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  • events2
    Philadelphia PA March 6 2012 2 00 pm Larchmont Historical Society 740 West Boston Post Road Mamaroneck NY March 1 2012 4 00 pm 6032 Sauborn House Dartmouth College Hanover NH February 11 12 2012 Karachi Literary Festival Karachi University December 17 2011 Goa Arts and Literary Festival International Centre Dona Paula Panjim Goa November 26 2011 Asia Society Mumbai http asiasociety org calendars convert tale exile and extremism biography deborah baker 0 November 15th National Book Award Finalist Reading The New School New York City October 18 2011 New York 7 00 pm The Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers The New York Public Library Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street http www nypl org events conversations cullman center October 13 2011 6 00 pm Location TBA John Hopkins School for International Affairs Washington DC October 9 2011 Reading and talk Ashfield Fall Festival Ashfield MA October 6 2011 CHAT Tufts Center for the Humanities Tung House 48 Professors Row Medford MA 02155 October 5 2011 4 00 PM Harvard University South Asia Initiative Room S020 of CGIS 1730 Cambridge Street In Conversation with Diana Eck Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies and Frederick Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society September 22 2011 4 00 pm Talk signing Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Illinois Union University of Illinois Urbana Champaign September 20 2011 4 30 pm Loyola University Chicago Islamic World Studies Department June 5 2011 Chicago Printer s Row Literary Festival Conversation with Karen Long University Center Lake Room 10 10 45 http www chicagotribune com entertainment b ooks chi books prlf 2011 authors 0 2701119 htmlstory May 30 2011 A Reading and a Conversation Greenlight Bookstore 686 Fulton Street Brooklyn NY 7 30 pm May 24 2011 Book Expo New York City

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  • Deborah Baker - Reviews: In Extremis
    Graves For more than a decade on the island of Mallorca the two lived and wrote Riding s poetry was intensely private sometimes obscure but had a compelling intensity and classic diction Driven by unanswerable philosophic questions she eventually withdrew from the literary world and for years published little but scathing correctives to those writers who dared discuss her or Graves life or work Several other biographers ran afoul of her demanding temperament so did Baker but Ridings death left this biographer a free hand Bakers work is exemplary she reveals the character of her subject without either whitewashing or as in a recent biography of Graves excoriating Riding for her faults she invents a twining switchback narrative eminently suitable to the complexity of her subject s life and work and she discusses Riding s work in clear expansive analyses that should heighten literary interest in the poet Pat Monaghan The Missouri Review Baker s biography chronicles the life of the first female Fugitive the group of poet philosophers who advanced New Criticism This portrait of Riding the woman who William Carlos Williams called a prize bitch is dignified well documented and cautious The erratic life of Laura Richenthal Riding Gottschalk Jackson was not easily researched Riding Jackson who died in 1991 shed names and philosophies easily and though she at first welcomed communication with her biographer in the end she refused to condone Baker s work However Baker is sympathetic toward her subject s origins literary contributions and vanity Born to an immigrant family Jackson married one of her college professors before completing her undergraduate studies at Cornell While trying to maintain her role of faculty wife at Champaign Urbana she metamorphosed into a poet then a critic novelist philosopher and editor before becoming Robert Graves s lover At age forty three she settled down as a citrus farmer in Florida with her second husband the critic Schulyer Jackson Continuing to write between harvests she renounced poetry perhaps burned some of her papers and took to epistolary discussions with scholars and editors from all over the country After Jackson was widowed her work reappeared in print The Guggenheim Foundation provided grants for her memoirs and she was awarded the Bollingen Prize for Poetry at age ninety Interspersed throughout the biography are the author s reminders that Jackson vehemently opposed its publication Jackson needn t have been so hostile toward Baker s effort Her biographer s admiration for Jackson is evident she sees her as a visionary who tried to articulate the conflicts between imagination and intellect literature and life This book is not a gossipy discussion of another Modernist who died embittered and lonely but a detailed look at one woman s mental agility and contribution to the literary world Excerpts from Jackson s poems stories and essays some of which were unpublished are scattered throughout the book allowing us to realize as Baker says that Jackson made her work out of her life LIBRARY JOURNAL Janice Braun Hoover

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  • Deborah Baker - Gallery - In Extremis
    Goldschmidt Robert Graves Laura Riding and some village women Griselda Jackson Tom Matthews Helen Mayers Isabel s sister in law Polly Antell Robert Penn Warren Laura Riding Gottschalk winner of the 1924 Nashville Poetry Prize for best poem Geoffrey Phibbs artist unknown Jean Marroig Gelat Schuyler Jackson Laura Riding Jackson on her front porch in Wabasso Florida Ida Prighozy Allen Tate John Crowe Ransom Isabel Reichenthal Mayers Laura s half

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  • Deborah Baker - Reviews: A Blue Hand
    international soul trekking fashionable but Savage elevated it to a performance art Kirkus Reviews An enlightening study of the Beat Generation s quest for enlightenment in India The most prominent exemplar of the holy fool searcher was not Jack Kerouac who proclaimed himself a bodhisattva or even Gary Snyder who turned to Japan for guidance but instead the ecstatic sensualist Allen Ginsberg Baker In Extremis The Life of Laura Riding 1993 etc a fine storyteller traces the moment to a New York day on which Ginsberg gazing out the window of some anonymous apartment sees God or at least a god From that moment on though famously still interested in more earthly adventures with young men he sought the presence of the divine No better place for that quest than India which in the early 1960s was not wholly prepared for Ginsberg s arrival nor the attentions of more reluctant beats such as Gregory Corso Yet Ginsberg soon found sympathetic allies among religious but mostly nonsectarian Indians who shared some of the American poet s worldly interests and brought a beat sensibility to their own culture which was thriving especially around Bombay and Calcutta Blessed with the ability to mix and make friends and with a Zelig like talent for being in the right place at the right time Ginsberg antedated the Beatles in Rishikesh by a few years Though in love with much of what he saw he chided Paul Bowles for having warned him away from cheap lodgings writing I must say you made it sound as if a westerner would die of rat poison if he stayed anywhere but Taj Mahal Hotel he was also a realist enough to see India s suffering as well This knowledge came to fill notebooks and Ginsberg imported many things Indian notably the Hare Krishna chant to the Bay Area and Greenwich Village Baker evokes strange worlds and distant times in a narrative that never fails to flow and that in the end is admirably illuminating Booklist Review Donna Seaman A dozen years after his 1948 East Harlem vision in which the sky was the living blue hand poet Allen Ginsberg traveled across India in search of a direct path to God The Beats fascination with Eastern wisdom traditions has been much analyzed but Baker author of a seminal biography of Laura Riding takes a uniquely expansive and richly rewarding approach She sheds new light on Ginsberg s spiritual hunger and profound insights into cold war psychosis and the atomic nightmare and provides striking profiles of his fellow seekers especially Gary Snyder and his smart caustic wife Joanne Kyger The most compelling figure however is the most elusive southern belle turned world wanderer Hope Savage Baker is the first to meticulously chronicle Ginsberg s bonds with Bengali poets and holy men and his prescience in predicting the rock and roll West s 1960s fascination with India the dawn of what is now a many faceted symbiosis Baker s discerning descriptions of

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  • Deborah Baker - Gallery - A Blue Hand
    sleeping man Allen and Peter walking Benares ghats Allen reading in Benares room On rooftop of the Amjadia hotel the Krittibas gang Allen in Calcutta Manjula Mitra in Jodhpur Park room with Peter s guitar Allen explaining Hindu mythology to Esquire photographer Allen and Peter at Taj Mahal December 1962 Allen immersed in Ganges Allen Peter Manjula in Benares room Allen shopping on Benares ghat Allen with old man Allen

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  • Deborah Baker - Reviews: The Convert
    Jewish home to live in Lahore in the Muslim household of idealogue and Islamic political leader Maulana Mawdudi In Pakistan Marcus changed her name to Maryam Jameelah and penned expressive letters to her parents describing during the next three decades her newfound identity community and the motivations behind her conversion and all consuming embrace of Islam Jameelah went on to write not only letters the archives of which Baker A Blue Hand The Beats in India 2008 etc came across in the New York Public Library but an enormously popular set of books criticizing Western materialism and exalting life lived according to the laws of the Koran Baker s account unfolds chronologically through Jameelah s letters included in the book as well as various articles she published in American magazines Despite Jameelah s unwavering outspoken disdain for Western secularism she faced mounting obstacles in her new life all of which the author examines as a platform to explore the broader subject of how radical idealism manifests itself Jameelah eschewed what she viewed as the miserably misguided popular values of her native country but this opposition did not tamp out her love for and connection to her parents On this note Baker who corresponded and finally met with Jameelah in her home opens the door to the vital questions of how radical Islam has impacted the world and what part converts such as Jameelah have played An important searing highly readable and timely narrative Link to interview http www kirkusreviews com blog question and answer exile and extremism convert continue reading post Library Journal starred Steve Young McHenry Cty Coll Crystal Lake IL March 15 2011 Biographer Baker In Extremis The Life of Laura Riding came across an archive of Jameelah s papers and became entranced she presents here a spellbinding factual account of Jameelah s estrangement from her family faith and country her quest to find an authentic Islam halfway around the world and her confinement in mental asylums on two continents How did this troubled woman become the theorist behind the notion of Islam vs the West Baker s investigation of Jameelah yields mysteries and surprises galore VERDICT A significant contemporary figure in Islamic Western relations becomes human with all the foibles and angst that word implies General readers will find this story compelling while scholars will be pleased with the insight it brings to an important 20th century Islamist voice Highly recommended http www libraryjournal com lj reviewsbook 889715 421 social sciences reviews april 15 html csp Pakistani Reviews The Friday Times Beyond Belief C M Naim November 25 2011 Indian Reviews Biblio Manisha Sethi May June 2011 Ten years after two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York books are being written seminars and conferences organised special commemorative issues planned to make sense of 9 11 Deborah Baker s The Convert has already been hailed as the most moving and brilliant book written about Islam and the West since 9 11 but it would be

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  • Deborah Baker - Gallery - The Convert
    Senior photo Maryam with son Self portrait Pakistan 1996 Painting Sleeping boys Portrait of two Arab women Maryam Jameelah and her sister 1938 Maryam Jameelah 1962 passport 1962 author photo Maryam Jameelah Arab father bathing son The City of Death December 1946 age 12 Sketches Madhouse Seyyed Mawlana Abul A la Mawdudi Margaret Marcus age 22 My self portrait June 1956 Portrait of my father February 1946 age 34 Arab

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  • Deborah Baker - Reviews: In Extremis
    specific meanings in the mid 1930s she began work on a dictionary intended to erase any ambiguity that might have accrued to words over years of improper usage Around the time of her happy second marriage to Schuyler Jackson in 1941 she renounced poetry altogether to work for decades with him on the never completed dictionary Baker barely considers that marriage her narrative devotes a cursory 20 pages to the half century following Riding s split from Graves in 1939 This selective approach is employed throughout the biography which begins with Riding s first encounter with the Fugitive poets Allen Tate John Crowe Ransom Robert Penn Warren in Tennessee then circles back to chronicle her New York City childhood as daughter of an idealistic Jewish socialist from Poland and an embittered garment worker who had ruined her eyesight working in sweatshops Baker perceptively traces the tensions in the Reichenthal household Riding changed her last name around the time of her marriage to Lou Gottschalk a history instructor at Cornell arguing convincingly that Riding s lifelong fascination with the dynamics of personal relationships began in the conflicted bosom of her family Baker s rapid resume of Riding s first marriage uneasy alliance with the Fugitives and literary apprenticeship in New York set the tone for the rest of the biography Human relations are subordinated to Riding s ideas about them and their impact on her poetrv and criticism Lengthy quotations from and sensitive explications of these works are the book s best feature Poems such as The Mask and In 1927 still excite with their fresh exact imagery such later works as What to Say When the Spider show Riding moving close to Gertrude Stein in her challenging play with words and meaning Baker s exegesis of Riding s criticism refutes the sexist assumption of earlier historians that Graves must have been the principal theorist in their collaboration She clearly demonstrates that the central ideas were Riding s although she never acknowledges that their witty elaboration in A Survey of Modernist Poetry owed much to Graves easy prose style Anarchism Is Not Enough and Contemporaries and Snobs which Riding wrote alone are far less engaging Baker s reluctance to criticize Riding and her desire to refute previous derogatory evaluations of her subject give the biography a peculiar tone and structure She assumes readers familiarity with earlier biographies of Graves neglecting such crucial issues as the exact nature of his emotional bond with Riding She begins the long section on their years together not with their meeting in 1926 but with Riding s attempt to kill herself by jumping out the window of their London flat in 1929 because Baker argues part of the reason for Riding s obscurity as a writer lies in the story of the leap and how it has been told That may be but readers have no way of understanding the suicide attempt when they know nothing of the three years that preceded it and Baker s

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