Monday, November 22, 2010

December 14: Phillip Lopate and Cynthia Zarin

Phillip Lopate was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, and received a BA from Columbia in 1964, and a doctorate from the Union Graduate School in 1979. The most recent of his many books is At the End of the Day, a collection of his selected poems published in 2010. He has written prolifically in many genres: personal essay, novel, poetry, memoir, criticism, and biography, in addition to editing a number of anthologies. His essays, fiction, poetry, film and architectural criticism have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Essays , several Pushcart Prize annuals, The Paris Review, Harper's, Vogue, Esquire, Film Comment, Threepenny Review, Double Take, New York Times, Harvard Educational Review, Preservation, Cite, 7 Days, Metropolis, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other periodicals and anthologies.

Among Phillip's many awards are a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants.

After working with children for twelve years as a writer in the schools, he taught creative writing and literature at Fordham, Cooper Union, University of Houston, and New York University. He currently holds the John Cranford Adams Chair at Hofstra University, and also teaches in the MFA graduate programs at Columbia, the New School and Bennington.

Cynthia Zarin 's newest poetry collection is The Ada Poems, published in September. She has written three other books of poetry—The Watercourse, Fire Lyric, and The Swordfish Tooth—and five books for children. Born in New York City and educated at Harvard and Columbia, Cynthia is a longtime contributor to The New Yorker. Her recent articles include “An Enlarged Heart,” an autobiographical essay on a child’s sudden illness, which was selected for the 2004 “Best American Essays,” and “Big Cheese,” about the reincarnation of Murray’s Cheese Shop, in Greenwich Village, which appeared in “Best Food Writing,” in 2005. Cynthia's Profiles include “Not Nice: Maurice Sendak and the Perils of Childhood,” which won a 2006 Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, and “Seeing Things: The Art of Olafur Eliasson.” “Green Dreams: A Queen, A Shipwreck, and the Mystery Behind a Rare Set of Jewels” won the 2006 Richard T. Liddicoat Award for Consumer National Reporting. She has also written for the New York Times, Architectural Digest, and Gourmet, where she is a contributing editor.

The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and winner of the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Cynthia teaches at Yale and lives in New York City.

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 16: Paul Beckman and Mark Wunderlich

Paul Beckman is a real estate salesman, writer, snorkeler, traveler and photographer. His most recent collection is the chapbook Maybe I Should Sit Quietly In A Dark Room For A While, published by Silkworms Ink. His earlier collection Come! Meet My Family and Other Stories was published by Weighted Anchor Press. Paul specializes in the short story, flash fiction and micro stories. His work has appeared in a large number of journals including The Connecticut Review, The New Haven Review, Onthebus, Playboy, 5 Trope, Exquisite Corpse, and Opium. Three of his six-word stories about New York City were selected as winners in the competition sponsored by the 92 Street Y. Paul holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives with his wife in Madison, Connecticut.

Mark Wunderlich is the author of The Anchorage, which received the Lambda Literary Award, and Voluntary Servitude, which was published by Graywolf Press in 2004. He is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Wallace Stegner Fellowship Program at Stanford, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Amy Lowell Trust. Individual poems have appeared in such journals as Poetry, Paris Review, Slate, Boston Review and Yale Review and his work has been widely anthologized. He has taught in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence, Ohio University and San Francisco State University, and currently teaches literature and writing at Bennington College in Vermont. He lives in New York's Hudson Valley.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

October 19: Ruth Lepson and Joanna Smith Rakoff

Ruth Lepson is poet-in-residence at the New England Conservatory of Music and has been collaborating with jazz musicians and a few classical ones in recent years. Her books of poems are Dreaming in Color, which was published by Alice James Books along with Alice Mattison’s book of poems, Animals, lo these many years ago; Morphology, a book of synaesthetic moments from dreams written as prose poems, along with photographs of hers and artist Rusty Crump; and I Went Looking for You. The last two were published by You can see Morphology at their website as it’s a free ebook as well as a printed book. Ruth edited Poetry from Sojourner: A Feminist Anthology, published by the U of Illinois. Her poems and prose have been in Jacket, Harvard Review, The Boston Phoenix, EOAGH, Shampoo, Carve, Agni, and many other periodicals and online magazines. She used to organize poetry readings for Oxfam America. She lives in Cambridge.

Joanna Smith Rakoff is the author of the novel A Fortunate Age, which was a New York Times Editors' Pick, a winner of the Elle Readers' Prize, a selection of Barnes and Noble's First Look Book Club, an IndieNext pick, and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. As a journalist and critic, she's written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Book World, the Boston Globe, Vogue, Time Out New York, O:The Oprah Magazine, and many other newspapers and magazines. Her poetry has appeared in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, Kenyon Review, and other journals. She has degrees from Columbia University; University College, London; and Oberlin College. You can read some of her articles and essays at her webpage.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Ordinary Evening Reading Series Fall 2010 Series Starts September 21st!

The Ordinary Evening Reading Series starts its 2010 Fall Series on Tuesday September 21st, an ordinary evening -at 7PM in the Anchor Bar's Mermaid Room (272 College Street, New Haven). We're excited to welcome a diverse range of writers - and we hope to welcome you, too.

Our Fall line-up includes:

September 21: Caryl Phillips and Matt Debenham
October 19: Ruth Lepson and Joana Smith Rakoff
November 16: Mark Wunderlich and Paul Beckman
December 14: Phillip Lopate and Cynthia Zarin

If you wish to join our email list, send a note to

We welcome drinkers and teetotallers alike for an evening of readings by writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Please join us for what the New Haven Independent called "one of those unofficial civic ventures that make New Haven such a vibrant place."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Caryl Phillips and Matt Debenham

Caryl Phillips was born in St.Kitts, West Indies, and brought up in Leeds. He is the author of numerous books of non-fiction and fiction. Dancing in the Dark won the 2006 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, and A Distant Shore won the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize. His other awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Crossing the River, which was also short-listed for the Booker Prize. He has written extensively for the stage, television, and film, and is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Professor of English at Yale University, he currently lives in New York City.

Matt Debenham's story collection The Book of Right and Wrong (published in 2010) won the Ohio State University Press Prize for fiction and featured the Pushcart Prize-nominated title story “The Book of Right and Wrong.” Matt holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Roanoke Review, The Pinch, Weston Magazine, Dogwood, Painted Bride Quarterly, and North Atlantic Review. He teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, writes a blog and twitters.

Monday, April 26, 2010

May 18th: Sven Birkerts and Rebecca Chace

Sven Birkerts is a noted essayist, editor, instructor, and reviewer. The editor of AGNI since July 2002, he also is director of the Bennington Writing Seminars. His most recent books are Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again (2007, Graywolf) and Reading Life: Books for the Ages (2007, Graywolf). The best-known among his many books is The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Faber & Faber), and he has also written a memoir, My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time (2002, Viking). Sven has edited a number of works, including Tolstoy's Dictaphone: Writers and the Muse (Graywolf), Writing Well (with Donald Hall), and The Evolving Canon (Allyn & Bacon).

The recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation grant, among others, Sven has also won the Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle and the Spielvogel-Diamonstein Award from PEN for the best book of essays. Sven reviews regularly for The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The Atlantic, and other publications. He has taught writing at Harvard University, Emerson College, and Amherst. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children. Sven also plays guitar in the Doghouse Band.

Rebecca Chace is the author of the forthcoming novel Leaving Rock Harbor (Scribner, June, 2010) and the memoir Chautauqua Summer, which was a New York Times "Notable Book" and named "Editor's Choice" and one of the "Picks for Summer" in the New York Times Book Review. She wrote the novel Capture the Flag and the essay “Looking for Robinson Crusoe” (Fiction Magazine), which was recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.

An actress and playwright, Rebecca's plays include Colette (Theatre for the New City) in which she played Colette and hung from a trapeze. She also wrote Vershinin’s Wife (performed in the FringeACT festival) and adapted Kate Chopin's novel The Awakening (produced by Book-It Repertory Theatre at the Seattle Repertory Theatre). Capture the Flag was adapted as a screenplay by Rebecca and director Lisanne Skyler, and premiered at the Aspen Short Film Festival in April, 2010. In addition to acting in the film, Rebecca has moonlighted as a trapeze artist and likes to swing flaming torches (outdoors only).

Rebecca has won several prizes and fellowships. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bard College and also teaches Fiction and Dramatic Writing in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the City College of New York. One of her favorite things in the world is to sing country western songs in the Doghouse Band with Sven Birkerts playing guitar, along with other members from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

April 20: Allan Appel and Jake Halpern

Allan Appel's most recent book is The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air (2009). A novelist, poet, and playwright who was born in Chicago in 1946, Allan's books include Club Revelation, High Holiday Sutra (winner of a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award) and The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His writing has appeared in The National Jewish Monthly, The Progressive, and National Lampoon, and his plays have been produced in New York, Chicago, New Haven, and Provincetown. He has published six novels, a biography, two collections of poetry, a book on botany, and A Portable Apocalypse, a handy anthology of erudite and humorous quotations about the end of the world. Among his plays, Dear Heartsey, a staged adaptation of the letters of a colonial New Yorker, Abigail Franks, was commissioned by the American Jewish Historical Society, and presented, starring Anne Jackson and Eli Wallach, at New York's Jewish Museum, at Queens College, City University of New York, and at Yale. In 2003, Flight, a play about the perils of patriotism, was presented in a staged reading by the New England Academy of Theatre in New Haven.

Jake Halpern is an author, journalist, and radio producer. His first book, Braving Home (2003), was a main selection for the Book of the Month Club by Bill Bryson and was a Library Journal “Book of the Year.” His next book, Fame Junkies (2007), was the basis for an original series on NPR's All Things Considered and portions of the book were published in both the New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly. His first work of fiction, a fantasy novel entitled Dormia (2009), has been hailed by the American Library Association as the next Harry Potter. As a journalist, Jake has written for a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, and Outside. In the realm of radio, Jake is a contributor to NPR's All Things Considered and This American Life. Last, but not least, he is a fellow of Morse College at Yale University, where he teaches a class on journalism. His website is

Sunday, February 07, 2010

March 23: Robin Abrahams and Susan Barr-Toman

Robin Abrahams writes the popular “Miss Conduct” social advice column for the Boston Globe Sunday magazine. Miss Conduct’s Mind Over Manners is her first book.
A Cambridge resident with a PhD. in research psychology from Boston University, Robin also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Previous jobs include theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and writing. She occasionally writes for the science-humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research and performs in Improbable Research cabarets.
Robin blogs six days a week at and at, and conducts online chats twice a month on

Susan Barr-Toman was born and raised in Philadelphia where she still lives with her husband and two children and where she teaches writing at Temple University. When Love Was Clean Underwear, her debut novel, was selected by Ann Hood as the winner of the Many Voices Project's Fiction Prize 2007.
Currently, she’s working on a collection of connected stories called Breathing Water. She just completed Mary Mulgrew, What Did You Do? a children's book with her sister artist Sarah Barr.
Her blog Philly Word of Mouth features information about author readings and events in the Philadelphia area.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

February 16: The Wallace Stevens Anthology

Ordinary Evening takes its name from a poem by Wallace Stevens, so we were thrilled to learn of Visiting Wallace: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Wallace Stevens, edited by Dennis Barone and James Finnegan. This is the first anthology of poems by a full range of poets, inspired by Stevens's life and work. We are fortunate to have five of them read from the collection on February 16th.

Dennis Barone’s recent books are Precise Machine and North Arrow . In 2006 he edited Furnished Rooms , poems by early twentieth-century poet Emanuel Carnevali. He has published a collection of selected poems, and in 1997 he received the America Award in fiction for Echoes. He is Director of American Studies at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, Connecticut.

James Finnegan has published poems in Ploughshares, Poetry East, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review & other literary magazines. He started an internet discussion list related to contemporary poetry called New-Poetry. He cofounded the web-radio project and he posts aphoristic musings to ursprache, a poetics blog. He lives in West Hartford, CT, and works as an insurance underwriter of financial institutions risk.

Richard Deming is a poet and a theorist who works on the philosophy of literature. His poems have been published in such journals as Sulfur, Field, Indiana Review, and Mandorla, as well as Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present. His book of poems is Let's Not Call it Consequence. With Nancy Kuhl, he edits Phylum Press. He is a lecturer at Yale University and the author of Listening on All Sides: Toward an Emersonian Ethics of Reading.

Susan Howe is the author of several books including Souls of the Labadie Tract, The Midnight, Kidnapped, The Europe of Trusts: Selected Poems, Pierce-Arrow, and Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974-1979. Her books of criticism are The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History , which was named an "International Book of the Year" by the Times Literary Supplement, and My Emily Dickinson.

Clare Rossini’s second collection, Lingo, was released in 2006. Her first full-length collection, Winter Morning with Crow, was selected for the 1996 Akron Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, as well as in textbooks and anthologies, including Poets for the New Century, An Introduction to Poetry, and Best American Poetry. Rossini is currently on the faculty of Trinity College in Hartford and the MFA program at Vermont College in Montpelier, VT.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Ordinary Evening Reading Series Spring 2010 Schedule

The Ordinary Evening Reading Series announces its line-up for the 2010 Spring season! Join us on ordinary evenings - Tuesday nights - at 7 PM in the Mermaid Room at the Anchor Bar & Restaurant (272 College Street, New Haven) for readings from an exciting variety of writers.

January 19: Sheila Kohler and Lisa Siedlarz
February 16: A Tribute to Wallace Stevens, with work by poets including Richard Deming
March 23: Susan Barr-Toman and Robin Abrahams
April 20: Allan Appel and Jake Halpern
May 18: Rebecca Chace and Sven Birkerts

If you wish to join our email list, send a note to

We welcome drinkers and teetotallers alike for an evening of readings by writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Please join us for what the New Haven Independent called "one of those unofficial civic ventures that make New Haven such a vibrant place."