2019–20 VCU Visiting Writers & Scholars Series

Roahn Kalyan2019 Annual Marcel Cornis-Pope MATX Lecture
Rohan Kalyan
(Death by Media: The Politics of Eventocracy in the Late Eurocene)

September 5, 2019 – 3PM
VCU Cabell Library

Rohan Kalyan is a political theorist and filmmaker who teaches in the school of World Studies at VCU. Rohan is author of Neo Delhi and the Politics of Postcolonial Urbanism and is currently working on comparative cultures of politics in the US and India. Rohan has also directed several documentary films in collaboration with his brother Gorav Kalyan. Their latest feature length film is a documentary on the life and work of communist philosopher Alain Badiou. Badiou has screened several times in Asia and Europe and is currently on the international festival circuit.

Kalyan will be presenting a lecture on “Death by Media: The Politics of Eventocracy in the Late-Eurocene.”

Jenny Xie2019 Levis Reading Prize
Jenny Xie
(Eye Level)

October 15, 2019 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Jenny Xie is the author of Eye Level, a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry and the PEN Open Book Award, and recipient of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, and the Levis Reading Prize. Her work has appeared in Poetry, New York Times Magazine, New Republic, and Tin House, among other publications, and she has been supported by fellowships and grants from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and Poets & Writers.

Sponsors of the Levis Reading Prize include VCU Libraries, VCU Department of English, Barnes & Noble @ VCU, and the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences, with additional funding provided by the family of Larry Levis.

Ling Ma2019 Cabell First Novelist Award
Ling Ma

November 12, 2019 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Ling Ma and her debut novel, Severance, is the winner of the 2019 Cabell First Novelist Award. Ma was born in Sanming, China, and grew up in Utah, Nebraska, and Kansas. She attended the University of Chicago and received an M.F.A. from Cornell University. Prior to graduate school she worked as a journalist and an editor. Her writing has appeared in Granta, VICE, Playboy, Chicago Reader, Ninth Letter, and other publications.

The VCU Cabell First Novelist Award is presented on behalf of VCU’s M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. Sponsors include the James Branch Cabell Library Associates, VCU Libraries, the VCU Department of English, Barnes & Noble @ VCU and the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences.

For more information please visit the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award web site at:


Sonja LivingstonKathy GraberVCU MFA Faculty Spotlight
Kathleen Graber
(The River Twice)
& Sonja Livingston (The Virgin of Prince Street)

January 30, 2020 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Kathleen Graber’s latest poetry collection, The River Twice, was published by Princeton University Press. She is the author of two other collections of poetry, Correspondence, and The Eternal City, which was finalist for the National Book Award, The National Book Critics Circle Award, and the winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Poetry. She is the recipient of fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Sonja Livingston’s latest book, The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion, undertakes a series of sojourns through place and time to contemplate shifting religious and cultural concepts of devotion. She’s the author of the award-winning nonfiction books, Queen of the Fall and Ghostbread, as well as Ladies Night at the Dreamland. Recent essays appear The Kenyon Review, Salon, Sojourners and Lithub. Her work is widely anthologized in texts on writing and craft, including in Best of Brevity, Contemporary Creative Nonfiction, and Waveform: Twenty-First Century Essays by Women, Poverty & Privilege: A Reader.


Christine SchuttEmily Nemens author photoRebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize
Emily Nemens
With a special reading by Christine Schutt

February 13, 2020 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Emily Nemens is the 2020 winner of the Rebecca Mitchell Tarumoto Short Fiction Prize, awarded periodically to the best work of short fiction published by Blackbird, with a particular emphasis on work by an emerging or underappreciated writer. Nemens is a writer, illustrator, and editor. Her debut novel, The Cactus League, was recently published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Nemens grew up in Seattle and received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University, where she studied art history and studio art. She completed an MFA degree in fiction at Louisiana State University. As an illustrator, she’s collaborated with Harvey Pekar, published her work in the New Yorker, and her watercolor portraits of every woman in congress were featured across the web and on national TV. Her short stories have appeared in Esquire, n+1, the Iowa Review, Hobart, and the Gettysburg Review. In 2018 Nemens became the seventh editor of the Paris Review, the nation’s preeminent literary quarterly.  She lives in New York. 

Christine Schutt is the author of three short story collections, Nightwork; A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer; and most recently, Pure Hollywood. Her first novel, Florida, was a National Book Award finalist; her second novel, All Souls, a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. A third novel, Prosperous Friends, was noted in The New Yorker as one of the best books of 2012. Her stories have appeared in NOON, Granta, Harper’s, Oxford American, Fence, and other publications. Schutt has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and New York Foundation of the Arts grant. She has twice won the O. Henry Short Story Prize, and her stories have been anthologized.

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.

Lia PurpuraLia Purpura
(All the Fierce Tethers)

March 19, 2020 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Lia Purpura’s new collection of essays, All the Fierce Tethers, was published in 2019. Her most recent collection of poems is It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful. She is the author of three previous collections of poems (King Baby, Stone Sky Lifting, The Brighter the Veil); three previous collections of essays (Rough Likeness, On Looking, Increase), and one collection of translations (Poems of Grzegorz Musial: Berliner Tagebuch & Taste of Ash). Purpura’s poems and essays appear in: Agni Magazine, Ecotone, Emergence, Field, The Georgia Review, Orion, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, The Southern Review and many other magazines and anthologies, including Best American Essays and The Pushcart Anthology.

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 • Jade Chang • Victoria Chang • Kelly Cherry • Joan Connor • Rebecca Curtis • Dennis Danvers • Samuel R. Delany • Junot Díaz • 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 • Solmaz Sharif • 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.