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Claiming Space for the Self: Limitation and Liberation

What does it mean to unapologetically take up space when your body is different from everyone else's? Born with the rare congenital condition sacral agenesis, Chloé Cooper Jones (Easy Beauty) learned to cope with her physical pain—and the…
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Writing a Path Out of Darkness: Writers on Mourning

Grief: one of the most complicated, isolating, yet potentially healing states a person can experience, it often defies description. These authors’ stories, whether drawn from lived experience or imagination, give voice to the unspeakable parts…
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The Last Wild Horses: Maja Lunde on Her “Climate Quartet”

Horses hold a special mystique: poetry in motion, wildness and discipline in equal measure, an untamed spirit tempered by sculptural beauty and lightning-bolt speed. What if the most beautiful of the world's horses were to go extinct? Maja Lunde,…
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Cultures and Complexities: California’s Hidden Stories in History, Fiction, Poetry and Memoir

Tech empires, movie sets, surfers with golden tans: that's California, right? Not so fast. The California that exists beyond the stereotypes is much more complex and interesting. National Book Award finalist Susan Straight’s Mecca (says Viet…
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Fear and Loathing in San Francisco: Hunter S. Thompson’s Savage Journey to Gonzo

Why is the wild, woolly writing of Hunter S. Thompson, the legendary Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas author, still so urgently relevant today? By inventing a whole new genre—"Gonzo journalism"—he, and the brilliant minds he influenced (Joan…
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Radical Imagination: New Voices, New Visions from San Francisco State University

How do we imagine into fictional worlds that, as Anna Deveare Smith says, evoke multiple chords? How do we employ an honest gaze on our fictional people, a gaze that allows in beauty and its opposite, the anarchic details, the true face? And…
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“Tell Me the Story of Your Body”: Emily Rapp Black and Jan Grue on Creativity and Disability

“This is not a story about survival. It is not about how I became a human, but rather how I came to understand that I already was human.” So writes Norwegian author Jan Grue, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at age three. In…
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“We Read in Order to Come to Life”: Grief, Joy, and the Magic of Literary Form

How do writers assemble words in a way that lifts them beyond their literal meaning to speak what can’t really be said? These three writers are masters. In her novel Checkout 19, Claire-Louise Bennett (whose words are quoted in this program’s…
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Secrets and Revelations, Lies and Love: Family Legacies in Fiction

Every family harbors its secrets. And eventually, those secrets always come out. What happens afterwards? Legacies are revealed, and the possibility of healing—or at least understanding—glimmers. Monica West’s Revival Season earned comparisons…
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From the Window Seat: Travel the World with Aminatta Forna

Be a passenger on one of the most thought-provoking journeys you’ll ever take, with a first-class wandering soul guiding the itinerary. Award-winning novelist Aminatta Forna (The Memory of Love; Happiness) is one of our most important and…