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Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Thursday, April 15, 2021
7:00 PM

General Admission: Free


The Center for Literary Arts is pleased to present Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, author of Travesty Generator, on Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 7PM. 

The event discussion will be moderated by Kathi Inman Berens.

Kathi Inman Berens, Associate Professor of Book Publishing and Digital Humanities at Portland State University, is co-editor of the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 4 (forthcoming 2022). In 2014-15, she was the U.S. Fulbright Scholar of Digital Culture to Norway. She has exhibited e-literature at the Library of Congress and designed media arts shows. Her essays have appeared in electronic book review, Digital Humanities Quarterly, Publisher’s Weekly, Memoires du Livres/Studies in Book Culture, and three volumes of the Debates in Digital Humanities series (U. Minnesota Press). Her JavaScript poem “Tournedo Gorge” is anthologized in the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 3. Her most recent work is a co-authored report, Immersive Media and Books 2020 with Dr. Rachel Noorda, a first-of-its-kind study to examine book consumption alongside videogames and TV/movies.


“I am astonished by Lillian Yvonne Bertram’s trailblazing poetry in Travesty Generator. Bertram uses open-source coding to generate haunting inquiring elegies to Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner, and Emmett Till. By framing her “counter-narratives” of black lives in code and social media optimization, Bertram brilliantly conveys how black experience becomes codified, homogenized, and branded for capitalist dissemination. Code, written by white men, is part of the hardwired system of white supremacy, where structural violence begets itself. But Bertram hacks into it. She re-engineers language by synthesizing the lyric and coding script, taking the baton from Harryette Mullen and the Oulipians and dashing with it to late 21st century black futurity. Travesty Generator is genius.”

- Cathy Park Hong
author of Engine Empire, and Dance Dance Revolution



Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, where they teach in and direct the UMass Boston MFA in Creative Writing Program. They have previously taught at St. Lawrence University, Ithaca College, and Williams College. They also direct the Chautauqua Institution Writers’ Festival. 

They are the author of the poetry collections Travesty Generator (Noemi Press, 2019), winner of the 2018 Noemi Press Poetry Prize and finalist for the National Poetry Series. Travesty Generator received the 2020 Poetry Society of America Anna Rabinowitz Prize for interdisciplinary and venturesome work. They are also the author of Personal Science (Tupelo Press, 2017); a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press 2016); and But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise (Red Hen Press, 2012), chosen by Claudia Rankine as the winner of the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award. Bertram’s other publications include the chapbook cutthroat glamours (Phantom Books, 2012), winner of the Phantom Books chapbook award; the artist book Grand Dessein (commissioned by Container Press), a mixed media artifact that meditates on the work and writing of the artist Paul Klee and was recently acquired by the Special Collections library at St. Lawrence University; and Tierra Fisurada, a Spanish poetry chapbook published in Argentina (Editoriales del Duende, 2002). They collaborated with the artist Laylah Ali for the exhibition booklet of her 2017 art show The Acephalous Series

Bertram has published poetry, prose, and essays in numerous journals, their honors include a 2017 Harvard University Woodberry Poetry Room Creative Grant, a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, finalist nomination for the 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Cave Canem, and others.

Bertram holds a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing from the creative writing program at the University of Utah, among degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.