The 15th year of the Guest Writers’ series, co-sponsored by the Salt Lake City Arts Council and the U of U English Department and Creative Writing Program, has been an overwhelming success. From The Hours author Michael Cunningham to hypertext guru Steve Tomasula to March’s Percival Everett, audiences have been wowed by the diversity of voices.
The Salt Lake City Arts Council and the University of Utah make a great team, striving for the same goal in picking and matching their writers. Seeking diversity, they try to import foreign voices when possible. Prize-winning Canadian poet Elise Partridge is an example. Poems from her most recent collection, Chameleon Hours, conjure archaic and mythical images while garnering her critical praise; it won the 2009 Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry. Stateside, her visionary works have been published in both The New Yorker and The Southern Review.
Another visionary, Carole Maso, tries to push the art in different directions and questions how stories can be told—she’s a mad scientist in a writer’s body. “She’s an avant-garde, a real inspiration for teachers of writing,” says Paisley Rekdal, director of the Creative Writing Program. One trick is telling stories in fragments; while you might think of Pulp Fiction, it’s more like splicing the most vital moments in poetry together. That, in addition to her not being seen or published in the past half-decade, should make for an interesting reading for the final installment of this year’s series.