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Visiting Writers Series returns to LRU for its 29th season
Visiting Writers Series returns to LRU for its 29th season

Lenoir-Rhyne University's Visiting Writers Series will return for its 29th season, on Thursday, September 14 as it presents Colson Whitehead at 7 p.m. in P.E. Monroe Auditorium. For nearly three decades, the series has provided literary arts programming that is free and open to the public.

Whitehead is author of The Underground Railroad, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, is a New York Times bestseller, and Time magazine's Book of the Year in 2016. He has written several other novels, including John Henry Days, which was the winner of the 2002 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Young Lions Fiction Award, and Sag Harbor, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.

As LR's Campus Read for the 2017-18 academic year, The Underground Railroad will be read by all freshman, with several events taking place related to the book. On September 11 at 7 p.m. in Belk Centrum, Dr. Bob Hart, founder of Hart Square Village in Catawba County, will visit LR to discuss the history of Hart Square and the lives of slaves in a 19th Century American village. In partnership with LR's Concert Series, Don Flemons, a world-renowned folk musician, singer-songwriter, and slam poet will present on Thursday, September 12 at 7 p.m. in P.E. Monroe Auditorium. Flemons is a Grammy Award winning multi-instrumentalist, best known for weaving stories and song together that aim to preserve a treasury of American folk music. Both events are free and open to the public.

The 2017-18 season will continue with the following authors:

September 28, 2017

Amor Towles

P.E. Monroe Auditorium, 7 – 8 p.m.

Sponsored by the Hickory Public Library

Amor Towles is a Boston native currently living in Manhattan with his family. His most recent book, A Gentleman in Moscow, was chosen by NPR, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune as a best book of the year for 2016. Ron Charles of The Washington Post called the novel "an endearing reminder of the graciousness of real class." Towles attended Yale College and was a Scowcroft Fellow at Stanford University, where he received his master's degree.

October 12, 2017

Iggy McGovern

Belk Centrum, 7 – 8 p.m.

Iggy McGovern is the author of three collections of poetry, The King of Suburbia (2005), Safe House (2010), and A Mystic Dream of 4 (2013). McGovern co-edited Science Meets Poetry 3 and edited the anthology 2012: Twenty Irish Poets Respond to Science in Twelve Lines. He holds degrees in physics from Queen's University in Belfast and was a Professor of Physics at Trinity College Dublin until he retired in 2013.

October 26, 2017

Erik Larson

P.E. Monroe Auditorium, 7 – 8 p.m.

Sponsored by the Hickory Public Library

A native of New York City, Erik Larson is the author of seven novels, five of which are New York Times bestsellers. His most recent novel, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, hit number one on the list. His previous book, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, also hit number one on the Times list and has had movie rights optioned by Universal Studios and Tom Hanks' Playton. The Devil in the White City spent a combined total of over six years on the New York Times bestseller list, won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing, and was a finalist for a National Book Award. Leonardo DiCaprio has acquired the option to make a movie of the book; Martin Scorsese will direct, Billy Ray will write the screenplay, and the studio will be backed by Paramount.

November 16, 2017

Angela Davis-Gardner, Patrice Gopo, and Allison Hutchcraft

Belk Centrum, 7 – 8 p.m.

Angela Davis-Gardner received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Duke University, and her Master of Fine Arts from UNC Greensboro. Her first novel, Felice, was published in 1982, and she has written several essays, stories, and books since, including the books Butterfly's Child and Plum Wine, both of which were influenced by her interest in Japanese-American relations and Japanese culture. Felice was adapted into an opera and was recently staged at Opera Breve.

Patrice Gopo is a 2017-18 N.C. Arts Council fellowship recipient. Gopo holds a Master of Business from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and an MPP from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. She developed her writing skills while taking a variety of writing courses and attending the Wildacres Writing Workshop, Creative Nonfiction Writers' Conference and the Image Journal's Glen Workshop. She is the recipient of the Gell Residency for Writers with Young Children (2017), was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the essay, "What Remains," (2016), and received a 2016 Regional Artist Project Grant from the Arts and Science Council for the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Her essays have appeared in a number of publications, including online in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Gopo's essay, "For My Husband Driving Down a Mountain," was read on WFAE-FM in 2016.

Allison Hutchcraft, a Charlotte poet, earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Purdue University. Hutchcraft's poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, Crazyhorse, The Cincinnati Review, Barrow Street, Beloit Poetry Journal, American Letters & Commentary, West Branch and other journals. She has been awarded scholarships from the Tin House Writers Workshop, Key West Literary Seminar, and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and received a 2016 Regional Artist Project Grant from the Arts & Science Council for the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. She was a fellow at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences in 2017, and will be a resident at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology on the Oregon coast in 2018.

January 18, 2018

Jennifer Horne

Belk Centrum, 7 – 8 p.m.

Jennifer Horne is the 2017-18 Visiting Writer in Residence and will teach at LR during the spring semester. She is a blogger, poet, teacher, journalist, as well as an editor, and was named the 12th Poet Laureate of Alabama in July of 2017. Horne is the author of two collections of poetry, Little Wanderer (2016) and Bottle Tree (2010), two poetry chapbooks, Miss Betty's School of Dance and Tineretuluias, as well as a collection of short stories, Tell the World You're a Wildflower. Her short story "The Other Shoe" was published in The Shoe Burnin': Stories of Southern Soul and her article, "Sara Mayfield: A Woman of Her Times" was published by the Alabama Heritage Magazine in the spring of 2016. She co-edited All Out of Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, Circling Faith: Southern Women on Spirituality, and Belles' Letters II (due out in 2017) and edited Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets.

March 21, 2018

Marie Heaney & Catherine Heaney

Belk Centrum, 7 – 8 p.m.

Marie Heaney is the wife of the late Seamus Heaney, a widely-recognized poet, Nobel Prize winner, and native of Northern Ireland. Marie first visited LRU in 1996, not long after publishing her highly-acclaimed Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends. Since that time, she has also written an illustrated children's book on the same topic, The Names upon the Harp. Marie has also edited several anthologies, including Heart's Mysteries: 50 Poems from Ireland to Touch the Soul (2003) and A Sunday Miscellany 1994-2000 (2009). Her most recent anthology, All Through the Night: Night Poems & Lullabies, was published in 2016. Marie currently lives in Dublin, where she enjoys seeing her three grandchildren, Anna Rose, Aibhín and Síofra, to whom the book is dedicated.

Catherine Heaney is the daughter of Seamus Heaney and was born and grew up in Dublin. She worked as a journalist for many years at magazines in Dublin and London, and was a regular book reviewer for The Irish Times. Since the early 2000's, Catherine has worked in publishing, as an editor at Fourth Estate and more recently at Faber and Faber, where she ran the creative-writing school Faber Academy. She works as a freelance writer and editor, and most recently edited a volume of essays, Trinity Tales, published by The Lilliput Press in 2016. Catherine is a director of the Seamus Heaney Estate, and works with publishers and various institutions around the world to preserve and promote her father's work and legacy. She lives in London.

March 22, 2018

Zadie Smith and Nick Laird

Belk Centrum, 7 – 8 p.m.

London-born author Zadie Smith is the author of seven novels, her most recent being Swing Time, which was a Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. In a review of the novel, The New York Times wrote, "Smith has a knack for unearthing the deeper truths that lie beneath common experience." Her novel, On Beauty, was the winner of the 2006 Orange Prize for fiction and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Another novel, NW, was one of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2012. In 2002 she was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Smith has also edited the anthology Piece of Flesh and contributed writing to The New Yorker.

Nick Laird is a former lawyer turned full-time author who currently teaches at Columbia University in New York. He has received many awards, including the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Ireland Chair of Poetry Award, and the Betty Trask Prize. Laird is the author of five books and poetry collections, including To a Fault, which won the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. The Daily Telegraph praises his most recent collection of poems, Go Giants, calling it, "both playful and powerful," and The Times says, "Here are some of Laird's most successful and mature poems."

April 14, 2018

Robert Beatty

P.E. Monroe Auditorium, 12 – 1 p.m.

Robert Beatty is the author of the 2017-2018 Little Read book, Serafina and the Black Cloak, which was a New York Times, Barnes and Noble, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly best seller. The mystery-thriller tells the story of a young girl secretly living with her father in the basement of the Biltmore Estate; she teams up with the nephew of the Biltmore Estate's owners to discover why children around the property have suddenly begun disappearing. The sequel to Serafina and the Black Cloak, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, was released in July 2016 and received a "Starred Review" from Kirkus Reviews. The third book in the series, Serafina and the Splintered Heart, was released in the summer of 2017. The Serafina Series has been taught in thousands of classrooms across the US and was the Winner of the 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. The character Serafina was inspired by his middle daughter, and the setting by his close location to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Biltmore Estate.

April 19, 2018

Terry Gifford

Belk Centrum, 7 – 8 p.m.

Terry Gifford is an English author, editor, and professor who has written a wide array of works, from poetry to criticism. He received his Bachelors in English and Education from the University of Lancaster, his Masters in English Literature from the University of Sheffield, and his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Lancaster. He has taught at many universities, including the University of Leeds, University of Sheffield, and University of Chichester. He served as the Founding Director of the annual International Festival of Mountaineering Literature for 21 years and is a member of GEICO (literature and environment), a Spanish research group based at the University of Alcala. Gifford is the current Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Writing and the Environment at Bath Spa University in the UK and a Senior Research Fellow and Profesor Honorifico at Universidad de Alicante in Spain.

Other events occurring in affiliation with the VWS include:

September 21, 2017

Shea Sizemore and Chip White

P.E. Monroe Auditorium, 7 – 8 p.m.

In partnership with the Footcandle Film Festival, the VWS will present Chip White, Producer and Shea Sizemore, Writer/Director, to speak and show a film the night prior to the festival.

Sizemore is a writer, director, and Co-founder of Our Films LLC. From his humble beginnings in the world of Claymation, to documentaries about Hurricane Katrina, to scripted narratives about killer Port-A-Potties, the Civil War, and shrimp boats on the high seas, he is a born storyteller who is heavily influenced by the world around him. In 2016, Sizemore directed his first feature Heritage Falls for INSP. He has produced programming for SPEED and Fox Sports, he also wrote and directed 2013's A Chess Player, the 2015 My Luchador and the 2017 Crab Trap with producer Chip White.

White is originally from the shores of South Carolina and is the younger brother of Wheel of Fortune's famous letter-turner, Vanna White. He has over 30 years experience in the film, TV, and video business. Chip moved to Los Angeles in the early 1980's and spent the next 20 years working for some of Hollywood's biggest companies, including King World, Sony, MTV, Vh1, Nickelodeon, and Discovery. In 2005 Chip relocated back to the Carolinas where he continues to produce and develop projects under the Stack 3 Productions banner.

September 22, 2017

William Wright

Cromer Center – Seminar Room, 10 a.m.

William Wright is the author of 14 books and editor of several others, including The Southern Poetry Anthology, vols. 1-8. He is a professor at Emory University, Founding Editor of Town Creek Poetry, and Assistant Editor of Shenandoah. His many awards include the 2014 Porter Fleming Literary Award and the 2010 South Carolina Poetry Initiative Chapbook Contest. In addition to his university teaching, he has given numerous literary presentations and taught creative writing workshops in a wide array of settings.

November 10, 2017

Michel Stone

Rudisill Library – Colloquium Room, 10 a.m.

Michel Stone is a writer, speaker, and educator. Her critically acclaimed novels Border Child, which was published in 2017, and The Iguana Tree, published in 2012, have been compared to the writings of John Steinbeck by San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, and Charleston Magazine among others. Both books have been optioned for film. Stone has published numerous stories and essays, and she is a 2011 recipient of the South Carolina Fiction Award. She is a graduate of Clemson University with a master's degree from Converse College, and she is an alumna of the Sewanee Writers Conference. She is the immediate past board chair of the Hub City Writers Project in Spartanburg and she is at work on her third novel.

Sponsors of the 2017-18 VWS include: Footcandle Film Society, Hickory Public Library, N.C. Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Our State, Crowne Plaza Hickory, United Arts Council of Catawba County, and WFAE 90.7.