Carla Harryman has authored nineteen books of experimental poetry, prose, essays, and plays. Her work begins in a radical exploration of the sentence and its non/narrative performative capacities, developing in the context of the West Coast Language Writing scene of the 1970s and 1980s as well as in text-based performance and interdisciplinary collaboration. Much of her recent work has focused on zones of negativity and hope in a durational project titled “Letters Not about Hope” and on writing informed by improvisation and sampling in music and time-based art. Recent works include Gardener of Stars, an Opera, an exploration of “the paradise and wastelands of utopian desire,” presented in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles as a performance for microelectronics, piano, and speaking and singing voices. Sue in Berlin, a collection of Poets Theater plays and performance texts written between 2001-2015 is forthcoming in English and French volumes in 2017 from PURH, and the documentary essay Artifact of Hope (from “Letters Not about Hope”) is forthcoming in 2017 from Kenning Edition’s Ordinance chapbook series. Other critical writing and presentations have most recently focused on Poets Theater and text-based improvisation, durational time and the politics of contemporary feminist experimental writing, and Canadian novelist Gail Scott’s The Obituary.
Her previous creative works include W— /M— (Split/Level Text, 2013), Adorno’s Noise (Essay Press, 2008), and two volumes of selected writings: Animal Instincts: Prose, Plays, and Essays (This, 1989) and There Never Was a Rose without a Thorn (City Lights, 1995). Collaborations include The Wide Road with Lyn Hejinian (Belladonna, 2011) and the multi-authored work The Grand Piano, an Experiment in Autobiography: San Francisco, 1975-1980 (Mode Z, 2010). Open Box (with Jon Raskin), a CD of music and text performances based on her long-poem Open Box (Belladonna, 2006) was released on the Tzadik label in 2012. Her work has appeared in more than thirty national and international anthologies. Recent international performances include bilingual versions of Mirror Play in France (2017) and a keynote lecture-performance (with pianist Magda Mayas) Occupying Theodore W. Adorno’s “Music and New Music” presented at dOCUMENTA 13. A CD of the Adorno lecture-performance with Gino Robair on piano is forthcoming from Rastascan Records.
Harryman has received numerous awards including a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Art; grants from the National Performance Network and Opera America, Next Stage; awards in poetry from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and the Fund for Poetry, and the NEA Consortium Playwrights Commission. She is a Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Eastern Michigan University where she teaches in their interdisciplinary creative writing program, and she serves on the summer faculty of the MFA Program of the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College.