Thursday, March 5, 2020  |  7 – 8:30 pm
DEBORAH PAREDEZ & LISA OLSTEIN

BOOK LAUNCH & BENEFIT READING

Join writers Deborah Paredez & Lisa Olstein at Presa House Gallery for a Book Launch & Benefit Reading celebrating the release of their new books Year of the Dog (BOA Editions) & Pain Studies (Bellevue Literary Press). All proceeds from book sales will benefit RAICES (The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services). This special AWP Off-site event takes place on March 5, 2020, from 7 – 8:30 PM. Light snacks and refreshments provided. Come out and enjoy some art, hear a reading, and support a great cause!

About Deborah Paredez

Deborah Paredez is a poet and interdisciplinary performance scholar whose lectures and publications examine Black and Latinx popular culture, poetry of war and witness, feminist elegy, cultural memory, and the role of divas in American culture. She is the author of the award-winning critical study, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (Duke 2009) and of the poetry collections, This Side of Skin (Wings Press 2002) and Year of the Dog (BOA 2020). Her poetry and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, National Public Radio, Boston Review, Poetry, Feminist Studies, and elsewhere. Her research and writing have been supported by the Hedgebrook Center for Women Writers, the American Association of University Women, and the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation. She received her PhD in Interdisciplinary Theatre and Performance at Northwestern University and her BA in English at Trinity University. Born and raised in San Antonio, she has lived on both coasts, endured a handful of Chicago winters, and taught American poetry in Paris, while remaining rooted in her Tejana love of Selena and the Spurs. She currently lives with her husband, historian Frank Guridy, and their daughter in New York City where she is a professor of creative writing and ethnic studies at Columbia University and the Co-Founder of CantoMundo, a national organization for Latinx poets.

About Year of the Dog

In the tradition of women as the unsung keepers of history, Deborah Paredez’s second poetry collection tells her story as a Latina daughter of the Vietnam War.

The title refers to the year 1970―the “year of the Metal Dog” in the lunar calendar―which was the year of the author’s birth, the year her father prepared to deploy to Vietnam along with many other Mexican-American immigrant soldiers, and a year of tremendous upheaval across the United States. Images from iconic photographs and her father’s snapshots are incorporated, fragmented, scrutinized, and reconstructed throughout the collection as Paredez recalls untold stories from a war that changed her family and the nation.

In poems and lamentations that evoke Hecuba, the mythic figure so consumed by grief over the atrocities of war that she was transformed into a howling dog, and La Llorona, the weeping woman in Mexican folklore who haunts the riverbanks in mourning and threatens to disturb the complicity of those living in the present, Paredez recontextualizes the historical moments of the Vietnam era, from the arrest of Angela Davis to the haunting image of Mary Ann Vecchio at the Kent State Massacre, never forgetting the outcry and outrage that women’s voices have carried across time.

About Lisa Olstein

Lisa Olstein is the author of Pain Studies (Bellevue Literary Press, 2020)—a book-length lyric essay exploring the intersection of pain, perception, language, and gender—and four poetry collections published by Copper Canyon Press, most recently, Late Empire. Her honors include a Hayden Carruth Award, Pushcart Prize, Lannan Writing Residency, Essay Press Chapbook Prize, and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum.

A member of the poetry faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, she currently teaches in the New Writers Project and Michener Center for Writers MFA programs. She is also the lyricist for the rock band Cold Satellite, fronted by acclaimed songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. Previously, she co-founded and for ten years directed the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she also served as associate director of the MFA program.

Olstein earned a BA from Barnard College and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, undertaking additional studies at the Aegean Center for Fine Arts and Harvard Divinity School.

About Pain Studies

In this extended lyric essay, a poet mines her lifelong experience with migraine to deliver a marvelously idiosyncratic cultural history of pain―how we experience, express, treat, and mistreat it. Her sources range from the trial of Joan of Arc to the essays of Virginia Woolf and Elaine Scarry to Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of Gregory House on House M.D. As she engages with science, philosophy, visual art, rock lyrics, and field notes from her own medical adventures (both mainstream and alternative), she finds a way to express the often-indescribable experience of living with pain. Eschewing simple epiphanies, Olstein instead gives us a new language to contemplate and empathize with a fundamental aspect of the human condition.