The Department of English MFA Program in Creative Writing at Virginia Commonwealth University annually invites writers to campus for public readings. The department also sponsors the Levis Reading Prize and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. In addition, we are delighted to be co-sponsoring the Humanities Research Center event featuring acclaimed author, Junot Díaz..
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or see the entire 2017–2018 schedule below.
Humanities Research Center Speaker
September 12, 2016 – 6PM
VCU Cabell Library
Junot Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas
October 5, 2017 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library
Mark Doty is the author of nine books of poems including FIRE TO FIRE: New and Selected Poems, recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008, and My Alexandria, winner of the 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award and the first book by an American poet to win the T.S. Eliot Prize in the United Kingdom. Among other books, he’s published three memoirs: Heaven’s Coast, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction, Firebird, and Dog Years, a New York Times bestseller. A new prose book on Walt Whitman’s life and work, What is the Grass, is forthcoming in 2019, the 200th anniversary of the poet’s birth. Doty’s work has been honored by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lila Wallace/Readers’ Digest Fund, the Ingram-Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers and lives in New York City.
Lina María Ferreira Cabeza–Vanegas graduated with both a creative nonfiction writing and a literary translation MFA from the University of Iowa. She is the author of Drown/Sever/Sing and Don’t Come Back. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry and translation work has been featured in journals including The Bellingham Review, The Normal School, Fourth Genre, Brevity and The Sunday Rumpus among others. She won the Best of the Net, the Iron Horse Review’s “Discovered Voices Award,” has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and is a Rona Jaffe fellow. She moved from Colombia to China to Columbus to Richmond.
Cabell First Novelist Award
(The Wangs vs. The World)
November 16, 2016 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library
Jade Chang is the winner of the 2017 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for her novel, The Wangs vs. The World. Chang has covered arts and culture as a journalist and editor. She is the recipient of a Sundance Fellowship for Arts Journalism, the AIGA/Winterhouse Award for Design Criticism, and the James D. Houston Memorial scholarship from the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. The Wangs vs. the World is her debut novel. She lives in Los Angeles.
For more information please visit the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award web site at:
MFA Alumni Spotlight Event
February 1, 2018 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library
Roselyn Elliot is the author of four poetry chapbooks: Ghost of the Eye, Animals Usher Us to Grace, At the Center, and The Separation of Kin). Her essays and poems have appeared in New Letters, Diode, Streetlight Magazine, The Florida Review, and many other publications. She is the poetry editor at Streetlight Magazine. Rose has taught at VCU, PVCC, Reynolds Community College, WriterHouse, and The Visual Art Center of Richmond.
Nathan Long lives in Philadelphia and teaches creative writing and literature at Stockton University. His fiction and essays appear in over a hundred publications, including Tin House, Glimmer Train, Story Quarterly, and Crab Orchard Review; his collection of flash fiction, The Origin of Doubt, will be released in March 2018 by Press 53. He is currently seeking publication for his new collection, Everything Merges with the Night.
Emilia Phillips is the author of three poetry collections from the University of Akron Press: Signaletics, Groundspeed, and the forthcoming Empty Clip. Her poems and lyric essays appear widely in literary publications including Agni, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. She’s an assistant professor in the MFA Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Michele Young-Stone is the author of the novels Lost in the Beehive (forthcoming in April, 2018), Above Us Only Sky, and The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, which The Boston Globe called “an exceptionally rich and sure-handed debut.” She lives in the Outer Banks of North Carolina with her husband and son.
Levis Reading Prize
March 29, 2018 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library
Solmaz Sharif is the winner of the 2017 Levis Reading Prize, awarded by the Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing Program at Virginia Commonwealth University, for her poetry collection Look. Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Sharif holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley and New York University. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, Witness and others. She is a former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and she is currently a lecturer at Stanford University. Published by Graywolf Press in 2016, Look was also a finalist for the National Book Award.
Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize
With a reading by David Jauss
April 5, 2018 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library
The Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize is sponsored by the family of Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto in her memory to honor her devotion to the art of writing fiction, to expand the audience for outstanding short stories, and to encourage literary excellence among writers early in their careers. $2,000 will be awarded periodically to the best work of short fiction published by Blackbird, with a particular emphasis on work by an emerging or underappreciated writer. No application form or fee is required; all short fiction submitted to the journal is eligible.
Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto was born September 21, 1945 in Richmond, Virginia. She died in October of 2007 after being struck in a pedestrian crosswalk in Carmel by the Sea, California. Her sustained interest in writing led to her fiction being published in a number of literary journals as well as winning several competitions, including the 1996 and 2000 Short Fiction contests sponsored by Richmond Magazine. She was a graduate of St. Gertrude’s High School in Richmond and of Virginia Commonwealth University (class of 1967), and in 1971 she received an MA in English from the University of Michigan.
David Jauss is the author of four collections of short stories, among them Crimes of Passion and Nice People: New & Selected Stories II; two collections of poems (Improvising Rivers and You Are Not Here); and a collection of essays (On Writing Fiction). He has also edited or coedited three anthologies. His short stories have been published in numerous magazines and reprinted in Best American Short Stories, The O.Henry Awards: Prize Stories, and twice in The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses. He is the recipient of several fellowships including the NEA and James A. Michener/Copernicus Society of America. His collection, Black Maps, received the Associated Writers & Writing Programs Award for Short Fiction. Jauss is Professor Emeritus at the University of Arkansas/Little Rock and teaches in Vermont College of Fine Arts’ low-residency MFA Writing Program.
Previous VCU Visiting Writers
Dorothy Allison • Jimmy Santiago Baca • Richard Bausch • Bruce Beasley • Aimee Bender • Charles Bernstein • John Bresland • Linda Bierds • Robert Olen Butler • Ron Carlson • John Casey • Victoria Chang • Kelly Cherry • Joan Connor • Rebecca Curtis • Dennis Danvers • Samuel R. Delany • Mark Doty • Stephen Dunn • Stuart Dybek • Angela Flournoy • Nick Flynn • Ru Freeman • Mary Gaitskill • Beckian Fritz Goldberg • Linda Gregerson • Jennifer Grotz • Elizabeth Hand • Ron Hansen • Terrance Hayes • Fanny Howe • Barbara Hurd • Richard Jackson • Allison Joseph • Alison Kennedy • Yusef Komunyaaka • Nick Lantz • Katherine Larson • Rickey Laurentiis • Dana Levin • Philip Levine • Kelly Link • Bret Lott • Thomas Lux • Elizabeth McCracken • Erin McGraw • Thomas Mallon • Dinty Moore • Melinda Moustakis • Craig Nova • Stanley Plumly • Roger Reeves • Paisley Rekdal • Sheri Reynolds • David Rivard • Mary Ruefle • George Saunders • Alan Shapiro • Tom Sleigh • Karen Solie • Gerald Stern • Darin Strauss • Jean Thompson • Natasha Trethewey • Ellen Bryant Voigt • Helene Wecker • Colson Whitehead • CK Williams • Charles Wright • Dean Young • Matthew Zapruder
All events are free and open to the public. The series is sponsored by the Department of English of the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences and the Graduate Writers’ Association, with additional funding made possible through the generosity of VCU Libraries, Barnes & Noble @ VCU Bookstore, and the family of Larry Levis.
In addition, the Graduate Writers Association sponsors The Moveable Feast, a series of readings given by MFA students. Each spring, the series, held at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, features thesis readings by students in their final year in the program.
Clint McCown, Director of Creative Writing
Thom Didato, Graduate Programs Advisor