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Category: Arts & Humanities

Here Are The Winners Of The 2020 Whiting Awards

Buzzfeed News

Aria Aber was raised in Germany. Her debut book, Hard Damage, (University of Nebraska Press, 2019) won the 2018 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Kenyon Review, the Yale Review, New Republic, and elsewhere. She was part of the 2018–2019 Ron Wallace Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Building bridges: Gospel-jazz concert grows out of Fountain of Life ministry


Like many students, composer and pianist Becca May Grant was clueless about life beyond the UW-Madison campus when she arrived in Madison in 1994. After all, why should a young white girl from Lakeville, Minnesota, know anything about the city’s diverse south side neighborhoods and the people who live there? But then a service learning project at Fountain of Life Covenant Church introduced her to a new world, just down the road from the university. And she forged a connection with that new world through the power of gospel music.

Soprano Brenda Rae, Appleton Native And UW Alumna, Performing At Metropolitan Opera

Wisconsin Public Radio

Appleton native and University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna Brenda Rae will be singing the role of Poppea in Handel’s opera “Agrippina” on Saturday at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The performance will be broadcast live over the NPR News and Classical Music Network of WPR beginning at 1 p.m. that day. It will also be live streamed at many movie theaters around Wisconsin.

Where did the term ‘bubbler’ come from, and are we the only ones who say it?

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: According to “The Dictionary of American Regional English,” the massive dialect dictionary produced over half a century at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,one of the first uses of “bubbler” in connection with a drinking fountain was in material from Kohler Co. in Sheboygan County in 1914, citing a Kohler fountain that was “fitted with … nickel-plated brass self-closing bubbling valve … adjustable for a continuous flow of water. … Can also furnish … continuous flow bubbler with above fountain.”

Note that it’s an adjective there, not a noun.

Joan Houston Hall, former chief editor of the dictionary, told Wisconsin Public Radio in 2015 that “bubbler” usage “mirrors the marketing area of the Kohler Company of 1918 or so,” chiefly in eastern Wisconsin, and especially in the southeastern corner of the state.

‘Discomfort’ important in ‘Real LIfe’

Wisconsin State Journal

“Real Life” is a raw, uncomfortable and deeply powerful look at what it means to be black and queer in a university setting much like Madison’s. The novel, released Tuesday, is written by former Madison resident Brandon Taylor, who was a biochemistry doctoral student himself at UW-Madison, and decided to leave the program to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop about four years ago.

How to host a better book club

The Washington Post

Doug Erickson, a university relations specialist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, has been in a co-ed seven-person book group for 12 years. The most important part of a book club for him is the members. “You need to approach the membership of your book club with the precision, pragmatism and ruthlessness of the NFL draft. You can’t be sentimental. Be extremely wary of the overtalker and the mansplainer,” he says. “One blowhard can ruin the whole thing.”

The Keatsian Intelligence of Lorrie Moore

The New York Review of Books

At last, after having written three apprentice novels, I’d had enough of floundering alone and applied to MFA programs. The day I got into the one at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I wept for hours, because that was the program where Lorrie Moore taught.

Madison’s Don Voegeli’s Electronic Switch Influenced The Sound Of Public Radio

Wisconsin Public Radio

As a public radio listener, you’re probably familiar with the theme song for NPR’s “All Things Considered.” It’s had a few variations over the decades.

But did you know it was originally composed in Madison in 1971?

It was written by Don Voegeli, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and the longtime music director at WHA (now known as Wisconsin Public Radio).

Danez Smith: ‘White people can learn from it, but that’s not who I’m writing for’

The Guardian

The New Yorker said of Don’t Call Us Dead that Smith’s poems “can’t make history vanish, but they can contend against it with the force of a restorative imagination”. That imagination was honed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Smith studied before going on to form the Dark Noise Collective with other artists including Franny Choi, with whom Smith co-hosts the poetry podcast VS.

Add these local books to your 2020 reading list


Listen to “Outspoken” as an audio book narrated by Rueckert, who worked as a radio host for Wisconsin Public Radio and earned a degree in vocal performance. The author is currently a speaking coach and conducts media training and national media outreach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Wrongfully-Convicted Man Returns To Wisconsin As An Attorney

Wisconsin Public Radio

On Wednesday, Jarrett Adams was admitted to the Wisconsin State Bar in a ceremony at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Joining Adams was Keith Findley, co-founder of and now senior advisor to the Wisconsin Innocence Project, in which legal experts lead University of Wisconsin-Madison law students in efforts to overturn wrongful convictions.

‘Irresistible’: Everything we know so far about Jon Stewart’s political comedy set in purple-state Wisconsin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: Stewart basically pulled back from entertainment work after leaving his gig hosting “The Daily Show” in 2015. But in 2017, he reached out to Kathy Cramer, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor and author of “The Politics of Resentment,” to get insights on the political climate in Wisconsin for a possible feature film.

Cramer’s book, published in mid-2016, looks at the role disaffected rural voters had in Wisconsin’s shift to the right after the Great Recession — a shift that some believe contributed to Donald Trump’s winning the state in 2016.

Women Make Up Less Than 8% Of Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees

Quoted: A nominating committee of about 30 artists, scholars and record industry insiders draws up the ballot each year. Craig Werner was on that committee for 18 years. An Emeritus professor of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Werner is also a music writer and he has no problem with the nomination process.

“The issues are much more what happens to that ballot once it goes to the larger electorate,” Werner says. Then he sighs. “Well, I’m just going to say it: I think that the electorate makes dumb decisions on a regular basis.”

Lynda Barry’s Making Comics is a “cookbook” for people afraid to draw


But it’s Beuys’s quote that comes to mind when reading Making Comics, the latest handwritten college textbook-of-sorts by the highly successful cartoonist Lynda Barry. In the book, Barry makes a similar assertion to Beuys by using the experience and anecdotes she’s accumulated during her tenure as a professor of comic book studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

22 movies with Wisconsin ties in 2019, from ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and ‘Captain Marvel’ to ‘Bombshell’

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: “Avengers: Endgame”: Kenosha native Mark Ruffalo returned as a less-monosyllabic Hulk in the final chapter of the Marvel saga. Also, stage stalwart Carrie Coon, who got her start at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in Madison-area theater, returned (voice only) as Proxima Midnight, one of Thanos’ allies.

The Best Comics of 2019

The New York Times

Does the comics legend Lynda Barry’s MAKING COMICS (Drawn & Quarterly, 200 pp., $22.95) belong on a list full of more traditional narratives? The newly minted MacArthur genius teaches “interdisciplinary creativity” at the University of Wisconsin, and this slim volume — mimicking the feel of the composition notebooks that she requires her students to keep — initially appears to be a glorified lesson plan.

Jazz residency program helps keep students miles ahead

Wisconsin State Journal

When Michele LaVigne’s mother died about two years ago, she gave a certain amount of money to each of her five children to be put toward some educational cause.

It was a fitting gesture by Marion LaVigne, who had taught math to middle school-age children for 49 years in New York. Michele LaVigne knew what she was going to do with her money the day she attended an event honoring jazz musician Richard Davis, where she heard how much he enjoyed being an educator and how a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools had inspired him.

LaVigne, a clinical law professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School who takes jazz piano lessons, said she decided to pursue a jazz residency at Sherman Middle School, hoping it would inspire students.

Going back to the island with a ‘Lost’ podcast and why rewatch shows are taking over

Los Angeles Times

Quoted: Jonathan Gray, a media studies professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, described rewatch podcasts as a sort of virtual book club, where fans can move through a show as quickly or as slowly as they want. Podcasts also offer a “deep dive” that fans may not have gotten the first time a show aired.

“Water-cooler discussions are short,” Gray said. “You’re not meant to spend 45 minutes at the water cooler talking about last night’s episode of ‘Lost.’”

Interview: Cartoonist Lynda Barry, Author Of ‘Making Comics’


It’s always a surprise to see who the MacArthur Foundation selects to receive its annual fellowships — the six-figure awards known as Genius Grants — but one of this year’s picks was particularly exhilarating: comic artist Lynda Barry. For anyone who read alternative weeklies from the ’80s through the ’00s, she was the eternally wise and strange mind behind Ernie Pook’s Comeek.