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Acclaimed Writer initiates new CalArts writing program


Posted: November 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Writer Lydia Davis. Theo Cote/Courtesy photo


A new writer-in-residence program is launching at CalArts the week of November 11.

The Katie Jacobson Writer-in-Residence program is an annual residency in the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program.

The program was named after Katie Jacobson, who passed away last October, and was created thanks to generous support from her parents, Leslie Jacobson and Jeanine Caltagirone.

“We agreed that we needed to initiate something to carry on the writing Katie did and carry on her name,” said Caltagirone. And they decided that the tribute should be at CalArts, where Jacobson spent two productive years, honing her craft.

In honor of Katie Jacobson and the program, the CalArts School of Critical Studies is hosting award-winning short story writer Lydia Davis who will visit the campus for lectures and meetings with graduate students in the Creative Writing Program.

Davis is a 2003 recipient of the coveted MacArthur Fellowship and the 2013 winner of the Man Booker International Prize.

“We chose Lydia Davis to inaugurate the program because of her experimental impulse—having basically invented her own form of fiction, the very-short short story,” said Janet Sarbanes, chair of CalArts’ MFA Creative Writing Program.

Davis is a great person to bring into an innovative writing program like the one at CalArts, and a terrific model for our students, because the students are encouraged to pursue their own vision and develop new forms of writing.

She also has a multi-dimensional practice, which is something else we advocate in our interdisciplinary setting.

“In addition to being a world-renowned and prize-winning author, she’s also a celebrated translator of Proust, Flaubert and others,” Sarbanes said. “And finally, her absurdist sensibility and minimalist aesthetic puts us in mind of Katie—we think she would have enjoyed Davis’ visit very much.”

Katie Jacobson came to CalArts in 2008 after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Occidental College in 2007. She was “very bright and a pleasure to talk to. Her writing was quirky, original, thoughtful and darkly humorous,” Sarbanes said.

“We are extremely grateful to the Jacobson family for this wonderful donation to our Creative Writing Program,” said Amanda Beech, dean of the School of Critical Studies.

“Their generosity means that our students will benefit from intensive and one-to-one interaction with internationally-renowned writers, enriching the creative life of the community at CalArts in immeasurable ways,” she said.

Davis will be on the CalArts campus Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. in Butler building no. 4 for a public lecture on the tradition of absurdist literature. She will also give a public reading at REDCAT - Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater - Nov. 13 at 8:30 p.m. in downtown Los Angeles.



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