From March 25-28, the MFA Program in Creative Writing hosts &NOW—the biennial traveling literary festival on the CalArts campus. This year’s theme is “Blast Radius: Writing and the Other Arts,” and the conference features more than 65 performances, readings, panels and installations that blur the boundaries between visual art, music, filmmaking and performance, an ethos that is right at home at CalArts.
Poet, writer and lawyer M. NourbeSe Philip delivers the festival’s keynote address on Saturday (March 28). Her latest book, Zong!, is an extended poetry cycle that breaks apart and rearranges the text from a legal decision documenting the drowning of 150 African slaves aboard the ship Zong by its captain in order to collect insurance money.
“The poems in Zong! work powerfully at the individual level and even more powerfully as a sequence to call attention to the scantiness of our knowledge of the history of African enslavement from any perspective but that of slave holders or legal documents and to question the assumptions about ‘fact’ and ‘value’ assumed by that perspective,” writes University at Buffalo SUNY’s Cristanne Miller in praise of Philip’s work.
M. NourbeSe Philip reads from Zong!
Other featured events at &NOW Blast Radius include “Rules of the Cosmos,” an improvisational performance in which participants act as performers and audience members alike, deciding when and where in the space to read cosmos-related works they have brought; and “(Re)Figuring Voice,” which investigates how “writers make use of other disciplinary concepts of voice” with panelists Laura Elrick, Miranda Mellis, Christina Milletti and 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award winner Claudia Rankine.
A book fair devoted to innovative publishing and group readings from selected national small presses are also scheduled. See the complete schedule.
Full registration for the conference is available for $100, with day passes at $35. &NOW Blast Radius is free for CalArts students. Missing the conference? Follow the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #andnow2015.