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NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University’s WAMFEST 2010

MADISON, NJ – Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Creative Writing Program kicks off WAMFEST 2010: Words and Music Festival, its annual series of readings, interviews, talks and performances, on May 3 at the College at Florham. The festival showcases top literary and music talents including Bruce Springsteen and former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, members of the legendary punk band X, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon, and more — in ways audiences have never seen them before.

WAMFEST is an annual series hosted by FDU’s Becton College and the Creative Writing Programs. WAMFEST is designed to celebrate the literary quality of popular music and to break down the barriers between the community and academia. It bridges the gap between the literature in universities and the literature of the people. Past guests have included Roseanne Cash, John Wesley Harding, and David Gates.

“The whole idea of WAMFEST is to allow students to have an intimate experience with people who are not generally available in that way,” said David Daniel, WAMFEST originator and professor of creative writing. “By bringing together writers — poets, novelists, journalists — and songwriters and starting a conversation, I hope that the festival creates a forum that bridges the gap between ‘the people’s art’ and the ‘art of the academy,’ and that WAMFEST provides a model for teaching and celebrating the arts across the country.”

WAMFEST artist in residence and host from the beginning John Wesley Harding is back to moderate these engaging presentations. Harding is a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and novelist. He has released fifteen music albums, ranging in style from folk to pop. Performing under his stage name of John Wesley Harding, he has also written two novels with a third due out this year under his real name, Wesley Stace.


Monday, May 3, 4:00 pm (Hartman Lounge)

WILD GIFT: A History of Punk: John Doe and Exene In Conversation

Founders of the legendary punk band, X, John Doe and Exene are among the most celebrated and respected figures in the history of rock. John is one of our greatest living songwriters, and Exene is also an acclaimed performance poet. Their first album, Los Angeles, is essential listening for anyone interested in rock music. They will have a conversation with John Wesley Harding, play a few songs (acoustically), and answer questions.

Tuesday, May 4, 4:00pm (The Pub)


Eugene Mirman (Flight of the Conchords, Delocated)
Michael Showalter (MTV’s The State, Wet Hot American Summer, Michael and Michael Have Issues)
Leo Allen (Comedy Central Presents, former writer Saturday Night Live)
Kumail Nanjiani (Colbert Report, David Letterman, Michael and Michael Have Issues)

Experience a fantastic collection of literary-minded comedians performing together for the very first time! Hosted by WAMFEST Artist-in-Residence Wesley Stace, this show will feature individual sets by these premiere comedians will be followed by a discussion and questions.

Wednesday, May 5, 4:00pm (Hartman Lounge)

WORDS FOR MUSIC, PERHAPS: A Performance and Discussion

Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet from Northern Ireland Paul Muldoon has been called “the most significant English-language poet born since the Second World War.” When he collaborated with rock-icon Warren Zevon (“Werewolves of London”) he was the first major poet to cross those genres and thus became an inspiration for WAMFEST. He is the poetry editor of the New Yorker, teaches creative writing at Princeton, where he fronts also fronts his band, Rackett. John Wesley Harding will share the stage with Muldoon in this exciting performance. Muldoon and Harding will perform songs, discuss the process, answer questions, and Paul will read some of his poems.

Thursday, May 6, 4:00pm

NOTE: This is a private event for the FDU community

JERSEY RAIN: Bruce Springsteen and Robert Pinsky in Conversation
Former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky was born in the same hospital as Bruce Springsteen, and from Monmouth Memorial, these two have reached the pinnacle of their respective fields. Robert’s classic book of poems, Jersey Rain, was said to remind the world that “poetry is a tool for living”, and his astonishing career as a poet and essayist has done more than any other poet to promote and exemplify how poetry is relevant in all our lives. Likewise, Bruce’s astonishing lyrics reveal the “poetry” that may be discovered at the heart of American life, the stories that bind us all together–and both of these great artists have shown us the art and beauty and dignity and truth that may be mined from those stories, those ordinary lives led in sunlight or in Jersey rain.

John Wesley Harding will lead this engaging discussion that is sure to be a unique experience for everyone in attendance.

Program Note: THIS IS NOT A BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN CONCERT! It will be a conversation with a few songs and a few poems. The program will be followed by a brief question and answer period.


The public is invited to WAMFEST events, except the Springsteen/Pinsky event on May 6. Admission is free.

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham is located at 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, N.J. 07940.

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