No other writer since e. e. cummings has inspired such a wealth of innovative music.
— A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes
There have been few precedents to this kind of sustained avant-garde literature with a moving human content.
— The Oakland Tribune
The most musical prose since Gertrude Stein.
—The Village Voice
SUMNER CARNAHAN has nine books in print (Burning Books and Clear Light) and over forty short works published in national and international periodicals and anthologies, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Review, Five Fingers Review, How2, Leonardo Music Journal, THE Magazine, Factorial (Japan), At a Distance (MIT), The Closets of Time (Mercury Press), and Permission to Speak (Teksteditions, 2012). Her first novel, Only a Messenger, was released November 2011 by Burning Books, as part of the Quadrants Series, a Bronze Medal Winner in Anthologies, 2013 IPPY Independent Publisher Book Awards.
Carnahan received an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, working at the Center for Contemporary Music with composers Robert Ashley and Maggi Payne, and in the Book Arts Program with Kathleen Walkup. At Mills, she began collaborating with composers and musicians to present her writing “off the page.” Her fiction has found form for over twenty-five years as intermedia creations in which she provides stories, lyrics, and prose for recordings, installations, video, and live performance, notably the widely praised “performance novels” of Laetitia Sonami.
Carnahan’s third story collection, One Inch Equals Twenty-Five Miles, received an Eric Hoffer Book Award 2010, in the Legacy Fiction category. In 2005, Carnahan received an Associate Artist Residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, working with writer William Gass. In 2003, KUNM’s AetherFest commissioned a half-hour audiowork, Dido’s Revenge, featuring the voices of Susan Stone, Jay Cloidt, and Joan Stango. Morton Subotnick commissioned four stories for his Gestures performance and interactive CD/DVD (Mode Records). Carnahan was the Creative Media Arts Fellow for 2000 at ABC Radio and the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, where she produced The X, Y, Z of It—a half-hour audiowork broadcast internationally, which features the voices of Robert Ashley and Joan La Barbara, as well as Sydney-based actors and musicians. Carnahan received an Independent Publisher Award 1999 in Audio-Fiction for her book/CD, The Time Is Now (Frog Peak/Burning Books). Woody Vasulka commissioned “The Maiden” for his installation (and catalogue), The Brotherhood, at NTT/ICC in Tokyo, 1998. New American Radio commissioned two audioworks: Manananggal (with Laetitia Sonami and Marie Goyette, 1994), and The Bench (with Laetitia Sonami, 1995), broadcast nationally on public radio, and archived at www.somewhere.org.
Other awards, and acknowledgements have come from the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and NYC’s Experimental Intermedia Foundation, which is Included in the DRAM Archive. Many composers, artists, and performers have commissioned words: including, Barbara Golden, At the Corner of Alive & Jesus; Elodie Lauten, for The Deus Ex Machina Cycle; Susanna Carlisle, Tango Two (video w/soundtrack by Joan La Barbara); and Michael Sumner’s Between 5th & 6th (movie with soundtrack by The brilliant Dullards). The Out of Context ensemble, directed by Dino J. A. Deane, interpreted Carnahan’s One Inch Equals Twenty-Five Miles in live performance, and as a re-mixed version for audio CD (Burning Books/High Mayhem), 2005. Molly Sturges and Chris Jonas commissioned text for live performance at SITE Santa Fe’s Biennial, 2007. Carnahan has also collaborated with Elizabeth King, Pamela Z, Mary Armentrout, Alex Neville, Maggi Payne, Susan Stone, Elizabeth Wiseman, Mark Weber, Patrick McFarlin, Marghreta Cordero, Evangel King, and many others, on works released from Burning Books, Tellus, NonesuchElectra, Zerx Records, 4Tay Records, and Frog Peak Music.
Carnahan has edited books for art museums and publishers such as the Guggenheim and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, working with significant artistic minds including John Cage, Yoko Ono, Evan S. Connell, Laurie Anderson, George Lakoff, Madeline Gins, and Charles Shere. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her husband with whom she co-founded the independent press, Burning Books. She almost had a story published in the New Yorker one time, but the editor was fired before the story came out. Since then, she tried to get the New Yorker to reject a slew of other stories for a forthcoming collection: 50 Stories the New Yorker Rejected, but they don't send rejection notices anymore.
photo by Jennifer Esperanza
BOOKS BY CARNAHAN
AUDIOWORKS BY CARNAHAN
READ CARNAHAN STORIES . . .
VISIT CARNAHAN LINKS . . .