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Writing is solitary, obsessive, and prickly, and that makes literary friendships all the sweeter. Here is a new series that celebrates affection and loyalty between solitudes.
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In the meantime, please scroll down to enjoy the full audio for each Literary Friendship event this season.
JOIN GARRISON KEILLOR
as he hosts a brand new series:
he's invited an outstanding group
of American writers to talk about
their friendships with one another—and with one another's work—in front of a live audience. The series promises to be sparkling, enlightening, and possibly contentious.
What really happens when two writers become friends? Literary Friendships features poets, mystery writers, and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists exploring the solitude of writing and the company of friendship.
Robert Bly and Donald Hall
Robert Bly and Donald Hall are two of the leading figures in American letters. They met as undergraduates at Harvard in the late 1940s, where Bly first published Hall's poetry in the school literary journal. Through letters and visits, they've corresponded for over 50 years. Robert Bly is a National Book Award-winning poet, storyteller, and essayist. He has translated Rilke, Neruda, and others, and has most recently published The Insanity of Empire: Poems Against the Iraq War. Donald Hall was the first poetry editor of the Paris Review and has served as the New Hampshire Poet Laureate. He has written numerous books of poetry and prose; his most recent book, The Painted Bed, examines his grief at the loss of his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, and explores the life he has lived since.
Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman
Michael Chabon is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and most recently, the novella The Final Solution: A Story of Detection. He is at work on a thriller set in an imaginary world inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt's short-lived plan during WWII to create a Jewish homeland in Alaska. Ayelet Waldman is a public defender-turned-novelist and has published five detective thrillers in the "Mommy-Track" mystery series. She is also author of the novel Daughter's Keeper. Chabon and Waldman met on a blind date eleven years ago and were engaged to be married three weeks later. He writes at night; she writes during the day. They live in California with their four young children.
Dana Gioia and Kay Ryan
Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, worked as a business executive for many years—eventually becoming Vice President of General Foods—before turning to literature full time. He is author of three books of poetry, the controversial best seller Can Poetry Matter? Essays on Poetry and American Culture, and most recently Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture. Kay Ryan is author of five collections of poetry. After years of being ignored by the poetry establishment, she recently won one of its most prestigious prizes: the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Her most recent book is Say Uncle. Gioia published the first essay on Ryan's poetry; when he and his family moved to California, he sent her a postcard saying he hoped they'd cross paths. Both California poets with working-class origins, they became good friends.
Sandra Cisneros and Joy Harjo
Sandra Cisneros and Joy Harjo met in graduate school in the 1970s at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where both faced extreme skepticism from their teachers and peers: a poetry professor actually refused to include their work in class discussions. Cisneros and Harjo became allies, supporting and encouraging each other and each other's work. A novelist, poet, and MacArthur Fellow, Cisneros' many books include the best-selling The House on Mango Street, which is now required reading in classrooms around the country. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. Harjo, an Oklahoma-born member of the Muskogee tribe, is a poet and saxophonist with the band Poetic Justice. She has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. Her books of poetry include, most recently, How We Became Human: Selected Poems. She lives in Hawaii.
Michael Cunningham and Marie Howe
Michael Cunningham is the author of four novels, including The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 and was made into a film starring Meryl Streep. His upcoming novel, Specimen Days, is a journey into the past and future that centers around the American poet Walt Whitman. Howe is a Guggenheim-award-winning poet whose first book, The Good Thief, was selected by Margaret Atwood as winner of the National Poetry Series. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. She is author most recently of What the Living Do and was co-editor of In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. Cunningham and Howe met through a mutual friend in Provincetown when both were just starting out in their careers. Together, they cared for that friend, who was diagnosed with and later died of AIDS. Cunningham and Howe consider one another "ideal readers;" they live in New York City and show each other everything they write.