ROCK SPRINGS – Novelist and University of Utah Professor of English Michael Mejia, author of the 2005 novel Forgetfulness, will close out this year’s Visiting Writers Series with a workshop and evening presentation on Thursday, April 7. Mejia is also editor-in-chief of Western Humanities Review and publisher of Ninebark Press, and he regularly reviews film for Salt Lake Magazine.
The evening presentation will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Room 1302. The workshop will run from 1 – 3:40 p.m. in Room 1439. Both programs are free and open to the public, and are sponsored by the Arlene and Louise Wesswick Foundation and Western’s English Department, with additional support from the Best Western Outlaw Inn and Open Range Restaurant.
Mejia practices a wide range of writing styles, including “hybrid” or conceptual writing, which can incorporate digital or multimedia elements. One example is his story "'A Camera's Not Expression, It's Part of the Spectacle': 5 YouTube Videos.” Mejia’s story “Coyote Take Us Home,” meanwhile, is a mashup of Mexican folk- and fairy tales. A “mashup,” as Mejia explains it, is “really just another way of saying collage, so methods of composition can be traced back at least to the cento, an ancient poetic form that draws each line from an existing work.” Such cutting-edge collage writing is an example of the kind of literary experimentation and exploration that Mejia will share with Thursday’s audience.
“Coyote Take Us Home,” which first was published in Notre Dame Review and reprinted in My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me and Angels of the Americlypse, is excerpted here:
“The twins stowed beneath the spare tire tell us a story about a small, square jardín in deep Jalisco with neatly trimmed laurel trees and a cast-iron bandstand where Porfirio Díaz once stood and scratched his balls. Where Pancho Villa farted. Where Lázaro Cárdenas spat. Where Vicente Fox picked his teeth. This was the exact spot where Subcomandante Marcos, Tía Chila's big-balled, black Chihuahua, peed and peed and peed and then mounted little diaperless Natividad. People came running. Nobody had seen a hybrid baby since before the war, since Juan el Oso, whose mother was taken to Acapulco by a circus bear from León.
The twins were waiting on the curb, they say, watching the procession of the bloody martyr, when Coyote finally came out of the cantina. The silver scorpion on his belt buckle clacked its claws and made seven blind sisters dance.
"Will you take us?" the twins asked.
Coyote sniffed the air and measured the moon between his thumb and his forefinger. It was more than half full and the twins had had a strange delivery. But Coyote wasn't
Concerned. He led them across the bridge and down through the park to the dry creek bed where we were all asleep in the Nova among the stained herons, busted appliances, tires, maricóns, and used condoms. A woman was weeping on a television.
"Move over, little ones," Coyote whispered. "Make room, periquitos."
A few leaves fall for no reason in this story. And even now we hear the band playing, just as the twins say it is: the trumpets and clarinets spiraling like crazy rockets, exploding into pink sparks above the crowd. This all happened at a time of balloons and marionettes, they say. Is that the engine or the tuba? The transmission or the snare drum? Dust and stones become asphalt. A desert appears at blue sunrise. Some rocks, a red-flowering nopal, a thin horse, a goat.
It's fine, we say. That sounds like a beginning. We can believe in that. Éste era and we're gone.”
Mejia is also an avid traveler who often writes about his journeys, and particularly about his travels to Japan. He has published several pieces related to his Japan visits during the past few years, including: “Three Tales from the Japanese” in the Collagist, and “Four excerpts from ‘Salaryman,’” consisting of photos and prose poems in Rattle. Mejia’s work has also been published widely in such journals as Agni, Denver Quarterly, Quarterly West, New Orleans Review, and American Book Review. Mejia has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation.
Mejia’s 2005 novel Forgetfulness is about the modernist composer Anton Von Webern. Reviewer Steve Tomasula, author of VAS and ONCE HUMAN: STORIES, praised that book, writing that "(l)ike archeological discoveries that recast the present, Michael Mejia's astonishing novel FORGETFULNESS reconstructs what art does best. Imagine music – and fiction – as a portrait of how the world works, instead of as entertainment or any of its other uses, and you'll get an intimation of his achievement."
To learn more about Mejia and his work, read the online Collagist interview with the author at http://ow.ly/10hJdo.
For more information on this year’s Visiting Writers Series workshops and author presentations, contact Associate Professor of English Chris Propst at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (307) 382-1731.