Happy ‘pub’ days: Conlon, Early, Sinclair, Turchi, Zweig

By Kristen LaRue-Sandler — August 21, 2023

Cover images of work by Jennifer Conlon, Jessica Early, Safiya Sinclair, Laura Turchi and Noah Zweig

Five faculty members in the ASU Department of English announce new volumes recently launched or forthcoming this fall. Works include a poetry collection, a special journal issue, a memoir, a book of case studies, and an essay collection. Topics cover gender exploration, writing pedagogy, Rastafari childhood, teaching Shakespeare, and Andean cinema.

‘Taking to Water’ (Autumn House Press, 2023)

Jennifer Conlon’s first collection was the winner of the 2022 Autumn House Poetry Prize is set to be released in October. From the publisher:

  • “A tender imagining and devastating reckoning, Jennifer Conlon’s debut presents a poetry collection of gender questioning, concerned with the survival of trans and nonbinary kids who live in places that do not allow them to thrive. The speaker of these poems wrestles with and envisions a life beyond their traumatic childhood as a genderqueer child in a small Southern Bible Belt town. Through retelling and reinterpreting moments of sexual shame and religious oppression, while navigating impossible expectations from a gender-binary society, Conlon shows readers that queerness and the natural world are inseparable. In their poems, Conlon comes to reject oppressive patriarchal figures, turning their gaze toward the natural world that catalyzes dreams of possibility, transformation, and safety—wasps protect them, an oak tree contains a new god, and flathead catfish guide them to a newly imagined body. Through thick North Carolina woods, Conlon searches for a language to celebrate queerness, finding it in ponds, hillsides, and within themselves.”

Conlon is an instructor in the Department of English at ASU, where they also earned their MFA in creative writing in 2017.

Writing and Pedagogy 15:1-2 (2023)

This special double issue, themed “the National Writing Project at work,” was co-edited by Jessica Early with Bryan Ripley-Crandall of Fairfield University. From the editors’ introduction:

  • “As governments around the world took necessary precautions to limit the spread of Covid-19 and announced the shutdown of in person learning in March 2020, more than 1.5 billion students in over 190 countries remained home to receive instruction online, if at all (UNESCO, 2020). In the United States, within the span of just three weeks, every public-school building closed and 50 million students transitioned to learning from home (Levinson & Markovits, 2022).

    Through this time, the focus of many teachers, researchers, and policymakers’ minds has been on understanding the impact of Covid-19 on children’s learning, and on what can be done to remedy the long-term consequences of interrupted and altered schooling. Public education in the United States has also faced fallout from the pandemic on the teaching force with teacher attrition and shortages rising (Goldhaber & Theobald, 2022). While the damaging impact of the pandemic demands significant attention and resources, there are also bright lights that shine in terms of teaching practice, innovation, collaboration, and learning. As Elyse Eidman-Aahdal, Executive Director of the National Writing Project (NWP), shared in a talk during the 2022 National Council for Teachers of English Annual Meeting, ‘Teachers in the National Writing Project rolled up their sleeves and showed up each and every day to teach writing in this country, even when many did or could not.’”

Early is associate chair of personnel in the Department of English at ASU, where she is a professor in the department’s English education program.

‘How to Say Babylon: A Memoir’ (Simon and Schuster, 2023)

Safiya Sinclair’s newest book, slated for an October release, is a memoir that has earned starred reviews by Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. From the publisher:

  • “With echoes of ‘Educated’ and ‘Born a Crime,’ ‘How to Say Babylon’ is the stunning story of the author’s struggle to break free of her rigid Rastafarian upbringing, ruled by her father’s strict patriarchal views and repressive control of her childhood, to find her own voice as a woman and poet.

    Throughout her childhood, Safiya Sinclair’s father, a volatile reggae musician and militant adherent to a strict sect of Rastafari, became obsessed with her purity, in particular, with the threat of what Rastas call Babylon, the immoral and corrupting influences of the Western world outside their home. He worried that womanhood would make Safiya and her sisters morally weak and impure, and believed a woman’s highest virtue was her obedience.

    In an effort to keep Babylon outside the gate, he forbade almost everything. In place of pants, the women in her family were made to wear long skirts and dresses to cover their arms and legs, head wraps to cover their hair, no make-up, no jewelry, no opinions, no friends. Safiya’s mother, while loyal to her father, nonetheless gave Safiya and her siblings the gift of books, including poetry, to which Safiya latched on for dear life. And as Safiya watched her mother struggle voicelessly for years under housework and the rigidity of her father’s beliefs, she increasingly used her education as a sharp tool with which to find her voice and break free. Inevitably, with her rebellion comes clashes with her father, whose rage and paranoia explodes in increasing violence. As Safiya’s voice grows, lyrically and poetically, a collision course is set between them.

    ‘How to Say Babylon’ is Sinclair’s reckoning with the culture that initially nourished but ultimately sought to silence her; it is her reckoning with patriarchy and tradition, and the legacy of colonialism in Jamaica. Rich in lyricism and language only a poet could evoke, ‘How to Say Babylon’ is both a universal story of a woman finding her own power and a unique glimpse into a rarefied world we may know how to name, Rastafari, but one we know little about.

Sinclair is an associate professor in the ASU Department of English’s creative writing program.

‘Teaching with Interactive Shakespeare Editions’ (Cambridge University Press, 2023)

This collection of case studies by Laura Turchi is part of the Cambridge Elements in Shakespeare and Pedagogy series. From the publisher:

  • “This Element presents three case studies of interactive digital editions of Shakespeare incorporated into classroom teaching: WordPlay Shakespeare, PerformancePlus and myShakespeare. Each interactive edition combines the text of a Shakespeare play with a recorded performance. The case studies seek to understand whether and how interactive Shakespeare editions support ambitious teaching, where students are expected to engage in authentic academic tasks, experience social learning (dialogic rather than didactic), and demonstrate their new knowledge through meaningful assessments. In our time of pandemic and considerable public contention over equity and justice, ambitious teaching further requires attention to the whole selves of students – their psychological and social development as well as their intellectual attainment. This Element examines the opportunities that interactive digital editions give teachers, software developers and scholars to connect Shakespeare's works to twenty-first century students.”

Turchi is a clinical professor in the ASU Department of English and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

‘Small Cinemas of the Andes: New Aesthetics, Practices and Platforms’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023)

Along with Diana Coryat and Christian León, Noah Zweig presents this edition of critical essays. From the publisher:

  • “This book examines the emergence of small cinemas of the Andes, covering digital peripheries in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. The volume critically assesses heterogeneous audiovisual practices and subaltern agents, elucidating existing tensions, contradictions and resistances with respect to established cinematic norms. The reason these small cinematic sectors are of interest is twofold: first, the film markets of the aforementioned countries are often eclipsed by the filmmaking giants of Mexico, Brazil and Argentina; second, within the Andean countries these small cinemas are overshadowed by film board-backed cinemas whose products are largely designed for international film festivals.”

Zweig is a faculty associate in the ASU Department of English’s film and media studies program.