2018-19 VCU Visiting Writers Series

Headshot of T. Geronimo JohnsonT. Geronimo Johnson

September 6, 2018 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

T. Geronimo Johnson was born and raised in New Orleans. He is the bestselling author of Welcome to Braggsville and Hold It ’Til It Hurts, a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. He received his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his M.A. in language, literacy, and culture from UC Berkeley. He has taught writing and held fellowships—including a Stegner Fellowship and an Iowa Arts Fellowship—at Arizona State University, Iowa, Berkeley, Western Michigan University, and Stanford. He lives in Berkeley, California.



Kaveh AkbarLevis Reading Prize
Kaveh Akbar
(Calling a Wolf a Wolf)

October 8, 2018 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Kaveh Akbar is the winner of the 2018 Levis Reading Prize, awarded by the Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing Program at Virginia Commonwealth University, for his poetry collection Calling a Wolf a Wolf. Akbar’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times, The Nation, Tin House, Best American Poetry, The New Republic, The Guardian, Ploughshares, PBS NewsHour, Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, The Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. The recipient of a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently teaches at Purdue University and in the low residency MFA programs at Randolph College and Warren Wilson.


Hernan DiazCabell First Novelist Award
Hernan Diaz
(In the Distance)

November 6, 2018 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Hernan Diaz is the winner of the 2018 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award for his novel, In the Distance. Diaz is the author of Borges, Between History and Eternity and the associate director of the Hispanic Institute at Columbia University. He lives in New York.

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



Yiyun LeeYiyun Li
(Where Reasons End)

January 30, 2019 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Yiyun Li is the author of four works of fiction, Kinder Than Solitude, The Vagrants, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, and Gold Boy, Emerald Girl; a children’s book, The Story of Gilgamesh; and a memoir, Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. Where Reasons End, a new novel, will be published in February 2019. She grew up in China, and came to the United States to pursue a science career in immunology before she became a writer. She is the recipient of many awards including the PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, Sunday Times/EFG Short Story Award, Benjamin H. Danks Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a MacArthur Foundation fellowship. She was named by The New Yorker as one of the “20 under 40” fiction writers to watch. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, Granta, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Two of her stories, "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers" and "The Princess of Nebraska," were made into films by Wayne Wang. She adapted the former one, which won the Golden Shell Award for Best Film at the 55th San Sebastian International Film Festival. She teaches creative writing at Princeton University.


Sarah VirenAda LimonAda Limón (The Carrying)
& Sarah Viren (MINE: Essays)

February 14, 2019 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Ada Limón is the author of five books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award, and one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. Her other books include Lucky Wreck, This Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A program, and the 24Pearl Street online program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer in Lexington, Kentucky. Her most recent collection, The Carrying, was released by Milkweed Editions in 2018.

Sarah Viren is the author of the recent essay collection Mine, which won the River Teeth Book Prize (judge Andre Dubus III), and translator of the novella Cordoba Skies by the Argentine author Federico Falco (Ploughshares Solos, 2016). Her work has appeared in the Oxford American, Texas Monthly, Guernica, the Iowa Review, and other magazines. A graduate of the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program and a Fulbright recipient to Colombia, she is now an assistant professor at Arizona State University.


Clint McCownJesse van EerdenJessie van Eerden (The Long Weeping)
& Clint McCown (The Dictionary of Unspellable Noises: New & Selected Poems, 1975-2018)

April 3, 2019 – 7PM
VCU Cabell Library

Jessie van Eerden is author of two novels, Glorybound, winner of the Foreword Editor’s Choice Fiction Prize, and My Radio Radio, as well as the recent essay collection The Long Weeping, winner of the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award. Her work has appeared in Best American Spiritual Writing, Oxford American, Willow Springs, and other magazines and anthologies. She has been awarded the Gulf Coast Prize for essay, the Milton Fellowship, and a Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Fellowship. Jessie holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa and directs the low-residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Clint McCown is the author of the novels Haints, The Weatherman, War Memorials, and The Member-Guest, as well as the collections of poetry Dead Languages, Wind Over Water, Sidetracks, Total Balance Farm and The Dictionary of Unspellable Noises: New & Selected Poems, 1975-2018 (forthcoming). Several of his plays have been produced, and he has worked as a screenwriter for Warner Bros. and as a creative consultant for HBO television. As a broadcast journalist he received an Associated Press Award for Documentary Excellence for his investigations of organized crime. He has also toured as a principal actor with the National Shakespeare Company. He is the only writer to have twice won the American Fiction Prize; he has also received the Society of Midland Authors Award, the S. Mariella Gable Prize, the Germaine Breé Book Award, the Midwest Book Award, a Distinction in Literature citation from the Wisconsin Library Association, and a Discover Great Writers designation from Barnes & Noble. His stories, essays, and poems have appeared widely. He has been a contributing editor to a dozen national literary magazines and was the founding editor of the Beloit Fiction Journal, which he published for twenty years.


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.

Upcoming Deadlines

Classes Begin
JANUARY 14, 2019

Add/Drop Deadline
JANUARY 20, 2019

Graduation Application Deadline
JANUARY 25, 2019

Spring Break
MARCH 3-10, 2019

Course Withdrawal Deadline
MARCH 22, 2019

Last Day of Classes
MAY 3, 2019



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