Long Week, No Posts… Until Now, Of Course…. On Book World, George Mason University, The N.C. Writers Network, Public/Private & More

What a week.

In the midst of many doom-and-gloom predictions, the Washington Post made an announcement this week about dropping Book World as an independent section and redistributing book coverage throughout the paper. (Book World‘s own blog, “Short Stack,” has already featured two pieces related to the reorganization: one by Rachel Hartigan Shea and another by Alan Cooperman. And as usual, one of the best commentaries on the news comes from Sarah Weinman.)

At George Mason University, the first full week of classes (and first week of grading) brought some small turmoil my way: A snow day that didn’t quite reach my own classes; mistakes on my syllabus (student: “Um, Professor Taylor, none of the readings are in our book” — a revised edition) and then revisions to try to tidy those mistakes; several students who can’t stop texting in class; and then both one dry-erase marker and a back-up marker that both ran out of ink mid-lesson.

And on a more personal note: Honeymoon planning took some twists and turns, but seems to be working out. Ireland, here we come!

Now, back to business.


logowThe North Carolina Writers’ Network has recently announced a couple of new projects/programs. This past week, the organization launched “Writing the New South,” a program “offering its members a platform to record and share their experiences and interpretations of living in North Carolina as North Carolina changes dramatically.” Also on the horizon: On Sunday evening, February 15, the Network is hosting “Talking at the Table: Food Writing in the New South,” a panel discussion featuring John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, Bill Smith, Debbie Moose, and other food writers talking about their work. Refreshments will, of course, be served — how could they not?! — and proceeds from the ticket sales ($50 per person) go toward the Network.

With regard to the Writers’ Network: This coming Monday’s interview on this site is with NCWN executive director Ed Southern. Don’t miss it!

Also on the schedule in the immediate week: 

  • Carl Hiaasen visits Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books on Monday, February 2, at 7:30 p.m. with his new kids book, Scat. There will be a ticketed signing line, and a book purchase is required to get a ticket. (Get there early.)
  • The Royal Bean Coffee House on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh (across from Meredith College) hosts an Open Mic Night on Thursday, February 5, beginning at 7 p.m. To sign-up, contact Maureen Sherbondy at msherbondy@nc.rr.com (if you plan on reading). The event is cosponsored by Main Street Rag Publishing Company.

In And Around D.C.

I’m teaching a creative nonfiction course this semester at George Mason, and a couple of events I’m encouraging in this area are tangentially related to that.

First up, The Writer’s Center welcomes Philip Lopate — essayist, memoirist, novelist, poet, even film critic — to its 32nd birthday celebration on Saturday night, January 31, at 7:30 p.m. I’m teaching one of Lopate’s essays in my class next week, and I’m pleased to be seeing him in person on Saturday. Tickets are still available — $25 a person — if anyone still wants to join in. I’ll hope to report on it here afterwards.


Satomi Shirai, "cleaning," c-print, 2008. Borrowed from the Arlington Arts Center website without permission but with a nice link.

Next: Tara and I went last night to a preview of the Arlington Arts Center‘s new show, “Public/Private” — and I would highly recommend it. I actually found myself thinking of creative nonfiction as we examined some of the artwork: photographer Satomi Shirai’s seemingly intimate but intricately staged glimpses into her private life; Anissa Mack’s “My Sister’s Diary,” which posts excerpts from that diary on a kiosk of the Arts Center’s front lawn; Mandy Burrow’s altar pieces constructed from ordinary people’s personal belongings; and a couple of Philadelphia artists who’ve created a news network, “Everyone That We Know News,” that broadcasts everyday events in a TV newscast format: what someone had for dessert, who has a new girlfriend, etc. etc. These pieces and others offer some interesting and provocative insights into that wall between the public and the private and the way that today’s world (and particularly today’s technologies, perhaps) are increasingly breaking that wall down. (Coincidentally enough, our reception last night was “private” and the opening tonight (Friday, January 30) is “public.” Stop by if you get the chance. The show runs through April 4.)

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