JUNE 11: ROSAMOND PURCELL
About the reading: Rosamond will be reading from her book Owls Head, On the Nature of Lost Things, a meditation on her 20-year friendship with William Buckminster, an eccentric collector of other people's castoffs.
About Rosamond: “Rosamond Wolff Purcell is a leading American photographer whose strangely beautiful, often unsettling images of objects from the natural and man-made world have earned her international acclaim. Her collaborations with such diverse intellects as paleontologist and science historian Stephen Jay Gould, magician Ricky Jay, and Shakespeare scholar Michael Witmore testify to both the depth and breadth of her interests: the murky boundary between art and science, the mystery of decomposition and metamorphosis, and the universal human need to collect and classify. Her numerous books include Book Nest, Illuminations, A Glorious Enterprise: The Museum of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and Owls Head: On the Nature of Lost Things, a lyrical account of Purcell’s 20-year photographic “excavation” of a Maine junk yard. Her work has been exhibited at many major museums throughout the United States and Europe, and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Academy of Science, and the Victoria and Albert in London. Her remarkable installation, Museum Wormianum, a re-creation of and commentary on the “wonder cabinet” of 17th century Danish natural philosopher Olaus Worm, was featured at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum of Denmark, among others. The daughter of Robert Wolff, an eminent Harvard historian and collector of Victorian literature, Purcell is a life-long resident of the Boston area.” - From An Art that Nature Makes, www.anartthatnaturemakes.com
JUNE 25: ROBIN MACARTHUR & ANNIE KIM
About the reading: Annie Kim will read poems from Into the Cyclorama, winner of the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and finalist for the 2016 Foreword INDIE Poetry Book of the Year. As poet David Baker writes: "Kim’s complex narrative skill depicts a self, a family, and the myriad 'hidden strings' of cultural identity formed by this poet’s panoramic and symphonic sense of history." Robin MacArthur will be reading from her collection of short stories.
About Robin: Robin MacArthur lives on the hillside farm where she was born in Marlboro, Vermont. Her debut collection of short stories, HALF WILD, was the winner of the PEN New England award for fiction, a finalist for the New England Book Award, a Barnes and Noble Discover pick, and an Indies Introduce selection for debut fiction. Robin is also the editor of CONTEMPORARY VERMONT FICTION: AN ANTHOLOGY and one-half of the indie folk duo Red Heart the Ticker, which has been featured on A Prairie Home Companion and NPR’s Morning Edition. She is the recipient of two Creation Grants from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. When not writing, Robin spends her time prying rocks out of unruly garden soil, picking blackberries and raspberries outside her back door, and traipsing through woods with her big-hearted and half-wild children. Her forthcoming novel, HEART SPRING MOUNTAIN, will be published by Ecco (HarperCollins) in January of 2018.
About Annie: Annie Kim’s debut poetry collection, Into the Cyclorama, won the 2015 Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is a finalist for the 2016 Foreword INDIE Poetry Book of the Year. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Pleiades, Mudlark, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program, Kim is the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and the Hambidge Center. She serves as an editor for DMQ Review and works at the University of Virginia School of Law as the Assistant Dean for Public Service.
JULY 9: RUSSELL C. LEONG, accompanied on guitar by GARY VU
About the reading: American Book Award storyteller and poet Russell C. Leong reads from his newest visual work: Mothsutra, a meditation on New York's Asian fast food delivery men, which debuted at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC and the Black Box Theatre (University of Hong Kong). He also reads poems on love, Buddhism, and diasporic Chinese identity. The reading is accompanied by Leong's visual images that are part of the book and with musical accompaniment provided by Gary Vu. For more information about Mothsutra please visit, www.mothsutra.com.
About Russell: Russell C. Leong worked as an editor and professor at UCLA and Hunter College for 40 years. His work (Phoenix Eyes and Other Stories), etc. have been published in English and Chinese in Taipei, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hong Kong, and in the U.S. He was one of 50 poets featured on the PBS special and book entitled "The United States of Poetry." Currently, he is chief editor of CUNY FORUM, for the City University of New York's Asian American Research Institute.
About Gary: Gary comes from Minneapolis, MN where he performed in a variety of bands from heavy metal to acoustic jazz. In Spring 2013, his focus shifted when he moved to rural Vermont to study and work as an organic gardener at a meditation retreat center. While music was not the primary focus during his time there, his experience connecting with the land and practicing meditation nevertheless inspired a more abstract and improvisational approach towards music. He is looking forward to co-creating and exploring the space with Russell.
JULY 23: MAJOR JACKSON & DIDI JACKSON
About Major: Major Jackson is the author of four collections of poetry, including Roll Deep (Norton: 2015), which won the 2016 Vermont Book Award and was hailed in the New York Times Book Review as “a remixed odyssey.” His other volumes include Holding Company (Norton: 2010), Hoops (Norton: 2006), and Leaving Saturn (University of Georgia: 2002), which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Jackson has published poems, essays, and book reviews in American Poetry Review, Callaloo, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Tin House, New York Times Book Review, and in several volumes of Best American Poetry. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, among other honors. Jackson has taught as visiting faculty at Adelphia University, New York University, Columbia University, University of Massachusetts-Lowell as the Jack Kerouac Writer in Residence and the Sidney Harman Writer in-Residence at Baruch College. He is the Richard A. Dennis Green & Gold Professor at the University of Vermont. He serves as the Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review. Major is a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars.
About Didi: “Didi Jackson's poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Green Mountains Review, The Common, and Water~Stone Review among other publications. Her manuscript, Almost Animal, (now Killing Jar) was a finalist for the Alice James Book Award, the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize by Persea Books, and Autumn House Press. It was a semi-finalist for the Crab Orchard Open Book Prize, the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, and the University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham and Felix Pollack Prizes. Her chapbook, Slag and Fortune, was published by Floating Wolf Quarterly in 2013. Currently, she teaches Poetry and the Visual Arts, 20th c. Poetry of War and Witness, and Creative Writing at the University of Vermont.” - from her website, www.didijackson.com
AUGUST 13: PAULA MARCOUX
About the event: BigTown Projects is excited to announce that Paula Marcoux will be visiting Rochester. Her inspired musings on cooking with fire will be paired with a mouthwatering cooking demonstration that will have you building primitive bread ovens and turning pork on a homemade spit. Evening to include a communal dinner cooked over the fire, wine & cheese tasting, and discussion by Paula about rediscovering the lost art of cooking with a fire. We hope to see you there!
About Paula: The author of Cooking with Fire (Storey, 2014) and food editor of edible South Shore and South Coast, Paula Marcoux is a food historian, archaeologist, and oven-builder who enjoys applying the knowledge of past cooks and artisans to today’s food experience. She teaches oven-building, hearth-cooking and wood-fired baking through Plymouth CRAFT (PlymouthCRAFT.org).
SEPTEMBER 3: MARK BOWEN
About the reading: Mark will be reading from his forthcoming book The Telescope in the Ice, and "about the building of "IceCube," which Scientific American has called the "weirdest" of the seven wonders of modern astronomy. It's the inside story of the people who built the instrument, the mistakes they made, the blind alleys they went down, the solutions they found, their conflicts, and their teamwork. It's a success story. Located at the U. S. Amundsen-Scott Research Station at the geographic South Pole, IceCube is unlike most telescopes in that it is not designed to detect light. It employs a cubic kilometer of diamond-clear ice, more than a mile beneath the surface, to detect an elementary particle known as the neutrino. In 2010, it detected the first extraterrestrial high-energy neutrinos and thus gave birth to a new field of astronomy. Aside from being a telescope, IceCube is the largest particle physics detector ever built. Its scientific goals span not only astrophysics and cosmology but also pure particle physics. And since the neutrino is one of the strangest and least understood of the known elementary particles, this is fertile ground. Neutrino physics is perhaps the most active field in particle physics today, and IceCube is at this forefront. The book is mainly about people and the thrill of the chase: the struggle to understand the neutrino ever since it was "invented" by the extraordinary Wolfgang Pauli in 1930, the early researchers who helped understand it, the strange things it taught them about the nature of space and time, and the pioneers and inventors of neutrino astronomy." - from the website for his forthcoming book, telescopeintheice.com
About Mark: Both Mark Bowen’s Ph.D. in physics from MIT and his past as an avid rock climber/mountaineer have informed his interest and expertise in the subject of global warming and the censorship of science. Currently residing in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, Bowen spends his time researching and delving into the history of scientific heroes such as Lonnie Thompson (the subject of Bowen’s book, Thin Ice). Bowen gives a clear and unwavering voice to the climate change movement, connecting history with scientific narrative, and establishes an urgency to recognize climate change as one of the great issues of our time.
Thin Ice and his second book, Censoring Science, are at the forefront of the climate change movement. Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and co-founder of 350.org, called Thin Ice, “one of the best books yet published on climate change.” Bowen’s books are climate activism in practice, and his masterful understanding of the severity of the issues facing us today both informs us and inspires us to action.
His current work, The Telescope in the Ice, about the building of the IceCube Neutrino telescope at the South Pole, is to be released in November of this year. Bowen has been “embedded” in IceCube and its predecessor, AMANDA, since 1998, and was invited to work on AMANDA at the pole in late 1999. It is his connection to the people and projects that he writes about that makes his books so compelling.
Advance Praise for Telescope in the Ice:
"The Telescope in the Ice is a masterpiece of storytelling, bringing to life in rich detail not only the world of science but also the men and women who inhabit that world." — Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams
"A page-turning chronicle of the decades-long struggle by hundreds of physicists and engineers to create a frontier laboratory for the pursuit of the new discipline of neutrino astronomy. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole has already seen dozens of energetic neutrinos that are likely to have originated somewhere beyond the solar system." — Sheldon Lee Glashow, University Professor, Boston University, and 1979 Nobel Laureate in Physics
"What a wonderful, ever-surprising book. This extraordinary story, about a swarm of smart and often strange people trying to catch some of the universe's smallest particles by turning the South Pole into a giant lens — has found the perfect writer. Bowen, a physicist, climber, and adventurer himself, brings to this tale a mix of knowledge, empathy, clarity, and narrative deftness that brings to mind the great physicist-writer Jeremy Bernstein. Whether describing the tiny, speedy, ubiquitous neutrino (a billion of which just passed through your eyes), the astro-mechanics of a radiant star, the fathomless difficulties of deep-ice drilling, or the unbelieving wonder of the three researchers in the Stitch-and-Bitch knitting club when they look out the window of the South Pole research station and see the first orange rim of daylight after six months of dark, Bowen is the ideal witness, guide, and tale-teller: ludicrously well-informed, always amiable and considerate, and with a born bard's sense of story. He kills even the endnotes, which are, actually, themselves worth the book's price. The book itself is priceless." — David Dobbs, Author of Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral (Pantheon, 2005) and contributor to The Atlantic, National Geographic, Nature, and other publications.
"A page turner. I know of no other book that does such a wonderful job describing the fun, creativity, and resourcefulness required to do great experimental science." — Katherine Freese, George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics, University of Michigan and Guest Professor of Physics, Stockholm University
"The heroic days of exploration are definitely not over. These scientists haul thick hoses across the ice cap and sleep — when they do sleep — in thin huts with a tin cup for a toilet. Back home they fight off a self-serving Nobel laureate and petty agency head who maneuver to take their project away from them. If you want to know how science really works, this is your book. It ain't always pretty, but when it works — wow. They have made one of the biggest advances in astronomy since Galileo." — George Musser, contributing editor at Scientific American and Nautilus, and author of Spooky Action at a Distance
"This is a major work in many ways, I think, not only a compelling tale, a humane science history, but an inspiring picture of how great science gets done (or not). Bowen reports from the inside on the decades long struggle to record cosmic neutrinos, and not only do we see it finally realized, but with neutrinos once again not behaving as expected, pointing to new mysteries of the cosmos. Having been a losing player in this long science game, my hat is off to the tough team who have pulled off one of the great physics experiments of all time." — John G. Learned, Professor of Physics, University of Hawaii, Manoa