Annual programs

Bob Lucid Memorial Program in Fiction

October 16, 2012: Ben Marcus

“It’s just a regular disaster,” said Thomson Guster of Ben Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet in his reflective introduction to this year’s Bob Lucid Memorial Program reading: “It’s everywhere, it unfolds very slowly and very obviously, just how like they unfold in real life.” As Marcus took the stage in an ordinary graphic tee, quotidian catastrophe indeed seemed present as the author wrangled a rogue microphone, joking “OK, I can’t read.” But when Marcus did begin to read his work, detailing, bitterly, a dystopian epidemic in which speech becomes a “noxious oral product” to which only children are immune, the possibility of the genuinely catastrophic became all too real. Still, the reading maintained a degree of humor as Marcus interrupted his grim (but compelling) descriptions of adult victims being killed by their own offspring with his own irrepressible interjections and comments; at one point, he paused to admit “I’ve always hated this character’s name,” and solicited suggestions for a replacement from the audience, rejecting “Judith” in favor of “Richmond.” Cynicism seethed from each of the characters, and in a question-and-answer session, Marcus explained that he modeled most of them on himself. He also mused on the role of Jewish mysticism in the book and his feelings on teaching creative writing before the evening’s end.

September 13, 2011: Blanche Boyd


Blanche McCrary Boyd is the Roman and Tatiana Weller Professor of English and Writer-in-Residence at Connecticut College. She has written four novels, Nerves, Mourning the Death of Magic, The Revolution of Little Girls and Terminal Velocity, and a collection of essays titled The Redneck Way of Knowledge. Blanche has also published a large body of articles, short fiction, and screenplays. Among the awards she has won are a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993-1994, a National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Fellowship in 1988, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing from Stanford University in 1967-1968, and the Lamda Award for Lesbian Fiction (which she received in 1991).

February 9, 2011: Phillip Lopate

introduced by Max Apple


Phillip Lopate was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943. He has written three personal essay collections—Bachelorhood (Little, Brown, 1981), Against Joie de Vivre (Poseidon-Simon & Schuster, 1989), and Portrait of My Body (Doubleday-Anchor, 1996); two novels, Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1979) and The Rug Merchant (Viking, 1987); two poetry collections, The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open (Sun Press, 1972) and The Daily Round (Sun Press, 1976); a memoir of his teaching experiences, Being With Children (Doubleday, 1975); a collection of his movie criticism, Totally Tenderly Tragically (Doubleday-Anchor); an urbanist meditation, Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan (Crown, 2004); and a biographical monograph, Rudy Burckhardt: Photographer and Filmmaker (Harry N. Abrams, 2004.) In addition, there is a Phillip Lopate reader, Getting Personal: Selected Writings (Basic Books, 2003). His most recent books are Two Marriages (novellas, Other Press, 2008), Notes on Sontag (Princeton University Press, 2009), and At the End of the Day: Selected Poems (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010). He has received many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two NEA grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the NYU Institute for the Humanities. After working with children for twelve years as a writer in the schools, he has taught creative writing and literature at Fordham, Cooper Union, University of Houston, New York University, Hofstra University, the New School and Bennington College. He is now a Professor in the graduate division at Columbia University.

April 10, 2010: Lydia Davis


Lydia Davis is the author of, most recently, The Collected Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009). She is also the translator of the latest Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust, and her translation of Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, will be appearing this Fall as a Penguin Classic. She lives in upstate New York and is on the faculty of SUNY Albany and a Fellow of the New York State Writers Institute.

March 18, 2009: Stuart Dybek

Introduced by Max Apple


Stuart Dybek is the author of three books of fiction: I Sailed With Magellan, The Coast of Chicago, and Childhood and Other Neighborhoods. Both I Sailed With Magellan and The Coast of Chicago were New York Times Notable Books, and The Coast of Chicago was a One Book One Chicago selection. Dybek has also published two collections of poetry: Streets in Their Own Ink and Brass Knuckles. His fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, Poetry, Tin House, and many other magazines, and have been widely anthologized, including work in both Best American Fiction and Best American Poetry. Among Dybek's numerous awards are a MacArthur Prize, the Rea Award "for significant contribution to the short story form," PEN/Malamud Prize "for distinguished achievement in the short story," a Lannan Award, a Whiting Writers Award, an Award from the Academy of Arts and Letters, several O.Henry Prizes, and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University and a member of the permanent faculty for Western Michigan University's Prague Summer Program.