Online Workshop

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 Virtual Workshop: BIO’s Coaches Answer First-Time Biographers’ Questions about Proposal Writing and Promotion

Three accomplished biographers who have worked with other writers to help bring their biographies to life answered questions about proposal writing and promotion. You see the video here.

Moderator: Marlene Trestman is the author of Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin, and is now writing Most Fortunate Unfortunates: New Orleans’s Jewish Orphans’ Home, 1855-1946 for LSU Press. The former Special Assistant to Maryland’s Attorney General, Trestman enforced consumer and public health laws, twice earning Exceptional Service awards. For her writing, Trestman has received funding from NEH, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Supreme Court Historical Society, American Jewish Archives, and Texas Jewish Historical Society.

Panel: Gretchen H. Gerzina is the Paul Murray Kendall Professor of Biography at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Previously she was the Kathe Tappe Vernon Professor in Biography at Dartmouth College. She has published nine books, four of them biographies of people who crossed lines of geography, culture, and/or race. She has held grants or fellowships from NEH, Fulbright, and Oxford University, and has twice served on the jury for the Pulitzer Prize in biography, once as chair. She is currently working on two new books.

Carla Kaplan, Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature at Northeastern University and Founding Director of its Humanities Center, has received fellowships from the NEH, Guggenheim Foundation, Schomburg Center, and elsewhere, and has published seven books, including Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance and Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters (Doubleday, 2002), both New York Times Notable Books. Her current project, forthcoming from HarperCollins, is a biography of Jessica Mitford.

Anne Boyd Rioux is a member of BIO’s Board of Directors. Her books include the biography Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist (Norton, 2016). She is a two-time recipient of the NEH Public Scholar Award, currently working on a biographical narrative of the American writer Kay Boyle.

 

BIO Workshop: Coaches Answer First-Time Biographers’ Questions about Research and Writing

If  you missed this live Zoom workshop, you can watch the video here.

Three accomplished biographers who have worked with other BIO members to help bring their biographies to life answer questions about research and writing.
Panelists: Kate Buford, Carl Rollyson, and Carol Sklenicka
Moderator: Anne Boyd Rioux

BIO Workshop: Agents Discuss the State of the Publishing Industry

You can see a video of this workshop here.

Three agents discuss the state of the publishing industry during the pandemic, particularly for biography and related nonfiction, as well as the agent-author relationship.

  • Faith Childs is President of Faith Childs Literary Agency in New York and represents novelists and nonfiction writers, including biographers, historians, critics and journalists. For three decades she has been actively engaged in efforts to increase the representation of people of color in the publishing industry. In the decade before becoming a literary agent, she was a lawyer. Among her authors are: Eric K. Washington, Annette Gordon-Reed, Anne C. Bailey, Elizabeth Alexander, and Kerri K. Greenidge.
  • Katherine Flynn is a partner at Kneerim & Williams (https://kwlit.com/) in Boston and represents history, biography, politics, current affairs, narrative nonfiction, and more. She is on the board of the Boston Book Festival and her authors include Heath Lee, Tom Sancton, and Christopher Klein.
  • Gail Ross is President of the Ross Yoon Agency (https://www.rossyoon.com/) in Washington, D.C. and represents a variety of serious commercial nonfiction, including biography, history, and memoirs. She says that each of her new projects must meet two criteria: it must make her daughters proud and offset their college educations. Her authors include Kai Bird, E. J. Dionne, and Lynne Olson.
  • Anne Boyd Rioux will moderate the discussion. She is on the BIO Board of Directors and is the author of Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters and Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist.

REGISTRATION: The workshop requires pre-registration and is free and open to the public. A recording will be available for BIO members on the BIO website in the Members’ Area. Attendees are encouraged to submit questions once they have registered or during the event via the chat function.

Register Now

BIO Workshop: Living Subjects

On Wednesday, June 24, BIO presents “Living on the Edge: Writing Biography of a Living Subject.” 

Kai Bird (author of a forthcoming biography of President Jimmy Carter), David Greenberg (John Lewis), and Will Swift (Joan Baez) will talk about the the craft of writing an authorized or unauthorized life of a living subject. This form of biography requires juggling the skills of a journalist (tracking down key sources and interviewing them) and a historian (doing archival research).

Kai Bird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and the executive director of the Leon Levy Center for Biography at CUNY’s Graduate Center in New York City. He is the author of four biographies and a memoir about his childhood in the Middle East.

David Greenberg is a professor of history at Rutgers University and a fellow this year at the Leon Levy Center for Biography. He is writing a biography of Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights leader, for Simon & Schuster. He is the author or editor of several books on American history and politics including Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image (2003) and Alan Brinkley: A Life in History (2019).

Will Swift, Ph.D., has written three books about presidents and presidential families, but at this grim national moment he wants to focus on the voices of protest over governments that attempt to suppress human rights and individuality. He is currently working on a proposal for a biography of Joan Baez. The working title is Protest Voice: Joan Baez and Her Time. Swift is the author of The Roosevelts and the Royals and The Kennedys Amidst the Gathering Storm. His most recent book, Pat and Dick: The Nixons, An Intimate Portrait of a Marriage, was shortlisted for the BIO Plutarch Award. Will is a founding board member and past president of BIO.

Register Now

 

BIO Workshop: Making Full Use of Fair Use

You can see a video of this workshop here.

This meeting is free and open to all who register. 

Fair use—the right of biographers and other writers, under limited conditions, to quote, paraphrase, summarize, and reproduce the copyrighted words and images of our subjects and others, without paying fees—is embedded in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. Our distinguished panel of experts cuts through the almost universal confusion about fair use to illuminate this necessary and vital tool of our core work.

Panel: Brandon Butler is the director of information policy at the University of Virginia Libraries and was the co-principle investigator on the widely respected Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries.

John A. Glusman is the vice president and editor-in-chief of W. W. Norton & Company.

Peter Jaszi is a Professor Emeritus at American University’s Washington College of Law, where he helped to found the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic. He has served as a trustee of the Copyright Society of the USA and as a member of the Librarian of Congress’s Committee on Copyright Registration and Deposit. He is the co-author of the groundbreaking book, Reclaiming Copyright.

Participants are encouraged to read BIO’s statement on fair use and to email their questions ahead of time to Anne Heller.

REGISTER NOW

BIO Workshop: Promoting Your Book During the Pandemic 

This meeting is free and open to all who register.

May 27, 2020 01:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Jennifer Richards and Rachel Tarlow Gul from Over the River Public Relations will share what they have learned about how book promotion is changing during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will share their insights and strategies and explain the role of a publicist and how to hire one. Former Random House, Inc. executives, Richards and Gul founded Over the River Public Relations in 2000, and have applied their expertise to nurturing authors’ careers from the beginning, to building greater awareness for established names—whether it’s creating full-scale marketing plans, launching new books, or planning and implementing innovative approaches to keep authors and their work visible in the public eye.

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