Visiting Writers

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Each year, the MFA in Creative Writing program’s week-long summer and winter residencies feature an impressive line-up of high-profile visiting writers who have made a significant impact in the world of writing. These guest speakers are invited to discuss their accomplished works and writing processes with students, impart their advice and professional expertise to aspiring writers, and share their distinct and particular experience of the artistic life.

2022 Summer Residency Visiting Writers

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Celeste Doaks

Get to Know Celeste

Common Read: American Herstory
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Note: Please read this Common Read prior to the residency and come prepared to engage with Celeste Doaks, who will be with us as a poetry workshop instructor for the second half of the residency!

Celeste Doaks is an award-winning poet, editor, and journalist. She is the author of Cornrows and Cornfields (2015), and the editor of the poetry anthology Not Without Our Laughter (2017). Her chapbook, American Herstory (2019), was the first-place winner in Backbone Press’s inaugural chapbook contest; it contains poems about Michelle Obama and the art she chose for the White House. Her journalism and reviews have appeared in Ms. Magazine, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, The Millions and The Huffington Post. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have been published in multiple print and online publications such as The Rumpus, Chicago Quarterly Review, BmoreArt Magazine, Asheville Poetry Review and many more. A university professor for over a decade, most recently she’s been a featured guest speaker and workshop leader at the Brooklyn Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Currently, she lives in Baltimore with her husband and too many house plants. Learn more at or on Instagram and Twitter @thedoaksgirl.

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Adam Johnson

Get to Know Adam

Common Read: Fortune Smiles
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Note: Please read this Common Read prior to the residency and come prepared to engage with Adam Johnson, who visit us virtually on Zoom early in the residency!

Adam Johnson is the author of Fortune Smiles, winner of the National Book Award and the Story Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Orphan Master’s Son, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the California Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Johnson’s other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship; he was also a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award. His previous books are Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us. Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco with his wife and children.

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Sejal Shah

Get to Know Sejal

Common Read: This Is One Way to Dance
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Note: Please read this Common Read prior to the residency and come prepared to engage with Sejal Shah, who will visit us in person midway through the residency!

Sejal Shah writes across genres and disciplines. She is the author of the debut essay collection, This Is One Way to Dance (University of Georgia Press), named an NPR Best Book of 2020 and which appeared on over 30 most-anticipated lists. Her stories, poems, and essays have appeared widely—including Brevity, Guernica, Conjunctions, the Kenyon Review Online, and Longreads. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction and fellowships from Blue Mountain Center, the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, Kundiman, and The Millay Colony. She holds a BA in English from Wellesley College and an MFA in English/Creative Writing (fiction) from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Sejal recently completed a story collection with images and is working on a new manuscript about friendship, mentorship, illness, and mental health. She lives in Rochester, New York.

Former Visiting Writers

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Ayad Akhtar

Get to Know Ayad

Ayad Akhtar is a novelist and playwright. His work has been published and performed in over two dozen languages. He is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Akhtar is the author of Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown & Co.), which The Washington Post called “a tour de force” and The New York Times called “a beautiful novel…that had echoes of The Great Gatsby and that circles, with pointed intellect, the possibilities and limitations of American life.” An eight-episode limited series of Homeland Elegies is in development at FX, starring Kumail Nanjiani and adapted by Akhtar and Oren Moverman. His first novel, American Dervish (Little, Brown & Co.), was published in over 20 languages.

As a playwright, he has written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination); Disgraced (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tony nomination); The Who & The What (Lincoln Center); and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations). 

Among other honors, Akhtar is the recipient of the Steinberg Playwright Award, the Nestroy Award, the Erwin Piscator Award, as well as fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, MacDowell, the Sundance Institute, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. Additionally, Ayad is a Board Trustee at New York Theatre Workshop, and PEN America, where he serves as President. In 2021, Akhtar was named the New York State Author, succeeding Colson Whitehead, by the New York State Writers Institute.
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Carrie Brown

Get to Know Carrie

Carrie Brown is the author of seven novels – Rose’s GardenLamb in LoveThe Hatbox BabyConfinementThe Rope WalkThe Last First Day, and The Stargazer’s Sister — as well as a collection of short stories, The House on Belle Isle. Her short stories and essays have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals, including the Southern ReviewGlimmer TrainTin House, the  Oxford American and the Georgia Review. Brown has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, the Great Lakes Book Award, and, twice, the Library of Virginia Award for the best work of fiction by a Virginia author.

She has taught creative writing for many years, including at Hollins University, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, and Sweet Briar College, where she is currently the Margaret Banister Writer-in-Residence.

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Meghan Daum

Get to Know Meghan

Meghan Daum is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, which won the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids. Her other books include the essay collection My Misspent Youth, the novel The Quality of Life Report, and the memoir Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in that House. Since 2005, Meghan has been an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Times, covering cultural and political topics.

The recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Meghan is an adjunct associate professor in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University's School of the Arts.

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Avni Doshi

Get to Know Avni

Avni Doshi, a New Jersey native who now lives in Dubai, was awarded the Tibor Jones South Asia Prize in 2013 and a Charles Pick Fellowship in 2014. Her writing has appeared in British VogueGranta and The Sunday Times. Her first novel, Burnt Sugar, was originally released in India under the title Girl in White Cotton, where it won the 2021 Sushila Devi Award and was longlisted for the 2019 Tata First Novel Prize. Upon publication in the UK, Burnt Sugar was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. In 2021, it was longlisted for the Women’s Prize. Named a 2020 Book of the Year by the Guardian, Economist, Spectator and NPR, it is being published in 23 languages.

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Mark Doty

Get to Know Mark

Mark Doty is the author of eight books of poetry and four volumes of nonfiction prose; his newest book, Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, was published by HarperCollins in 2008. His 2007 memoir Dog Years was a  New York Times bestseller. His work has been honored by the National Book Critics Circle Award, the  Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction, and a Whiting Writers Award. He remains the only American poet to have won the T.S. Eliot Prize in the United Kingdom. He's received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Ingram Merrill Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught at the University of Iowa, Columbia University, New York University, Cornell, and Stanford, and currently is John and Rebecca Moores Professor in the graduate program in writing at the University of Houston, where he teaches one semester each year. The rest of the time, he lives in New York City. Congratulations to Mark Doty on winning the National Book Award in poetry for Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems.

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Andre Dubus III

Get to Know Andre


The Cage Keeper and Other Stories
House of Sand and Fog
The Garden of Last Days

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Carlos M. N. Eire

Get to Know Carlos

Carlos M. N. Eire was born in Havana, in 1950. In 1962 he fled to the United States as one of the 14,000 unaccompanied children airlifted out of communist Cuba by Operation Pedro Pan. After living in several foster homes, he was reunited with his mother in 1965, but his father was never able to leave the island. He is now the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1979. He is the author of War Against the Idols, From Madrid to Purgatory, A Very Brief History of Eternity, and  Reformations: Early Modern Europe 1450-1700 (forthcoming, Yale, 2012). He is also co-author of Jews, Christians, Muslims: An Introduction to Monotheistic Religions. His memoir of the Cuban Revolution, Waiting for Snow in Havana, which won the National Book Award in nonfiction for 2003, has been translated into thirteen languages, but is banned in Cuba, where he is considered an enemy of the state. The sequel to this memoir, Learning to Die in Miami, appeared in 2010.

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Paul Hertneky

Get to Know Paul

Paul Hertneky has written stories, essays, and scripts for the Boston Globe, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, NBC News, The Comedy Channel, Gourmet, Eating Well, Traveler’s Tales, The Exquisite Corpse, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Adbusters, and many more, for over 26 years. He has won a Solas Award for travel writing and two James Beard Award nominations. He is also the author of RUST BELT BOY: Stories of an American Childhood (Bauhan). A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, he serves on the faculty of Chatham University and lives with his wife, Robbie, in Hancock, NH.

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Geof Hewitt

Get to Know Geof

Geof Hewitt: “I've been writing and publishing poems (since 1965) and teaching for a living. I hope the language of my poems is conversational, heightened only by a lucky image or cherished surprise.  The Perfect Heart, my book of selected poems from Mayapple (2010), reflects that hope. I do not write "slam" poems, but I brag that I am Vermont's reigning poetry-slam champion (since 2004, the last year Vermont held a sanctioned championship).

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Richard Hoffman

Get to Know Richard

Richard Hoffman is the author of three poetry collections: Without Paradise, Gold Star Roadwinner of the 2006 Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the New England Poetry Club's Sheila Motton Book Award, and his latest, Emblem. His prose works include the celebrated Half the House: a Memoir, Interference & Other Stories, and  Love & Fury‌.

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Marlon James

Get to Know Marlon

Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for A Brief History of Seven Killings, making him the first Jamaican author to take home the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award. In the work, James combines masterful storytelling with brilliant skill at characterization and an eye for detail to forge a bold novel of dazzling ambition and scope. He explores Jamaican history through the perspectives of multiple narrators and genres: the political thriller, the oral biography, and the classic whodunit confront the untold history of Jamaica in the 1970's, with excursions to the assassination attempt on reggae musician Bob Marley, as well as the country's own clandestine battles during the cold war.

James cites influences as diverse as Greek tragedy, William Faulkner, the LA crime novelist James Ellroy, Shakespeare, Batman and the X-Men. Writing for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani said of A Brief History of Seven Killings, “It’s epic in every sense of that word: sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex. It’s also raw, dense, violent, scalding, darkly comic, exhilarating and exhausting—a testament to Mr. James’s vaulting ambition and prodigious talent.” In addition to the Man Booker Prize, A Brief History of Seven Killings won the American Book Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  

Marlon James’ first novel, John Crow's Devil, tells the story of a biblical struggle in a remote Jamaican village in the 1950s. Though rejected 70 times before being accepted for publication, John Crow's Devil went on to become a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize, as well as a New York Times Editor's Choice. His second novel, The Book of Night Women, is about a slave women's revolt on a Jamaican plantation in the early 19th century. The work won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction, as well as an NAACP Image Award.

James’ short fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized in Bronx NoirThe Book of Men: Eighty Writers on How to Be a Man and elsewhere, and have appeared in EsquireGrantaHarper’sThe Caribbean Review of Books and other publications. His widely read essay, “From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself,” appeared in the New York Times Magazine. In early 2016 his viral video Are you racist? ‘No’ isn’t a good enough answer received millions of hits. His best-selling book, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, is the first in the Dark Star Trilogy, a fantasy series set in African legend. Black Leopard, Red Wolf was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award in the Fiction category and was named one of the Washington Post's 10 Best Books of 2019. It also received the Ray Bradbury Prize for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and was awarded the 2020 Locus Award for Horror. James hosts a podcast about literature with Jake Morrissey called Marlon and Jake Read Dead People.

Marlon James was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1970. He graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1991 with a degree in Language and Literature, and from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania in 2006 with a Masters in creative writing. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and teaches English and creative writing at Macalester College. In 2018 Marlon James received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. In April 2019 he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2019 in the Pioneers category.

In his presentations, James addresses topics related to writing and the writing process, as well as issues pertaining to the history of the Caribbean, race and gender in the US and UK, and youth subcultures as expressed in literature and music such as hip-hop and reggae.

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Mary Karr

Get to Know Mary

Mary Karr is an award-winning poet and best-selling memoirist. She is the author of Lit and the critically-acclaimed and New York Times best-selling memoirs  The Liars' Club and CherryThe Liars' Club won prizes for best first nonfiction from PEN (The Martha Albrand Award for nonfiction), the Texas Institute for Letters, and was a finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Awards. Of her poet's soul, Karr says, "From a very early age, when I read a poem, it was as if the poet's burning taper touched some charred filament in my rib cage to set me alight." Her poetry grants include The Whiting Writer's Award, an NEA, a Radcliffe Bunting Fellowship, and a Guggenheim. She has won prizes from Best American Poetry as well as Pushcart Prizes for both poetry and essays. Her four volumes of poetry are Sinners Welcome (HarperCollins, 2006), Viper Rum (Penguin, 1998),  The Devil's Tour‌ (New Directions, 1993), and Abacus (Wesleyan, 1986). Her work appears in such magazines as The New YorkerThe AtlanticPoetry, and Parnassus. Karr is the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University and was the weekly poetry editor for the  Washington Post Book World's "Poet's Choice" column, a position canonized by Bob Hass, Ed Hirsch, and Rita Dove. She lives in Syracuse, New York and New York City.

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Paul Lakeland

Get to Know Paul

Paul Lakeland is the Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies and founding director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. Educated at Heythrop Pontifical Athenaeum, Oxford University, the University of London, and Vanderbilt University, he has taught at Fairfield since 1981. He is the author of ten books, the most recent of which is The Wounded Angel: Fiction and the Religious Imagination‌. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Theological Society, the College Theology Society, and the Catholic Theological Society of America. He blogs occasionally and reviews fiction for Commonweal, a Catholic journal of opinion.

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Wally Lamb

Get to Know Wally

Wally Lamb is the author of six New York Times best-selling novels: I’ll Take You There, We Are Water, Wishin’ and Hopin’, The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much is True, and She’s Come Undone and was twice selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Lamb also edited Couldn’t Keep It to Myself and I’ll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Connecticut, where he has been a volunteer facilitator for the past 17 years.

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Valerie Martin

Get to Know Valerie

Valerie Martin‌ is the author of eleven novels, including Trespass, Mary Reilly, Italian Fever, and  Property, four collections of short fiction, and a biography of St. Francis of Assisi . She has been awarded the Kafka Prize (for Mary Reilly) and Britain’s Orange Prize (for Property.)

Her most recent novel The Ghost of the Mary Celeste was published in 2014 and Sea Lovers, a volume of new and selected short fiction was published in August of 2015.

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Shara McCallum

Get to Know Shara

From Jamaica, and born to a Jamaican father and Venezuelan mother, poet Shara McCallum is the author of six books published in the US & UK, including No Ruined Stone (forthcoming later in 2021), a verse sequence based on an alternate account of history and Scottish poet Robert Burns’ near migration to Jamaica to work on a slave plantation. La historia es un cuarto/History is a Room, an anthology of poems selected from across her six books and translated and introduced by Adalber Salas Hernández, will also be published in 2021 (Mantis Editores, Mexico). McCallum’s poems have appeared in journals, anthologies, and textbooks throughout the US, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Israel. In addition to Spanish, her poems have been translated into Italian, French, Romanian, Dutch, and Turkish and have been set to music by composers Marta Gentilucci and Gity Razaz. Awards for her work include the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (for her previous book, Madwoman), a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, the Oran Robert Perry Burke Award for Nonfiction, and the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize (for her first book, The Water Between Us).

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Rick Moody

Get to Know Rick

Rick Moody, author of several books, short stories and a memoir, most famously, The Ice Storm, is the recipient of the Editor's Choice Award from the Pushcart Press and the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is also a winner of the NAMI/Ken Book Award, the PEN Martha Albrand prize for excellence in the memoir, and the 2994 Aga Khan Award from The Paris Review. His short fiction and journalism have been anthologized in Best American Stories 2001 and Best American Essays 2004. His latest book, three novellas called Right Livelihoods, was published last year. Moody is a member of the board of directors of the Corporation of Yaddo, an artistic community that nurtures the creative process. He is also the secretary of the PEN American Center, and he co-founded the Young Lions Book Award at the New York Public Library. He has taught at the State University of New York at Purchase, the Bennington College Writing Seminars, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the New School for Social Research. Born in New York City, Moody now lives in Brooklyn.

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David Mura

Get to Know David

David Mura is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, fiction writer, critic, and playwright. A Sansei, or third generation Japanese American, Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei, which won an Oakland PEN Josephine Miles Book Award and was a New York Times Notable Book, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality, and Identity. His novel, Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire, was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the John Gardner Fiction Prize, and Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award. His four poetry collections are The Last Incantations, Angels for the Burning, The Colors of Desire, which won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Chicago Public Library, and After We Lost Our Way, a National Poetry Series Contest winner. His other books included A Male Grief: Notes on Pornography & Addiction and a book of critical essays, Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto & Mr. Moto: Poetry & Identity. His latest book is on creative writing and titled, A Stranger's Journey: Race, Identity & Narrative Craft in Writing.

Mura has taught at the Stonecoast MFA program, the University of Oregon, the University of Minnesota, Hamline University, Macalester College, St. Olaf College and the VONA Writers' Conference. He has worked as the Director of Training with the Innocent Classroom, a program that trains K-12 teachers to improve their relationships with students of color.

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Mira Nair

Get to Know Mira

Mira Nair was born and raised in Rourkela, India, and went on to study at Delhi and Harvard University. She began her career as an actress before segueing into documentary filmmaking. Her narrative feature debut, Salaam Bombay! (1988), won the Caméra d’Or and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

A resourceful and determined independent filmmaker who casts unknowns alongside Hollywood stars, Nair went on to direct Mississippi Masala (1991), The Perez Family (1995), Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996), Hysterical Blindness (2002), Vanity Fair (2004), The Namesake (2006), Amelia (2009), and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012). Her most recent film, Queen of Katwe (2016), starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, is based on the true story of the Ugandan chess prodigy, Phiona Mutesi. Nair’s acclaimed film Monsoon Wedding (2001) was recently brought to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre as a musical, where it completed an extended, sold-out run.

A long time activist, in 1998, Nair used the profits from Salaam Bombay! to create Salaam Baalak Trust, which works with street children in India. In 2005, she established Maisha Film Lab in Kampala, Uganda, a nonprofit training initiative for emerging East African filmmakers. Maisha is currently building a school with architect Raul Pantaleo, winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and his company Studio Tamassociati.

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Sigrid Nunez

Get to Know Sigrid

Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and most recently, The Friend, which has been long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Among the journals to which she has contributed are The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Harper's, McSweeney's, Tin House, The Believer, and Her work has also appeared in several anthologies, including four Pushcart Prize volumes and four anthologies of Asian American literature. Learn more.

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Jayne Anne Phillips

Get to Know Jayne Anne

Jayne Anne Phillips is the author of four novels, MotherKindShelterMachine Dreams, and Lark and Termite for which she was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award. Phillips is also the author of two collections of widely anthologized stories, Fast Lanes and Black Tickets. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Bunting Fellowship. She was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction at the age of 26 for Black Tickets, and has also received Academy Award in Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Shelter. Her work has been translated into twelve languages, and has recently appeared in  GrantaHarper'sDoubleTake, and The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Fiction.

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Nahid Rachlin

Get to Know Nahid

Nahid Rachlin went to Columbia University’s Writing Program on a Doubleday-Columbia Fellowship and then to Stanford University’s Writing Program on a Stegner Fellowship. Her publications include a memoir, Persian Girls (Penguin), and four novels including Jumping Over Fire (City Lights) and Foreigner (W.W. Norton). She has a short story collection, A Way Home, in press for July 2018, and her individual short stories have appeared in many magazines. One of her stories was adopted by Symphony Space, “Selected Shorts,” and was aired on NPR’s around the country. Three of her stories were nominated for Pushcart Prize. Her work has been translated into Portuguese, Polish, Italian, Dutch, Czech, German, Arabic, and Persian. She has been interviewed on NPR stations such as Fresh Air (Terry Gross), and in magazines including, Poets & Writers and Writers Chronicle. She has written reviews and essays for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

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Philip Schultz

Get to Know Philip

One of American poetry's longtime masters of the art, Philip Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and the founder/director of The Writers Studio, a private school for fiction and poetry writing based in New York City. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Failure, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. These poems give voice to failures of many kinds - yet they are full of tenderness, empathy, and heartbreaking honesty, giving praise to the joy of life as well. His other collections include Living in the Past, and The Holy Worm of Praise. He is also the author of Deep Within the Ravine, recipient of The Academy of American Poets Lamont Prize; Like Wings, winner of an American Academy & Institute of Arts and Letters Award as well as a National Book Award nomination. The God of Loneliness: New and Selected Poems will be published next year. His work has been published in  The New YorkerPartisan ReviewThe New RepublicThe Paris ReviewSlate, among other magazines. He is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a 2005 Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry. He also received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry (1981), a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry (1985), as well as the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine.

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Rion Amilcar Scott

Get to Know Rion

Rion Amilcar Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn't Require You. His debut story collection, Insurrections was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His work has been published in journals such as The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Rumpus, among others. One of his stories was listed as a notable in Best American Stories 2018 and one of his essays was listed as a notable in Best American Essays 2015. Presently, he teaches Creative Writing at the University of Maryland.

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Dani Shapiro

Get to Know Dani

Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and the novels Black & White and Family History. Her essays and stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Elle, Vogue, Ploughshares, One Story, The New York Times Book Review, and have been broadcast on NPR's "This American Life". She has taught in the graduate writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School, and Brooklyn College. She is co-founder of The Sirenland Writers' Conference in Positano, Italy. Her latest book, Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life, was published in October, 2013.

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Anita Shreve

Get to Know Anita

Anita Shreve has published 13 novels, among them The Weight of Water, The Pilot's Wife, The Last Time They Met, A Wedding in December, and  Body Surfing. She has received the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction. In 1999, The Pilot's Wife became the 25th selection of Oprah's Book Club and an international bestseller. In April 2002, CBS aired the film version of The Pilot's Wife, starring Christine Lahti, and in fall 2002, The Weight of Water, starring Elizabeth Hurley and Sean Penn, was released in movie theaters.

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Sue William Silverman

Get to Know Sue

Sue William Silverman's memoir, Love Sick: One Woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction (W. W. Norton), is also a Lifetime television original movie. Her first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award series in creative nonfiction. One of her essays appears in The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Nonfiction, while others won contests with  Hotel Amerika, Mid-American Review, and Water~Stone Review. Her poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon and a craft book,  Fearless Confessions: A Writers Guide to Memoir, is forthcoming with the University of Georgia Press (Spring, 2009). As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on "The View," "Anderson Cooper 360," and "CNN-Headline News." Additionally, she was featured in a recent interview in The Writer's Chronicle; is associate editor of Fourth Genre; and teaches in the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts (

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Tracy K. Smith

Get to Tracy Smith

 Tracy K. Smith received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her third book of poems, Life on Mars. The collection draws upon the genre of science fiction in considering who we humans are and what the vast universe holds for us. In poems of political urgency, tenderness, elegy and wit, Smith conjures version upon version of the future, imagines the afterlife, and contemplates life here on earth in our institutions, cities, houses and hearts. Life on Mars was a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and a New Yorker, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. 

Smith’s debut collection, The Body’s Question, was selected by Kevin Young as winner of the Cave Canem Prize for the best first book by an African American poet. Straddling languages, speakers, and geographies, the poems bear witness to love, loss, and belonging while laying claim to a large and nimble sense of identity. In his introduction, Young writes, “Smith…seems perfectly at home speaking of grief and loss, of lust and hunger, of joy and desire—which here often means the desire for desire, and a desire for language itself.” 

Duende, Smith’s second book, received the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. The collection takes its title from a term Federico Garcia Lorca brought into broad parlance. The duende is the wild, unpredictable and oftentimes dangerous energy an artist might seek to conjure up and contend with. Unlike the Muse, which exists beyond or above the artist, the duende sleeps deep within—as pure urge, fury, chaos, and passion—waiting to be awakened and wrestled, often at great cost. In Smith’s hands, this sense of artistic struggle and daring meets up with forms of social and political struggle, resistance and survival. It also illuminates the private upheaval of divorce and its aftermath.

In her memoir, Ordinary Light, Smith explores her own experience of race, religion, and the death of her mother shortly after Smith graduated from Harvard. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award, and named a Notable Book by both the New York Times and Washington Post. 

Smith’s fourth book of poems, Wade in the Water, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for its examination of the grave contradictions tied up in America’s history. In documentary “found” and “erasure” poems, Smith unravels the knot of racism and denial as the central conundrum of America, and she forges a vocabulary of compassion as a possible route forward through our current strife. In 2019 a selection of her poetry titled Eternity: Selected Poems was published in the UK. In 2020 Smith and Changtai Bi, co-translated Chinese poet Yi Lei’s book of poetry My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree. In 2021 she edited, with John Freeman, the prose anthology There’s A Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis, and was guest editor for The Best American Poetry 2021. Her new book of poetry is Such Color: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, October 5, 2021).

Smith served two terms as Poet Laureate of the United States, during which time she traveled across America, hosting poetry readings and conversations in rural communities. She edited the anthology American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time during her laureateship, and launched the American Public Media podcast The Slowdown. In March 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Ar ts and Letter s.

Smith wrote the libretto for an opera titled Castor and Patience. Rooted in a conflict over historically black-owned land, the work is a collaboration with composer Gregory Spears. Originally set to premiere in July 2020 with the Cincinnati Opera, the work has been postponed to the 2022 Summer Festival. 

Smith is Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.

Zadie Smith headshot

Zadie Smith

Get to Know Zadie

Zadie Smith’s acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000) won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. White Teeth has been translated into over 20 languages and was adapted for Channel 4 television for broadcast in autumn 2002, and for the stage in November 2018. In 2020, the New York Public Library voted White Teeth one of the “125 most important books of the last 125 years.”

The Autograph Man (2002) won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction. In 2003 and 2013, she was named one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ by Granta magazine. Her book On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction and her novel NW was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction and was named as one of The New York Times ‘10 Best Books of 2012.’ Her most recent novel is Swing Time (2016). She has published two collections of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (2009) and Feel Free (2018). Her most recent book is a collection of short stories titled Grand Union (2019). Her new book is a collection of six essays titled Intimations (2020).

Zadie Smith writes regularly for The NewYorker and the NewYork Review of Books. In 2017, she was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, she was also the recipient of the 2017 City College of New York’s Langston Hughes Medal. Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of creative writing at New York University.

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Natasha Trethewey

Get to Know Natasha

Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014). She is the author of five collections of poetry, Monument (2018), which was long listed for the 2018 National Book Award; Thrall (2012); Native Guard (2006), for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002); and Domestic Work (2000), which was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry.

Trethewey is also the author of the memoir Memorial Drive (2020). Her book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, appeared in 2010. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. At Northwestern University she is a Board of Trustees Professor of English in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. In 2012, she was named Poet Laureate of the State of Mississippi and and in 2013, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Barbara Ungar headshot

Barbara Ungar

Get to Know Barbara

Barbara Ungar has published four books of poetry, most recently Immortal Medusa and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life, both Hilary Tham selections from The Word Works. Her prior books are Thrift and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Press Poetry Award, a silver Independent Publishers award, a Hoffer award, and the Adirondack Center for Writing poetry award. Also the author of several chapbooks and Haiku in English, Barbara has published poems in Salmagundi, Rattle, The Nervous Breakdown, and many other journals. Barbara is a professor of English at the College of Saint Rose in Albany.

Ellen Doré Watson headshot

Ellen Doré Watson

Get to Know Ellen

Ellen Doré Watson is a poet and translator who was named by Library Journal as “one of 24 poets for the 21st Century.” Her poems have appeared in APR, Tin House, Gulf Coast, and The New Yorker, and honors include fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the NEA (to translate Brazilian Adélia Prado). Her fifth collection, pray me stay eager, is from Alice James (2018). Director of the Poetry Center at Smith College for two decades, she’s currently Conkling Visiting Poet, as well as the poetry and translation editor of Massachusetts Review and core faculty in Drew University’s MFA Program in Poetry and Translation.

Judith Weber headshot

Judith Weber

Get to Know Judith

Judith Weber a principal in Sobel Weber Associates, Inc., joined the agency in 1977, following several years as Director of Publicity, Promotion, and Advertising and in senior editorial positions with major publishers. She has been a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and of Les Dames d'Escoffier. She is a founder of the New York Literary Writers Conference.

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