Living Writers Series Winter 2017

Improvi/N\ations: Riff, Inquiry, and Protest will feature writers and artists who work and play across various disciplines and modes: poetry, prose, visual, sound, performance, art, and theory to address questions of race, gender, sexuality, and other identities. This series will explore the intersections of self-and-nationhood as fracture, memory and possibility via individual, collective and internal forms.

Humanities Lecture Hall, 206

Thursdays, 5:20-6:50 PM

All Readings are Free and Open to the Public

January 26: Wayne Koestenbaum, Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and French, CUNY Graduate Center 

February 2: Conner Bassett, Matthew Gervase, Kendall Grady, Courtney Kersten, Jared Harvey, Jose Antonio Villarán, Kirstin Wagner, PhD Candidates, Creative/Critical Concentration, Literature, UC Santa Cruz

February 16: Laura Mullen, McElveen Professor of English, Lousiana State University 

February 23: Micah Perks, Professor of Creative Writing and Literature, UC Santa Cruz

March 9: Urayoán Noel, Associate Professor of English and Spanish, New York University 

March 16: UCSC Creative Writing Program, Undergraduate Student Reading 

Co-sponsored by The Humanities Division, Porter College George Hitchcock Poetry Endowment, The Literature Department and Creative Writing Program, Chicano Latino Research Center, Literary Cultures/Sawyer Seminar, Latin American and Latino Studies, and The Bay Tree Book Store


    Winter 2017 Visiting Writers

  • Wayne Koestenbaum

    Wayne portrait

    Wayne Koestenbaum has published eighteen books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, including Notes on Glaze, The Pink Trance Notebooks, My 1980s & Other Essays, Hotel Theory, Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Andy Warhol, Humiliation, Jackie Under My Skin, and The Queen’s Throat (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist). His essays and poetry have appeared in The Best American Essays, The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The New Yorker, London Review of Books, Artforum, The Paris Review, Harper’s, The Believer, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Cabinet, and many other periodicals and anthologies.  Koestenbaum has had solo exhibitions of his paintings at White Columns (New York), 356 Mission (Los Angeles), and the University of Kentucky Art Museum.  He has given musical performances at the Centre Pompidou, Walker Art Center, The Kitchen, REDCAT, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art;  his first piano/vocal solo record, Lounge Act, will be issued by Ugly Duckling Presse Records in 2017.  He wrote the libretto for Michael Daughterty’s opera Jackie O, which has been performed around the world and has been released on DVD by Dynamic Italy. Winner of a Whiting Award, Koestenbaum has taught at Yale (in the English department as well as in the School of Art’s painting department), and is a Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and French at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

  • Conner Bassett

    Conner Bassett portrait

    C Dylan Bassett’s books are The Invention of Monsters / Plays for the Theater (2015) and A Failed Performance: The Collected Short Plays of Daniil Kharms (forthcoming 2018). His recent work appears in The American Reader, Black Warrior Review, Ninth Letter, and Washington Square. He lives in Santa Cruz.

  • Matthew Gervase

    Gervase portrait

    Matthew Gervase is a Ph.D. candidate in Literature at UCSC, where he teaches creative writing and French courses. His published work has appeared in The French Translator’s Quarter. As a writer he has certain formalist tendencies, one of which is to occasionally exist in the third person. He attempts to balance this out through his research on fascism, orality, and life in France’s Third Republic.


  • Kendall Grady


    Kendall Grady is a poet scholar working the couplet as microsystem-- contact zone--associative monad-- elective affinity-- allocentrism-- affective capillary-- baroque structure of intimacy. Selected poems live with Jupiter 88, Dusie, and The Atlas Review.


  • Courtney Kersten

    Kersten Portrait

    Courtney Kersten’s essays can be seen or are forthcoming from River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, Hayden’s Ferry Review, DIAGRAM, The Sonora Review, Black Warrior Review, The Master’s Review and elsewhere. She was the 2016 writer-in-residence at the Great Basin Writer’s Residency and was a Fulbright Fellow in Riga, Latvia where she researched nonfictional theater and literature. She is currently a PhD student in Literature, Creative Writing, and Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


  • Jared Harvey

    Harvey portrait

    Jared Joseph is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is currently pursuing his PhD in Literature at the University of California – Santa Cruz. Recent poems have been published in Fence, Noo Journal, and Company. Jared Joseph and Sara Peck’s collaborative book here you are is available from Horse Less Press, while Drowsy. Drowsy Baby is forthcoming from Entropy Press in 2017.

  • Jose Antonio Villarán

    Jose Antonio Villarán (Perú-México-Estados Unidos) is the author of "la distancia es siempre la misma" (Matalamanga, 2006) and "el cerrajero" (Album del Universo Bakterial, 2012). In 2008 he created the AMLT project (, which seeks to explore hypertext literature and alternative media for writing through collective authorship. The project was sponsored by Puma from 2011-2014. His third book, titled “open pit”, is forthcoming from AUB in 2016. He holds an MFA in Writing from the University of California in San Diego.


  • Kirstin Wagner

    Kirstin Wagner is a writer and teacher living in Santa Cruz, CA. Her creative work is published/forthcoming in Bombay Gin Literary Journal, Gesture Literary Journal, and Something on Paper. She has taught creative writing at Naropa University, Indiana University, U.C. Santa Cruz, and in the Boulder public school system.  She is currently a PhD student in the Literature Department at UC-Santa Cruz.

  • Laura Mullen

    Laura Mullen is the author of eight books: Complicated Grief, Enduring Freedom: A Little Book of Mechanical Brides, The Surface, After I Was Dead, Subject, Dark Archive, The Tales of Horror, and Murmur. Recognitions for her poetry include Ironwood’s Stanford Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Award. She has had several MacDowell Fellowships and has been a frequent visitor to the Summer Writing Program at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa. Her work is included in American Hybrid and Postmodern American Poetry (Norton) as well as other anthologies; recent poems have appeared in The Nation and Poetry. An essay on using Gertrude Stein in the creative writing classroom is included in the forthcoming anthology Approaches to Teaching Stein. Her collaboration with the composer Nathan Davis, “Ask,” will be performed at Princeton in 2017. She is the McElveen Professor in English at Louisiana State University.

  • Micah Perks

    Micah Perks grew up in a log cabin in the Adirondack wilderness. She is the author of two novels, What Becomes Us and We Are Gathered Here, a memoir, Pagan Time, and a long personal essay, Alone In The Woods: Cheryl Strayed, My Daughter and Me. Her short stories and essays have won five Pushcart Prize nominations and appeared in Epoch, Zyzzyva, Tin House, The Toast, OZY and The Rumpus, amongst many journals and anthologies. Excerpts of What Becomes Us won National Endowment for the Arts grant and The New Guard Machigonne 2014 Fiction Prize. She received her BA and MFA from Cornell University and now lives with her family in Santa Cruz where she co-directs the creative writing program at UCSC. More details and work at

  • Urayoán Noel

    Urayoán Noel is a self-described “stateless poet” whose critical and creative work foregrounds the messy condition of Puerto Rican belonging and non-belonging to the US nation-state. His poetic performances, texts, and “video poems" flagrantly co-mingle English with Spanish, mixing learned literary allusions with found words generated from cell phones or political demonstrations.   Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Noel lives in the Bronx and is an associate professor of English and Spanish at NYU. Noel is the author of Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor Hemisférico (Arizona, 2015), a Library Journal Top Fall Indie Poetry selection; Hi-Density Politics (BlazeVox, 2010), a National Book Critics Circle Small Press Highlights selection; Kool Logic/La Lógica Kool (Bilingual Review, 2005), an El Nuevo Día Book of the Year; and several books mostly in Spanish, most recently the performance text EnUncIAdOr (Educación Emergente, 2014). Other works include the DVD Kool Logic Sessions (Bilingual Review, 2005), a collaboration with composer Monxo López; the artist’s book/performance/website The Edgemere Letters (2011), a collaboration with artist Martha Clippinger; and the critical study In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (Iowa, 2014), winner of the LASA Latina/o Studies Book Award and recipient of an honorable mention in the MLA Prize in Latina/o and Chicana/o Literary and Cultural Studies. A contributing editor of NACLA Report on the Americas and Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, Noel has received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Howard Foundation, the Bronx Council on the Arts, and CantoMundo, and is currently completing a bilingual edition of the poems of Pablo de Rokha