighborhood. Features 40 illustrations.

SUSAN CAMPBELL is the author of the memoir Dating Jesus and Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker.

 

Are you interested in experiencing rare bird sightings?  

Birding in Connecticut  ,by Frank Gallo, is the definitive guide to where, when and, how to find birds in the Constitution State. This guide provides synopsis of local weather and a host of tips to finding and identifying birds. It’s the first guide of its kind to offer QR code links to continually updated information on the occurrence and abundance of birds at each location. Includes color photos and maps.

FRANK GALLO is a tour leader for Sunrise Birding, LLC, an international birding tour company, is a member of the Connecticut Avian Rare Records Committee, and a federally licensed master bird bander.

Chapbooks by Kit and Joseph Reed now available as a set!

Wesleyan University Press has recreated three enchanting, humorous chapbooks originally produced for friends by the late Kit and Joseph Reed. The books were written by Kit and lavishly illustrated by Joseph.

All three books are now available as a set. 

Thirty Polite Things to Say

          Amusing guide to social etiquette.

The preface reads: “There are times in the lives of us all in which we are at a loss for words. This volume attempts a partial solution.” What follows are thirty things perhaps we shouldn’t say, but often find ourselves uttering.
32 pp. 4 x 6″ Paper, $6.95, 978-0-8195-7859-4

Dog Truths

          A whimsically serious chapbook about dogs

The chapbook includes absurd graphs, charts, and diagrams that tell the “truth” about various dog breeds—size, attitude, and likability. Dog truths are laid bare here, setting the record straight. Woof.
12pp. 4 x 6″ Paper, $6.95, 978-0-8195-7860-0

Deaths of the Poets

          A darkly humorous homage to poets and their deaths

Rhyming couplets meet slightly-sardonic etchings in this whimsically dark chapbook chronicling the dramatic ends of some of our most beloved poets.
34 pp. 4 x 6″ Paper, $6.95, 978-0-8195-7858-7

Kit Reed (June 7, 1932–September 24, 2017) was an American author and journalist whose short stories were nominated for the Nebula, World Fantasy, Shirley Jackson, and Tiptree Awards. Joseph Reed is Professor Emeritus of Film and American Studies at Wesleyan University.

Also by Kit Reed
The Story Until Now: A Great Big Book of Stories
Seven for the Apocalypse
Weird Women, Wired Women

Announcing “In the Language of My Captor” now available in paperback!

Finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Poetry

“[McCrae’s] language remains as stark as the perdurable, terrible history it contains—a history that is not over yet.”
—Stephanie Burt, New York Times Book Review

Acclaimed poet Shane McCrae’s latest collection, In the Language of My Captornow available in paper, is a book about freedom told through stories of captivity. In it, historical persona poemsand a prose memoir address the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. McCrae explores the role mass entertainment plays in oppression, and he interrogates the infrequently examined connections between racism and love.

Shane McCrae is the author of four other books of poetry, including The Animal Too Big to Kill, Mule, Forgiveness Forgiveness, and Blood.

April 2, 2019
108 pp., 9 x 6″
Paperback, $14.95 9780819577122
Cloth, $24.95 9780819577115