Steve Paul

BIO Workshop on Biography of Creation

Biography of Creation: Writing about Artists, Musicians and Culture

In our next BIO online workshop, which is free and open to anyone, three biographers with a tantalizing variety of books discuss the special challenges associated with writing about artists and other creative talents. They’ll address topics of use to any veteran or aspiring biographer, but will also focus on writing with authority on the arts and cultural history. Who are you writing for and how technical should your language be? How important is historical context and how best to incorporate it?

Zoom attendees are encouraged to suggest questions in advance; please keep them pertinent and as brief as possible and email them to moderator Steve Paul by January 25.

This event will be recorded and made available on the BIO website for those unable to attend.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. Eastern

Register here.

The Panel
Jonathan Gould is a writer and a former professional musician who spent many years working in bands and recording studios. He is the author of Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America (Crown, 2008), and Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life (Crown Archetype, 2017). He is currently at work on a biography of the rock group Talking Heads (HarperCollins, 2023). The book focuses on the band’s remarkable musical evolution and their role as the figureheads, in popular music, of the unlikely emergence of Lower Manhattan as the cultural epicenter of New York City during the last quarter of the 20th Century.

Marcus J. Moore is an award-winning music journalist, editor, curator, pundit, and author of The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 2020). He is a contributing writer with The Nation and a contributing editor with Bandcamp Daily. His coverage of soul, jazz, hip-hop, and rock can be found at The New York Times, Pitchfork, Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post, NPR, Rolling Stone, and The Atlantic, among many other outlets. He was originally from the Washington, DC, area, and now lives in Brooklyn. On the web: marcusjmoore.media.

Celia Stahr, PhD, a native of California, is the author of Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist (St. Martin’s Press, 2020). Her love for art and culture stemmed from extensive travels to Cuba, Mexico, East and Southern Africa, Western Europe, China, and every region of the United States. She has a background in modern and contemporary art history (with a particular focus on issues of race and gender) as well as in African art and the diaspora. She is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco. On the web: fridakahlojourney.com; Instagram: @frida.in.america.

Moderator
Steve Paul, a member of the BIO board, is the author of Hemingway at Eighteen: The Pivotal Year that Launched an American Legend (Chicago Review Press, 2017) and a biography of the writer Evan S. Connell, forthcoming from the University of Missouri Press. In his long newspaper career he served, among other roles, as book critic, arts editor and ultimately editorial page editor and columnist before retiring in 2016. He’s a contributing columnist at KC Studio, a regional arts magazine.

BIO Welcomes New Board Members and a New Vice President

By Linda Leavell

BIO members recently elected a new vice president, Sarah Kilborne, and three new board members: Natalie Dykstra, Steve Paul, and Eric K. Washington. Like BIO’s membership at large, members of BIO’s Board of Directors come from diverse backgrounds and practice the art of biography in multiple print and non-print media.

Sarah Kilborne

Sarah Kilborne has chaired BIO’s Publicity and Social Media Committee for the past two years. Thanks to her initiative and enthusiasm for BIO and the support of her committee members, BIO is upgrading its website and increasing BIO’s presence in the media and publishing world. Kilborne is a performance artist and LGBTQ activist, as well as a writer for children and adults. Her American Phoenix: The Remarkable Story of William Skinner, A Man Who Turned Disaster into Destiny was published by Free Press in 2012. Her current project is a group biography of the women musicians featured in her one-woman show, The Lavender Blues: A Showcase of Queer Music before World War II.

Natalie Dykstra

Natalie Dykstra is a longtime member and supporter of BIO. She received BIO’s first Ina and Robert Caro Travel Fellowship and has presented several times at BIO conferences. Her first biography, Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life, was a finalist for the 2013 Massachusetts Book Award. Her current project, a biography of the art collector and museum founder Isabella Stewart Gardner, won support from the 2019 NEH Public Scholar program and is under contract with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Dykstra teaches in the English Department at Hope College in Michigan during the fall semester and the rest of the year works from her home near Boston.

Steve Paul

Steve Paul is a journalist-turned-biographer. Since his retirement as a reporter, editor, and book critic for the Kansas City Star, he has written and published Hemingway at Eighteen with Chicago Review Press, an independent publisher that he connected with during his first BIO Conference. He has just completed the first draft of a biography and literary portrait of the American writer and Kansas City-native Evan S. Connell, under contract with University of Missouri Press. Paul is a former board member of the National Book Critics Circle and for the past year served on BIO’s Caro Fellowship Committee.

Eric K. Washington

Eric K. Washington is an independent historian of New York neighborhoods and the author of Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal, just out in December from Liveright/Norton. The project earned him a 2015–2016 Leon Levy Biography Fellowship, a Dora Maar House Residency Fellowship in France, and participation in Columbia University’s Community Scholar program for three years. His profile of AIDs activist Phill Wilson for Out magazine received recognition from the National Association of Black Journalists. Washington is the owner of Tagging the Past, which endeavors to reconnect forgotten history to present landscapes through articles, talks, and tours.

Kilborne, Washington, Paul, and Dykstra will help BIO grow both in numbers and in influence over the coming years.

Linda Leavell is a charter member and current president of BIO. Her biography of the American poet Marianne Moore won the 2014 Plutarch Award and PEN Award.