Hugo Lit Series | Second Chances: Danez Smith, Rachel Khong, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Zan Fiskum
Every year, Hugo House commissions new prose, poetry, and songs based on a writing prompt. During the Hugo Literary Series, authors share the results. This year, we’ve decided to go with the theme re/birth to celebrate, if not the end of the pandemic, then at least some way of us living in the world with it, and the revival/resurgence of creativity that has been dormant for two long years.
For this evening's event, writers Danez Smith, Rachel Khong, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, and Zan Fiskum present their new works based on the sub-theme of second changes: an opportunity to try something again after failing one time.
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Thank you to our Hugo Literary Series season sponsor, KCTS 9.
Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Homie, (Graywolf Press, 2020), winner of the Minnesota Book Award, the Heartland Bookseller Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award; and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.
Rachel Khong is a writer living in San Francisco. Her debut novel, Goodbye, Vitamin, won the 2017 California Book Award for First Fiction, and was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist for First Fiction. From 2011 to 2016, she was the managing editor and then executive editor of Lucky Peach magazine. With Lucky Peach, she also edited a cookbook about eggs, called All About Eggs. Her second novel, Real Americans, is forthcoming from Knopf in 2024.
Maple Valley-raised singer/songwriter Zan Fiskum uses her haunting and beautifully controlled singing to craft ethereal and brooding folk/pop songs.
Being raised in a family that is deeply connected to music and theater led Zan to discover her transcendence on the stage at the age of 6 and explore her natural connection to songwriting and musical expression by the time she was 8 years old. Zan wrote and released her first single in 2018 followed by 5 more songs and achieved over 2.8 million streams on Spotify alone. Just 2 years later, she made her national debut on NBC’s The Voice as a top 9 finalist and received recognition for her dynamic performing and voice from Billboard magazine, Maggie Rogers, Camila Cabello and the Indigo Girls. This opened the door for Zan to join John Legend on his Bigger Love Tour of 2021 and just a few months later share the stage with Dave Mathews, Portugal The Man, Sera Cahoone and many more. Zan released her debut album “Sleeping Problems” with much success in April of 2021 as she built her reputation for her incredibly powerful and moving performances in iconic PNW venues such as The Moore Theater, The Triple Door, Sasquatch and more, leaving her audience awe struck each time.
Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello
Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello is the author of Hour of the Ox (University of Pittsburgh, 2016), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She and E.J. Koh co-translated Yi Won’s The World’s Lightest Motorcycle (Zephyr Press, 2021). Cancio-Bello has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Kundiman, the Knight Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association, and her work has appeared in Best Small Fictions, Kenyon Review Online, The New York Times, and more. She is co-director for the Adoptee Literary Festival and PEN America Miami/South Florida Chapter, and a program coordinator for Miami Book Fair. www.marcicalabretta.com