Last Saturday night, I sang the opening lines of John Denver’s 1974 hit “Sunshine on My Shoulders” to an imaginary patch of petunias. I sang it solo and a capella, in front of a packed audience.
I am not a great singer, but it was a great moment. It was the end of a scene I was improvising with my buddy Chelsea for our Improv Level 1 Class Show. I needed to sing something, and that was the first song that came to mind. I think is was kind of the perfect song for the moment.
(This is cross-posted on the Big Big Design blog.)
Each year, the Women and Girls Foundation honors a group of women who are “engaged in dynamic work in exciting and challenging career fields in Southwestern Pennsylvania.” This year they are celebrating “Women in Media,” and I’m privileged to have been selected among the honorees.
The award ceremony will be part of the WGF annual gala on November 6 at the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture in Downtown Pittsburgh, from 6 – 10 p.m. It’s going to be a terrific occasion, emceed by Laverne Baker Hotep, Patrice King Brown, Eleanor Schano and Sally Wiggin.
WGF’s “Women in Media” event will feature a keynote address by award winning filmmaker and grandniece of media tycoon Walt Disney, Abigail Disney. Disney’s first film, the feature-length documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which won the Best Documentary Feature award at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008, tells the inspirational story of the women of Liberia and their successful efforts to bring peace to their broken nation after decades of destructive civil war. Disney will give a keynote address at the awards ceremony on the power of media and women’s voices to bring peace to the world, and her film will be screened after the ceremony.
I am thrilled to be part of this, and I want to congratulate the other honorees and Ginny Montanez, who has been selected for a Special Award of Distinction. I’m thankful to the event host committee for including me with these amazing women.
Starting around 8:20p tonight, the widget below will magically turn into a live scrolling thing, on which you’ll see my notes on “The Future of the Book,” a discussion between Sven Birkerts and Maud Newton hosted at Pitt and moderated by Cathy Day. UPDATE: Here’s a bit of background on this event.
You’ll be able to add your own notes and reactions, which I’ll endeavor to pull into the stream of info. Big fun. Please join me.
Essayist Sven Birkerts and Blogger Maud Newton to Discuss the Impact Of Technology on the Publishing Industry, April 1 at Pitt
PITTSBURGH- Imagining the possibilities that future technologies might have on the publishing industry will be the focus of a discussion with essayist Sven Birkerts and blogger Maud Newton. Titled “The Future of the Book,” this rescheduled event will be held at 8:30 p.m. April 1 in G-24 Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland. The event, part of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series 2009-10 season, was postponed because of inclement weather.
The event will be moderated by Pitt creative writing professor Cathy Day, author of the short story collection The Circus In Winter (Harcourt, 2004) and the memoir Comeback Season: How I Learned to Play the Game of Love (Free Press, 2008).
The event is free and open to the public.
If you’re not able to attend — or if you do plan to attend and want to participate in a bit of backchannel discussion as it happens — I’m planning to liveblog this event here on this site. The liveblogging tech (from CoverItLive) lets everyone write in comments and questions, follow selected posts on Twitter, and generally participate in a variety of ways from any location. Nifty.
UPDATE: Another casualty of Snowpocalypse 2010, the “Future of the Book” discussion has been postponed. With luck it will be rescheduled soon.
Next Thursday, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series at Pitt’s Creative Writing program will hold an event of primo interest to me: a discussion titled “The Future of the Book,” featuring Sven Birkerts and Maud Newton, moderated by Cathy Day.
Sven Birkerts and Maud Newton
The Future of the Book: a discussion moderated by Cathy Day
8:30 pm, Thursday, Feb 11th
Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Over the years, Maud Newton’s blog has become known among publishers, writers, and agents for its smart literary talk and her devotion to reading and writing. She has been cited in a range of publications including New York magazine, The Scotsman, The Guardian, the New York Times, and Poets & Writers. Newton is particularly skilled at finding and posting links to lit bits that other sources miss, such as a previously untranslated Roberto Bolano story. Newton has written for The American Prospect, and contributed book reviews to The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post Book World, the New York Times Book Review, and Newsday. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared various journals including Narrative, Maisonneuve, and Swink.
Sven Birkerts is the author of several collections of essays, including The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age (Faber and Faber, 2002). He has taught writing at Harvard University, Emerson College, Amherst College, and most recently at Mount Holyoke College. Presently, Birkerts is the Director of the Bennington College Writing Seminars. Birkerts reviews regularly for The New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, Esquire, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. His other works include An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on Twentieth Century Literature (William Morrow, 1987), The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry (William Morrow, 1989) and My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time (Viking, 2002).
Sven Birkerts had an opinion piece in The Atlantic last year, “Resisting the Kindle,” so I presume he’ll be presenting the “e-books will destroy mankind and all that is good” point of view.
Maud Newton has many great qualifications and achievements, but I think of her as the blogger who inspired me to start blogging all the way back in 2003. I’m super-excited she’s coming to talk on this subject — or honestly, about anything at all. She posted on her blog last year about e-books: “When is a book not a book?“
Whether you’re able to attend in person or not, I plan to liveblog the event, and I’d love for you to follow along and chime in. There will be a post on this site next Thursday with a CoverItLive widget where you can read my notes, make comments, add media (I think…), etc. Or you can tweet and tag your tweets with #futureofthebook and they’ll appear in the widget too. Very futuristic, no?
There’s a new play in Pittsburgh that I want to see, but my schedule is conspiring against me. In case I can’t attend, I thought I’d at least let everyone else know about it — maybe if there’s a strong, positive response, the theater will extend it for a while until I can get a bit of free time.
Zellers also wrote “The Chief,” a hit play about Art Rooney Sr., founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This new play has other things to recommend it: an appealing cast, excellent production, great space (the O’Reilly Theatre) in which to enjoy it.
Plus the plot has resonance for me: set in the Rust Belt (Youngstown, Ohio), in 1977, when industrial layoffs were looming and small towns were in jeopardy. I grew up in that environment, when the major industries in my home town — steel and rail car manufacturing — were falling apart. In the current economic climate, it seems ever more important to look back on those years.
If you need a bit more temptation, here’s a little video promo the Public created: