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11th Annual Literary Arts Festival

April 23 

Monday, 12:30 p.m. Griffin Gate

Jeffa (hip hop poet Jeffery Evans)

Local word artist and hip hop recording artist Jeffery Evans is better known by his moniker DJ Jeffa.  His start-up company, 1640 Productions, promotes talented rap, hip hop, and def jam artists on the local San Diego scene.  Added to his phenomenally edgy and popular lyrics, Evans is an openly gay artist and a DJ performer who has worked as a youth apprentice at The Storefront, a Hillcrest shelter and advocacy center for homeless gay youth.

After coming out to his family at age 12, Evans was not only rejected by them but was turned out of his house and forced to live in homelessness.  On the streets and in his more recent occupation as a youth mentor, Evans has been witness to the trauma, prostitution, drug abuse and hate crimes that daily afflict gay youth, and his writing offers as intense and insightful a commentary on this invisible underclass as one could wish.

Raul Sandelin (Song Lyrics In Literature)

The Avant-Bard Poeticians, showcased in the 2006 Literary Arts Festival, return this year with new material, new performers, and a new moniker:  Song Lyrics In Literature. Participants are Grossmont College instructor Raul Sandelin, members of his English 120 classes, and local songwriter/musicians Derek Shaw and Kent Johnson.

Today's performance will be followed first by a Q & A, and then by an Open Mic session giving audience members a chance to try out their own rhymes, songs, and word related etceteras.


April 24

Tuesday, 7:00 p.m., Griffin Gate

poet STEVE KOWIT (Gods Of Rapture, The Dumbbell Nebula, and others)

Native New Yorker Steve Kowit, born in Brooklyn in 1938, moved to San Diego over twenty-five years ago, where he teaches at Southwestern College and regularly tours with his popular poetry workshops.  Kowit earned his B.A. from Brooklyn College, his M.A. from San Francisco State College, and his M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College.  In addition to authoring five books of his own poetry, Kowit has edited a poetry anthology, The Maverick Poets; written several works on the subject of writing poetry, including the highly praised In the Palm Of Your Hand: The Poet's Portable Workshop; and has penned numerous articles appearing in a wide range of respected journals.

Kowit is distinguished by his many awards for poetry, some of which include the National Endowment Fellowship in Poetry, two Pushcart Prizes, the Atlanta Review Poetry Prize, the Oroborus Book Award, and most recently in 2006 the Tampa Review Poetry Prize . His collection of poems, The Dumbbell Nebula, received the San Francisco Chronicle's Notable Book of the Year, and his most recent book of poems, Gods of Rapture, is attracting rapt attention and praise from reviewers.

Influenced by 19th century American poets Walt Whitman and Hart Crane, as well as 20th century poets like Alan Ginsburg and Jorie Graham, Kowit's writing possesses an unabashed social consciousness.  Raised in a large Zionist family in Brooklyn, New York, his writing is at once intensely spiritual as it is polemical--aptly captured in poems like "Intifada" and in articles such as that published recently in Skeptic magazine, examining genocidal colonialism and the South Africa Xhosa mass "suicide."

Novelist Duff Brenna calls Steve Kowit “a major figure in poetry in America today.  He is also the best lecturer and commentator on the craft of creative writing that I’ve ever seen in action.”  Poet Thomas Lux states, "I love Kowit's poems—he has more energy, more passion, more fire and more humor in his left little fingernail than most poets have in their whole bodies."  Perigree: Publication For the Arts heralds Kowit for his Tampa Review Poetry Prize, "His spirit, intelligence, and humanity never cease to amaze us. Not to mention his particular talent for poetry which is both profound and accessible."


April 26

Thursday, 7:00 p.m., Room 220

author Aimee Bender (Girl In the Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures, and My Own Invisible Sign)

Aimee Bender's writing defines "cutting edge" on the current U.S. fiction scene.

Her career debuted with a collection of surreal and beautifully realized stories, Girl In the Flammable Skirt, described as "visionary" and "precocious" by reviewers.  Girl In the Flammable Skirt was selected in 1998 as The New York Times Notable Book of the Year.  Her follow-up novel, An Invisible Sign of My Own, not only received instant acclaim but became an international success.  Her most recent collection, Willful Creatures--which took seven years to write and has also been translated into multiple languages--continues even now to garner rave reviews.  Critic Jessica Shaw says, "To curl up with an Aimee Bender story is to thank heaven you ever learned to read in the first place. What a treat to spend 15 stories in Bender's vast and wonderfully unhinged imagination."  Willful Creatures which was nominated by The Believer as one of the best books of the 2005.

Her short fiction has been published in countless journals, including Granta, GQ, Harper's, Tin House, McSweeney's, The Paris Review. She is the recipient of two Pushcart prizes, and was was a TipTree award nominee in 2005.  Bender's language style has been compared to Ernest Hemingway's, but her literary influences are tied to the French Surrealists and by Italo Calvino, 20th century Italian novelist famed for his fantastical and allegorical tales and for his stream-of-conscious narrative technique.

Aimee Bender is a Los Angeles native now a professor of Creative Writing at University of Southern California.  We are delighted that Bender will join us for an extraordinary reading of her work on April 26.


May 2

Wednesday, 7:00 p.m., Griffin Gate

Student Reading (the Creative Writing Programs top students reading original works; Fiction Writing Contest winners to be announced)

In this popular bi-annual event, the pride of Grossmont College's Creative Writing classes take the lecturn by storm to share their original works of Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction and Drama.  The winners of this year's Festival Writing Contest will receive their coveted awards and due adulation.  Printed 'zines of the writing will be available, as well as an on-line chapbook (published afterwards) to chronicle the event in words and pictures.  Whether you're an instructor, a student, or someone with a yen to hear new talent, you'll leave this event wickering for more.


May 3

Thursday, 12:30 p.m., Griffin Gate

At Rise! Playwrights Festival (new one-act plays by Grossmont College playwrights)

AT RISE is a set of directions written at the very start of a play, describing what the audience sees on the stage when the curtain rises.  For the five one-acts presented today, At Rise! is a first foray into production and practical stage craft that will lift the curtain on the future of these five new playwrights, all members of English 160-163:  Playwriting.  The show takes the form of a staged reading, rather than an off-book performance:  actors are not required to memorize their lines; blocking, set design and costuming are minimized; and vocal performance is emphasized.  The result is a "working draft" of a stage performance permitting the playwrights a much needed learning opportunity to hear their own works-in-progress performed, and giving audiences a rare chance to glimpse the writing process particular to the genre playwriting.



Monday Night Politics by Kevin Wixom, Directed by Christine McBrayer: Three candidates "perform" to their constituents in this parody of American Idol.  But how clear is the line between farce and real-life politics?

Would I Ever by Brian McClellan, Directed by Christine McBrayer: As Homecoming draws nigh, three estranged high school friends find out if the love of the many is worth sacrificing the love of the one.

The Author by Peter Hepburn, Directed by Kathleen McLaughlin: When a playwright's revision goes horribly wrong, the characters take umbrage and speak out.  (Inspired by a true story.)

Teed Off by Kathleen McLaughlin, Directed by Christine McBrayer: The gold course can be a war zone sometimes, and there's no place to stick a daisy in a nine-iron.

Ululation by Karen Stromberg, Directed by Christine McBrayer: When a grief creates a rift in her deceased friend's family, free spirit Renee honor's her friend's last wishes and helps out those who are screaming to be heard.


May 4

Friday, 7:00 p.m., Room 220

writer Anthony Swofford (Jarhead:  A Gulf War Memoir, and Exit A:  A Novel)

Anthony Swofford, born in Fairfield, California, is the author of the book Jarhead, published in 2003. He was a lance corporal while serving as a Scout Sniper with the STA (Surveillance and Target Acquisition) Platoon of 2nd Battalion 7th Marines. His book is based on his accounts of various situations encountered in the first Gulf War. This memoir was made into a movie in 2005.

Lance Corporal Anthony Swofford, author of the popular autobiographical story Jarhead, served as Scout Sniper with the Surveillance and Target Acquisition Platoon of 2nd Battalion 7th Marines during the Gulf War. Following his military service, he studied English at Sacramento's American River College and subsequently earned his Barchelor's degree in English at U.C. Davis.  He attended the exclusive University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Writing. 

While receiving critical acclaim for Jarhead, Swofford taught English at Lewis and Clark College and St. Mary's College of California. After his story was adapted for the screen in a film directed by Sam Mendes, Swofford moved to New York City.  His new novel, Exit A, has just been released, but his writings have had widespread publication in periodicals such as Harper's Men's Journal and The Iowa Review.  

Swofford is the recipient of a prestigious Michener-Copernicus Fellowship and PEN Art of the Memoir Award.


Short Fiction Contest


The third annual Creative Writing Contest this year features short fiction.  Winners will be announced at the start of the May 2 Student Reading, and the 1st Place entry will be read at the reading. 



1st Place

$150.00 prize; publication in The Acorn Review, and special presentation at the Student Reading


2nd Place

$100.00 prize, and publication in The Acorn Review


Honorable Mentions



All contest manuscripts must be submitted by Tuesday, April 10, 2007 



You don't have to be enrolled in the Creative Writing courses to submit a story, but you must be a currently enrolled Grossmont College student. Short fiction manuscripts should be no more than 1,500 words (6 double-spaced, typed pages--print on one side of the page only). Do not put name on your short fiction.  Instead, attach an index card with your name, the title of your short fiction, phone number, and e-mail address. Winner must be available to read his or her work as part of the Literary Arts Festival Student Reading on Wednesday, May 2nd at 7 p.m. in Grossmont College Griffin Gate. Submit work to Sydney Brown in 564-B by Tuesday, April 10.  Work may also be submitted to Sydney Brown's mailbox.  Do not e-mail work.  If you want your short fiction manuscript returned, include a self-addressed stamped envelope; otherwise, it will be "recycled."

Last Updated: 04/21/2019
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