Lyric Hybrid: New Writing at the University of Miami Reading Series

During the 2009-2010 academic year, the Creative Writing Program is proud to sponsor Lyric Hybrid: New Writing at the University of Miami as we feature the 2009 publications of Jane Alison, A. Manette Ansay, Mia Leonin and Maureen Seaton. The women, faculty in the Creative Writing Program, writing risky narratives that go beyond traditional forms of poetry, memoir and the novel, practice the art of cross-pollination between genres as they recast what it means to be a writer or poet. As A. Manette Ansay says, “We are all interested in (and unafraid of) collage, collaboration and technology, yet none of us has lost our ear (and heart) for Story Telling--the oldest song.” Lyric hybrid will culminate in a conversation hosted by director, M. Evelina Galang where Creative Writing Faculty will explore the way their work has challenged, redefined and enhanced not only their craft as writers and poets, but as mentors who are engaged in supporting emerging writers and their forms of expression.

All literary events below are held from 7-8:30PM at the CAS Gallery.

September 16, 2009 A. Manette Ansay

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Good Things I Wish You
The acclaimed author of Vinegar Hill and Midnight Champagne returns with a compelling tale of two summer romances, separated in time by over one hundred and fifty years.

At forty-two, Jeanette Hochmann—newly divorced from her husband of more than a decade—struggles to reassemble her life with her young daughter. Lately, the world seems bereft of the passion that’s always inspired and sustained her, first as a child prodigy at the piano, later as a teacher and writer of fiction. Now, she can’t seem to get traction on her latest book, a novel based on the forty-year relationship between nineteenth-century German pianist Clara Schumann and her husband’s handsome young protégé, the composer Johannes Brahms.

Through a chance encounter, Jeanette meets a native of Leipzig, Clara’s birthplace—a mysterious entrepreneur whose casual help with translations of diaries and letters blooms into something more. There are things about men and women, he insists, that do not change. The two embark on a whirlwind emotional journey that leads Jeanette to a similar crossroads faced by Clara Schumann—as a mother, as an artist—well over a century before.

Beautifully designed, enhanced with photographs, sketches and notes from both present and past, A. Manette Ansay’s original blend of fiction and historical fact captures the timeless nature of love and friendship between women and men.

October 14, 2009 Maureen Seaton

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Sex Talks to Girls chronicles the outward antics of a woman on an inward journey to self through the routes of religion, sex, sobriety, and kids. Recasting herself in this memoir as “Molly Meek,” Maureen Seaton interprets the emergence of Molly’s identity in luxurious and very funny prose.

Molly alternately finds herself in the surprising company of winos, swingers, and drag kings; in love with Jesus H. Christ and a butch named Mars; in charge of two children; writing stories that shrink painfully to poems without her permission; and incapable of figuring out how she landed in any of these predicaments. She is, by turns, a little saint, a Stepford wife, a bi-mom, and a femme with super powers. Her transformation—from near-nun to full-fledged sexual being, accidentally becoming conscious in the process and delighting in the spree—is the story of a life set on play and a woman heroically committed to seeing it through.

“The journey toward authenticity, toward becoming whole is made palpable in Maureen Seaton’s Sex Talks to Girls: A Memoir. It shines its considerable light on the passage from religion toward faith, from self-medication to sobriety, from daughterhood to motherhood, from being the disembodied ‘good girl’ to embracing her own bad lesbian self. In crisp chapters, Seaton leads us, step-by-step, over this harrowing and blissful road, so distinct from yet so much like our own.”—Terry Wolverton, author of Insurgent Muse: Life and Art at the Woman’s Building.

“Seaton fills her pages with pathos and humor.” —Elena Georgiou, author of Mercy, Mercy Me

Cave of the Yellow Volkswagen journeys from womb to fluorescence, dust mite to gargoyle, lakey depths to Florida sunshine, a dodgy trip made safer because the Beetle was reported to float if it careened off a bridge. The poems are a testimony—windows up, radio rowdy—to astonishing escapes and (non)leaky endings.

February 16, 2010 Mia Leonin

CAS Gallery 8pm

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Havana and Other Missing Fathers
Mia Leonin spent the first sixteen years of her life believing her father was dead. All she knew of the man came through stories told by her mother. At times he had been a surgeon, at others a psychiatrist. In truth, he had been a fantasy.

Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Leonin learned from her mother that her father, a Cuban exile, was very much alive and living in Florida. Her attempts to contact him, however, were thwarted until four years later, when she left home in search of her roots.

She meets her father, but trying to discover the truth behind him proves to be a more daunting task. Her journey takes her to Miami, Colombia, and Cuba, and her search for cultural identity leads her to create memories, friendships, and romances. She finds moments of connection and redemption, ending up in Havana not as a cultural tourist but as an illegitimate daughter of Cuba looking for validation. What she discovers is an island bereft of fathers and brimming with paternalism. As she becomes entangled with two different men, she descends further into the Havana of poverty, humiliation, and despair, as well as the ever-inventive city that is as passionate as it is contradictory.

Insightful, imaginative, and often poetic, Havana and Other Missing Fathers is Mia Leonin’s recollection of this journey and her longing to learn more about her origins. In the end, she must learn to accept the answers she discovers as well as the questions that remain.

March 9, 2010 Jane Alison

CAS Gallery 8pm

In this enormously compelling memoir, novelist Alison (Natives and Exotics) recounts the strangely definitive reconfiguration of her family when her parents broke up.

It could only have happened during the free-love ’60s: When Australian-born Jane Alison was 4, her diplomat dad and a friend's father switched places, and families, after falling in love with each other's wives. Amazingly, all four parents seemed to believe things would turn out fine. They didn't. In this wrenching, luminous memoir, Alison explores the incalculable damage done: the fraught, shifting alliances; her guilt as both dads apparently favored her over her doppelganger stepsister; the crippling shadow her childhood still casts. “Girls who grow up without fathers are so full of longing,” a writing teacher tells her. Alison had two, but the longing has never died.

"An incomparable personal story, exquisitely, stunningly told."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Enormously compelling...a truly unusual, harrowing journey of identity."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

March 23, 2010 R. Zamora Linmark

CAS Gallery 8pm

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R. Zamora Linmark is the author of Rolling The R’s, Prime Time Apparitions, The Evolution of a Sigh, and Leche, sequel to Rolling The R’s. A two-time Fulbright Scholar, he has received grants and fellowships from the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, San Francisco Arts Commission, and twice from the Fulbright Foundation, in 1998, and as a Senior Scholar in 2005. 

His residencies include the Macdowell Colony, the Corporation of Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and, most recently, Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain. He has taught at the U.C. Santa Cruz, De La Salle University in the Philippines, and most recently, at the University of Hawaii in Manoa where he was the Distinguished Visiting Writer. His writings can be found in many anthologies including Charlie Chan is Dead (edited by Jessica Hagedorn).

April 13, 2010 Lyric Hybrid: A Conversation with authors, hosted by Creative
Writing Director, M. Evelina Galang