Last week I bragged on and promoted the latest issue of the lit magazine I edit, and suggested you buy tickets for next week's reading, “Santa Monica Review Presents…” Tickets are still available at Brownpapertickets. Meanwhile, Chapman University is doing its best, it seems, to attract you, too. Its most excellent “Tabula Poetica” series of readings by visiting writers offers a must-not-miss chance to see one of the nation's best poets, C.K. Williams. I'll mention all kinds of upcoming OC lit events in this post, but please trust me that you absolutely do not want to miss him on Tuesday, October 15 for a mid-day talk on translation and, for sure, a reading in the Wilkinson Chapel at Leatherby Libraries (7 PM) by a poet who has, justifiably, won every award there is, even as he has transformed, matured, evolved his long line of protest and capturing of episode and idiom into shorter conversations. It's free, for which everybody should be grateful to Chapman.
I hope Williams reads both old and newer work, perhaps from his most recent volume, Writers Writing Dying (he's old hmself!) and maybe the poet “The Singing,” which strikes this fan as exemplary, ostensibly about a moment of human intersection as against the boundaries of class and race and the social order.
In the duet we composed the equation we made
the conventions to which we were condemned.
Sometimes it feels even when no one is there that
someone something is watching and listening
Someone to rectify redo remake this time again though
no one saw nor heard no one was there.
Of course Chapman's big deal next weekend (October 12 N 13) is its second Big Orange Book (BOB) Festival. I'll forgo the easy joke about finding enough large orange books (damn, I did it) to make a whole festival and hope that the terrific organizers of this event find some way to market that almost funny idea. Of course, if you are a books person, or a bookworm, you already know about this and know that admission to the BOB is FREE, consulted the online schedule of events and speakers, including my pal Alan Cheuse of NPR and his own terrific fiction and nonfiction talking with, yes, “The Bookworm” himself, Michael Silverblatt over at KCRW, both of them being asked questions by a favorite writer of mine, who teaches at Chapman, Tom Zoellner. His most recent book, A Safeway in Arizona rings (ricochets) truer and truer with every totally predictable mass shooting, and should be read by all and especially the NRA. (I can dream.) That's on Saturday morning. Of course, the two-day fest covers all angles, including all genres, and a track for aspiring writers, with a seminar on publishing. It is held in the Fish Interfaith Center, yet another opportunity for me to be distracted from the event and make a joke about ecumenical trout, which others have no doubt already done.
One special local angle features OC historians, doing a panel on “California Voices.” That's first thing on Sunday morning. The conference features Young Adult, poetry, mystery, cooking, all of it. The grown-up poetry reading features a writer I saw read 30 years ago, a guy who has done it all, Jerome Rothenberg. Kudos to the organizers for getting him. I think Rothenberg, who is a translator, ethnographer, critic, performance artist, teaches at UC San Diego, but he has been teaching in the real world for decades. Like Williams, a big deal, friends. There's lots more, but you can pick from the Chapman BOB website.
The Orange is free, but the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation “Witte Lectures” costs,
big-time. But all for a good cause. And the guest on October 30, just so you can save your pennies, is the amazing Zadie Smith, answering the question “Why Write?” The author of White Teeth and, most recently, NW, will talk about the plight (!) of today's writer by way of Alexander Pope. There's wine and cheese at the lovely Central Library digs. Visit the NBPLF website for more. Info, not cheese.
All kinds of through-lines this morning. Here's a photo of the lovely and talented Ramona Ausubel, author of the novel No One Is Here Except All of Us and a new short story collection titled, provocatively, A Guide to Being Born. Guess where she went to school before publishing a novel and a short story collection? Yup, same place that publishes the excellent literary journal Faultline. Sure enough, Ausubel is gonna be at BOB, as is OC novelist Peggy Hesketh (Telling the Bees). But you might not know that UC Irvine's esteemed MFA Writing Programs also host regular readings, free and open to all. The first happens Wednesday, October 9, with both poets and fiction writers. This is a great way to see what the young folks are up to. It's at 7 PM in Humanities Gateway Room 1010. Park across the street free on the Irvine Company, but don't tell anybody I said that. (Wow, I just noticed how handsome and beautiful are the writers on this page. I will try to find some ugly ones next week!)
Finally, from Irvine to Orange and back to Newport, it's not too late to get out to the Newport
Beach Central Library today, 2 PM, for Mark Tatulli. Comic strip veteran Tatulli (“Heart of the City” N “Lio”), introduces his first children's novel, Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic. A cartoonist, Tatulli is a filmmaker, animator and was awarded three Emmys. The Foundation's fall kids and family reading season, “Making Memories for Children” features Cornelia Funke next month. Your children have read the Inkheart Trilogy for sure, and possibly seen the film. She's great.
Writers Writing Dying, C.K. Williams, FSG, 80 pgs., $19.74
Collected Poems, C. K. Williams, FSG, 704 pgs., $19.74
Andrew Tonkovich hosts the Wednesday night literary arts program Bibliocracy Radio on KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern California.