Pen and Brush Presents…Melissa Febos, Martha Cooley, and Gwen North Reiss
Pen and Brush Presents… is a reading series curated by Kate Angus for Pen and Brush. The series supports the work small press editors do in identifying excellent writing, as well as supporting the writing itself, by featuring exciting new work by established and emerging authors. Each month, “Pen and Brush Presents…” will feature readings by three writers, each one selected by editors at a press, journal, or organization with a strong female editorial presence.
Join us for our April reading, featuring the following writers and presses:
Melissa Febos, representing VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts. VIDA is a non-profit feminist organization committed to creating transparency around the lack of gender parity in the literary landscape and to amplifying historically-marginalized voices, including people of color; writers with disabilities; and queer, trans and gender nonconforming individuals.
Melissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the new essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017). Her work has been widely anthologized and appears in publications including Tin House, Granta, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Glamour, Guernica, Post Road, Salon, The New York Times, Hunger Mountain, Portland Review, Dissent, The Chronicle of Higher Education Review, Bitch Magazine, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Drunken Boat, and Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York. She has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, CNN, Anderson Cooper Live, and elsewhere. Her essays have twice received special mention from the Best American Essays anthology and have won prizes from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly, and The Center for Women Writers. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and The MacDowell Colony. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Monmouth University and MFA faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). She serves on the Board of Directors of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, the PEN America Membership Committee, and co-curated the Manhattan reading and music series, Mixer, for nine years. She curates literary events, teaches workshops, and speaks widely. The daughter of a sea captain and a psychotherapist, she was raised on Cape Cod and lives in Brooklyn.
Gwen North Reiss, representing Pen and Brush Books and the imprint's literary curators. For over 122 years, Pen and Brush has been dedicated to promoting the work of women in both the literary and visual arts. Pen and Brush provides a platform to showcase the work of emerging and mid-career female artists and writers to a broader audience with the ultimate goal of effecting real change within the marketplace. We encourage and mentor emerging professionals and aim to expose the stereotypes and misconceptions that perpetuate gender-based exclusion, lack of recognition and the devaluation of skill that is still experienced by women in the arts. To achieve this, we have specifically designed our facilities to accommodate the exhibition of all forms of visual arts and created an imprint, Pen and Brush Books, to electronically publish literary fiction and poetry. We believe this approach will have a tangible and positive impact on the careers of professional female artists and writers and, ultimately, secure a more comprehensive inclusion of women’s voices in the canons of art and literature. At Pen and Brush, we believe that art and literature created by women deserves to be recognized and valued on its merit – not judged by the gender of the maker.
Gwen North Reiss has published poems in Rhino, Connecticut Review, The Atlanta Review, Dogwood, Truck, and other literary magazines. She studied poetry at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center with Jen Bervin and Sharon Dolin, and attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2009. She is the author of a chapbook, “Notes on Metals,” which includes her poem “Illuminated,” chosen by judge Karl Kirchwey for the 2012 Rachel Wetzsteon Prize at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center. Pen and Brush Books published six of her poems in 2016.
Martha Cooley, representing A Public Space and the work of APS editor Brigid Hughes. A Public Space is an independent magazine of literature and culture. It was founded in 2006. Teju Cole calls it "one of our most remarkable small magazines," and "a forum for creativity, tolerance, experiment, and witness. Each piece in the magazine, whether written about domestic affairs or from an international point of view, underscores William Carlos Williams’s faith in the “universality of the local.”
Martha Cooley is the author of two novels: The Archivist, a national bestseller published in a dozen foreign markets, and Thirty-Three Swoons, also published in Italian. Her co-translation of Antonio Tabucchi’s story collection Time Ages in a Hurry was published by Archipelago Books in 2015, and her memoir, Guesswork, will be published this April. Martha’s fiction, essays, and translations have appeared in numerous literary magazines, including A Public Space, AGNI, The Southampton Review, and The Common.
Kate Angus is a founding editor of Augury Books. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Awl, Best New Poets 2010 and Best New Poets 2014. Her poetry collection, So Late to the Party, was published by Negative Capability Press in 2016.
The event is free and open to the public; RSVPs to <RSVP@penandbrush.org> are encouraged but not required.
Event photo credit Manny Fernandes.