Sunday, February 10, 2008

Junot Diaz, Afaa Michael Weaver and Tino Villanueva to be featured at the Somerville News Writers Festival Nov. 15 2008

Well we are already booking for The Somerville News Writers Festival, which will be in its sixth year next November. We have secured Junot Diaz in Fiction, Afaa Michael Weaver and Tino Villanueva in Poetry. Weaver will be the recipient of the Ibbetson Street Press Lifetime Achievement Award. Previous winners have been Robert Pinsky, David Godine Jr, Robert K. Johnson, Louisa Solano, and Jack Powers.


Junot Diaz's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker magazine which listed him as one of the 20 top writers for the 21st century. He has also been published in Story, The Paris Review, and in the anthologies Best American Short Stories four times (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000), and African Voices. He is best known for his two major works: the short story collection Drown (1996) and the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007). Both were published to critical acclaim..


Afaa Michael Weaver in 1985 received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. Immediately upon receiving the NEA fellowship he retired from factory life to enter Brown University's graduate creative writing program on a full university fellowship. In that same year his first book, Water Song, was published by Callaloo Press at the University of Virginia. He received his B.A. from Excelsior in 1986 and in 1987 he received his M.A. (M.F.A.) from Brown. At Brown he studied poetry with Keith Waldrop, C.D. Wright, and Michael S. Harper. His focus was in playwriting and theater, and for those concentrations he studied with the late George H. Bass and Paula Vogel.

In 1985 Weaver was commissioned to write a poem in honor of Roy DeCarava. The poem entitled "The Dancing Veil" was presented to DeCarava at the annual conference of the Society for Photographic Education on March 20-23, 1986 in Baltimore, Maryland. The poem was subsequently published in Hanging Loose.

He began his teaching career as an adjunct in 1987, teaching at New York University, the City University of New York, Seton Hall Law School, and Essex County College. In 1990, he began at Rutgers Camden and received tenure with distinction there as an early candidate. In 1998, he took a full time position at Simmons College as the Alumnae Professor of English.

In that same year he was named a Pew fellow in poetry.

Weaver was a member of the faculty of Cave Canem in 1997, and he was later given the honor of being the organization's Elder.

In the spring semester of 1997,he was named the sixteenth poet-in-residence at the Stadler Poetry Center of Bucknell University. He was the first poet of African descent to hold that position.

Between 1985 to 2005, he published nine collections of poetry, had two professional theater productions, published short fiction in journals and anthologies, and served as editor of Obsidian III, based at North Carolina State University. His short fiction appears in Gloria Naylor's Children of the Night, the sequel to Langston Hughes' anthology, Best Short Stories by Negro Writers. He has given several hundred readings in the U.S., Great Britain, France, China, and Taiwan.

Weaver is featured in the film A String of Pearls, a Camille Billops work which is part of the Hatch Billops Archives in New York City.

In 2002 he began studying Mandarin Chinese formally after teaching at National Taiwan University as a Fulbright scholar that spring. In 2004, he convened the Simmons International Chinese Poetry conference, the largest such gathering of contemporary Chinese poets held outside of China and Taiwan to date.

He was recently featured on the front cover of Poets and Writers Magazine and Poetry Magazine, and has new poetry collection “Plum Flower Dance.” ( Univ.of Pitt.)


Tino Villanueva is a Chicano writer who according to celebrated poet Martin Espada invented (along with Gary Soto), a new genre of poetry. Espada opines that Villanueva conceived: “…serious literature about farm workers. That in itself guarantees Tino a place in literary history.” Villanueva, who earned a PhD in Spanish Literature, and is a professor at Boston University, does not however live in a literary ghetto of Latino literature. Reginald Gibbons, former editor of Tri- Quarterly magazine wrote that Villanueva has: “… found a way, to write of both worlds (Chicano and Anglo) that makes sense, I believe to all readers, even those who might be interested in one of those worlds or the other.”

Villanueva has received a 1994 American Book Award for “Scene for the Movie Giant,” and has penned a number of books, including: “Primera Causa/ First Cause,’ “Shaking off the Dark,” and others. He also edited the literary magazine: “Imagine: International Chicano Poetry Journal.”

No comments:

Post a Comment