Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Creation Recommends // The Art Installation "Beauty for Ashes: Truth, Triumph, and Tension"

If you are a student, staff or faculty at Duke Divinity School you've likely already encountered the powerful art installation outside of the student lounge and Cokesbury bookstore which opened last week. But if you haven't seen it yet, we emphatically urge you to take in Beauty for Ashes: Truth, Triumph and Tension as soon as you can!

The installation, which features at it's core a mixed-media mural (partially shown above) of the 1963 Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama which killed four young girls attending Sunday School, is the result of an exciting collaboration of The Black Seminarians Union with New Creation, The Office of Black Church Studies, and The Baptist House.

The installation will be on view until March 19, 2010. Read the Duke Divinity School press release by following this link.

Lastly, a great big THANK YOU! to everyone (and there were a lot of you!) who dedicated all or part of your Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons & evenings to make this installation a reality! It was truly a community - and friendship - building weekend.

Film version of Duke Professor's book, "Blood Done Sign My Name," opens Nation-Wide

Duke Divinity School notes the opening of Blood Done Sign My Name, the film version of Duke professor Timothy Tyson's fantastic best-selling memoir. Follow this link to read a recent article from The New York Times on Tyson and the film. Then follow this link to read The Fayetteville Observer in conversation with Tyson on his book and the new film version. We at New Creation hope you will make time to see it!

Read the full press release from Duke Divinity below:


A film version of Professor Timothy Tyson’s best-selling memoir “Blood Done Sign My Name” opens in theaters across the country on Feb. 19.

The film, directed by Jeb Stuart and starring Ricky Schroder and Nate Parker, brings to the screen Tyson’s story of Oxford, N.C. in 1970. Both book and film focus on the racially-motivated killing of a 23-year-old black U.S. Army veteran and the following social upheaval, including riots, boycotts, marches, and the burning of two tobacco warehouses.

Tyson’s book, which was made into a play, has won numerous honors, including the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, the 2004 Christopher Award and the North Carolinian Award. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it won Tyson the prestigious Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion in 2006.

Learn more about the film and watch the trailer.

"I, Odysseus..." // Exploring "The Lost Books of The Odyssey"

"Sing to me of the man, muse, of twists and turns driven time and again of course once he plundered the hallowed heights of Troy..."

Zachary Mason has done this, and then ventured one better in his "dazzling" (NY Times) debut novel The Lost Books of the Odyssey. Mason's approach looks to be of interest for writers in general, especially those attempting to work with ancient stories in a fresh way.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

In one of the chapters in Zachary Mason’s dazzling debut novel, Odysseus — the wily warrior and canny voyager from Homer’s epic poem — emerges as the creator of his own legend. He’s a war-weary soldier who leaves the battlefield and finds refuge outside Troy, posing as an itinerant bard, a poet who begins by singing the classics and later takes “to telling the story of Odysseus of the Greeks, cleverest of men, whose ruses had been the death of so many.”

In “The Lost Books of the Odyssey” Mr. Mason — who is identified on the book jacket as a computer scientist specializing in artificial intelligence, as well as a finalist for the 2009 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, given to writers under 35 — has written a series of jazzy, post-modernist variations on “The Odyssey,” and in doing so he’s created an ingeniously Borgesian novel that’s witty, playful, moving and tirelessly inventive.

This is a book that not only addresses the themes of Homer’s classic — the dangers of pride, the protean nature of identity, the tryst between fate and free will — but also poses new questions to the reader about art and originality and the nature of storytelling. It’s a novel that makes us rethink the oral tradition of entertainment that thrived in Homer’s day (and which, with its reliance upon familiar formulas, combined with elaboration and improvisation, could be said to resemble software development) while at the same time making us contemplate the other art inspired by “The Odyssey,” from Joyce’s “Ulysses” to Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Charles Frazier’s “Cold Mountain.”

Gender, Theology, and The Arts // Reeling from a violence that Art didn't see coming

Sam Tanenhaus, writing today in The New York Times, has published a disturbing but also urgently important article which explores the triangulation of art, violence, and gender. It takes its point of departure from the feminist insight that although violence has long been a point of exploration and fascination for artists, that there is a very different and narrower type of violence which women are thought capable of completing (and, indeed, are allowed to enact) versus an almost infinite range given to that of men.

Since redemption is always a corollary concern whenever disfiguring (violence) occurs within a narrative (lives) Tananhaus' piece has ramifications not just for the initial triangulation of fields noted in the first sentence above but also for theology, ministry, and the life of the church as well.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

When Ezra Pound declared in 1934 that “artists are the antennae of the race,” and Marshall McLuhan 30 years later called them people “of integral awareness,” both were using modern terms to update the ancient belief that works of the imagination might actually require a talent not only for invention but for attunement — for picking up signals already in the air. This is why the most forceful narratives and dramas seem less made up than distilled. They clarify events and experiences taken directly from the actual world.

Thus, the Jazz Age is better known through the fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who captured its energies in real time, than through any number of retrospective studies. And the alienated teenager, that fixture of modern American life, didn’t fully exist until J. D. Salinger, with his faultless ear and attentive eye, coaxed him into being.

But every now and then, it seems, a gap is exposed. Events occur; art offers no guidance. The powers of imagination and attunement falter. Artists suffer a collective loss of awareness. “The culture” emits signals, but they are picked up only fitfully or are missed altogether.

Consider the case of Amy Bishop, the neuroscientist arrested for shooting six colleagues, killing three, at a department meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Rampages of this sort have become familiar. But with rare exceptions they have been the preserve of men...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The New Wave of Gay Theater // A Wider Lens, A More Subtle Politik

The New York Times' Patrick Healy reports on a new wave of Gay theater which is "replacing the political messages of 1990s shows with more personal appeals for social progress." Moreover, Healy's article raises important questions and offers some timely insights about how the larger relationship between theology, art and politics transforms and shifts as oppressed demographics begin to obtain greater social power.

As such, the article contains salient notions that are of concern not only for LGBT persons and their continuing fight for equality, but also for those inquiring into the history of liberating movements which have come before (and which also continue) - including Women's Rights and Civil Rights.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

A new breed of plays and musicals this season is presenting gay characters in love stories, replacing the direct political messages of 1980s and ‘90s shows like “The Normal Heart” and “Angels in America” with more personal appeals for social progress.

These productions about gay life make little or no mention of H.I.V. or AIDS and keep direct activism at arm’s length, with militant crusading portrayed with ambivalence more than ardor. The politics of these shows — there are seven of them opening in New York in the next several weeks — are subtler, more nuanced: they place the everyday concerns of Americans in a gay context, thereby pressing the case that gay love and gay marriage, gay parenthood and gay adoption are no different from their straight variations.

While persecution remains a reality for most of these gay characters, just as it does in many movies and television shows featuring gay love stories, the widening acceptance of AIDS as a pandemic rather than a gay disease — and the broadening debate on gay marriage and gay soldiers — have led, and have to some extent freed, writers and producers to use a wider lens to explore a broader landscape.

Movies, Religion, and Nothing Else // The Spirituality of Scorsese

A thought-provoking retrospective article concerning the religious and theological under/over-tones in Martin Scorsese's films went up recently on
Relevant. It's worth checking out as it will make you consider the famed Italian-American filmmaker's oeuvre anew.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

There’s been something lurking under the waters of Martin Scorsese’s films since the start of his career. It’s more prominent in some works than in others, but it’s always present. It’s not just his obvious filmmaking prowess. It’s not violence, drugs, sex or profanity. It’s not Italian-American life in New York City. It’s something bigger.

Few people know Scorsese planned to become a priest before pursuing film. Raised in a religious home, he attended Catholic school and spent a year in seminary. His life was once solely dedicated to the gospel.

And though it’s uncertain where his beliefs are today, it is clear he is still working through his faith. Scorsese’s movies have been a lucid autobiography of his convictions and his struggles. He once stated, "My whole life has been movies and religion. That’s it. Nothing else."

A Hint of the History of Sacred & Secular via Architecture & Mathematics

A fascinating exhibit opened recently at Yale which explores the unfolding of an increasingly secular universe birthed out of a religious cosmos, and it elucidates this turn in a rather unusual way - via the history of architecture and mathematics.

“Compass & Rule: Architecture as Mathematical Practice in England, 1500-1750 is the exhibit in question and reminds us once again that the history of theology and religion is sometimes best discovered by way of other disciplines.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

But for all their calm preoccupation with measure and proportion, these documents, drawings, tools and models outline a dramatic revolution. The exhibition’s argument is difficult and sometimes too allusively made, but the impact is considerable. We come to see how the human cosmos might seem unchanged moment to moment, yet still reflect a radical transformation. There is a before and an after in this narrative; we live in the after, and it has come to seem so natural to us, we may not even be aware of its difference from the before.

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Creation Recommends: Joelle Hathaway's site "Musings on Theology and the Arts"

We at New Creation are very happy to recommend to you the blog of a good friend of ours, Joelle Hathaway and her recently founded site Musings on Theology and the Arts. Joelle graduated from Duke Divinity School last May, completing a thesis under Dr. Jeremy Begbie which focused upon theology and architecture. Check out her site frequently, and don't hesitate to contact her if you're looking for expertise in the field of theology and architecture. Tell her New Creation sent you!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Void as Muse // Contemplating The Future of Architecture

The Los Angeles Times arts-blog Culture Monster reports the following on a provocative exhibit which opened last week at New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The exhibit, entitled Contemplating the Void, offers a glimpse into the future of architecture in America and abroad.

Excerpt Below // Full Article Here

NEW YORK -- With the available money for ambitious new buildings having shrunk to almost nothing in this country -- and with firms continuing to downsize in brutal fashion -- where will architectural ideas come from, and where will they wind up? What kind of impact will they have on the wider culture?

Those are among the tricky questions raised by "Contemplating the Void," an exhibition that opened last week at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. As part of its ongoing 50th anniversary celebration, the museum invited nearly 200 architects, artists and designers to propose fanciful new uses for the 90-foot-high rotunda of its Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building. Curators Nancy Spector and David van der Leer asked the participants, whose biggest names include Anish Kapoor, Zaha Hadid, Richard Meier, Toyo Ito and Rachel Whiteread, to leave "practicality and even reality behind" as they produced ideas for filling the space inside Wright's famous spiraling ramp.

This evening at Duke Divinity // Roger Lundin's lecture on "Modern Literature and the Question of Belief"

The second of Duke Divinity School's Distinguished Lectures in Theology and The Arts will be delivered by seminal scholar Roger Lundin at Duke Divinity School in room 0016 (Westbrook) on Thursday, February 24th at 5:30pm. Dr. Lundin is Professor of English at Wheaton College. The title of his lecture is: "Modern Literature and the Question of Belief."

The Distinguished Lectures in Theology and The Arts are conducted under the auspices of DITA (Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts) which is directed by Dr. Jeremy Begbie. To learn more about Professor Lundin's lecture, future lectures, as well as Dr. Begbie's larger vision for Theology and the Arts at Duke, visit the home site of DITA.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tonight at Duke // "Fearless" LGBT Photographer Jeff Sheng

Tonight at 7:30pm at the Krzyzewski Center will be an extraordinary opportunity to attend photographer/activist Jeff Sheng's lecture on his ground-breaking exhibit Fearless which features photos of "out" LGBT athletes.

To read the Duke University press release which includes not only more information regarding the nature of the exhibit but also all manner of practical information concerning parking, maps of how to get to the Krzyzewski Center (it's near Cameron Indoor), etc. please follow this link.

An excerpt of the Duke press release is provided below:


Jeff Sheng will bring his Fearless photo exhibition of “out” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes to Duke University on February 24th. He will speak that evening in Scharf Hall in the Krzyzewski Center at 7:30pm about his experience of creating this project while recalling the stories of some of the hundreds of high school and college athletes he’s photographed. The visit is sponsored by the Duke Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Life, and Duke Athletics: Student-Athlete Development.

Sheng began photographing LGBT athletes on high school and college sports teams in 2003. As a former athlete, Jeff found a personal resonance with the subject matter, and was most interested in working on an activist art project that would confront the adverse effects of homophobia.

Continue Reading

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Confessional - a reflection, by Luba Zakharov

Unable to bring myself to attend a confessional exhibit filled with the festivities of opening night, I went to Carole Baker’s installation, The Confessional, the day after the event. I realize I missed the opening event meant to gather the community and celebrate this art exhibit. But I wanted a different experience.

It was late Saturday morning before I arrived at Building 3 of Durham’s Golden Belt campus and the skylight above the installation poured the sun in on the simply designed but powerful elements: a circular pile of stones set into an enclosed wooden structure paneled with reflective mirrors. Except for a few voices the gallery space was silent and Baker’s installation was the only exhibit open: exposed to all who might walk by or peer in. I stood at its entrance and bathed in the light. After a few minutes, I started to feel uncomfortable because no matter where I stood, I couldn’t get away from myself. The mirrored wooden panels grabbed my gaze and wouldn’t let go. The only way to diffuse this constant looking glass was to focus on the Helvetica font that read:





Even then, there was dissonance between reading the text and trying to see the exhibit because I kept getting in the way. So, in an effort to clear my visual field, I stepped into the adjoining room with the simple wooden chair, a white towel, an empty basin and a clear pitcher of water. It was there that I found relief from the multiple mirrors. It was there that I felt the hollow and cold of this large gallery space. It was there that I decided to leave Baker’s exhibit altogether and walk around Building 3 to peer into the many closed studio spaces. When I eventually found my way back to Baker’s exhibit in Gallery 100, I stepped in and took a photograph. My blue blot image lodged in the mirrored reflection seemed an apt metaphor of my inability to escape from myself and the always active internal journey that narrates my faith. Freezing this on film marks a place in my Lenten story and it is this: that I might do well to stay longer in the confessional and embrace those sins – those unspoken parts of myself that come to mind when I listen - so that when I finally rest on the wooden chair where I know the water will undo me, I can receive the restoration that comes from the hands that will hold the towel.

The Confessional: an installation by Carole Baker

Durham’s Golden Belt, Room 100

February 19, 2010 – March 14, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Durham // Carole Baker's Installation: "The Confessional"

New Creation is happy to spread the word about an installation which we are very excited about: Carole Baker's The Confessional. It will run through March 14, 2010 at Golden Belt, in Room 100, and will have its opening reception on Friday, February 19th from 6-9 pm. Read the description of the exhibit from Baker below, and then take a few moments to explore her site by clicking here.

// Installation Description //

The Confessional will be a constructed environment which viewers will enter and have an opportunity to reflect on the notions of sin, acknowledgment, brokenness, and healing.

Confession is not solely a religious practice. Confession takes on many forms within both public and private settings. What becomes clear in looking at the various practices, however, is that regardless of the context such practices are crucial for healing and reconciliation. It is my hope that this exhibit will enable some form of healing for viewers, whether that take the form of forgiving oneself or one's "enemy."

Friday, February 12, 2010

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS!! // Duke Divinity School's Second Annual Juried Visual Arts Exhibit

Duke Divinity School students, faculty, staff, alumni and their immediate families are invited to submit visual art pieces for the 2010 Duke Divinity School Juried Visual Arts Exhibit. The exhibit will run from March 22nd through May 2nd in the Divinity School.

The theme under which this year's exhibit is curated is “The End of Words,” based upon the book of the same title by Richard Lischer. The theme may be interpreted broadly in a variety of ways and in a variety of media. New work is encouraged, but previous work may also be submitted. First, second, and third place entries will be awarded $200, $100, and $50 (respectively) in gift cards to the arts retailer/supplier of their choice.

There will also be an Artists’ Reception, open to all Duke Divinity School and the broader community, to celebrate all exhibit artists and their entries (Date/Time/Locale are TBA).

The Deadline for submissions is Thursday, March 18, 2010

Contact Duke Divinity School ThD candidate Laura Levens for more information


The exhibit "The End of Words" and its surrounding ancillary events are all sponsored, organized and produced by New Creation Arts Group (an official student group of the Divinity Student Council). Join us on facebook by clicking here

The Oxygen of Gospel // A sociologist says to understand America, you first must understand Gospel Music

John Schmalzbauer, a sociologist of religion teaching at Missouri State University, argues in a piece from the "Call & Response" blog on Faith and Leadership's site that, "Southern Gospel is a key to understanding American culture." Take a few minutes out of your day to read his thoughts below...

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

How does a Minnesotan become obsessed with Southern gospel?

Unlike many conversion narratives, I can’t pinpoint the hour I first believed. I do know that my encounter with gospel music has transformed my understanding of American popular culture.

[But, it took awhile to reach this understanding.]

Ten years of college and graduate school did little to heighten my appreciation for Southern gospel. Thanks to research by fellow graduate student Bethany Bryson, I learned that gospel and country were not very popular among those with advanced degrees. In “Anything But Heavy Metal,” she found that those two genres (along with Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath) were most likely to be disliked by highly educated Americans. I heard little of either in Princeton, New Jersey.

That changed when I relocated to Indianapolis, America’s northernmost Southern city. A few miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I taught my first course on religion and American popular culture. I read about the close relationship between gospel music (both black and white) and early rock and roll. Intrigued by the Pentecostal backgrounds of Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, I paid close attention to the religious roots of popular music.

The Indianapolis Public Library indulged my growing fascination with the music of Dixie. Borrowing a recording by Hovie Lister and the Statesmen, I immersed myself in the sounds of one of Elvis’s favorite quartets. Transfixed by their performance of “Get Away Jordan” at the Ryman Auditorium, I was hooked. A regional television show further enhanced my enjoyment of the genre. Holding forth from his big leather chair, Ohio’s Norm Livingston played host to dozens of gospel acts. Sponsored by a farmer’s market on Indy’s Southside, an area of both Appalachian and Latino settlement, it was the home of Southern gospel in the Circle City.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Between Art & Criticism: Confessions of an Accidental Literary Scholar

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a thought-provoking piece up on its site from Stanford professor Elif Batuman on striving to find a world in which both writing and literary criticism can co-exist. "Confessions of a Literary Scholar" is her fascinating tale of graduate school, told from the perspective of someone looking back on their struggle to create meaningful new works of art, without having to cut herself off from the theoretical and critical dimensions of study. As the blurb out-lining the article notes, "Writers live on one side of the tracks. Lit scholars live on the other. One crazed grad student dared to walk the rails."

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

My plan for after graduation was still to write a novel—but writing novels takes time, and time is expensive. I took the precaution of applying to some Ph.D. literature programs. I did not consider getting a creative-writing M.F.A. because I knew they made you pay tuition and go to workshops. Whatever reservations I had about the usefulness of reading and analyzing great novels went double for reading and analyzing the writings of a bunch of kids like me. I did, however, send an application to an artists' colony on Cape Cod. To my surprise, they offered me a fiction-writing fellowship, on the basis of a 75-page first-person narrative I had written from the perspective of a dog.

One extremely windy and rainy day that March, I rented a car and drove to Cape Cod, to see just what kind of outfit these people were running. The colony was located on the grounds of a prerevolutionary lumber mill. I made my way over a muddy wooden footpath to a boatlike building, where a man was making a video recording of a machine apparently designed to pour concrete onto the floor out of a vat. When I asked him where the writers were, the artist waved his hand at the window, at the teeming rain.

I located the writers in a trailer, huddled around a space heater, wearing plaid shirts and plastic-rimmed glasses. The program director, a windswept, gray-eyed local writer of romantic appearance, treated me with remarkable kindness, especially considering my status as the 21-year-old author of a first-person dog novella. Nonetheless, we weren't on the same page. Our priorities and our worldviews were not synchronized.

"What will you do if you don't come here?" he asked. I told him I had applied to some graduate schools. There was a long pause. "Well, if you want to be an academic, go to graduate school," he said. "If you want to be a writer, come here."

I wanted to be a writer, not an academic. But that afternoon, standing under a noisy tin awning in a parking lot facing the ocean, eating the peanut-butter sandwiches I had made in the cafeteria at breakfast, I reached some conclusive state of disillusionment with the transcendentalist New England culture of "creative writing." In this culture, to which the writing workshop belonged, the academic study of literature was understood to be bad for a writer's formation. By what mechanism, I found myself wondering, was it bad? Conversely, why was it automatically good for a writer to live in a barn, reading short stories by short-story writers who didn't seem to be read by anyone other than writing students?

Continue Reading

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pattiann Rodgers synthesizes Science & Theology into Poetry

The Arts & Religion journal Image has named poet Pattiann Rodgers as its Artist of the Month for February. Read the following story on the acclaimed (and theologically informed) poet below as excerpted from Image's site:


Pattiann Rogers

Pattiann Rogers is a poet of nature—but also a profoundly theological poet. “Everything I see of heaven,” she writes, “I know by the earth.” Hers is a theology grounded in the hard particulars of the natural world, an anagogic way of knowing that, as she demonstrates in a poem called “Whence and the Keeper,” finds in the images of horses and rivers, glaciers and plankton, a vocabulary for understanding a thing as cosmic and distant as the Milky Way. With the power of sustained attention and persistent observation, she brings to her writing a field biologist’s eye for the details of species and phenomena. Alive to the earth’s scents, moods, and variety, her gaze reveals nature’s power and terror, but also its grace and comedy. Like God’s answer to Job from the whirlwind, Rogers’ work locates in the animal, vegetable, and mineral world a theology more profound than abstract systematics could ever offer.

Read Pattiann Rogers' two poems, "Whence and the Keeper" and "Boar, Even Though" -- featured in Issue 48 --here.

Current Projects

I have several projects that I’ll be working on during the coming months. My book, The Grand Array, consisting of 18 essays written over 25 years and three interviews conducted over the same period, will be published by Trinity U. Press in the fall, 2010. I’ll be involved in seeing the manuscript through this process of becoming a book. A chapbook of my poems,Summer’s Company, is being published by Brooding Heron Press, a fine, hand-set press run by Sam and Sally Green. I’m following along with that production too.

I’m also working in partnership with The Poets House, NYC, the Milwaukee County Zoo, and the Milwaukee Public Library on a three-year project, The Language of Conservation. Five zoos nationwide are participating in this project. My title is Poet-in-Residence at the zoo; however, I’m not living there. In consultation with my partners, I’m selecting poems and excerpts from poems to be installed on signage throughout the zoo. The object is to aid zoo visitors in making connections with the animals housed there, to see these animals both as individuals and as ambassadors for their species, to respect them, to appreciate their beauty, and to value them. Hopefully this will lead to a support of conservation efforts and a desire to see these animals and their habitats preserved. Other goals are to introduce people to the many conservation efforts the zoo is engaged in and to understand that the zoo is a cultural institution important to the welfare of our society. And a third aim is to make poetry available and accessible and a pleasurable part of visiting the zoo. The library will offer events in coordination and support of the zoo, and the zoo will promote these events and other connected library functions. I’m greatly enjoying this work, and I’m learning much about conservation and the work of the zoo all along the way.


Pattiann Rogers has published eleven books of poetry, a book-length essay, The Dream of the Marsh Wren, andA Covenant of Seasons, poems and monotypes, in collaboration with the artist Joellyn Duesberry. Her most recent books are Wayfare (Penguine, 2008), Firekeeper, Selected Poems, Revised and Expanded Edition(Milkweed Editions, 2005) and Generations (Penguin, 2004). Song of the World Becoming, New and Collected Poems, 1981 – 2001 (Milkweed Editions) was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and an Editor’s Choice in Booklist. Firekeeper, New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 1994. Rogers is the recipient of two NEA Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2005 Literary Award in Poetry from the Lannan Foundation. Her poems have won the Tietjens Prize, the Hokin Prize, and the Bock Prize from Poetry, the Roethke Prize from Poetry Northwest, two Strousse Awards from Prairie Schooner, and five Pushcart Prizes. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, 1994 and 2010, and in The Best Spiritual Writing, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002. An essay appears in the 2010 issue of The Best Spiritual Writing. In 2000, Rogers was a resident at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy. Her papers are archived in the Sowell Family Collection of Literature, Community, and the Natural World at Texas Tech University. Rogers has been a visiting writer at numerous universities and colleges and was Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas from 1993 – 1997. She is the mother of two sons and has three grandsons. She lives with her husband, a retired geophysicist, in Colorado. Visit Pattiann Rogers' website here.

Shakespeare goes to... Death Row

Mike Boehm, writing for The LA Times arts blog Culture Monster, reports the following on Saturday (Feb. 6):

You'd expect an actor with the Long Beach Shakespeare Co. to declare that “Denmark’s a prison,” as Hamlet does to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

But Saturday night, the company will consider the phenomenon of unjust imprisonment – and worse – in today’s United States, as it opens its production of “The Exonerated,” the documentary-drama by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen that’s culled from interviews they did with former Death Row inmates whose wrongful convictions had been overturned.

Taking on established contemporary plays — “The Exonerated” has been done across the land, including its 2002 premiere at the Actor's Gang — is a new tack for Long Beach Shakespeare, which began in 1990 under the name Bard-in-the-Yard. Since 2005 the classical company occasionally has produced new works by local playwrights, but “The Exonerated” is a first step toward making well-known contemporary plays a regular part of the mix.

Denis McCourt, who became co-artistic director last year, joining longtime leader Helen Borgers, says the aim is four contemporary productions a year, and that he’ll be looking to cull them from the ranks of “Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning plays that speak to minority voices or the underserved.” In the summer, when the company does free outdoor productions of Shakespearean plays, McCourt will be looking to add a musical to the mix.

“The Exonerated” is being done in a 99-seat house inside the Expo Furniture Building at 4321 Atlantic Ave., a huge old warehouse that the city of Long Beach acquired and is making available for arts groups. McCourt, who moved to Long Beach after earning his master’s degree in acting in 2008 from the University of Florida at Gainesville, said that the cement-block construction and bars on the windows should add something to his staging of the play. The California Innocence Project, which enlists law students to help free wrongly convicted inmates, will have a representative on hand for a talk-back after Saturday’s performance.