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.
- Laila Lalami - September 27, 2018
- Li-Young Lee - October 4, 2018
- Ken Liu - October 25, 2018
- Matthias Göritz and Aaron Coleman - November 8, 2018
- Juan Felipe Herrera - November 15, 2018
- Joshua Bennett - January 21, 2019
- Armistead Maupin - February 7, 2019
- Anne-Marie Fyfe and Cahal Dallat - February 28, 2019
- Louise Penny - March 7, 2019
- Kao Kalia Yang - March 21, 2019
- Naomi Shihab Nye - April 3-6, 2019 (The Little Read)
September 27, 2018
2018-2019 Campus Read Author
PE Monroe Auditorium
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. Her first novel, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, is Lenoir-Rhyne's 2018-2019 Campus Read, which details the journey of four Moroccan immigrants crossing the Straits of Gibraltar in a lifeboat seeking a better life in Spain. Anouar Majid of Tingis Magazine noted that Lalami's story felt "as if literature has spoken directly to me for the first time in my life,” in a review of the novel. Fellow writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o adds that through her stories, Lalami "gives name to the unnamed; agency to the sidelined" and "gives voice to the silences of history.” 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, Guggenheim, and British Council Fellowships, and currently teaches creative writing at UC Riverside.
Event Partner: Catawba Valley Interfaith Council
October 4, 2018
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. In a forward to Lee’s debut collection, Rose, Gerald Stern wrote that he “was amazed by the large vision, the deep seriousness and the almost heroic ideal” within Lee’s poetry. Rose was highly praised, and the volume won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award from New York University. While typically considered a lyric poet, Lee often imbues narrative and personal experiences or memories within his work. Lee’s most recent collection of poems is The Undressing, which was released in 2018. His poetry and collections have won many awards, including 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 the Guggenheim Foundation, and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from State University of New York at Brockport.
Event Partner: Yoga with an Edge
October 25, 2018
PE Monroe Auditorium
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. In review of the novel, Amal El-Mohtar from NPR remarks "Liu's world is beautiful, nuanced, fierce, original and diverse." His translation of The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the first translated novel to ever receive the honor. Liu was also the editor of Invisible Planets (2016), which was the first collection of contemporary Chinese science fiction that was translated to English. His most recent published work is an official Star Wars novel called The Legends of Luke Skywalker, a collection of myths and tall-tales about the legendary Jedi Luke Skywalker.
Event Partner: Catawba Science Center
November 8, 2018
Matthias Göritz and Aaron Coleman
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 Robert Gernhardt Prize and the William Glass Award. He has been the writer-in-residence at Bard College, the “Deutsches Haus” of New York University, and was also a guest author at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. His first volume of poetry, “Loops”, was published in 2001, followed by his first novel, “The short Dream of Jakob Voss,” in 2005, for which he was awarded the Hamburg Literature Prize and the Mara Cassens Prize. Göritz gave the Keynote speech opening the 2015 DAKAM Conference on “Memory and Literature”. Göritz recently published his most recent novel, Parker: Roman, in early 2018.
Aaron Coleman is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University St. Louis, where he is on the Comparative Literature PhD 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 2015 Button Poetry Prize for his chapbook, St. Trigger, and the Cincinnati Review Schiff Award. From Metro-Detroit, Coleman has lived and worked with youth in locations including Chicago, St. Louis, Spain, South Africa, and Kalamazoo, and he has worked as a Public Projects Assistant at Pulitzer Arts Foundation. He released his newest full-length collection, Threat Come Close, in March 2018.
Event Partner: LRU Global Entrepreneurship Week
November 15, 2018
Juan Felipe Herrera
Juan Felipe Herrera is a poet, performer, and activist who served as the United States' first Chicano Poet Laureate from 2015-2017. He has published over thirty books and was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement in 2015. In 2014, he released the nonfiction work Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes, which showcases twenty Hispanic and Latino-American individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the arts, politics, science, humanitarianism, and athletics, an homage to those who have helped shape our nation. The New York Times noted, “the fire that appears again and again in Herrera’s poetry exists to illuminate, to make beautiful, to purify,” in response to his 2015 collection, Notes on the Assemblage. 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. Herrera has also served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2011 to 2016. He has received numerous awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Beyond Margins Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010. His most recent book, Jabberwalking, a children’s book focused on turning your wonder at the world around you into weird, wild, incandescent poetry, was released in March 2018.
Event Partner: Centro Latino
January 21, 2019
Joshua Bennett - MLK Day Speaker
PE Monroe Auditorium at 10 am
Belk Centrum at 7 pm
Joshua Bennett is a performance poet who has been featured on HBO’s Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices. He tours around the world as a performance artist and has recited his original work at the Sundance Film Festival, The NAACP Image Awards, and President Obama's Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word at the White House. 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. Bennett has also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and Cave Canem. He won the 2015 National Poetry Series and has been published in multiple magazines, including Boston Review and The Kenyon Review. He published his debut collection, The Sobbing School, in 2016. Bennett is currently a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University and serves as an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. Bennett has also authored the book, Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man, which is forthcoming from Harvard University Press and his second collection of poems, Owed, will be published by Penguin Books in 2020.
February 7, 2019
Armistead Maupin grew up in Raleigh, NC and attended UNC Chapel Hill. He has served as naval officer and worked as reporter in South Carolina and California. He started publishing his serial, Tales of the City, in 1976 in the San Francisco Chronicle, which eventually grew into a six-volume series. The Village Voice Literary Supplement lauds Maupin's series, proclaiming that, “there’s been nothing like it since the heyday of the serial novel a hundred years ago.” 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. His most recent publication is, Logical Family: A Memoir, recounting how he has "made a journey from a position of darkness and narrow thinking to quite the opposite."
February 28, 2019
Anne-Marie Fyfe & Cahal Dallat – Writers in Residence
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. In response to Fyfe's collection, The Ghost Twin, Helen Dunmore describes Fyfe's poetry as "taut, eloquent and deeply felt. Her poems are haunted by what the past does to the present, and by the physical relics of that past which is only relayed in snatches." Her most recent poetry collection is, House of Small Absences, which was published in 2015.
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 received a research fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas in Austin in Spring 2018, supported by the C.P. Snow Memorial Fund. Dallat is married to Anne-Marie Fyfe, and the couple lives in London.
Event Partner: Hickory Museum of Art
March 7, 2019
PE Monroe Auditorium
Louise Penny is a Canadian mystery novel author whose works have been translated into more than 25 languages. In review of her Armand Gamache Series, Maureen Corrigan from The Washington Post wrote, "…No other writer…writes like Penny….Her characters are distilled to their essences. The stylistic result is that a Gamache mystery reads a bit like an incantatory epic poem...It takes nerve and skill - as well as heart - to write mysteries like this." 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. Penny helped to launch a new award for aspiring Canadian mystery writers, the Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Novel in 2009. In 2013, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada "for her contributions to Canadian culture as an author shining a spotlight on the Eastern Townships of Quebec." She serves as the Patron for the Yamaska Literacy Council and currently lives and writes in a small village south of Montreal.
Event Partner: Hickory Public Library
March 21, 2019
Kao Kalia Yang
Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American author of two novels and one forthcoming children’s book. Yang received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Columbia University. Her graduate studies were supported by a Dean's Fellowship from the School of the Arts and The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. 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 Reader's 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. Her third book, a children’s picture book, A Map Into the World, will be out in fall of 2019.
Event Partner: Hickory International Council
April 3-6, 2019
Naomi Shihab Nye - The Little Read Author
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. From 2010-2015, she served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. 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.
Event Partner: Catawba Valley Interfaith Council
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
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
Every year, for the past thirty 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 2018-2019 Patron of the Series. A contribution at any level guarantees you two tickets for Armistead Maupin and Louise Penny. 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.
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.
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.