Senior Journalist: Herawati Diah

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Herawati Diah ’41. To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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EARLY LIFE

Siti Latifah Herawati Diah was born on April 3, 1917 in Tanjung Pandan, Belitung. She was born into an upper-class priyayi family, granting her the opportunity of enjoying a high education and privileged, western lifestyle. Diah attended the Europeesche Lagere School in Salemba, Central Jakarta for primary school and later attended high school at the American High School in Tokyo. Influenced by her mother, Diah decided to further her studies in America while other intellectuals had their eyes set on either the Netherlands or Western Europe. Prior to attending Barnard, where “the seeds of her Journalism career take root, ” Diah studied English with a host family for two years. In 1941, Diah graduated from Barnard and became the first Indonesian woman to be academically trained abroad in a respected American university. She also completed a journalism course at Stanford University in the midst of her principal studies of sociology at Barnard and UC Berkley.

BEYOND BARNARD

Diah finally returned home to Indonesia in 1942, which was on the brink of war, and became a freelance reporter for the United Press International (UPI) newswire before taking on a position as announcer for Hosokyoku radio. She later married the legendary journalist Burhanuddin Mohammad “BM” Diah, who was working for the Asia Raya newspaper at the time, in that same year and had three children in 1945.

In 1968, BM Diah gained the role of minister of information, for which Diah quit journalism to pursue the new role by his side and represent Indonesia to the world. In pursuit of guarding her homeland’s culture, Diah led Borobudur Temple to being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also established foundations, such as Indonesian Cultural Partners to protect treasures and textiles, Indonesian Women’s Association and others, which raised political awareness in women. She persistently continued to shed light on women’s concerns in the 1990s.

RECOGNITION

Diah and her husband were known as the giants of Indonesian journalism of the 1945 Generation, otherwise believe to be the nation’s “Greatest Generation,” along with Rosihan Anwar and Mochtar Lubis. Diah also founded The Indonesian Observer, Indonesia’s only English newspaper (until the 1960s) providing her people with a means to report their struggles, and launched it on the eve of the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference which was held in Bandung. Furthermore, Diah founded the Movement toward Education of Women Voters (Gerakan Perempuan Sadar Pemilu), now the Women’s Voice Empowerment Movement (Gerakan Pemberdayaan Swara Perempuan)–a movement to empower the voice of women,–aiming to provide political education for women to promote the use of their rights to vote according to their consciousness. Diah also earned recognition from then education minister Anies Baswedan for her contribution to promoting United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization programs in Indonesia.

Siti Latifah Herawati Diah passed away on September 30, 2016, at the humble age of 99.

PUBLICATIONS

An Endless Journey: Reflections of an Indonesian Journalist (2005)

QUOTES

“Journalism is a profession which is not only exciting, adventurous and sometimes even dangerous, but most of all satisfying because a journalist not only informs the public what is happening on the national or international level on a daily basis, but also she or he can influence the reader to choose what is best for them.”

“Be strong, eat healthy—but not too much—live well and sleep well with no worries.” – secrets to longevity.

“At most, please regard this book as a record of events in which I was involved.”

Aziza Rahman ’20

SOURCES

Collins, Gale G. “An Endless Journey: Reflections of an Indonesian Journalist.” Indonesiaexpat, Indonesiaexpat.biz, May 20, 2014, accessed July 9, 2018, http://indonesiaexpat.biz/travel/history-culture/an-endless-journey-reflections-of-an-indonesian-journalist/.

Firmanto, Danang. “Senior Journalist Herawati Diah Passes Away at 99.” Tempo.co, Tempo Inti Media Tbk, September 30, 2016, accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.tempo.co/read/news/2016/09/30/240808510/Senior-Journalist-Herawati-Diah-Passes-Away-at-99.

News Desk. “Senior journo Herawati Diah passes away.” The Jakarta Post, PT. Niskala Media Tenggara, September 30, 2016, accessed July 9,2018, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/09/30/senior-journo-herawati-diah-passes-away.html.

Sumayku, Jeannifer Filly. “A Journey of an Inspiring Woman: Herawati Diah.” The President Post,presidentpost.com, June 21, 2010, accessed July 9, 2018, http://en.presidentpost.id/2010/06/21/a-journey-of-an-inspiring-woman-herawati-diah/.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning Science Columnist: Natalie Angier

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Natalie Angier ’78. To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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BRIEF SCOPE OF THE PAST

Natalie Angier was born on February 16, 1958 in New York City, and was raised in the Bronx and New Buffalo, Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan for two years before transferring to Barnard, where she graduated with high honors in 1978. As an undergrad, Angier studied English, physics, and astronomy.

BEYOND BARNARD

At the age of 22, Angier was hired as a founding staff member for Time Inc.’s science magazine, Discover which was first launched in 1980. For four years, she wrote articles about biology. She had also been a senior science columnist for the Time magazine, an editor at Savvy, and a professor at the New York University’s Graduate Program in Science and Environmental Reporting. In 1990, she landed a position working for The New York Times. She later became a columnist for Science Times in January 2007.

Angier’s publications include her first book Natural Obsessions (1988), The Beauty of the Beastly (1995), Woman: An Intimate Geography (1999) and The Canon: A Whirligig Tour through the Beautiful Basics of Science (2007).

RECOGNITION

Angier’s first book, Natural Obsessions (1988) was named a notable book of the year by The New York Times and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition, her third book, Woman: An Intimate Geography (1999) was a National Book Award finalist and her most recent book, “The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science” (2007), won the Robert P. Balles prize for critical thinking. Her books have been translated from eight to over 24 different languages.

Angier also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for beat reporting. The submission consisted of ten features she wrote on topics ranging from scorpions to sexual infidelity in the animal kingdom among others. Her numerous other awards include the AAAS award for excellence in journalism, the Lewis Thomas Award for distinguished writing in the life sciences, the General Motors International award for writing about cancer, the Barnard Distinguished Alumna award and membership in the American Philosophical Society. She had also been awarded a top rating of four stars among seven other journalists by The Forbes MediaGuide, an appraisal of 500 U.S. journalists. Her writing has also made its way into The Atlantic, Smithsonian, National Geographic, The American Scholar, Parade, O magazine, Washington Monthly, Geo, Slate and many other print and online magazines. Moreover, her essays have been published in a number of anthologies, including “The Bitch in the House,” “Sisterhood Is Forever,” “The New Science Journalists” and “The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing.” She was also the editor of the 2002 edition of “The Best American Science and Nature Writing” and the 2009 edition of “The Best American Science Writing.”

In September of 2017, Angier interviewed Barnard’s new president, Sian Beilock, published in a Barnard news article called, “Beilock Unlocked: Pulitzer Prize-Winner Natalie Angier ’78 Interviews Barnard President.”

Angier now lives in Maryland, with her husband, Rick Weiss, a science writer for the Washington Post.

RESOURCES

Angier, Natalie. “But What About the Tooth Fairy, Mom? Raising a Healthy God-free Child in a Hopelessly God-struck Nation.” Freethought Today 20, no. 9 (2003) – Emperor Has No Clothes Award Winner

Aziza Rahman ’20

SOURCES

Edge Foundation. “Natalie Angier: Pulitzer prize winning science writer for The New York Times.” Edge, Edge Foundation, July 9, 2018, accessed July 9, 2018, https://www.edge.org/memberbio/natalie_angier.

The New York Times Company. “Natalie Angier.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, accessed July 9, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/by/natalie-angier.

World Science Foundation. “Natalie Angier.” World Science Festival, World Science Foundation, accessed July 9, 2018, https://www.worldsciencefestival.com/participants/natalie_angier/.

“A HEART for HARLEM”: Elizabeth Bishop Davis

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Elizabeth Bishop Davis ’41. To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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DAVIS’ BEGINNINGS

Elizabeth Bishop Davis was born on April 26, 1920 in New York City, where her dad, Rev. Shelton Hale Bishop, an Episcopal clergyman, was Rector of St. Philip’s
Church in Harlem. She graduated from Barnard College in 1941 and received her M.D. from the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, in 1949.

HARLEM’S FIRST MENTAL HEALTH CLINIC

As a first-year medical student in 1946, Davis launched Harlem’s first mental health facility, the LaFargue Clinic. The clinic was housed in the basement of the church and was conceived by novelist Richard Wright and psychotherapist Fredric Wertham.The clinic operated two evenings a week, during which volunteer psychiatrists and social workers counseled the predominantly African American patients. Service was free unless patients were able to cover the 25 cent fee per session.

LIFE AS DR. DAVIS

After graduating from P&S with “glowing assessments from the faculty,” Dr. Davis interned at Harlem Hospital, gaining early practical experience, and completed her residency at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia’s Psychoanalytic Clinic.” She was then hired as a therapist by the Harlem’s Northside Center for Child Development in 1953. No later, in 1955, she became a certified psychoanalyst from Columbia’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Davis also maintained a private practice alongside her association with an outpatient clinic at Harlem Hospital throughout the 1950s. She later joined Columbia’s Clinical Faculty in 1957 and was appointed founding director of Harlem Hospital’s new Department of Psychiatry and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry in 1962. Moreover, she was considered for tenure a decade later. The director of Bellevue’s psychiatric division, Alexander Thomas, MD wrote:

“Under her initiative and guidance this service has become one of the outstanding service, teaching, and training centers in the city, able to recruit and retain high caliber staff and to develop innovative service and training programs,”

She also became a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in 1971 and a Professor Emerita later in 1978 after retiring from work at the hospital. By then, the Harlem’s Hospital Department of Psychiatry expanded to encompass an adult inpatient unit, a day hospital, a greatly expanded outpatient clinic with specialty clinics for alcohol and substance abuse, a geriatric clinic, a large social and vocational rehabilitation service, a children’s service with inpatient beds, a children’s day hospital with a public school and recreation program, and a fully accredited psychiatric residency training program.

Alongside her contributions to the field of medicine, she was also an honorary member of the Beth Israel Board of Trustees.

Dr. Davis died in New York City on February 1 of 2010 at the humble age of 89. She died a widow of former head of Beth Israel, Ray E. Trussell, MD.

REMEMBERING DR. DAVIS

In her more than 30-year psychiatry career, Davis pursued research in the use of psychoanalysis, addressing racial and income disparities in caring for the mentally ill, and community-based care, among other topics. Her papers include “Mental Health Services for the Inner City” and “Blacks as Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists as Blacks: Options for the Future,” and footage exists of a television segment that she participated in, “Can Psychiatry Help Reduce Racial Tensions?”

RESOURCES

To learn more about Elizabeth Bishop Davis Trussell, MD., visit The New York Public Library Archives at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division and Archives and Special collections at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). A collection of her work, which she donated to the University, are also in the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library at Columbia University Medical Center.

Aziza Rahman ’20

SOURCES

Anne, Leslie. “Bishop/Carey Family Photo Album – Featuring Dr. Elizabeth Bishop Davis.” Lost Family Treasures, Blogger, May 26, 2011, accessed July 9, 2018, https://lostmementos.blogspot.com/2011/05/bishopcarey-family-photo-album.html.

Davis, Elizabeth Bishop M.D. “Elizabeth Davis Papers.” Archives & Special Collections, Columbia University Health Sciences Library, accessed July 9, 2018, http://library-archives.cumc.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/finding-aids/Davis%20web%20version.pdf.

Shapiro, Gary. “Ask Alma’s Owl: Community Mental Health.” Columbia News, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, November 15, 2017, accessed July 9, 2018, http://news.columbia.edu/bishopdavis.

Tregaskies, Sharon. “A Heart for Harlem: Elizabeth Bishop Davis, MD, 1920-2010.” Columbia Medicine, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Spring/Summer 2016, accessed July 9, 2018, http://www.columbiamedicinemagazine.org/features/spring-2016/women%E2%80%94long-denied-role-ps%E2%80%94helped-shape-medicine-20th-century.

 

Novelist, Poet, Translator and Editor: Babette Deutsch

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Babette Deutsch (1917). To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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Deutsch’s Beginnings

Deutsch was born in New York City on September 22, 1895 to German-Jewish parents Michael and Melanie (Fisher) Deutsch. After completing high school at the Ethical Culture School, Deutsch obtained her B.A. from Barnard College in 1917 and received an honorary D. Litt. from Columbia University. As an undergrad, Deutsch began publishing her poetry in magazines and journals, such as the New Republic. For a short period of time, Deutsch worked with the Political Science Quarterly, after graduation, and also wrote several critical essays, including one on Thorstein Veblen for Reedy’s Mirror, Marion Reedy’s one-man journal of opinion. This led to her landing a position as Veblen’s secretary while he taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City. She also published her first volume of poetry, entitled Banners, shortly thereafter, in 1919. She then published a second work of verse, Honey Out of a Rock, in 1925, dealing with many biblical themes and reflecting a Jewish cultural influence. It also incorporated imagism and pieces of Japanese haiku. In 1921, Deutsch married Avraham Yarmolinsky, a Russian-Jewish writer and chief of the Slavonic Division of The New York Public Library. He was also a translator himself, as well, much like Deutsch. The two had sons named Adam and Michael.

Together, the couple published translations of several Russian works in English. Futhermore, Deutsch, fluent in German also produced an English translation of the works of Rilke.

Success Story

Until 1962, Deutsch published 9 volumes of poetry, in addition to Banners (1919) and Honey Out of a Rock (1925), four novels, six volumes of children’s literature, five criticisms, four books of prose on poetry, and numerous translations, and edited Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1967). Her volumes include Epistle to Prometheus(1931)Take Them, Stranger (1944)Coming of Age (1959), and Collected Poems, 1919-1962 1963. Among her novels are A Brittle Heaven (1926), In Such a Night (1927), Mask of Silenus (1933), and Rogue’s Legacy (1942), and criticisms are Potable Gold (1929), This Modern Poetry (1935), Poetry In Our Time (1952, 1956, 1963), and Poetry Handbook (1957, 1962, 1974). Her children’s literature consists of I Often Wish (1966) and Tales of Faraway Folk (1963).

With her husband, Deutsch also critiqued and translated three other works, Modern Russian Poetry (1921)Contemporary German Poetry (1923), and Two Centuries of Russian Verse (1966).

Aside from writing, editing, and translating, Deutsch was an active member of and contributor to her committee. She served the National Book Committee as a member of the advisory board, worked as a secretary for the PEN National Institute of Arts and Letters, and was chancellor for the Academy of American Poets. From 1960 to 1966, Deutsch was also a consultant at the Library of Congress. She also used her poetry as a means to pay homage to the Jewish community. She wrote verse about war to deal with her rage against the destruction and horror of World War II and make some sense out of the evils of humankind. In one of her poems, she wrote: “A sage once said the mind of God forgets/Evil that men remember having done, as it remembers/The good that men do and forget.”

Honors and Awards

In 1962, Babette Deustch was awarded a Poetry Prize by The Nation for her poem, Thoughts at the Year’s Endpublished in her book Five for the Night (1930), and a Julia Ellsworth Ford Foundation Prize for her critical work on Walt Whitman. She later received an honorary doctorate in literature from Columbia University in 1946. Furthermore, in 1977, she was recognized as a distinguished alumna by her alma mater. Deutsch had also been Phi Beta Kappa poet at Columbia University in 1929.

Babette Deutsch died on November 13, 1982.

Resources

To learn more about Babette Deutsch, scroll through her available published pieces on The New Yorker.

Aziza Rahman ’20

Sources

Friedman, Natalie. “Babette Deutsch: 1895-1982.” Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia, Jewish Women’s Archives, March 1 2009, accessed July 2, 2018, https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/deutsch-babette.

New York Times. “Babette Deutsch, 87, Novelist, Poet, Translator and Editor.” New York Times Archives, NYT, November 15, 1982, accessed July 2, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/1982/11/15/obituaries/babette-deutsch-87-novelist-poet-translator-and-editor.html.

Poetry Foundation. “Babbette Deutsch: 1895-1982.” Poetry Magazine, Poetry Foundation, accessed July 2, 2018, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/babette-deutsch.

The New York Public Library. “Babette Deutsch papers.” The New York Public Library Archives & Manuscripts, The New York Public Library, accessed July 2, 2018, http://archives.nypl.org/mss/778.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Investigative Journalist: Katherine Boo

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Katherine Boo ’88. To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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Katherine “Kate J.” Boo is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist recognized for documenting the lives of people in poverty.

Early Life

Boo grew up in and around Washington with her two Minnesotan parents who originally moved to Washington when her father became an aid to Representative Eugene McCarthy. Her family name is actually Swedish and pronounced, “Bö,” by use the American version, hence her last name, “Boo.” Growing up, Boo was a late bloomer and prodigy. Unlike her peers, she never received the elite education they did. After high school, she became a clerk typist for the General Services Administration upon taking the civil service exam on her own account. She also worked as a secretary for two years and attended three different colleges prior to attending Barnard.

Unfortunately, a degenerative illness left her spending more of her time reading at home and taking night classes instead. Throughout her years at Barnard, Boo typed for The Columbia Daily Spectator and graduated in 1988.

Post-Barnard

From writing editorials for The Columbia Daily Spectator, Boo was hired by Jack Shafer, former editor of the Washington City Paper, now a columnist for Reuters. He described her to have the “soul of a poet but the arm strength of an investigative reporter.” Boo soon began editing the work of others, and moved up the ladder to The Washington Monthly from there. Moreover, she became recognized for combining her “investigative digging, on-the-street reporting and brilliant writing” while working at The Post. Yet for some reason, Boo could never settle, so she returned to her vocation: “writing about the lives of the poorest people in America.” For months, spanning to even years, she followed people and documented, mostly, “how this or that social policy played out in the lives of ordinary people, most often women.” She wrote “The Marriage Cure”, for the New Yorker in 2003, detailing “the humiliating difficulties faced by two African-American women taking part in a government-sponsored marriage programme.”

In 2004, marrying Sunnil Khilnani, former employee in Washington and director of the India Institute at King’s College London provided her with the opportunity and privilege of traveling to India and learning about the lives of the poor. That’s not to say it was an easy task. At times, it almost felt pointless because of the many stakes against her. Nevertheless, like the fighter she is, Boo didn’t let anything bring her down or hold her back. She explained :

 If you don’t write about it, then there’s no chance [of changing anything]. If you write about it, there’s a small chance. I try to be optimistic that if you present some of these conundrums, then policy-makers will take notice. I do think there are smart people thinking about these things, and I don’t think I’m the only person who cares.

Boo also described her visits as:

I wasn’t trying to gather people around a table and talk to them,” Boo tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies. “I was just going where they went. I was doing what they did, whether it was teaching kindergarten or stealing scrap metal at the airport or sorting garbage. And I would sit and listen and talk to them intermittently as they did their work.

Her book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, focuses on Mumbai as she cleverly brings the residents of Annawadi to life. She strongly believes that:

readers will [not] get invested in what potential is being squandered if they don’t engage with the people in the story as individuals. When you have a kid who is killed, I want the reader to feel what I felt and what the people of Annawadi felt, and because of that, get involved in the problems of criminal or social justice.

This is the heart and soul of her book. She wants other people to share and understand her vision and perspective.

Honors and Awards

Boo’s “reporting from disadvantaged communities in the United States and abroad has earned her a Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and a National Magazine Award for Feature Writing.” Behind the Beautiful Forevers was also a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize and adapted for the stage by the National Theatre. Furthermore, it was one of the 10 books President Obama recommended for future world leaders.

Future Work

Boo is currently in the process of writing her next book, “an exploration of social mobility in low-income families that draws on years of intimate reporting in African-American neighborhoods in Washington, DC.”

Resources

Read and listen in on an NPR interview with Boo, a Q&A with her editor, Kate Medina, and another interview with Guernica magazine.

Aziza Rahman ’20

Sources

Behind the Beautiful Forevers. ” Q&A with Katherine.” Interview by Kate Medina. Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Summary article, http://www.behindthebeautifulforevers.com/qa-with-katherine/.

Brennan, Emily. “Reporting Poverty.” Guernica, Guernica, Sep. 4 2012, accessed June 22, 2018, https://www.guernicamag.com/reporting-poverty/.

McGrath, Charles. “An Outsider Gives Voice to Slumdogs: Katherine Boo on Her Book ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, Feb. 8, 2012, accessed June 22, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/books/katherine-boo-on-her-book-behind-the-beautiful-forevers.html.

NPR books. “Finding ‘Life, Death And Hope’ In A Mumbai Slum.” Interview by Fresh Air. NPR, Feb. 8, 2012. Audio and summary article (Nov. 16, 2012),  https://www.npr.org/2012/11/16/165272652/finding-life-death-and-hope-in-a-mumbai-slum.

Rustin, Susanna. “Katherine Boo: Slum dweller.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies, June 8, 2012, accessed June 22, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2012/jun/09/katherine-boo-behind-beautiful-forevers.

“Katherine Boo.” Lyceum Agency, Lyceum Agency, 2018, accessed June 22, 2018, http://www.lyceumagency.com/speakers/katherine-boo/.

American Author: Sigrid Nunez

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Sigrid Nunez ’72. To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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Sigrid Nunez is a published author of seven novels: A Feather on the Breath of God (1995), Naked Sleeper (1996), Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury (1998), For Rouenna (2001), The Last of Her Kind: A Novel (2005), Salvation City (2010), and The Friend (2018).

Brief Backstory 

Nunez is the daughter of a Chinese-Panamanian father and a German mother. As a child, Nunez desired to become a dancer. She started off with a drive to write and, wrote stories about animals and children among others. As she grew older, that passion still stuck. However, around the age of 12, Nunez dove into studying ballet, and began pursuing it in high school. Throughout her study, she realized that not only did ballet pose to be really difficult, but it was also physically painful. Having started late in the game also significantly affected her confidence in pursuing it as a full-fledged career. Moreover, coming to Barnard took another unexpected toll. Nunez chose Barnard because “it was in Manhattan” and because she didn’t intend to go to college: “no dancer goes to college.” Nevertheless, she still chose Barnard. But throughout her first academic year (1968), she was a complete wreck; she didn’t even attend her academic classes, let alone her dance (ballet) classes. It’s not to say they weren’t great; Barnard has an amazing dance department. Rather, it was the realization of losing a childhood dream that she so desperately wanted to pursue that turned Nunez’s world upside-down.

Nunez eventually returned to attending all of her classes. She describes her experience with dancing, however, as:

I still have that in me. I know I know what it is to dance and to be a dancer. But what I feel is probably close to other kinds of loss. Like say you’re young and you fall in love with someone, and then you lose that person. And you go on and love other people and have a life and so on, but you know that that person was the one you loved the most, and that you’ll never love like that again. And though you move on you don’t ever completely get over it. That loss is part of your life and who you are forever.

She studied creative writing with Elizabeth Hardwick, an American literary critic, novelist, and short story writer, who also happen to be her professor, and later graduated from Barnard in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.) in English.

Beyond Barnard

After Barnard, Nunez went onto obtain her Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) from Columbia University alongside working for Robert Silver as an assistant at the New York Review of Books. She soon switched and began working as an assistant for Susan Sontag, a formidable critic, essayist, and novelist in 1976 instead, an arrangement suggested by the editors. With Sontag battling stage IV breast cancer, such an arrangement was much needed.

Nunez recounts her rocky relationship with Sontag in her memoir for Sontag, Sempre Susan. While working for Sontag, Nunez became romantically involved with her son, David Rieff, which was a majorly complicated aspect of their relationship. In the memoir, Nunez writes how Sontag referred to herself, Nunez and Rieff as, “‘the duke and duchess and duckling of Riverside drive,'” which, to Nunez, raised a red flag. Aside from Sontag’s intimate relationship with Rieff that Nunez felt to be rather invasive, Sontag was actually “generous in her comments” and she encouraged Nunez to remain optimistic about her potential of becoming a successful writer. However, because Nunez didn’t find Sontag’s fiction in any ways appealing, and she was at that stage where most 25 year-old unpublished writers desire encouragement over criticism, she didn’t respect any of Sontag’s critiques about her writing.

Sontag passed away in 2004.

Post Sontag

Nunez has also taught at Columbia, Princeton, Boston University, and the New School. Additionally, she has recently been a visiting writer (writer in residence) at several institutions including Amherst, Smith, Baruch, Vassar, and the University of California, Irvine. She plans to visit Syracuse University in the spring of 2019. Nunez has also been “on the faculty of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and of several other writers’ conferences across the country.” Her honors and awards include “a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature.

Resources

Read Sigrid Nunez’s interviews with The Morning NewsThe Paris Review, and Signature to learn more about her life and career. In addition, her novel, The Friend (2018) and Sempre Susan (2014) each alone provide an opportunity to obtain an in-depth insight of Nunez as a person and the parts of her life that don’t meet the public eye.

Aziza Rahman ’20

Sources

Birnbaum, Robert. “Sigrid Nunez.” Interview by TMN, The Morning News LLC, March 29, 2007. Summary article, https://themorningnews.org/article/sigrid-nunez.

Camp, James. “‘Sempre Susan’: Sigrid Nunez Studies Sontag While Smooching Her Son.” Observer, editorial@observer.com, March 22, 2011, accessed June 18, 2018, http://observer.com/2011/03/sempre-susan-sigrid-nunez-studies-sontag-while-smooching-her-son/.

La Force, Thessaly. “Sigrid Nunez on Susan Sontag.” The Paris Review, The Paris Review, April 4, 2011. Summary article, https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/04/04/sigrid-nunez-on-susan-sontag/ .

Muscolino, Joe. “Behind the Books with Sigrid Nunez, Author of Sempre Susan.” Interview by Signature. Signature, October 6, 2014. Summary article, http://www.signature-reads.com/2014/10/behind-the-books-with-sigrid-nunez-author-of-sempre-susan/.

Nunez, Sigrid. “Bio.” Sigrid Nunez, Chloe Art and Design, accessed June 14, 2018, http://sigridnunez.com/bio/.

Smith, Wendy. “Sigrid Nunez’s Love of a Dog,” Publishers Weekly, PWxyz, LLC, November 17, 2017, accessed June 18, 2018, https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/profiles/article/75421-sigrid-nunez-s-love-of-a-dog.html.

Poet, Playwright, and Astrologer of a Generation: Ariana Reines

Meet the face of our newest alum pin, Ariana Reines (’03). To pick up a pin, stop by the Barnard Library!

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Ariana Reines lives a life full of language and interpretation, crafting a path out of the diverse but interconnected fields of writing, translation, performance, and astrology. Reines has written a variety of poetry, plays, and prose, all the while teaching workshops and astrologizing (her term). Her writing immerses itself in themes of love, the body, eroticism, abjection, spirituality, technology, and the occult, among others.

Her Life

Reines, originally from Salem, MA, studied French and English when she came to Barnard. While she was here, Reines won creative writing awards, worked in the writing center, and was a selected to be a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society before graduating Summa Cum Laude. She went on to get a masters in Media & Communication from the European Graduate School (2006), and spent two years as a doctoral fellow in French and Romance Philiology at Columbia (2004-2006). After the earthquake in 2010, Reines traveled to Haiti several times to help with relief efforts in a naturopathy clinic there. Now, she continues to write, teach workshops around the word, and provide astrology readings.

A Bit on Her Craft

In a conversation with fellow writer Ben Lerner, Reines characterizes her performance art as distinct from the public nature of her writing, but goes on to draw connections between the two art forms in terms of the “hospitality” required for both:

Performance is not something to professionalize, or to aspire to. But I do receive these invitations. In a way my job is to receive and respond to invitations. My intentions with performance are much more private than with writing. But the hospitality necessitated by writing with care taught me to try to be hospitable with performance also.

Such a mindset reflects the care with which Reines approaches the multifaceted forms of creativity in her work. It also indicates the open vulnerability of Reines’s writing, as well as the complex ways in which she goes about addressing the reader. In the same piece, Lerner and Reines discuss the use of first and second person in their writing. Reines’s comments about her use of the pronouns “you” and “I” also speak to the issues of media, politics, and technology that her writing takes up:

The earlier “you,” the one in the first two books [The Cow and Coeur de Lion], was the Bush-era “you.” It’s the “you” of YouTube and advertising. It’s really brutalized. It’s what the impoverished “I” is made of. The “I” is just the object of the address of advertising, of George W. Bush, of ATMs. And the weird thing is that “you,” like the “thou,” the divine “thou,” isn’t expected to respond, only to buy in. You’re not expected to answer, just to ante-up or pay in. Even if there’s a comment box.

Reines’s concern for the “I” comes up again in her episode of NPR’s Bookworm. In the podcast, Reines articulates the importance of the “I” to the ethics of poetry, and advocates for its return to American writing. Host Michael Silverblatt identifies Reines as, “one of the crucial voices of her generation.” This label is quite fitting, as Reines’s work addresses many current issues in a complex, yet oftentimes emotionally clarifying, way.

Her Work

Reines has written a number of books of poetry and chapbooks. Her full collections of poetry include Alberta Prize winner The Cow (2006), Coeur de Lion (2007), Mercury (2011), and A Sand Book (forthcoming 2019). Other publications include The Origin of the World (2014), Thursday (2012), Beyond Relief (with Celina Su, Belladonna*, 2013), as well as Tiffany’s Poems and Ramayana (a set of chapbooks from 2015). She also judged the 2013 National Poetry Series. Her 2009 play “Telephone” won two Obie awards, and was published this year by Wonder Books.

Reines has completed several works of translation, including Charles Baudelaire’s My Heart Laid Bare (2009), Jean-Luc Hennig’s The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore (2009), and Tiqqun’s Preliminary Materials Toward a Theory of the Young-Girl (2012).

She has performed at the Whitney Museum of American ArtSolomon R, Guggenheim MuseumThe HammerThe Swiss InstituteRenaissance Society, and has taught at UC Berkeley, Columbia University, The New School, Tufts, Poets HouseThe Poetry ProjectThe Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, the Fine Arts Work Center, ANCIENT EVENINGS, and more.

To read more… 

In addition to Reines’s books, you can read more of her writing on her website. Also, check out her current column on Artforum!

-Sarah Barlow-Ochshorn ’20

Sources

Lerner, Ben and Ariana Reines. “Ben Lerner & Ariana Reines.” BOMB Magazine. October 1, 2014. https://bombmagazine.org/articles/ben-lerner-ariana-reines/.

Poetry Foundation. “Ariana Reines.” Accessed June 4, 2018. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/ariana-reines.

Reines, Ariana. “About.” Accessed June 4, 2018, http://lazyeyehaver.com/.

Reines, Ariana. “Ariana Reines” Interview by Michael Silverblatt. Bookworm, NPR. April 24, 2008. Audio, http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/bookworm/ariana-reines.

Tea, Michelle. “Coming Up @ Radar: Ariana Reines!” Radar Productions. June 4, 2012. http://www.radarproductions.org/2012/06/04/coming-up-radar-ariana-reines/.