Where Words Survive And Thrive, a one-night-only event at Guild Hall in East Hampton July 18, presented by WordTheatre, is a celebration of the achievements of the Pushcart Prize since its founding – forty years ago by Bill Henderson, who continues to this day as Editor-In-Chief.
In our efforts to garner support for future editions of Pushcart’s publication, a number of notable writers – many of whom have seen their work in the pages of Pushcart over the years, or have been contributing editors in the past – have accepted our invitation to attend, or otherwise endorse Where Words Survive And Thrive. Piecemeal, Pushcart is an annual tome of the newest, best short fiction and poetry. The series seen as a whole is perpetually contemporary; a yearly snapshot of the terrain of letters any given year. A true writer’s reader since 1976, it has come close to epitomizing what good writing looks like in singularly compiled volumes.
A lot has happened since the founding editors threw their hats into the ring not quite knowing what would be said about their little venture a half-century later; that it would eventually be called “a stalwart and a staple of American letters … Lively, unpredictable, eclectic and serious.”
One of those founding members is Joyce Carol Oates who, in the American canon, is seemingly everywhere, in craft and in person. She delivers commencement speeches, attends book releases, comments on social and political datum via Twitter, doing her bit to remain not only a part of the larger conversation, but to be a distinct part of it. This informs how ‘everywhere’ the author can be.
She is a poet, an essayist, a playwright, a professor; a devoted practitioner of the arts as well as a patron of them, and has been a known author for over fifty years. Her awards include the National Book Award for them, multiple nominations for the Pulitzer Prize for short story collections The Wheel of Love and Other Stories and Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories and for novels Black Water, What I lived for, and Blonde. This year alone Oates published two novels, and has another forthcoming in 2016.
A longtime friend of WordTheatre, Oates has read at an event in Los Angeles, which was in honor of her body of work in 2014, and at a Pushcart benefit in 2013, where she was esteemed hostess.
Her endorsement of Where Words Survive And Thrive is not surprising, but it is reassuring. In a Los Angeles Times article printed earlier this year, Oates was quoted: “Prose fiction is neutral in effect – but the spoken word is fraught with meaning.” WordTheatre’s focus is on the redoubled effect of superior prose and poetry when read by performers for an audience. To the benefit of the Pushcart Prize, the words will survive and thrive in this way July 18 – and thankfully much longer in print.