The Gathering 2012 – Believing, Unbelieving, and the Moral Compass



Sharon Olds creditSharon Olds is the author of eight volumes of poetry. Her poetry, says Michael Ondaatje, is “pure fire in the hands,” and David Leavitt in the Voice Literary Supplement describes her work as “remarkable for its candor, its eroticism, and its power to move.” She has been highly praised for the courage, emotional power, and extraordinary physicality of her work. Sharon Olds studied at Stanford University and Columbia University. Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant; a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship; the San Francisco Poetry Center Award for her first collection, Satan Says (1980); and the Lamont Poetry Selection and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for The Dead and the Living (1983). Her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New York Times. Named New York State Poet Laureate (1998 – 2000), Olds teaches graduate poetry workshops at New York University as well as the writing workshop she helped found at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely disabled. She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science.

M.T. AndersonM.T. Anderson is a young adult novelist, whose futuristic Feed was short-listed for the National Book Award in 2002. His historic novel The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume 1: The Pox Party won the National Book Award in 2006, as well as the Michael L. Printz Award. He serves on the board of trustees for Vermont College of Fine Arts and the National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance.

Donna Freitas.Cropped High Res (1)Donna Freitas is a Visiting Associate Professor of Religion at Hofstra University and Writer in Residence in the Honors College. Her most recent nonfiction book is Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America’s College Campuses, (Oxford University Press). She has written three novels: The Possibilities of Sainthood (2008), This Gorgeous Game (2010), and The Survival Kit (2011). She has contributed to many newspapers and webzines, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe, and is a panelist on The Washington Post/Newsweek’s “On Faith.” Currently, she is at work on The Wired Trilogy, a dystopian fantasy series that takes up the effects of technology and virtual reality on the body and our concept of identity. Donna lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Susan Jacoby-photoSusan Jacoby is an independent scholar who focuses on American cultural history. Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism was named a notable nonfiction book by The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. In England, The Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian called the book one of the outstanding international books of the year. She began her writing career with The Washington Post and is a frequent contributor to national magazines and newspapers. Her 1984 book Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. In 2001 she was appointed a fellow of the New York Public Library’s Center for Scholars and Writers. She is a panelist for On Faith, a blog published by The Washington Post and Newsweek. Jacoby is also program director of the Center for Inquiry-New York City, a rationalist think tank.

MsgrQuinnMonsignor Joseph G. Quinn, Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Fordham University, coordinates Fordham’s ministries, community service programs and international student missionary work. He served 25 years as pastor of several parishes in northeastern Pennsylvania, including 16 years as Rector of St. Peter’s Cathedral, the central church of the Scranton Diocese. He received a doctorate in jurisprudence from Seton Hall University School of Law and served as a US Federal Magistrate Judge until 1981, when he began studies in Rome to become a Roman Catholic priest. He is a well-known inspirational speaker.

Adwoa Badoe photoAdwoa Badoe was trained as a physician in her native Ghana. She is an author, storyteller, and teacher of African dance. She is the author of 14 children’s books. She has entertained audiences of all ages with storytelling at many festivals, including the Toronto Storytelling Festival and the Montreal Storytelling Festival. Her workshops have a unique and infectious vibrancy, capturing the essence of the people, their celebrations. She lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Fritz Horstman (2)Fritz Horstman is an artist and musician whose work explores the parameters through which we perceive nature.  Through drawings, photos, installations, sound, video, and performance he explores the underlying principals of how human culture is constructed, and how it relates to natural systems. Fritz performs music with Meredith Andrews in a group called Spacelover.  Meredith provides most of the vocals and sound effects, while Fritz writes the music, and performs on guitar, banjo,mandolin, dobro, bass, keyboards, percussion, sound effects, and vocals. Fritz received his BA from Kenyon College and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art.  He and Meredith live in Connecticut.

Panel: Believing, Unbelieving, and the Creative Process

Whitney Head shot (2)Whitney Stewart is a Buddhist, novelist, and biographer who has written a biography of the Dalai Lama for children.

arsalan iftikharArsalan Ifthikar is an American international human rights lawyer and a global media commentator. He is author of Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era.

Dana Shavin2 (2)Dana Shavin is an artist and newspaper columnist, and author of the memoir The Body Tourist


Paul Russell Smith – Screenwriting

Eli D. Quinn – play writing and nonfiction

Gordon Snow – discussion on the ethics of protest

Fritz Horstman – installation and art workshop and music

Bill Black – fiction

Millicent Borges Accardi – Poet

Adwoa Badoe – African Dance

Molly McLeod – Marketing your writing

Reading List





Also Suggested

Feed – M.T. Anderson

Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America’s College Campuses – Donna Freitas

Between Sisters – Adwoa Badoe