American Voces @ John Hopkins

Caras2BRASCHI2

JH

Giannina Braschi
September 26, 2013, 5:15pm
American Voces Authors Series
Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures
The Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218

For more details contact: americanvoces.jhu@gmail.com

http://repeatingislands.com/2013/08/18/hispanic-writers-series-american-voces-presents-giannina-braschi-junot-diaz-and-cristina-garcia/

http://hub.jhu.edu/2013/04/05/junot-diaz-american-voces

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Modern Language Association Presents: United States of Banana

gbcaras

Saturday, January 5, 2013 in Boston

Modern Language Association Convention             

SPECIAL EVENT!  A Dramatic Reading by Giannina Braschi, UNITED STATES OF BANANA @ 7:00–8:15 p.m., 206, Hynes Center, Boston

Hailed “The Wasteland of the 21st Century” by The Evergreen Review, Giannina Braschi’s revolutionary new work United States of Banana  is the subject of a dramatic performance and a scholarly panel at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention.   Braschi is the author of the postmodern poetry classic Empire of Dreams and the bestselling Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing! These titles form a mixed-genre trilogy on the subject of the American immigrant.  A 7pm performance by the author in the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Center, follows a scholarly panel earlier in the day by Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé, Maritza Stanchich, and Cristina Garrigós entitled Giannina Braschi’s United States of Banana: Revolutionary in Subject and Form” (12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Back Bay C, Sheraton Hotel).  Tess O’Dwyer, who translated Empire of Dreams and Yo-Yo Boing! from Spanish into English, serves as moderator.

Giannina Braschi’s United States of Banana: Revolutionary in Subject and Form”, A Scholarly Panel @ 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Back Bay C, Sheraton Hotel

 ABSTRACTS: 

 “Under the Skirt of Liberty:  Giannina Braschi Rewrites Empire” by Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé (Fordham University)

Description:

For the last two decades discourses on empire have been the province of postcolonial diasporic critics.  Writing from the vantage point of exile or diaspora, postcolonial critics, such as Said, Spivak, Bhabha, and Glissant, have meditated on questions of power and resistance in the relationship between former colonies and their metropolitan imperial centers in the current postcolonial world.  More recently Hardt and Negri have extended this meditation to the contemporary global economic system.  In her latest book, United States of Banana, New York Puerto Rican writer Giannina Braschi joins this meditation on agency and resistance but not from the vantage point of postcolonial exile but from that of colonial diasporas, such as the New York Puerto Rican community.  Using 911 and the current economic crisis as a catalyst for her critique, Braschi extends her previous dialogue with high modernism in her Empire of Dreams, to discourses on postcoloniality and globalization.  In my paper I will draw out the lines of this critique of postcoloniality and globalization from the vantage point of colonial diasporic subjectivity in the center of high modernism and postmodernism:  New York.

Biographical Note:

Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé is Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Fordham University in New York.  His most recent book is Queer Latino Testimonio, Keith Haring, and Juanito Xtravaganza: Hard Tails (Palgrave 2007), a book about the relationship between high art and Latino popular culture in the gentrifying New York of the 1980s.  He is also author of a study on the intersections of nationalism and sexuality in the prose fiction of the Cuban author, José Lezama Lima, El primitivo implorante, and coeditor, with Martin Manalansan, of Queer Globalization: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism (New York UP 2002).  He has published widely on Hispanic Caribbean and U.S. Latino literatures and cultures.  His essays have appeared in anthologies such as Entiendes? Queer Readings/Hispanic Writings (Duke 1995), Sex and Sexuality in Latin America (NYU 1997), and Queer Representations (NYU 1997), and in journals such as Revista Iberoamericana, differences, Revista de Crítica Cultural, Cuban Studies, and Centro: The Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies

******************************************************  

“Whose English is it Anyway? Giannina Braschi Levels the Bilingual Playing Field” by Maritza Stanchich (University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras)

Description

Giannina Braschi’s highly anticipated new novel The United States of Banana (2011), in line of flight from her groundbreaking quasi-novel Yo-Yo Boing! (1998), marks a paradigmatic shift in the millennial poetics of witness of Whitman and Martí’s New York with a high/low transcanonical, inter and transAmerican postmodern performance that levels the playing field to bring parity to the charged terrain of English/Spanish bilingualism. In Banana, Braschi proposes simultaneously post modern and protest poetics in dizzying global/local contexts, as U.S. global hegemony declines post 9/11, as the United States has fast become the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world, and as its colony Puerto Rico faces a historic crisis only deepened under local annexationist leadership. In both works, Braschi’s vanguard bilingual performance breaks with previous theorizations of the functions of interlingualism in diasporic Puerto Rican and Chicano theory (Juan Bruce-Novoa 1990; Juan Flores and George Yúdice 1990; Frances Aparicio 1988, 1997), as well as with Puerto Rico’s insular cultural nationalist linguistic discourses. In doing so, Braschi challenges a transimperial history of global power relations between English and Spanish (Mignolo 2000) with literary language that exceeds canonical traditions. Braschi also brings to the fore a vein of avant-garde literature of the Puerto Rican diaspora, along with the distinct projects of Urayoán Noel, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, and the late Edgardo Vega Yunqué, as well as what I elsewhere call Post-Nuyorican literature, along with poets who uniquely venture into broadly comparative and international terrains, including Victor Hernández Cruz, whose most recent work explores Arabic and African linguistic influences in Spain, and Martín Espada, whose work straddles pan-Latino, trans-American literary traditions, engaging Latin American history as well as a global poetics of dissent.

Biographical Note

Maritza Stanchich, PhD, is an Academic Senator and Associate Professor of English for the College of Humanities at University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, where she teaches Caribbean, U.S., and U.S. Latina/o Literatures. Her scholarship on literature of the Puerto Rican diaspora and William Faulkner has appeared in Sargasso and Mississippi Quarterly, respectively. She has also published in Prospero’s Isles: The Presence of the Caribbean in the American Imaginary (2004), Writing Of(f) the Hyphen: New Critical Perspectives on the Literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora (2008), and Hispanic Caribbean Literature of Migration: Narratives of Displacement (2010). She previously worked as an award-winning journalist in New York, Washington DC, and San Juan. Her recent columns for The Huffington Post and The New York Times have helped bring international attention to the crisis in Puerto Rico. She has also worked for academic unionization at University of California and with the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors (APPU).

******************************************************  

“Breaking the Borders: Giannina Braschi’s United States of Banana” by Cristina Garrigós, Universidad de León, Spain

Description

Giannina Braschi’s last novel, United States of Banana, combines characters from her previous works, such as Mariquita Samper, Giannina, and even the Statue of Liberty, that appear now interacting with Calderon’s Segismundo, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. This makes it possible to read Braschi’s oeuvre as a whole and to observe in her writing a tendency towards continuity instead of rupture that is carried out in different levels. In a literary level, besides the intertextual inner and outer references, the book conveys a fragmentary discourse, through an aesthetic that defies the boundaries of the poetic, the dramatic, and the non-fiction essay. In this sense, it would fit into what Don De Lillo calls a “counter-narrative” (“In the Ruins of the Future”). Apocalyptic and deeply philosophical, Braschi’s text offers a reflection on the role of the human being, specifically, the latino writer in a global context where political, economical, social and linguistic boundaries are also questioned and erased, as epitomized by the relationship of Puerto Rico with the United States, and the destruction of the World Trade Center.  In this sense, my paper will analyze the fluidity of borders in her text in the different aspects mentioned above.

Biographical Note

Cristina Garrigós is Associate Professor at the University of Leon in Spain. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Seville (1999) with a dissertation on the intertextuality in the work of John Barth, and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has taught at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Universidad de Leon, and Texas A&M International University. Her research interests include Postmodernism, Feminism, Literary and Film Theory, Bilingualism, and Borders. She wrote the book Un autor en busca de cuatro personajes: Ulises, Sherezade, Don Quijote y Huckleberry Finn en la obra de John Barth (University of Leon, Spain, 2000), and served as editor of La mujer quijote (Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote, Spanish Edition, 2004) and El 11 de Septiembre y la tradición disidente en Estados Unidos (University of Valencia, 2011). She published the interview entitled “Chicken with the Head Off: Una conversación con Giannina Braschi” (Voices of America/Voces de America. Alonso Gallo, Laura, Ed.  Cádiz: Aduana Vieja, 2004), as well as the article “Bilingues, biculturales y Postmodernas: Rosario Ferré y Giannina Braschi”  (Insula. 667-668 Las Otras Orillas del Español: Las Literaturas Hispánicas de los Estados Unidos, 2002).

http://americanpoetrytoday.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/under-the-skirt-of-liberty-mla-presents-giannina-braschi-in-boston-january-5-2013/

Related TV news videos: Interviews with the author. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ58UuLwsJs

http://www.wapa.tv/noticias/especiales/orgullo-boricua–giannina-braschi_20111205213641.html

 

Göteborg Book Fair: Giannina Braschi

  • Bok & Bibliotek
    Image
     

 Giannina Braschi @ The Gotheburg Book Fair 2012: 

  • Thursday, September 27 at 2pm: @ “rum för poesi”
  • Friday, September 27 at 12pm: @ “aftonbladets monter”
  • Friday, September 27 at 5:20pm @ “internationella torget”
  • Saturday, September 27 at 4pm:@ “aftonbladets monter”

Giannina Braschi Readings in Stockholm 2012

  • Monday, October 1 Gothenburg University
  • Monday, October 8, Stockholm Public Library
  • Tuesday, October 9, Copa Cabana, Stockholm  

 

 

 

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Läsningar

torsdag 27 september 2012, kl. 14:00

Läsningar med poeterna Giannina Braschi (Puerto Rico), Christer Hermansson, Heidi von Wright (Finland) och Jörgen Gassilewski.

Image

 Språka på spanglish

fredag 28 september 2012, kl. 12:00

Poesiuppläsning av den puertoricanska författaren Giannina Braschi, biläsning av hennes översättare Hanna Nordenhök

Image

Drömmarnas imperium

fredag 28 september 2012, kl. 17:20

Ett samtal om gränser eller avsaknaden av dem i förhållande till genrer, språk, nationaliteter. Vad händer med språket, världen?

Helena Erikkson/Giannina Braschi

Image

Modern Language Association 2013: United States of Banana

gbcaras

Saturday, January 5, 2013 in Boston

Modern Language Association Convention             

SPECIAL EVENT!  A Dramatic Reading by Giannina Braschi, UNITED STATES OF BANANA @ 7:00–8:15 p.m., 206, Hynes Center, Boston

Hailed “The Wasteland of the 21st Century” by The Evergreen Review, Giannina Braschi’s revolutionary new work United States of Banana  is the subject of a dramatic performance and a scholarly panel at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention.   Braschi is the author of the postmodern poetry classic Empire of Dreams and the bestselling Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing! These titles form a mixed-genre trilogy on the subject of the American immigrant.  A 7pm performance by the author in the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Center, follows a scholarly panel earlier in the day by Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé, Maritza Stanchich, and Cristina Garrigós entitled Giannina Braschi’s United States of Banana: Revolutionary in Subject and Form” (12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Back Bay C, Sheraton Hotel).  Tess O’Dwyer, who translated Empire of Dreams and Yo-Yo Boing! from Spanish into English, serves as moderator.

Giannina Braschi’s United States of Banana: Revolutionary in Subject and Form”, A Scholarly Panel @ 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., Back Bay C, Sheraton Hotel

 

ABSTRACTS:

 

“Under the Skirt of Liberty:  Giannina Braschi Rewrites Empire” by Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé (Fordham University)

Description:

For the last two decades discourses on empire have been the province of postcolonial diasporic critics.  Writing from the vantage point of exile or diaspora, postcolonial critics, such as Said, Spivak, Bhabha, and Glissant, have meditated on questions of power and resistance in the relationship between former colonies and their metropolitan imperial centers in the current postcolonial world.  More recently Hardt and Negri have extended this meditation to the contemporary global economic system.  In her latest book, United States of Banana, New York Puerto Rican writer Giannina Braschi joins this meditation on agency and resistance but not from the vantage point of postcolonial exile but from that of colonial diasporas, such as the New York Puerto Rican community.  Using 911 and the current economic crisis as a catalyst for her critique, Braschi extends her previous dialogue with high modernism in her Empire of Dreams, to discourses on postcoloniality and globalization.  In my paper I will draw out the lines of this critique of postcoloniality and globalization from the vantage point of colonial diasporic subjectivity in the center of high modernism and postmodernism:  New York.

Biographical Note:

Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé is Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Fordham University in New York.  His most recent book is Queer Latino Testimonio, Keith Haring, and Juanito Xtravaganza: Hard Tails (Palgrave 2007), a book about the relationship between high art and Latino popular culture in the gentrifying New York of the 1980s.  He is also author of a study on the intersections of nationalism and sexuality in the prose fiction of the Cuban author, José Lezama Lima, El primitivo implorante, and coeditor, with Martin Manalansan, of Queer Globalization: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism (New York UP 2002).  He has published widely on Hispanic Caribbean and U.S. Latino literatures and cultures.  His essays have appeared in anthologies such as Entiendes? Queer Readings/Hispanic Writings (Duke 1995), Sex and Sexuality in Latin America (NYU 1997), and Queer Representations (NYU 1997), and in journals such as Revista Iberoamericana, differences, Revista de Crítica Cultural, Cuban Studies, and Centro: The Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies

******************************************************  

“Whose English is it Anyway? Giannina Braschi Levels the Bilingual Playing Field” by Maritza Stanchich (University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras)

Description

Giannina Braschi’s highly anticipated new novel The United States of Banana (2011), in line of flight from her groundbreaking quasi-novel Yo-Yo Boing! (1998), marks a paradigmatic shift in the millennial poetics of witness of Whitman and Martí’s New York with a high/low transcanonical, inter and transAmerican postmodern performance that levels the playing field to bring parity to the charged terrain of English/Spanish bilingualism. In Banana, Braschi proposes simultaneously post modern and protest poetics in dizzying global/local contexts, as U.S. global hegemony declines post 9/11, as the United States has fast become the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world, and as its colony Puerto Rico faces a historic crisis only deepened under local annexationist leadership. In both works, Braschi’s vanguard bilingual performance breaks with previous theorizations of the functions of interlingualism in diasporic Puerto Rican and Chicano theory (Juan Bruce-Novoa 1990; Juan Flores and George Yúdice 1990; Frances Aparicio 1988, 1997), as well as with Puerto Rico’s insular cultural nationalist linguistic discourses. In doing so, Braschi challenges a transimperial history of global power relations between English and Spanish (Mignolo 2000) with literary language that exceeds canonical traditions. Braschi also brings to the fore a vein of avant-garde literature of the Puerto Rican diaspora, along with the distinct projects of Urayoán Noel, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, and the late Edgardo Vega Yunqué, as well as what I elsewhere call Post-Nuyorican literature, along with poets who uniquely venture into broadly comparative and international terrains, including Victor Hernández Cruz, whose most recent work explores Arabic and African linguistic influences in Spain, and Martín Espada, whose work straddles pan-Latino, trans-American literary traditions, engaging Latin American history as well as a global poetics of dissent.

Biographical Note

Maritza Stanchich, PhD, is an Academic Senator and Associate Professor of English for the College of Humanities at University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, where she teaches Caribbean, U.S., and U.S. Latina/o Literatures. Her scholarship on literature of the Puerto Rican diaspora and William Faulkner has appeared in Sargasso and Mississippi Quarterly, respectively. She has also published in Prospero’s Isles: The Presence of the Caribbean in the American Imaginary (2004), Writing Of(f) the Hyphen: New Critical Perspectives on the Literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora (2008), and Hispanic Caribbean Literature of Migration: Narratives of Displacement (2010). She previously worked as an award-winning journalist in New York, Washington DC, and San Juan. Her recent columns for The Huffington Post and The New York Times have helped bring international attention to the crisis in Puerto Rico. She has also worked for academic unionization at University of California and with the Puerto Rican Association of University Professors (APPU).

******************************************************  

“Breaking the Borders: Giannina Braschi’s United States of Banana” by Cristina Garrigós, Universidad de León, Spain

Description

Giannina Braschi’s last novel, United States of Banana, combines characters from her previous works, such as Mariquita Samper, Giannina, and even the Statue of Liberty, that appear now interacting with Calderon’s Segismundo, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. This makes it possible to read Braschi’s oeuvre as a whole and to observe in her writing a tendency towards continuity instead of rupture that is carried out in different levels. In a literary level, besides the intertextual inner and outer references, the book conveys a fragmentary discourse, through an aesthetic that defies the boundaries of the poetic, the dramatic, and the non-fiction essay. In this sense, it would fit into what Don De Lillo calls a “counter-narrative” (“In the Ruins of the Future”). Apocalyptic and deeply philosophical, Braschi’s text offers a reflection on the role of the human being, specifically, the latino writer in a global context where political, economical, social and linguistic boundaries are also questioned and erased, as epitomized by the relationship of Puerto Rico with the United States, and the destruction of the World Trade Center.  In this sense, my paper will analyze the fluidity of borders in her text in the different aspects mentioned above.

Biographical Note

Cristina Garrigós is Associate Professor at the University of Leon in Spain. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Seville (1999) with a dissertation on the intertextuality in the work of John Barth, and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has taught at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Universidad de Leon, and Texas A&M International University. Her research interests include Postmodernism, Feminism, Literary and Film Theory, Bilingualism, and Borders. She wrote the book Un autor en busca de cuatro personajes: Ulises, Sherezade, Don Quijote y Huckleberry Finn en la obra de John Barth (University of Leon, Spain, 2000), and served as editor of La mujer quijote (Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote, Spanish Edition, 2004) and El 11 de Septiembre y la tradición disidente en Estados Unidos (University of Valencia, 2011). She published the interview entitled “Chicken with the Head Off: Una conversación con Giannina Braschi” (Voices of America/Voces de America. Alonso Gallo, Laura, Ed.  Cádiz: Aduana Vieja, 2004), as well as the article “Bilingues, biculturales y Postmodernas: Rosario Ferré y Giannina Braschi”  (Insula. 667-668 Las Otras Orillas del Español: Las Literaturas Hispánicas de los Estados Unidos, 2002).

http://americanpoetrytoday.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/under-the-skirt-of-liberty-mla-presents-giannina-braschi-in-boston-january-5-2013/

Related TV news videos: Interviews with the author. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ58UuLwsJs

http://www.wapa.tv/noticias/especiales/orgullo-boricua–giannina-braschi_20111205213641.html

 

Library of Congress National Book Festival 2012

BookNews, Washington, DC, June 2012:

With the President and Mrs. Obama serving as Co-Chairs, the 2012 Library of Congress National Book Festival will convene headlining poets and writers such as Philip Roth, Mario Vargas Llosa, Giannina Braschi, Jeffrey Eugenides, Philip Levine, and Nikky Finney.

The National Book Festival will take place on Saturday, September 22nd and Sunday, September 23, 2012, between 9th and 14th streets on the National Mall. The event, free and open to the public, will run from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, rain or shine. Festival-goers can meet and hear firsthand from the poets and writers, have books signed, and take their photos with PBS storybook characters. An estimated 200,000 people will attend.

Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for “American Pastoral.” In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House, and in 2002 received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. “The Plot Against America” won the Society of American Historians’ prize for outstanding historical novel on an American theme in 2003–2004.

Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, has used his writing to oppose authoritarianism and to condemn societies that fetter personal freedom. His works include “The Time of the Hero” (1963), “The Green House” (1966), “Conversation in the Cathedral” (1969), “The War of the End of the World” (1987), “The Storyteller” (1987) and “The Dream of the Celt” (2010). In the early 1970s Vargas Llosa began to advocate democracy and the free market. In the late 1980s he ran unsuccessfully for the presidency of Peru, recorded in his memoir “A Fish in the Water” (1993).

 

Giannina Braschi, called “one of the most revolutionary voices in Latin America today” by the PEN American World Voices Festival, wrote the postmodern poetry classic “Empire of Dreams” and the Spanglish tour de force novel “Yo-Yo Boing!” The Associated Press praised Braschi’s explosive new book “United States of Banana” (AmazonCrossing 2011) as a work of unlimited imagination and fearless language. She writes in a blend of poetry, prose, and drama, also mixing Spanish, Spanglish, and English. She writes in these three languages to express the enculturation process of millions of Hispanic immigrants to the USA and to explore the three politic options of her native Puerto Rico–Nation, Colony or State. She has won grant/awards from National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Ford, Danforth, and Reed Foundations, Puerto Rican Institute of Culture, and PEN American Center.

Jeffrey Eugenides, a native of Detroit, published his first novel, “The Virgin Suicides,” to acclaim in 1993. His novel “Middlesex” won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, Best American Short Stories, The Gettysburg Review and Granta’s “Best of Young American Novelists.”

Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, a child of activists. She came of age during the civil rights and Black Arts Movements. Finney has authored four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985). Professor of English and creative writing at the University of Kentucky, Finney also authored Heartwood (1997) edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co- founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry.

The Library of Congress Pavilion will showcase treasures in the Library’s vast online collections and offer information about Library programs. Sponsor Target will reprise its “Family Storytelling Stage” featuring authors and musical acts popular with young children. The 2012 National Book Festival is made possible through the generous support of National Book Festival Board Co-Chair David M. Rubenstein; Charter Sponsors Target, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patrons the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts and PBS KIDS; Contributors Barnes & Noble; Digital Bookmobile powered by OverDrive and Scholastic Inc.; and—in the Friends category–the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, The Hay Adams and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thanks also to C-SPAN2’s Book TV, The Junior League of Washington and The Links. The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may be accessed through the Library’s website, www.loc.gov.

PEN World Voices Festival

PEN World Voices Festival Director Laszlo Jakab Orsos and Giannina Braschi at the penthouse at the Standard Hotel.

Karl O. Knausgaard, Giannina Braschi, and Ib Michael at PEN World Voices 2012 at the Standard Hotel in New York City.
Gabriella Page-Fort, Giannina Braschi, Tess O’Dwyer at the American Museum of Natural History celebrating PEN’s annual gala benefit.

   

Russian sculptor Arcady Kotler and Giannina Braschi on the roof of the Standard Hotel at the PEN afterparty.

Barney Rosset, Publishing Legend

Lovers of the vanguard and rebels at heart are invited to celebrate the life and work of the late underground publishing hero Barney Rosset, founder of the Evergreen Review and former owner of Grove Press.  The public memorial will take place on May 9, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. at The Great Hall of Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street, New York, NY.   Barney Rosset debuted pivotal works by Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, Marguerite Duras, Jean Genet, Allen Ginsberg, Gunter Grass, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, Pablo Neruda, Vladimir Nabokov, Frank O’Hara, Kenzaburo Oe, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Octavio Paz, Harold Pinter, Susan Sontag, Tom Stoppard, Derek Walcott, Giannina Braschi, Dennis Nurkse, and Malcolm X. Opening the memorial service is Rosset’s lifelong best friend Haskell Wexler, best known as the cinematographer of such films as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  The event will feature poetry by Giannina Braschi, a Latin American poet and author of United States of Banana who was published and championed by Rosset during his final years. Also speaking is Martin Garbus, the First Amendment attorney who, in the AP’s obituary (see below), was quoted describing Mr. Rosset as “the guy who fundamentally broke down censorship barriers in this country.” 

http://www.evergreenreview.com/128/review_us_of_banana.shtml

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BARNEY ROSSET (AP)

Barney Rosset, the fiery and fearless publisher who introduced the country to countless political and avant-garde writers and risked prison and financial ruin to release such underground classics as “Tropic of Cancer” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” has died. He was 89.

Rosset died at a Manhattan hospital Tuesday night, said Kelly Bowen, publicity manager for Algonquin Books, which was to publish Rosset’s autobiography. Rosset had recently had heart surgery.

As publisher of Grove Press, Rosset was a First Amendment crusader who helped overthrow 20th century censorship laws in the United States and profoundly expanded the American reading experience. Rosset had an FBI file that lasted for decades and he would seek out fellow rebels for much of his life.

Between Grove and the magazine Evergreen Review, which lasted from 1957 to 1973, Rosset published Samuel Beckett, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Jean-Paul Sartre, Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence and William Burroughs. He was equally daring as a film distributor, his credits including the groundbreaking erotic film “I Am Curious (Yellow),” and art-house releases by Jean-Luc Godard, Marguerite Duras and others.

Rosset himself was the subject of a movie, “Obscene,” a 2008 documentary that included commentary from John Waters, Gore Vidal and Amiri Baraka. The same year, he received honorary citations from the National Coalition Against Censorship and from the National Book Foundation, which sponsors the National Book Awards.

A bon vivant who enjoyed long lunches and strong martinis, Rosset was a slightly built man with a brisk, peppery voice; and a breathless laugh, often at his own expense. His longtime editor in chief at Grove, Richard Seaver, would remember him as “often irascible, a control freak, prone to panic attacks,” with a “sadistic element” that shadowed his “innate generosity.” Rosset, interviewed by The Associated Press in 1998, called himself an “amoeba with a brain,” ever slipping into enemy territory.

“I’m half-Jewish and half-Irish, and my mother and grandfather spoke Gaelic,” he explained. “From an early age my feelings made the IRA look pretty conservative. I grew up hating fascism, hating racism.”

A Chicago native, he was the only child of a banker, a rich kid with a passion for the arts and a rage to make trouble. His hero was John Dillinger, the nation’s foremost bank robber. By eighth grade he was printing a newspaper called Anti-Everything and he had joined the left-wing American Student Union.

“By the time I was a sophomore in college, second year at UCLA, I had reports that government agents had entered my apartment and took books and that they followed my mail and who I sent things to,” he said.

“At the time it was not fashionable to be against Hitler. It was called ‘premature anti-fascism.’ Then I volunteered in the infantry and that confused them.”

Rosset’s first interest was film. Cinematographer Haskell Wexler was a childhood friend and during World War II Rosset met the directors John Huston and Frank Capra while attending the Signal Corps photographic school. After leaving the service, he moved to Manhattan and produced “Strange Victory,” a docudrama about racism in the post-war United States.

A minor investment changed his life, and changed the world. In 1951, he paid $3,000 for Grove Press, a publishing house with only three titles to its credit. Rosset put the books in a suitcase, carried them to his apartment and opened shop. The story of Grove soon became one of turning the obscure and the forbidden into the best-selling and the essential, from Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” to Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.”

Rosset waged long and costly war on behalf of free expression. When he started Grove, his wish list included two erotic books, both decades old, that had never been distributed unexpurgated in the Uni ted States: Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer.”

In 1954 a copy of “Chatterley” was mailed from Paris to New York. Officials seized it and charged Rosset with promoting “indecent and lascivious thoughts,” a policy that dated back to obscenity legislation passed in the 1870s. Rosset sued the U.S. Post Office in 1959 and his attorney, Charles Rembar, crafted a defense based on a Supreme Court decision written two years earlier by Justice William Brennan that “all ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance – unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion – have the full protection of the guarantees.”

A federal judge, Frederick van Pelt Bryan, ruled in Rosset’s favor. An appeals court upheld Judge Bryan and the government declined to take the case to the Supreme Court. The Post Office’s ability to declare a work obscene had effectively been ended.

In 1961, over a ga me of Ping-Pong, Rosset and Miller agreed to let Grove Press distribute “Tropic of Cancer.” The book sold a million copies in its first year, but led to dozens of court cases; Rosset himself was arrested, fingerprinted and taken before a Brooklyn grand jury.

“The district attorney said, ‘Do you realize that members of the grand jury have children who are buying that book at newsstands right near their school?'” Rosset recalled.

“And I looked at him and said, ‘If that’s true and they buy it and read it all the way through, you as parents are to be commended.'”

The jury refused to indict and in 1964 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for Grove.

“It’s hard to remember how puritanical America is and was,” Martin Garbus, a First Amendment lawyer and friend of Rosset’s, told the AP in 1998. “Barney was the guy who fundamentally broke down censorship barriers in this country. He put up the money. There’s a very famous picture of him in the Saturday Evening Post: Ba rney coming out of the sewer, lifting up the lid – the whole idea of him as this purveyor of filth.”

Grove was equally busy defending its film releases. It was sued in the 1960s by the State of Massachusetts for releasing “Titicut Follies,” Frederick Wiseman’s horrifying documentary about the abuse of patients at Bridgewater State Hospital. The film was kept out of circulation until the 1990s. In 1968, Rosset attempted to distribute the erotic Swedish film “I Am Curious (Yellow).” The movie was seized by the U.S. Customs Office, screened in some communities and banned in others. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 4-4 on this case, with Justice William O. Douglas recusing himself because one of his books had been excerpted in Evergreen Review.

An appeals court later ruled the film could not be banned.

Other Grove books included “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” the anonymous erotic classic “The Story of O” and Che Guevara’s “The Bolivian Diary.” Rosset also attempt ed an ambitious union of film and avant-garde literature, short works written by Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and Harold Pinter. The trilogy was never completed, but the project did lead to one of the movies’ most unusual collaborations, “Film,” released in 1965 with a script by Beckett and a cast featuring Buster Keaton, just a year before his death.

Rosset only enjoyed limited profits from his legal victories. Although “I Am Curious (Yellow)” made millions and “Lady Chatterley” and other books sold well, he had to cover not only his own legal bills, but those of stores that carried his publications. Grove was also harmed by rival publishers who released cheaper editions of “Tropic of Cancer” and other works that had no copyright in the U.S.

By the late 1960s, the times were outrunning Rosset. When Grove employees attempted to unionize, he was enraged and fired the key organizers. The Grove offices were soon taken over by feminist protesters demanding that a union be permitted, among other concessions, and accusing Grove of treating women poorly. Rosset, the one-time upstart, called in the police. The occupiers left and the union was eventually voted down.

As longtime Random House editor Jason Epstein once observed, Rosset was “a gifted and courageous publisher and a terrible businessman.” Using profits from “I Am Curious (Yellow),” he had overextended Grove, moving into fancy new offices the publisher couldn’t afford. In 1985, to his lasting regret, Rosset was persuaded by British publisher George Weidenfeld to sell Grove to Ann and Gordon Getty. Rosset was supposed to remain president, but a year later he was fired. Grove, now Grove Atlantic Inc., still owns the list Rosset built.

In his later years, he ran the erotic publisher Blue Moon Books, although legal troubles left him nearly penniless. He worked on a memoir, revived the Evergreen Green Review online and even started a blog. Upon receiving his honorary National Book Award, Rosset reviewed his long history of defiance and stated that the “principal that no one has the right to tell us what we can and cannot read is one that has always been dear to me.”

Rosset was married four times, including to the artist Joan Mitchell. He had three children, of them named Beckett.

HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer