Thursday, August 25, 2011

Life in the First Person: women's Stories Uncovered

Life in the First Person: Women’s Stories Uncovered
A novelist. A storyteller. A poet. A freelance writer. A performance artist. A creative nonfiction writer. A blogger.

What do they all have in common?

The first person.

Their experiences and their points of view are different, but their pronouns are the same.

Find out what comes after “I.”

Come out to hear life in the first person with Gigi Amateau, novelist; Denise Bennett, storyteller; Tarfia Faizullah, poet; Julie Geen, freelance writer; Shelia Gray, performance artist; Valley Haggard, creative nonfiction writer and Alex Iwashyna, blogger.

Life in the First Person: Women’s Stories Uncovered will serve as the grand finale in the event series, Beyond Barbie: Piecing Together Today's Woman running in conjunction with Susan Singer’s art opening, “Not Barbie: A Celebration of Real Women,”  on Thursday, November 3, at 7 PM at Crossroads Art Center. Tickets can be purchased online at or through  Crossroads Art Center or at the door.   

Gigi Amateau is the author of the young adult novel, A Certain Strain of Peculiar, a 2010 Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year. She also wrote Chancey of the Maury River, a William Allen White Masters List title for grades 3-5. Her debut novel, Claiming Georgia Tate was selected as a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.  She recently completed 200-hour yoga teacher training. Visit

Denise Bennett tells personal stories, her original versions of traditional stories and sacred stories often interlaced with harp and vocal music.  She is a member of the Tell Tale Hearts Storytellers Theater in Richmond. Master storyteller Elizabeth Ellis has said of her, “Denise Bennett is a storyteller and a musician of exceptional talent. Her work is timeless, and flawless. Her work reminds us of the love that dwells in the deep heart's core.” Visit her at

Tarfia Faizullah is a graduate of VCU's creative writing program, and the former associate editor of Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, Crab Orchard Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Daily, Diode, Bellingham Review and elsewhere. She is the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Project award, the Ploughshares Cohen Award and a Fulbright scholarship.

Julie Geen writes a monthly column for belle magazine and is a contributor to Style Weekly. She has published essays in anthologies, most recently “Tarnished: True Tales of Innocence Lost.” Along with raising children, dealing with pets and her own mind, she teaches creative writing classes through Hanover Parks and Recreation. Currently, she is turning one of her screenplays into a novel, and from there probably into a face book post. She blogs at
Shelia Gray is a graduate of the VCU Crafts Department, focusing in metal smithing, textiles and glass. She is currently involved in creating wearable art and costumes, as well as performance art and body painting for fashion shows, events and special projects. She’s writing a mixed-media graphic novel which incorporates sculptures and performance pieces. A self-employed gardener, she has winters off to do what ever she likes. 

Valley Haggard, the executive director of Richmond Young Writers, teaches creative writing to kids at Chop Suey Books and creative nonfiction to adults at Chop Suey, Black Swan Bookstore and the Visual Arts Center. On the board of the James River Writers, she has written for Style Weekly, Belle, Rhome, V Magazine and Skirt and has published chapters of her memoir in The Writer’s Dojo and Tarnished: True Tales of Innocence Lost. Visit her at or

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in Philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM (stay at home mom), writer and poet before thirty. She spends most of her time on blogging about life, parenting, marriage, culture and her inability to wake up in the morning and not hate everyone. She also writes for, teaches at the Visual Arts Center and manages enough freelance work to guarantee sexy circles under her eyes.

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