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Craft Talks at Saint Louis University Series

The Saint Louis University Craft Talks is a series about creativity in all its forms.

In each episode, our host, Edward Ibur, interviews writers, artists, educators and other visionaries to explore their creative processes and world perspectives. We peer inside the minds of creators and teachers who share their thoughts, opinions and beliefs with the world in captivating formats. Interviewees including rising star poet Monika Sok, Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 mixed-media artist Kahlil Irving, internationally renowned painter Victor Wang, award-winning journalist Jeannette Batz Cooperman and others, who share intimate details about their work process and sources of inspiration.

They also offer advice for listeners who are budding or established artists and/or educators themselves. The Craft Talks series is a part of the programming for the St. Louis Literary Award, sponsored by the St. Louis University Libraries. Join us as we get to know the stories behind these compelling creators. Craft Talks is also available as a podcast on all streaming services where you get podcasts.

Craft Talks at Saint Louis University

Episode 1: A Conversation with Poet, Monica Sok

Monica Sok, a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, is a Cambodian American poet and the daughter of refugees. She is the author of the brand new "A Nail the Evening Hangs On" from Copper Canyon Press. Ms. Sok's work has been recognized with a "Discovery" Prize from 92Y. She has received fellowships and residencies from the Poetry Society of America, Hedgebrook, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Kundiman, the Jerome Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Saltonstall Foundation and others. Monica Sok also teaches poetry to Southeast Asian youth at the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland, California. She is originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

*Please note that the audio and video are slightly out of sync for the first 13 minutes of the video only when interviewer, Edward Ibur, is speaking.





Episode 2: A Conversation with Creative Nonfiction Writer, Edward McPherson

Edward McPherson, associate professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, is the author of three books: "Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat" (Faber & Faber), "The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats" (HarperCollins), and "The History of the Future: American Essays" (Coffee House Press). He has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, the American Scholar, the Gettysburg Review, Salon, Guernica, the Southern Review and the New York Observer, among many others. Edward McPherson has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a Pushcart Prize, the PEN Southwest Book Award, the Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction, an Artist Fellowship from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis, a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, and the Gesell Award from the University of Minnesota, where he received his MFA. He is a creative writing teacher and contributing editor of the Common Reader at Washington University. 


Episode 3: A Conversation with Painter, Victor Wang

Victor Wang grew up in Northern China. Shortly after being sent to a Maoist “agricultural reeducation camp” for more than two years, he returned to Chinese society graduating with a BFA from The Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, one of three top art institutes in China. After graduation, Mr. Wang taught there for four and a half years and was sent to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana as a visiting scholar.  He earned his MFA at Fontbonne University. Mr. Wang has exhibited widely across the country as well as internationally, and has won various awards for excellence, including awards for both painting and art instruction.  He is also the author of two books, "Memoir of a Sunflower" and "Three Major Techniques of Oil Painting." Victor Wang currently lives in St. Louis, where he teaches painting, drawing and graduate critique classes as a full professor at Fontbonne University. 


Episode 4: A Conversation with Journalist, Jeannette Batz Cooperman

Jeannette Batz Cooperman is a 2020 inductee into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame and was named to the FOLIO:100 list of the “best and brightest” in the magazine industry nationwide. The award-winning Batz-Cooperman was previously an editor and staff writer for St. Louis Magazine for twelve years. She also worked as an investigative reporter for The Riverfront Times, where she received recognition and numerous accolades from the National Black Journalists Association, the National Gay and Lesbian Journalism Association, the National Education Writers Association and the Society of Environmental Journalists, among others.  Batz Cooperman was also a columnist for the Catholic Reporter, and her work has appeared in Seventeen Magazine, O: the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, the Utne Reader, Glamour Magazine, the Boston Globe and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As if she hasn’t been busy enough working as a journalist for several decades, Jeannette Batz-Cooperman has written five nonfiction books and one murder mystery. She is now a staff writer for the literary magazine The Common Reader at Washington University in St. Louis. Ms. Batz Cooperman earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from Saint Louis University as well as Bachelor of Arts degrees in Philosophy and Communication.


Episode 5: A Conversation with Poet, Ted Mathys

Ted Mathys is an assistant professor of creative writing in the English department at Saint Louis University. He was recently named president of the prestigious and venerable St. Louis Poetry Center, which was created in 1946. Mr. Mathys is also the curator for the 100 Boots Poetry Series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. Ted Mathys is the author of  "Gold Cure" (Coffee House Press, 2020) as well as "Null Set" (2015), "The Spoils" (2009) and "Forge" (2005). He is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and St. Louis Regional Arts Commission. Ted Mathys was selected by Alice Notley for the Poetry Society of America's Cecil Hemley Memorial Award, and his poetry and criticism have appeared in American Poetry Review, BOMB, Boston Review, Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, Fence, The Georgia Review, PBS NewsHour and other publications. Originally from Ohio, Mr. Mathys holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he received the John C. Schupes Fellowship for Excellence in Poetry; and an M.A. in international environmental policy from Tuft's University.


Episode 6: A Conversation with Poet, David Keplinger

David Keplinger is the author of seven collections of poetry, including "The Long Answer" (2020, Texas A&M UPress), both selected and new poems; and "The World to Come" (Conduit Books and Ephemera, 2021), a collection of prose poems which has won the 2020 Minds on Fire Prize.  "Another City" (Milkweed, 2018), was awarded the 2019 UNT Rilke Prize. Among his other collections are "The Most Natural Thing" (New Issues, 2013) and "The P​rayers of Others" (New Issues, 2006) , which won the Colorado Book Award. His first collection, "The Rose Inside", was chosen by the poet Mary Oliver for the 1999 T.S. Eliot Prize. Mr. Keplinger has been awarded the Cavafy Prize from Poetry International, the Erskine Prize from Smartish Pace, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as funding from the DC Council on the Arts and Humanities, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Danish Council on the Arts, and a two-year Soros Foundation fellowship in the Czech Republic.

In 2011 he produced By and By, an album of eleven songs based on the poetry of his great-great grandfather, a Civil War veteran. He performed and presented on the project at the National Portrait Gallery’s Donald W. Reynolds Center in 2013. His translations of Danish poet Carsten René Nielsen have appeared in three volumes, "World Cut Out with Crooked Scissors" (2007), "House Inspections" (2011), "A Lannan Literary Series Selection", and "Forty-One Objects" (2019). His collaboration with German poet Jan Wagner, entitled "The Art of Topiary", was published in 2017 by Milkweed Editions. Mr. Keplinger’s work has been included in numerous anthologies in the United States as well as in China and Northern Ireland, and he has taught at the universities of Ostrava (Czech Republic) and Kosice (Slovakia) as well as co-founding and teaching in the summer creative writing institute at John Cabot University in Rome (2015-2016). His areas of interest include contemporary American poetry, European poetry and poetics in the twentieth century, poetic meter and form, creative writing pedagogy, translation and artistic collaboration, and the poetry of witness (with emphases on the poets of World War I and Holocaust literature). 

Episode 7: A Conversation with Multi-Media Artist, Kahlil Irving

Originally from San Diego, California, Kahlil Robert Irving is an artist currently living and working in the USA. He attended the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University in St. Louis (MFA Fellow, 2017) and the Kansas City Art Institute (BFA, Art History and Ceramics/Sculpture, 2015). His work has been exhibited at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas, the Arizona State University Art Museum, and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, among others.

Kahlil Irving was selected to participate in the 2020 Great Rivers Biennial hosted by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, where he is exhibiting a solo exhibition entitled “At Dusk” on view from September 11, 2020, to February 21, 2021. Recently, he was awarded the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painters and Sculptors. In 2018, Kahlil Irving’s first institutional solo exhibition took place at Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts in Connecticut, and was accompanied by a full-color catalog with essays and an interview. Currently, he is presenting a large-scale commission on the project wall at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Mr. Irving's work is also featured in two concurrent collection exhibitions: Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 and Nothing is so Humble: Prints from Everyday Objects at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Kahlil Irving's work is in the collections of J.P. Morgan Chase Art Collection, New York; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. He is also one of the new 30 featured artists in Forbes Magazine’s annual "30 Under 30: Art & Style" showcasing 30 groundbreaking cultural figures in the arts all under 30 years old.

Episode 8: A Conversation with Fiction Writer, Ethan Rutherford

Ethan Rutherford’s fiction has appeared in BOMB, Tin House, Ploughshares One Story American Short Fiction Post Road, Esopus, Conjunctions and "The Best American Short Stories." His first book, "The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories," was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, a finalist for the John Leonard Award, received honorable mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and was the winner of a Minnesota Book Award. Born in Seattle, Washington, he received his MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota and now teaches creative writing at Trinity College. He lives in Hartford, Connecticut, with his wife and two children.

His second collection, "Farthest South," will be published by A Strange Object in 2021.

Episode 9: A Conversation with Writer and World-Renowned Jewish Folklorist, Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz is a prolific writer who has published fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He is widely considered among the top Jewish folklorists in the world. In searching for themes and images for his work in various genres, professor Schwartz has often found his inspiration in biblical, midrashic and kabbalistic lore. Many of his works retell ancient folktales, reflecting his belief in the importance of passing cultural lore from one generation to the next. His poetry frequently reflects the dreamlike and mysterious elements of Jewish mythology. Schwartz’s fictional works, as typified in the collection of parables titled "The Captive Soul of the Messiah," "are in part original, in part recreations of ancient legends, a conjunction of personal search and dreaming with mythical or timeless patterns or cycles," reported Francis Landy in the "Jewish Quarterly." As a result, Landy explained, Schwartz’s stories "are at once familiar, filled with the aura of the sages, giving the impression of a blind and insatiable predilection for the alleyways of tradition, and at the same time being wholly pertinent, incisive metaphors for our own predicament." Howard Schwartz is professor emeritus in the English department at the University of Missouri, St. Louis.