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.