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Visiting Writers Series

All events are free and open to the public. Tickets are recommended in advance for Laila Lalami, Armistead Maupin, and Louise Penny.

Tickets may be obtained by calling 828.328.7206 or going to the box office in PE Monroe Auditorium on LR's campus. The Box Office opens for the 2018-2019 season on August 21, 2018.

2018-2019 VWS Schedule

Laila Lalami - September 27, 2018

September 27, 2018
Laila Lalami
Belk Centrum
7 pm

Laila Lalami is a Moroccan-American novelist and essayist. She has written three books, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Secret Son, and The Moor’s Account, and her essays have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Los Angeles Times. She has been a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and has won the American Book Award and the Arab-American Book Award. Lalami has previously been a recipient of Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships, and she currently teaches creative writing at UC Riverside.

Li-Young Lee - October 4, 2018

October 4, 2018
Li-Young Lee
Belk Centrum
7 pm

Li-Young Lee began writing poetry when he was a student at the University of Pittsburg, and he has since written five collections of poetry, a memoir, and a collection of interviews about his artistic development. His poetry and collections have won many awards, including the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award, the Laughlin Award, and the William Carlos Williams Award. He has taught at several universities, including Northwestern and the University of Iowa. He has won a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, received a Fellowship from the American Academy of Poets, and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from State University of New York at Brockport.

Ken Liu - October 25, 2018

October 25, 2018
Ken Liu
PE Monroe Auditorium
7 pm

Ken Liu is the author of three novels and one collection of short stories, as well as a translator of several Chinese works. His fiction has appeared in several magazines, including Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, and Lightspeed. His debut book, The Grace of Kings (2015), won the Locus Best First Novel Award and was a Nebula finalist. His translation of The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015. Liu was also the editor of Invisible Planets (2016), which was the first collection of contemporary Chinese science fiction that was translated to English.

Matthias Göritz and Aaron Coleman - November 8, 2018

November 8, 2018
Matthias Göritz and Aaron Coleman
Belk Centrum
7 pm

Matthias Göritz is the author of three collections of poetry, two novellas, and two novels. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the Hamburg Literature Prize, the Robert Gernhardt Prize, and the William Glass Award. He has been the writer-in-residence at Bard College and a guest author at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. Göritz gave the Keynote speech opening the 2015 DAKAM Conference on “Memory and Literature”.

Aaron Coleman is a PhD student at Washington University St. Louis, where he is on the Comparative Literature Program’s International Writers’ Track. He is the author of two collections of poetry and has been published in journals such as Boston Review, FENCE, and New York Times Magazine. He has been a Cave Canem Fellow and Fulbright Scholar, and has won awards such as the Button Poetry Prize and the Cincinnati Review Schiff Award.

Juan Felipe Herrera - November 15, 2018

November 15, 2018
Juan Felipe Herrera
Belk Centrum
7 pm

Juan Felipe Herrera was the United States Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017. He has published over thirty books and was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement. While serving as California’s Poet Laureate, he started the anti-bullying poetry project called the i-Promise Joanna Project, which asks students to both take action against bullying and to send in poems about bullying. Herrera has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, UC Riverside, and served as chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at CSU-Fresno.

Joshua Bennett - January 21, 2019

January 21, 2019
Joshua Bennett
Belk Centrum
7 pm

Joshua Bennett is a performance poet who has been featured on HBO’s Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices. Bennett has been a recipient of a Marshall Fellowship and Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, and he recently received his PhD in English from Princeton University. He won the 2015 National Poetry Series and has been published in multiple magazines, including Boston Review and The Kenyon Review. He published his first book, The Sobbing School, in 2016.

Armistead Maupin - February 7, 2019

February 7, 2019
Armistead Maupin
Belk Centrum
7 pm

Armistead Maupin grew up in Raleigh, NC and attended UNC Chapel Hill. He has served as a naval officer and worked as reporter in South Carolina and California. He started publishing his serial Tales of the City in 1976, which grew into a six volume series. In addition to the series, Maupin is the author of several other books, including Maybe the Moon, The Night Listener, and Michael Tolliver Lives. The Night Listener was adapted into a feature film and the first three volumes of Tales were adapted into a miniseries. He has received the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Trevor Project’s Life Award, and the Visionary Award, among others.

Anne-Marie Fyfe and Cahal Dallat - February 21, 2019

February 21, 2019
Anne-Marie Fyfe & Cahal Dallat – Writers in Residence
Belk Centrum
7 pm

Anne-Marie Fyfe is the author of five collections of poetry and former chair of the National Poetry Society. Fyfe is the founder of the Troubadour International Poetry Prize and established Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour, a program that organizes poetry readings, seminars, and workshops. She has been Aldeburgh’s Poetry Trust Writer-in-Residence and the winner of the Academi Cardiff International Poetry Competition. She has taught at numerous workshops, including the creative writing section of the John Hewitt International Summer School.

Cahal Dallat is a poet and musician whose works have been published in numerous journals and magazines, including Oxford Poetry, Poetry London, Cimarron Review, and Ocean State Review. His poetry has won the 2006 Strokesown International Poetry Competition and the 2017 Keats-Shelley Memorial Prize, among other awards. He was the 2017 musician/poet in residence at Charles Causley’s house in Cornwall and a John-Hewitt Society committee member. Dallat is married to Anne-Marie Fyfe, and the couple lives in London.

Louise Penny - March 7, 2019

March 7, 2019
Louise Penny
PE Monroe Auditorium
7 pm

Louise Penny is a Canadian mystery novel author whose works have been translated into more than 25 languages. She has won numerous awards for her work, including six Agatha Awards, The British Dagger Award, The American Anthony Award, and the Barry Award. Before she began writing full time, she worked as a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She serves as the Patron for the Yamaska Literacy Council and currently lives and writes in a small village south of Montreal.

Kao Kalia Yang - March 21, 2019

March 21, 2019
Kao Kalia Yang
Belk Centrum
7 pm

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American author of two novels and one forthcoming children’s book. Her first book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, was a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction, and won the 2009 Minnesota Book Awards in Creative Nonfiction/Memoir and Readers Choice. Her second book, The Song Poet, was a finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, a PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize, and won the 2016 Minnesota Book Award in Creative Nonfiction Memoir. Yang has taught at numerous institutions, including Columbia University, Metropolitan State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Naomi Shihab Nye - April 3-6, 2019 (The Little Read)

April 3-6, 2019
Naomi Shihab Nye
PE Monroe Auditorium
Thursday, April 4 @ 7 pm
Saturday, April 6 @ 12 pm

Naomi Shihab Nye is the author of this year’s Little Read, The Turtle of Oman. The novel follows the story of Aref Al-Amri, a boy who doesn’t want to move with his family to Ann Arbor, MI from his hometown of Muscat, Oman. He refuses to pack and instead goes on a series of adventures with his grandfather that help Aref build up memories of home. The Turtle of Oman is widely awarded; it won the 2015 Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature and was named a 2015 Notable Children's Book by the American Library Association. A self-described “wandering poet”, over the past forty years Nye has taught writing workshops across the globe and has authored and/or edited short story collections, poetry collections, picture books, novels, and essays. She has been recipient of numerous awards, including the Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, four Pushcart Prizes, and the 2018 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award.

Contact VWS

Dr. Rand Brandes

Titles: Martin Luther Stevens Professor of English, Director of the Visiting Writers Series, Director of the Lineberger Center
Phone Numbers:
School: 828.328.7077

Lisa Hart

Titles: Program Consultant, Lineberger Center, Program Consultant, The Little Read, Program Consultant, Visiting Writers Series
Phone Numbers:
School: 828.328.7502

Previous Authors


Colson Whitehead
Amor Towles
Iggy McGovern
Erik Larson
Angela Davis-Gardner
Patrice Gopo
Allison Hutchcraft
Jennifer Horne
Marie Heaney
Catherine Heaney
Zadie Smith
Nick Laird
Robert Beatty
Terry Gifford


Alina "Tita" M. Ramirez
Anna Lena Phillips Bell
Julie Funderburk
William Stribling
Marlon James
Sarah Vowell
Leslie Rindoks
Denise Kiernan
Reginald Dwayne Betts
Dan Santat - Little Read Curriculum


Jaki Shelton Green
Jeff Hobbs
Chuck Klosterman
Garrison Keillor
Anne Lamott
Paul Muldoon
Will & Mary Pope Osborne


George Saunders
Joshua Bennett
Rebecca Skloot
Colum McCann
Jesmyn Ward
Katherine Howe
Nadia Bolz-Weber
Joyce Hostetter


Jon Meacham
Martin Marty
James Dodson
Junot Diaz
A.S. Byatt
Lou Berney
Belle Boggs
Isabel Wilkerson
Joseph Bathanti
Sherman Alexie
Mary Pope Osborne


Nicholas Sparks
Nicholas Carr
Bernice L. McFadden
John Burnham Schwartz
Sandra Beasley
Philip Schultz
Cynthia Lord


Wes Moore
Natasha Trethewey
Edward P. Jones
Isaac Anderson
Judy Goldman
Sandra Cisneros
Lynne Cherry
Alexander McCall Smith


John Feinstein
Cathy Smith Bowers
Joan McBreen
Rhett Iseman Trull
A. J. Jacobs
Luis Alberto Urrea
John Granger
W. S. Merwin
Amina McIntyre
Kevin Young
David Baldacci
Deborah Wiles


Richard Rodriguez
Marisha Pessl
Tess Gallagher
Paula Meehan
Jeannette Walls
Paula Vogel
Mitchell Gold
Abigail DeWitt
Julia Alvarez

Ted Pope
Lee Ann Brown
Lisa Jarnot
Thomas Meyer
Jeff Davis
Michael Rumaker
Thomas Rain Crowe


Galway Kinnell
Anna Quindlen
Jonathan Kozol
Terry McMillan
Julie Fay
Geraldine Brooks
Bruce Lansky


Thomas Rain Crowe
Duchess of Abercorn
Walter Isaacson
Frank McCourt
Tracy Kidder
Mark Powell
Jane Smiley
Jon Scieszka


James Bradley
John Updike
Anthony S. Abbott, Davidson College -- Visiting Writer in Residence
Nikkey Finney, U. Kentucky
Gary Snyder, U. California, Davis
James McBride
Christopher Paul Curtis


le thi diem thuy, Smith College
Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, NPR
Joyce Carol Oates, Princeton U.
Kelly Link, Northhampton MA
Naomi Shihab Nye, San Antonio, TX
Tim O'Brien, Southwest Texas State U.


Ron Whitehead, U. of Louisville
Anne Fadiman, Yale U.
Jonathan Lethem, New York
Thomas Lynch, Milford, Michigan
Sharon Olds, NYU
Bob Inman, Charlotte, NC
Alice Walker, Northern California
Adrian Rice, Lenoir-Rhyne College
Dale Bailey, Lenoir-Rhyne College


Billy Collins, Lehman College, NYC
Joan McBreen, Sligo, Ireland
Kathy Reichs, UNC-Charlotte and Quebec, Canda
Richard Ford, New Orleans, LA and Montana
Michael Knight, U. Tennessee-Knoxville
Karen Joy Fowler
Martin Espanda, U. Off Massachusetts-Amherst


Coleman Barks, U. of Georgia
Seamus Heaney, Harvard U.
Bill Bryson, New Hampshire
Marilyn Nelson, U. of Connecticut
Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Howard U.
Mary Hood, Georgia
Saleem Peeradina, India, Wake Forest U.


Richard Chess, UNC-Asheville
Robert Conley, Tahlequah, OK
Nicolae Dabija, Moldova
Bret Lott, C. of Charleston
Josephine Humphreys, Charleston, SC
John Stone, M.D., Emory U., Alanta GA
Nikki Giovanni, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
R. T. Smith, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA
Kyle Gann, Bard College, Annadal-on-Hudson, NY
Leroy Quintana, El Cajon, California


Carolyn Kizer, San Francisco, CA -- Pulitzer Prize Winner
Ernest Suarez, Catholic U., Washington, D.C.
Pat Conroy, SC
Eavan Boland, Stanford U.
Joe Connelly, NYC
Afaa M. Weaver, Simmons College, Boston
Ron Rash, Clemson, SC
Michael Strickland, New Jersey City U.
Lucinda Roy, Virginia Tech
Benjamin Alire Saenz, U. of Texas, El Paso


Yusef Komunyakaa, Princeton U.
Linda Beatrice Brown, N. Carolina
Donald Hall, New Hampshire
Adrian Rice, Northern Ireland
Nathalie Anderson, Swarthmore College
Jill Jones, N. Carolina
Robert Morgan, Cornell U.
Sue Ellen Bridgers, N. Carolina
Luis Rodriguez, Chicago, IL
Orson Scott Card, N. Carolina
Joseph Bathanti, N. Carolina
Leslie Marmon Silko, Tuscon, AZ
Connie Briscoe, Maryland


Lee Smith, N. Carolina
Lee Eric Shackleford, Alabama
Lewis Nordan, Pennsylvania
E. Ethelbert Miller, Howard U.
Jan Karon, Blowing Rock, NC
Jorge Velasco Mackenzie, Equador
Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh, Appalachian State U.
Shelby Foote, Mississippi
John Shelton Reed, UNC-Chapel Hill
Kathryn Stripling Byer


Jill McCorkle, Boston, MA
Billy Collins, NYC
Paul Muldoon, Princeton U.
Dori Sanders, S. Carolina
Robert Inman, Charlotte, NC
Saleem Peeradina, Siena Heights C.
Ernest J. Gaines, Louisianna
J. California Cooper, San Francisco, CA
Todd McEwen, New York


Michael Longley, Belfast, N. Ireland
Clyde Edgerton, N. Carolina
Wilma Dykeman, N. Carolina
Eleanora E. Tate, N. Carolina
Terry Gifford, England
Ron Whitehead, U. of Louisville
Peter Fallon, Ireland
James Welch, Missoula, MT
Nigel Jenkins, Wales
Menna Elfyn, Wales
Iwan Llwyd, Wales


Steven Yount, N. Carolina
Kathryn Stripling Byer, Western Carolina U.
Julie Kate Howard, CCC&TI
Betty Adcock, Meredith C.
Kate Gibbons, N. Carolina
Mark & Gail Mathabane, South Africa
Todd McEwen, New York
Marie Heaney, Ireland
Ruthanne Lum McCunn, California


Ellen Gilchrist, Arkansas
Scott Owens, Charlotte, NC
Bret Lott, C. of Charleston
Kate Daniels, Wake Forest U.
Dannye Romine Powell, N. Carolina
Ciaran Carson, Belfast, N. Ireland
R. S. Gwynn, Lamar U. Beaumont, Texas
Terry Gifford, Bretton Hall C. Sheffield, England
Billy Collins, City U. of NY-NYC


Reynolds Price, Duke U.
James Applewhite, Duke U.
Deborah Pope, Duke U.
Susan Ludvigson, Winthrop U.
Linda Lightsey Rice, U.T. Knoxville
Donald Davis, N. Carolina


Lee Smith, NC State U.
Gerald Barrax, NC State U.
Chuck Sullivan, N. Carolina
Fiona Cheong, Howard U.
Fred Chappell, UNC-Greensboro
Linda Lightsey Rice, U.T. Knoxville
John Montague, Ireland


Michael Yeats, Ireland
Declan Kiberd, University C., Dublin
Dori Sanders, SC
Sarah Gilbert, Columbia, S. Carolina
Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Ireland
Nola Richardson, Tennessee
Betty Adcock, Meredith C.
Seamus Heaney, Harvard U.


Derek Mahon, New York U.
Helen Vendler, Harvard U.
Eamon Grennan, Vassar C.
David Bottoms, Georgia State U.
Olga Broumas, Boston C.
Charles Simic, U. of New Hampshire
Donald Seacrest, U. of Iowa
Linda Lightsey Rice, U.T. Knoxville
Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Trinity College, Dublin
John Skoyles, Warren Wilson C.
Linda Brown Bragg, Guilford C.
Betty Adcock, Meredith C.
Richard Murphy, Dublin


Robert Hedin, Wake Forest U.
Nathalie Anderson, Swarthmore C.
Michael Waters, Sweet Briar C.
Jennifer Jordan, Howard U.


Paul Muldoon, Princeton U.

Learn More

Every year, for the past twenty-five years, Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Visiting Writers Series (VWS) has provided outstanding literary arts programming that is free and open to the public. Many communities have arts festivals or even more specifically literary festivals, but very few have literary arts series.

Every year, VWS invites authors to tell the stories behind their own works in a relaxed environment before university and community audiences. We believe the beauty and power of words help us make sense of the world.

We hope that you will join the hundreds of other supporters to continue to bring world-class writers to our community by becoming a 2016-2017 Patron of the Series. A contribution at any level guarantees you two tickets for Sarah Vowell and Erik Larson. Patrons at the $500+ level will also be invited to all VIP receptions throughout the year as well as being invited to special Series events. You may make a donation online or call 828.328.7321 (or 1.800.361.2704). Please consider designating your contribution to the Writers Series Endowment Fund.


The primary purpose of the Writers Series is to provide exceptional cultural opportunities for our students and at the same time to improve the quality of life in Western North Carolina.

The Writers Series’ mission is “to build a community of readers” because we believe that a community that reads is a more creative, open, and tolerant community. The Series is particularly committed to collaborating with local and regional arts and civic organizations as well as non-profits that serve our diverse communities. We need to be reminded, by reading and hearing a variety of accents and stories, that our African-American, Latino, and Asian neighbors among others are members of cultures with rich artistic traditions and important experiences to share.

Mission Statement

The Visiting Writers Series of Lenoir-Rhyne University believes that reading is an essential element in the creation of vibrant communities. We invite authors to read from their own works in a relaxed environment before university and community audiences. We believe the beauty and power of words help us make sense of the world. Children's writers, mystery writers, essayists, poets, novelists all participate in this celebration of the written and spoken word. We believe that a community of readers is a better community.

Support the VWS

Celebrating twenty-five years of outstanding literary programming, the Visiting Writers Series at Lenoir-Rhyne University would not be possible without the generosity of our patrons and sponsors. Your support will help keep VWS events free and open to the public.



Footcandle Film Society
Hickory Public Library
NC Arts Council
National Endowment for the Arts
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Our State
Crowne Plaza Hickory
United Arts Council of Catawba County
WFAE 90.7