2018-2019 Academic Year

Jamel Brinkley Reading and Conversation September 11, 2018

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Jamel Brinkley is the 2018 Sister Mariella Gable Award-winning author of A Lucky Man (Graywolf Press/A Public Space Books). His fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Best American Short Stories 2018, A Public Space, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, The Threepenny Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Epiphany, and LitMag. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he was also the 2016,17 Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.  (credit: Jamel Brinkley website)

His short story collection, A Lucky Man presents a powerful portrait of black men and boys who have experienced many forms of trauma. These characters struggle to create a stable space for the self while navigating complicated social and familial communities and a world shaped by race, gender, and class. 


Tarfia Faizullah Reading and Conversation November 8, 2018

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Tarfia Faizullah’s highly anticipated second collection, Registers of Illuminated Villages, extends and transforms her powerful accounts of violence, war, and loss into poems of many forms and voices—elegies, outcries, self-portraits, and larger-scale confrontations with discrimination, family, and memory. 

One poem steps down the page like a Slinky; another poem responds to makeup homework completed in the summer of a childhood accident; other poems punctuate the collection with dark meditations on dissociation, discipline, defiance, and destiny; and the near-title poem, “Register of Eliminated Villages,” suggests illuminated texts, one a Qur’an in which the speaker’s name might be found, and the other a register of 397 villages destroyed in northern Iraq. Faizullah, the author of the award-winning collection Seam, is an essential poet, whose work only grows more urgent, beautiful, and—even in its unsparing brutality—full of love.  

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of Seam, winner of a VIDA Award and a Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. She teaches at the University of Michigan and lives in Detroit. 


Joyce Carol Oates Reading and Conversation February 19, 2019 

Joyce Carol Oates is a National Book Award-Winning novelist, poet, playwright and essayist. Writing in The Nation, critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, “A future archeologist equipped only with her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America.”

Best known for her fiction, Oates’ novels include Them, which won the National Book Award; Blonde, a bold reimagining of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe; The Falls, which won the France’s Prix Femina; The Gravedigger’s Daughter andLittle Bird of Heaven, each set in upstate New York; and We Were the Mulvaneys, which follows the disintegration of an American family and which became a bestseller after being selected by Oprah’s Book Club. Since 1963, over forty of Oates’s books have been included on the New York Times list of notable books of the year.

She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, President Obama awarded her the National Humanities Medal.


Spencer Reece Screening of “Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems from the Murder Capital of the World,” March 25, 2019
Spencer Reece Reading and Conversation March 26, 2019 

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Spencer Reece is an ordained Episcopalian priest and currently works as a chaplain in Spain.  His first poetry book, The Clerk’s Tale (2004), was chosen for the Bakeless Poetry Prize by Louise Glück, and later adapted into a short film produced by James Franco.  His poetry collection, The Road to Emmaus (2013), was nominated for the National Book Award. Reece has received numerous fellowships, including from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Library of Congress. Reece received a grant from the Fulbright Foundation to fund his work of teaching poetry in a Honduran orphanage in 2012-2013, and compiled and published a book of his students’ poems: Counting Time Like People Count Stars: Poems by the Girls of Little Roses, San Pedro Sula, Honduras (2017). Reece’s experiences with these students was also filmed and produced into a documentary: Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems from the Murder Capital of the World.