CWW Presents: Fertile Ground for Celebration at the Democracy Center, Cambridge, MA – May 5, 2017 * 7-9 pm

CWW Presents: Fertile Ground – A Literary & Musical Celebration
7 p.m. – 7:45p.m. Literary Readings/Performances

– intermission & book/album signing-
8 p.m. – 9 p.m. Musical Performances

Join us for a night of creative writing & music by and for diverse voices from NYC to Boston! Our evening will feature lyrical readings and musical performances by Matthew Wallenstein, Rita BanerjeeErini S. Katopodis, Sounds in Bloom (Diana Norma SzokolyaiDennis Shafer), Fawn (Anne Malin Ringwalt and Will Johnson) and Elizabeth Devlin, and will take place at the Democracy Center in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.

Tickets are available for pre-purchase in advance on Eventbrite, and will be available for purchase at the door starting at 6:30 PM. Sliding scale: $5-10. Your ticket helps us support the artists and the Democracy Center. Please note that the Democracy Center is not wheelchair accessible.

Here’s more about our performers:

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Matthew Wallenstein‘s writing has been published by the University of Chicago, the University of Maine Farmington, Bowling Green Sate University and others. He lives in a small Rust Belt town. “Tiny Alms,” his new release, covers a range of topics from growing up in poor rural New Hampshire to mental illness to the deportation of his wife. It is his first book and was Published by Permanent Sleep Press.

 

 

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University.  She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016.  Her edited volume, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, will release in March 2018.  She is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.

Erini S. Katopodis is a Greek-American poetry, fiction, and music writer from Los Angeles, CA. She’s graduating from Emerson College with a BFA in Fiction this May. Erini loves her music to be dreamy, folky, and intimate, with a touch of the strange, and loves making new sounds with new people. Performing with her are Shelby Marnett and Rob Luzier.

 

 

 

Sounds in Bloom (Diana Norma Szokolyai & Dennis Shafer)

Parisian literary life and contemporary art & music laid the groundwork and inspiration for Sounds in Bloom, a poetry-music-movement-art ensemble co-founded by poet Diana Norma Szokolyai & saxophonist Dennis Shafer in 2006. The Boston Globe has called their work “avant-garde.” Originally participating in David Barne’s Spoken Word nights in Paris and featured by Paris Soirees Salons, Sounds in Bloom now performs in NY, Boston and & Paris. Some places they have performed include The Firehouse Space, Pete’s Candy Store, Barbès, The Boston Conservatory, The Outpost, Theatre Salle Edmond Michelet, and the Cité International des Arts.

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Fawn is Will Johnson and Anne Malin Ringwalt. Combining elements of banjo, guitar, ukulele, synth and poetry, the duo explores the often-ignored spaces between pre-established genres. Fawn’s debut EP, “Neither Dog Nor Car,” was released on November 5, 2016, and their first music video, for “Good Earth,” premiered on NPR’s All Songs Considered TV in January 2017.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Devlin, with her haunting combination of lilting voice and enchanting Autoharp, is a self-produced NYC singer- songwriter. Devlin defies traditional musical structure with many of her songs, building miniature narratives and magical worlds where characters, fantasies and time collide. Devlin has toured nationally, internationally, & performs in venues throughout NYC’s 5 boroughs. “Orchid Mantis,” her newest full-length album, was released in February 2017 at Sidewalk Café’s Winter Anti-folk Festival in NYC.

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Presents: Fawn (Boston, MA)

A few weeks ago, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop hosted a night of poetry and music at the beautiful Church of the Covenant for our first CWW Presents event in Boston, MA.  The Church of the Covenant offer a massive yet warm and welcoming space to all who enter. We sat in the pews amongst others gathered to appreciate art in all its forms and listened to the art of Audrey HarrerJanaka Stucky , and Fawn.

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The night was opened with Audrey Harrer, a composer, harpist, and vocalist who bridge the gap between traditional music and new technology to create haunting melodies that linger with you long after the notes have dissipated into the air. As she plays on the harp or sings during her performance, Audrey records the melodies and melds them into her work, creating harmonies and dissonances that create music that fills the space of a cathedral.

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As Audrey left the stage, Janaka Stucky stood before us. Janaka is an American poet, the founding editor of Black Ocean, and the poetry journal Handsome. He opened his performance with poetry that both commanded the attention of his audience, but turned to soft intimacy that knocked the wind out of the audience with each new poem. He talked to the audience almost conversationally at one point, and we laughed for a moment, unknowing that a conversation about mechanics would turn to poetry of an army of insects made out of his own body. His performance that evoked imagery that was both unnerving yet so personal reached into a part of people that we are almost afraid of acknowledging, the mortality of our bodies but the permanence of what we leave behind.

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The final performance of the night was by the light, melodious strings and vocals of the group Fawn, led by Anne Malin Ringwalt and Will Johnson, who released their debut EP Neither Dog Nor Car in the November of 2016. Their music, a balance struck between the strings of ukulele, banjo, and guitar is so carefully struck with synth it is seamless, yet symbiotic in its need for the other. One song performed was a version of Amazing Grace whose lyrics had been changed to a version the created a connection with the air in our lungs and its connection with the world we inhabit that nearly brought me to tears. It is the nature of their music’s composition and lyrics that brings light into turmoil and releases the tension that comes with the passage of time.

Voice is the oldest way to tell our stories, words and sounds passed down from generation to generation that linger long in memory. We are so grateful to these artists for sharing their voices and music with us, and the Church of the Covenant for giving us such a beautiful welcoming space to share the art of music with the city of Boston.

Our next CWW Presents evening will take place on Friday May 5, 2017 at the Democracy Center and will feature poetry, fiction, and music performances by Elizabeth Devlin, Diana Norma SzokolyaiErini Katopodis, and Rita Banerjee!  Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming CWW Presents evening in Cambridge, MA!

Photos by Yasmina Hilal

Shannon O. Sawyer
CWW Media Development Intern

Soundtrack for Jade Sylvan’s “Spider Cult: The Musical” now available on Bandcamp!

SpiderCultSoundtrackCongratulations to CWW Instructor and talented playwright, Jade Sylvan, for a raucous performance of their play, Spider Cult: The Musical, at the American Repertory Theatre in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA this past weekend!  The play was produced by Jane Doe, choreographed and directed by Fem Bones, and featured dance performances by the Slaughterhouse Sweethearts.  Catherine Cappozi (a.k.a. AxeMunkee) played electric guitar and composed the soundtrack for Spider Cult.  We’re proud to announce that the original soundtrack for Spider Cult: The Musical is now available on Bandcamp for those who couldn’t make it out to Cambridge, MA to see the play this weekend.  And a big hurrah for Jade Sylvan and the wonderful cast and crew of Spider Cult who brought down the house at the Oberon Theatre on Sunday!

CWW Instructor Jade Sylvan’s “Spider Cult: The Musical” debuts at the Oberon Theatre in Cambridge, MA on June 24!

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Spider Cult: The Musical, an original apocalyptic lesbian, fringe, sci-fi horror, burlesque musical, will have its debut at the American Repertory Theatre in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA on June 24th, with an additional showing on June 26th. Written and produced by CWW instructor and playwright Jade Sylvan, Spider Cult is a spin-off from a previous burlesque show called Revenge of the Robot Battle Nuns by the Boston burlesque group Slaughterhouse Sweethearts. It follows Scout, a temptress from Battle Nuns who led the heroes astray into her web of lust, and shows how she became such an evil villainess. This story stars some of Boston’s most known burlesque performers, including Fem Bones, Jane Doe, and Bella Gunz.

Spider Cult will run for four shows on June 24th (at 6:30 pm and 10 pm) and June 26th (at 5:30 pm and 8 pm) at the Oberon Theatre.  For more information on the show and how to purchase tickets, please visit check out more information here.  The musical was successfully funded via Kickstarter.  And here’s an NSFW preview of the show below:

Cambridge, MA Fall 2016 Creative Writing Workshops & Craft of Writing Seminars!

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is proud to announce our new series of creative writing workshops and craft of writing seminars in partnership with the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Cambridge, MA!  The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is thrilled to return to Cambridge and to offer an exciting range of courses for our Boston-area writers.  Our featured faculty this fall includes Jade Sylvan, Rita Banerjee, Laura van den Berg, and Diana Norma Szokolyai.  Information on classes, meeting times, and faculty are listed below.  Courses are $40 each and those who register for 5 or more classes will receive a 10% discount on registration.  Two kinds of classes will be offered this fall at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education (56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA): craft of writing seminars and writing workshops.  In craft of writing seminars, students will learn about a particular craft issue, study and discuss examples of contemporary creative writing, and will do an in-session writing prompt.  For creative writing workshops, students will bring in new and in-progress creative work to be reviewed and critiqued during class.

Registration for our Fall 2016 creative writing workshops and craft of writing seminars will open on the Cambridge Center for Adult Education website on July 27, 2016!  Since 1938, The Cambridge Center for Adult Education has offered a most diverse menu of courses to adults in Cambridge and surrounding areas, and it aims to give people the opportunity to explore their interests and nurture their talents and potential.  We’re proud to collaborate with the CCAE!

Location:  

Cambridge Center For Adult Education
56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Time:

Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm, September 10 – December 10, 2016
(Registration is now open on the CCAE Website!)

Schedule:

September 10:
“What’s At Stake in your Poetry, Fiction, & Nonfiction Manuscripts?”
with Diana Norma Szokolyai (writing workshop)

September 24:
“Science : Fiction – Building Literary Worlds”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

October 8:
“Revision Strategies for All Genres”
with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

November 5:  
“Time in the Short Story”
with Laura van den Berg (craft of writing seminar)

November 12:
“Spatial Poetics”

with Diana Norma Szokolyai (craft of writing seminar)

December 3:
“Emotion and Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction”

with Rita Banerjee (craft of writing seminar)

December 10:
“Writing Yourself Naked”

with Jade Sylvan (writing workshop)

 

Featured Faculty:

LowRes-DSC_0340-Edit-2Jade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by The Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody, 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris (sponsored by a travel grant from The Foundation of Contemporary Arts), was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award.  Other work has appeared in The Washington PostBuzzfeedThe Toast, Mudfish, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and many other publications.  Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  They are currently overseeing the production of their first full-length stage play, Spider Cult the Musical, opening June 24th, 2016 at Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.

RitaBanerjeeRita Banerjee received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.  Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, Poets for Living Waters, The Monarch Review, The Fiction Project, Quail Bell Magazine, Jaggery, Catamaran, The Crab Creek Review, The Dudley Review, Objet d’Art, Amethyst Arsenic, Vox Populi, Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure, Chrysanthemum, and has been featured on KBOO Radio’s APA Compass in Portland, Oregon.  Her first collection of poems, Cracklers at Night, was published by Finishing Line Press and received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, is forthcoming from Spider Road Press in October 2016.  Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop, she is currently working on a novel and a book of lyric essays.

Laura van den Berg
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is the author of the novel Find Me, longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize an selected as a best book of 2015 by Time Out New York and NPR, and two story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, both finalists for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her honors include the Bard Fiction Prize, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Jeannette Haien Ballard Writer’s Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and an O. Henry Award, and her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. She has taught fiction at institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, the Warren Wilson M.F.A. Program for Writers, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. At present, Laura is a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University and lives in Cambridge, MA, with her husband and dog.

Diana Norma Szokolyaidiananorma is a writer/interdisciplinary artist/educator and Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Based in Brooklyn, NY, she is author of the poetry collections Parallel Sparrows(honorable mention for Best Poetry Book in the 2014 Paris Book Festival) and Roses in the Snow (first runner-­up Best Poetry Book at the 2009 DIY Book Festival). She also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers. Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause led to their collaboration “Space Mothlight” hitting #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Szokolyai’s work has been published in Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Fiction Project, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, and Up the Staircase Quarterly, as well as anthologized in The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering and Teachers as Writers. Szokolyai earned her Ed.M. in Arts in Education from Harvard University and her M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, while she completed coursework at the Sorbonne and original research in Paris for two years. She is currently at work on three books and recording an album of poetry & music.

CWW Interview with Jade Sylvan Our Newport, RI Writing Instructor & Author of Spider Cult: The Musical

LowRes-DSC_0440-Edit-2Last week, our Spring in Newport, Rhode Island Writing & Yoga Retreat took place from April 22-24. Highlights of the retreat included featured faculty member Jade Sylvan’s class, Writing Yourself Naked. Sylvan, author of  acclaimed memoir, Kissing Oscar Wilde (2013) and writer/producer of the upcoming Spider Cult: The Musical (2016) took the time to sit down with Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s Alyssa Goldstein Ekstrom for an interview. Read below the interview people and check out our Spring in Newport, Rhode Island recap! And don’t forget, you have until May 30 to register for our Summer Writing Retreats in Barcelona & South of France (July 18-26, 2016) and Granada, Spain (July 28- August 5, 2016)!

Alyssa Goldstein Ekstrom: You just taught a class on our Newport retreat called Writing Yourself Naked. What was your experience in Newport like and did you have a favorite part of the retreat?

Jade Sylvan: Honestly, my favorite part was getting to know the writers and what they were working on. It’s great to get out of my own echo-chamber and learn with people from all over with different backgrounds who I’d never meet otherwise.

AGE: You’re an award-winning poet, author, screenwriter, producer, and performance artist. What do you think it is that drives you to keep on creating?

JS: Habit. What else would I do with my feelings?

AGE: The Boston Globe called you a “risqué queer icon.” Do you feel being labeled an icon, and more importantly, a queer icon, puts more pressure on you when it comes to creating new work or does it perhaps aid you in your creative process or does it have no bearing on what you do at all?

JS:  I think it’s funny more than anything. Whenever people write about me it always feels like they miss the point, but I guess it’s good to be written about. I like attention but I’m an introvert. Writer’s curse.

KissingOscar-Book2AGE: You wrote a memoir titled Kissing Oscar Wilde. Was writing a memoir more than challenging than you expected it to be and what surprised you most about writing it?

JS: It was very hard to write something personal and honest and what surprised me most about it was how it changed and in some cases deepened my relationships with the other people in the book. I learned a lot about communication from that experience.

AGE: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about writing a memoir?

JS: Just write what happened.

spidersamAGE: Congratulations on Spider Cult: The Musical which will be held at the Oberon in Cambridge, MA June 24 & 26! It its description it says it is  “the apocalyptic lesbian sci-fi horror burlesque musical of the century.” What inspired you to write this script?

JS: People always say to “write what you know.” Well, I know about religion and lesbian orgies and pseudo-science and boobs.

AGE: Finally, aside from Spider Cult: The Musical, do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?

JS: I’m working on a supernatural erotic thriller and a short YA story, but I can say no more!

jadesylvanJade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by The Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody, 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris (sponsored by a travel grant from The Foundation of Contemporary Arts), was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award.  Other work has appeared in The Washington PostBuzzfeedThe Toast, Mudfish, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and many other publications.  Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  They are currently overseeing the production of their first full-length stage play, Spider Cult: The Musical, opening June 24th, 2016 at Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.

Writer’s Digest Introduces: The Well-Sold Story Weekend Presented by Paula Munier

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The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will be at the Writer’s Digest regional event, The Well-Sold Story Weekend Presented by Paula Munier (#WDBoston – @WritersDigest), this weekend. The event takes place March 19 – 20 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, Boston, Mass. The program is designed to help writers: see their work through a new lens, including the publisher’s and agent’s eyes; to utilize proven strategies for producing a drum-tight manuscript that hooks its reader from page one; and to be bold when promoting their book and themselves.

Paula Munier, a well-known agent, writer, editor, teacher and content strategist, is hosting The Well-Sold Story Weekend, which is open to any novelist, memoirist or short story writer who is ready to embrace the realities of publishing. The two-day event will also feature a conversation with William Martin, a New York Times Bestselling Author, award-winning writer of 10 novels, a recipient of the prestigious New England Book Award, and a Boston-area resident.

For more information on the event, check out @CamWritersWkshp for our live-tweets of the event!

CWW Newport faculty Jade Sylvan discusses their new play, Spider Cult: The Musical

spidercultSpider Cult: The Musical, written by Jade Sylvan, our Spring in Newport, RI Writing Retreat (April 22-24, 2015) fiction faculty member, will be playing at The Oberon Theatre in Cambridge, MA, on June 24 & June 26, 2016.  There will be two shows on the night of Friday, June 24, as well as a matinee and evening performance on Sunday, June 26.

Spider Cult is Boston’s first apocalyptic lesbian sci-fi horror burlesque musical. The musical follows Scout, an orphan stripper who over the course of the story is pursued by a “crazy” cult. To learn more about the musical and keep up to date with its production, visit: www.spidercultthemusical.com.

jadesylvanJade Sylvan (they/them/their), called a “risqué queer icon” by The Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde (Write Bloody, 2013), a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris (sponsored by a travel grant from The Foundation of Contemporary Arts), was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award.  Other work has appeared in The Washington PostBuzzfeedThe Toast, Mudfish, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and many other publications.  Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe.  They are currently overseeing the production of their first full-length stage play, Spider Cult: The Musical, opening June 24th, 2016 at Oberon Theater in Harvard Square.

Kathleen Spivack Launches Novel at Harvard Book Store

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Join Cambridge Writers’ Workshop faculty member Kathleen Spivack at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA for the launch of her new book Unspeakable Things. The short reading, book signing, and party will take place on Saturday, January 31 at 2 p.m.

6odLzoK-ReQPwOcvZbfWrdFOulc08fdeMOZ6m28nwOUKathleen Spivack is the author of A History of Yearning, winner of the Sows Ear International Poetry Prize 2010, first runner up in the New England Book Festival, and winner of the London Book Festival; Moments of Past Happiness(Earthwinds/Grolier Editions 2007); The Beds We Lie In (Scarecrow 1986), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; The Honeymoon (Graywolf 1986); Swimmer in the Spreading Dawn (Applewood 1981); The Jane Poems (Doubleday 1973); Flying Inland (Doubleday 1971); Robert Lowell and His Circle (2011) and a novel, Unspeakable Things. She is a recipient of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award 2010, the 2010 Erica Mumford Award, and the 2010 Paumanok Award. Published in numerous magazines and anthologies, some of her work has been translated into French. Other publications include The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Massachusetts Review, Virginia Quarterly, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Agni, New Letters, and others. Her work is featured in numerous anthologies. She has also won several International Solas Prizes for “Best Essays.”

An Evening w. Rebecca Skloot at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Cambridge, MA, September 29, 2015)

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University presents a lecture and discussion about Rebecca Skloot’s new award-winning book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and her path to writing it. Part detective story, part scientific odyssey, and part family saga, the story’s multilayered approach raises questions about race, class, and bioethics in America. At this event, Skloot will speak about the book and her path to writing it. She is currently working on her next book, which will be about humans, animals, science, and ethics.

The event will be held on September 29 and begin at 5 p.m. The presentation will be at Knafel Center (10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA).  The event is free and open to the public. To register, click here.

Skloot holds a BS in biological sciences and an MFA in creative nonfiction, degrees that she helped pay for by working in emergency rooms, neurology labs, veterinary medicine, animal morgues, and martini bars. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She has worked as a correspondent for WNYC’s Radiolab and PBS’s NovaScienceNOW. She is a visiting scholar at the Radcliffe Institute in September 2015 and will meet with students, faculty, and researchers to broaden the impact of the work she has done and make progress on her next projects.

Paula A. Johnson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the executive director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, will provide introductory remarks and moderate a panel discussion, following the lecture, about the intersection of biomedical science, research ethics, poverty, and race.