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WRITERS AT CORNELL. - J. Robert Lennon

Updated 12 days ago

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Host J. Robert Lennon interviews writers visiting Cornell University as part of the Barbara and David Zalaznick Reading Series, including George Saunders, Junot Diaz, Lydia Davis, Charles Simic, Claudia Emerson, Nicholson Baker, Téa Obreht, Jonathan Franzen, Heather McHugh, and many more.

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Host J. Robert Lennon interviews writers visiting Cornell University as part of the Barbara and David Zalaznick Reading Series, including George Saunders, Junot Diaz, Lydia Davis, Charles Simic, Claudia Emerson, Nicholson Baker, Téa Obreht, Jonathan Franzen, Heather McHugh, and many more.

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Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

Cover image of WRITERS AT CORNELL. - J. Robert Lennon

WRITERS AT CORNELL. - J. Robert Lennon

Latest release on Sep 26, 2013

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 12 days ago

Rank #1: Episode 052: Nicholson Baker

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Nicholson Baker is a novelist and essayist, the author of the acclaimed novels The Mezzanine, Room Temperature and Vox, among others; his most recent book, The Anthologist, has been praised as “startlingly perceptive and ardent” by the New York Times Book Review. Baker earned the National Book Critics Circle Award for his nonfiction book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, and the Los Angeles Times called his pacifist manifesto Human Smoke “one of the most important books you will ever read.”  For his activist work surrounding issues of text preservation he was honored with the James Madison Freedom of Information Award.  He lives in Maine.

Baker read from his work on February 24, 2011, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Feb 25 2011

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Rank #2: Episode 056: Ron Hansen

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Ron Hansen is the author of ten works of fiction and a collection of essays. He is particularly known for his meticulous examinations of religious experience, and of the lives of historical figures. Among his best known books are the novels Desperadoes; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award; Mariette in Ecstasy; Atticus, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner; the short story collection Nebraska; and his latest novel, A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion. Hansen is presently the Gerard Manley Hopkins Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University, where he teaches courses in writing and literature.  He is also an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church.

Hansen read from his work on September 22, 2011, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Sep 22 2011

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Rank #3: Episode 060: Catherine Chung

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Catherine Chung was born in Evanston, IL, attended college in Chicago, and studied fiction writing at Cornell University, where she earned an MFA; for some years after she lived the life of an itinerant writer, attending conferences and retreats and working on what would become her debut novel, Forgotten Country. That book is to be published in March 2012 by Riverhead. She is also one of Granta’s “New Voices,” a Pushcart nominee, and winner of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize. She is a member of the birdsong collective, an indepdent ‘zine publisher in New York, and is on the advisory board of Paris Press. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Chung read from her work on February 16, 2012, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Feb 16 2012

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Rank #4: Episode 048: Carl Phillips

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Carl Phillips was born in 1959. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently Speak Low and Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006. His collection The Rest of Love (2004) won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

His other books include: Rock Harbor (2002); The Tether (2001), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Pastoral (2000), winner of the Lambda Literary Award; From the Devotions (1998), finalist for the National Book Award; Cortége (1995), finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and In the Blood (1992), winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize.

His honors include the 2006 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Pushcart Prize, the Academy of American Poets Prize, induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress.  He teaches writing at Washington University in St. Louis.

Phillips read from his work on October 14, 2010, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Oct 14 2010

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Rank #5: Episode 049: Michael Silverblatt

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A New York native, Michael Silverblatt graduated from the State University of New York in Buffalo and later took advanced courses at Johns Hopkins. He moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, and in 1989 created the literary talk show “Bookworm” for KCRW-FM.  The show continues to air today.

Norman Mailer has called Michael Silverblatt “the best reader in America.” Susan Sontag called him “a national treasure.” Joyce Carol Oates once called him the “reader writers dream about,” and his podcasts are so popular that New York’s independent bookstores describe a “Silverblatt ripple effect” on book sales.

As a student, he came under the influence of such cutting-edge author-teachers as Donald Barthelme and John Barth; as a radio talk-show host, he learned to appreciate a much wider range of writing—making him, he hopes, “a person of ferocious compassion instead of ferocious intellect.”

Silverblatt gave a talk on October 26, 2010, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Oct 26 2010

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Rank #6: Episode 058: Robert Hass

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Robert Hass is the author of many books of poetry, including The Apple Trees at Olema; Time and Materials, which won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; Sun Under Wood; Human Wishes; Praise; and Field Guide, which was selected by Stanley Kunitz for the Yale Younger Poets Series. He has co-translated several volumes of poetry with Czeslaw Milosz, most recently Facing the River, and is author or editor of several other collections of essays and translation. Hass served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997 and as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 2001 to 2007. He lives in California with his wife, poet Brenda Hillman, whom you may find in our podcast archive, and he teaches at UC Berkeley.

Hass read from his work on October 20, 2011, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Oct 20 2011

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Rank #7: Episode 059: Alexi Zentner

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Alexi Zentner is the author of the novel Touch, which was shortlisted for The 2011 Governor General’s Literary Award and The Center for Fiction’s 2011 Flahery-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and longlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize. A new book, The Lobster Kings, is coming out next year. He has also published short fiction in The Atlantic Monthly, Narrative Magazine, Tin House, Glimmer Train, The Walrus, and many other publications. He studied writing at Cornell and presently lives in Ithaca, New York.

Zentner read from his work on February 16, 2012, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Feb 16 2012

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Rank #8: Episode 061: Edwidge Danticat

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Fiction writer and essayist Edwidge Danticat is best known for her work chronicling the Haitian immigrant experience. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College and an M.F.A. from Brown University, and has published or edited more than a dozen books for adult and young readers, including the novel The Farming of Bones, the story collections Krik? Krak! And The Dew Breaker, and the nonfiction books Brother, I’m Dying and Create Dangerously. She has earned many awards, among them a National Book Critics’ Circle Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and, most recently, the Langston Hughes Award from City College of New York. Danticat has been a visiting professor of creative writing at New York University and the University of Miami, and divides her time bewteen the United States and her native Haiti.

Danticat read from her work on February 23, 2012, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Feb 23 2012

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Rank #9: Episode 051: Stewart O'Nan

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Stewart O’Nan is the author of ten novels, including Last Night At The Lobster, Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, as well as the recent Songs For The Missing and the forthcoming Emily, Alone, a sequel to his novel Wish You Were Here. He has also written nonfiction, including the bestselling book with Stephen King on the Boston Red Sox, Faithful. Granta named him one of the twenty Best Young American Novelists in 1995, he’s a graduate of the Cornell MFA program in fiction writing, and is a visiting writer here this semester.

O’Nan read from his work on February 17, 2011, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Feb 17 2011

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Rank #10: Episode 047: Lydia Davis

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Lydia Davis is the author of six books of fiction, including the story collections Almost No Memory, Varieties of Disturbance, and Collected Stories, and a novel, The End of the Story; she has also published a number of chapbooks and a large body of French translations, most notably Proust’s Swann’s Way and, just this year, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. She is a Macarthur Fellow, has won a Whiting Award, and was nominated for the National Book Award and Pen/Hemingway Award.  She teaches writing at SUNY Albany, where she is also Writer-In-Residence.

Davis read from her work on September 30, 2010, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Sep 30 2010

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Rank #11: Episode 045: Julia Alvarez

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Poet, novelist, and essayist Julia Alvarez was born in New York, then spent the first ten years of her childhood in the Dominican Republic, until her father’s involvement in a political rebellion forced her family to flee the country.  Her novels include How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and ¡Yo!; she is also author of the poetry collections The Housekeeping Book, The Woman I Kept to Myself, The Other Side, and Homecoming. Her many other books include essays and fiction for young people.  Many commentators regard her to be one of the most significant Latina writers; Alvarez is the current writer-in-residence at Middlebury College.

Alvarez read from her work on September 9, 2010, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Sep 09 2010

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Rank #12: Episode 044: Téa Obreht

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Téa Obreht was born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia, and spent her childhood in Cyprus and Egypt before eventually immigrating to the United States in 1997. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Téa received her M.F.A. in Fiction from the Creative Writing Program at Cornell University in 2009.  Her first novel, The Tiger’s Wife, will be published by Random House in 2011. Her fiction debut—-an excerpt of The Tiger’s Wife in The New Yorker-—was selected for the 2010 Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her second publication, the short story “The Laugh,” was published in the summer 2009 fiction issue of The Atlantic, and will be anthologized in the 2010 Best American Short Stories. She currently lives in Ithaca, New York.

Obreht read from her work on April 22, 2010, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place two months later.

Jul 08 2010

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Rank #13: Episode 043: Paul Muldoon

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Paul Muldoon was born in 1951 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Since 1987 he has lived in the United States, where he is now Howard G. B. Clark ‘21 Professor at Princeton University and Chair of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts. In 2007 he was appointed Poetry Editor of The New Yorker. Between 1999 and 2004 he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford, where he is an honorary Fellow of Hertford College.

Paul Muldoon’s main collections of poetry are New Weather (1973), Mules (1977), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Quoof (1983), Meeting The British (1987), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), The Annals of Chile (1994), Hay (1998), Poems 1968-1998 (2001), Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), Horse Latitudes (2006), and Maggot (2010).

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Paul Muldoon was given an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature for 1996. He has also received the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Irish Times Poetry Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and many others. He has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.”

Muldoon read from his work on April 8, 2010, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Apr 08 2010

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Rank #14: Episode 042: Billy Collins

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Billy Collins is the author of ten collections of poetry, including the recent Ballistics and Sailing Alone Around The Room: Selected Poems; He has also edited several anthologies, including two collections of 180 poems for everyday reading, and, most recently, Bright Wings, an anthology of bird poems.  He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003, and has taught at Lehman College in New York for more than thirty years.  His many awards and honors include the Mark Twain Prize, Poetry magazine’s Poet Of The Year, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts.  In addition, he has appeared on the radio program “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Collins read from his work on March 11, 2010, in Cornell’s Rockefeller Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Mar 11 2010

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Rank #15: Episode 037: Manuel Muñoz

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Manuel Muñoz is the author of two collections of short stories: Zigzagger (Northwestern University Press, 2003) and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2007), which was shortlisted for the 2007 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is a recipient of a 2008 Whiting Writers’ Award and a 2009 PEN/O. Henry Award for his story “Tell Him About Brother John.”

Muñoz is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.  His work has appeared the New York Times, Rush Hour, Swink, Epoch, Glimmer Train, Edinburgh Review, and Boston Review, and has aired on National Public Radio’s Selected Shorts. A native of Dinuba, California, he graduated from Harvard University and received his MFA in creative writing at Cornell.  He has joined the faculty of the University of Arizona’s creative writing program as an assistant professor, and currently lives in Tucson.

Muñoz read from his work on October 15, 2009, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Oct 15 2009

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Rank #16: Episode 036: Lydia Peelle

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Lydia Peelle is the author of a collection of short stories, Reasons For And Advantages Of Breathing. Peelle was born in Boston; her fiction has appeared in Granta, One Story, Orion, Epoch, The Sun, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of an O. Henry Prize and two Pushcart Prizes, and her stories have twice appeared in Best New American Voices. A former fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a graduate of Cornell University and the MFA program at the University of Virginia, she now lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Peelle read from her work on October 15, 2009, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Oct 15 2009

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Rank #17: Episode 034: Gina Franco

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Gina Franco received a B.A. from Smith College, an M.F.A. in poetry writing, and an M.A. in English from Cornell University. Her collection of poems, The Keepsake Storm, was published by the University of Arizona Press Camino del Sol Latina/o Literary Series in 2004. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Fence, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Seneca Review, and The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry. She received an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Robert Chasen Poetry Prize, the Corson-Bishop Poetry Prize, and the 2006 Bread Loaf Meralmikjen Fellowship in Poetry. She divides her time between Galesburg, Illinois, where she teaches English and creative writing at Knox College; the Arizona desert where she grew up; and the Texas border, her mother’s home.

Franco read from their work on September 24, 2009, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Sep 24 2009

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Rank #18: Episode 030: Lisa M. Steinman

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Lisa M. Steinman’s fifth volume of poetry is Carslaw’s Sequences, from the University of Tampa Press.  Steinman teaches at Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, and for twenty years has co-edited the poetry magazine Hubbub. She has received NEA and Rockefeller fellowships and has also published two books about poetry, Made in America (1987), and Masters of Repetition (1998). Her poems have been published in The Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, Notre Dame Review, The Women’s Review of Books, and elsewhere.

Steinman read from her work on February 26, 2009, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Feb 26 2009

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Rank #19: Episode 028: Julie Schumacher

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Julie Schumacher is the author of many works of fiction, novels and stories for adults young and old; these include The Body is Water, An Explanation for Chaos, Grass Angel, and her newest novel, Black Box. Her stories have appeared in both the O. Henry Awards anthology and Best American Short Stories. She’s a graduate of Oberlin College and of Cornell’s MFA program, and currently lives in St. Paul, where she is the Director of the Creative Writing Program and a professor of English at the University of Minnesota.

Schumacher read from her work on February 20, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place earlier the same day.

Feb 20 2009

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Rank #20: Episode 027: Melissa Bank

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Melissa Bank is the author of the international bestseller The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing (1999) and The Wonder Spot (2005).  Her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, Epoch, Glamour, The Guardian, O: The Oprah Magazine, Ploughshares, Seventeen, and The Washington Post, and has been broadcast on NPR, PRI and the BBC.  She is the 1993 recipient of the Nelson Algren Award for the Short Story, and her work has been translated into 30 languages.  Bank is a graduate of Cornell’s MFA program in creative writing, and is also Visiting Writer in that program during the spring semester of 2009.

Bank read from her work on February 20, in Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Hall. This interview took place the previous week.

Feb 12 2009

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