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Visiting Writers Series

Visiting Writers Series & Speakeasy Readings

All readings will be followed by a brief Q&A, and books will be available for purchase on location through the VT bookstore. These events are all free and open to the public, unless indicated otherwise. Readings are sponsored by the Virginia Tech MFA Program in Creative Writing, and the Department of English.

Douglas Kearney

Feb. 16, 2023

  • Craft Talk: 3:30 p.m. at Newman Library Multipurpose Room
  • Reading: 8 p.m. at The Performance Space at The Creativity and Innovation District Residence Hall

Price: Free & Open to the Public

Douglas Kearney has published seven books, most recently, Sho (Wave Books, 2021), a National Book Award, Pen American, and Minnesota Book Award finalist. Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), is the winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry and silver medalist for the California Book Award (Poetry). BOMB says: “[Buck Studies] remaps the 20th century in a project that is both lyrical and epic, personal and historical.” M. NourbeSe Philip calls Kearney’s collection of libretti, Someone Took They Tongues. (Subito, 2016), “a seismic, polyphonic mash-up that disturbs the tongue.” Kearney’s collection of writing on poetics and performativity, Mess and Mess and (Noemi Press, 2015), was a Small Press Distribution Handpicked Selection that Publisher’s Weekly called “an extraordinary book.”  Starts Spinning (Rain Taxi), a chapbook of poetry, saw publication in 2019. 

Fodder, an LP featuring Kearney and frequent collaborator/SoundChemist, Val Jeanty, was published by Fonograf Editions (2021). WIRE Magazine calls it “Brilliant.”

His work is widely anthologized, including Best American Poetry (2014, 2015), Best American Experimental Writing (2014), Teaching Black: The Craft of Teaching on Black Culture and Literature, The Creative Critic: Writing As/About Practice, What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America, The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World, The Future of Black, and Conceptualisms. He is also widely published in magazines and journals, including Poetry, Callaloo, Boston Review, Hyperallergic, Jacket2, and Lana Turner. His work has been exhibited at the American Jazz Museum, Temple Contemporary, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, and The Visitor’s Welcome Center (Los Angeles). Kearney received OPERA America’s Campbell Opera Librettist Prize, created and generously funded by librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell. He has had four operas staged, most recently Sweet Land, which received rave reviews from The LA Times, The NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, The LA Weekly, and was named Opera of the Year (2021) by the Music Critics Association of North America. He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly Award for Poetry, residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others. A Howard University and CalArts alum, Kearney teaches Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities where he is a McKnight Presidential Fellow. Born in Brooklyn, raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in St. Paul. 

Reading by Author Steve Tomasula

Wednesday, September 26th at 7:30 pm

Location: Moss Arts Center, The Cube

Price: Free & Open to the Public

Steve Tomasula is the author of The Book of Portraiture, IN & OZ, and VAS: An Opera in Flatland, the novel of the biotech revolution. He is also the author of the e-novel TOC: A New-Media Novel, which received the Mary Shelley Award for Excellence in Fiction and an E-Lit Best Book of the Year Award. Over sixty of his short stories have been in magazines like Bomb, McSweeney's, and The Iowa Review. Essays on bio-art, new narrative, and literature have appeared in Data Made Flesh; The Bloomsbury Handbook of Electronic Literature; Meta-Life: Biotechnologies; Synthetic Biology, ALife and the Arts; The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature, and elsewhere. He teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Notre Dame, where he is a professor of English.

An Evening with Viet Thanh Nguyen

 March 16, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. at the Moss Center's Street and Davis Performance Hall, Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre

Acclaimed author Viet Thanh Nguyen’s writing is bold, elegant, and fiercely honest. Globally reimagining what we thought we knew about the Vietnam War, his remarkable debut novel, The Sympathizer, is a New York Times best seller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Nguyen’s voice is refreshing and powerful as he urges readers to examine the legacy of that tumultuous time and its aftermath from a new perspective.

Nguyen and his family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975. As he grew up in America, he began to notice that most movies and books about the war focused on Americans while the Vietnamese were silenced and erased. He was inspired by this lack of representation to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective, globally reimagining what we thought we knew about the conflict. 

The New York Times says that his novel, The Sympathizer, “fills a void…giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of forty years ago in a new light.” His voice is refreshing and powerful as he urges readers to examine the legacy of that tumultuous time and its aftermath from a new perspective. The audacious novel has also been described by The Guardian as having a “Whitman-like multiplicity” as it “reads like the absolute opposite of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.” The Committed, the long-awaited follow-up to The Sympathizer, was published in 2021 and has been called “a masterwork” and “revelatory.”

Co-sponsored by the Department of English Visiting Writer Series, with additional support from the Asian Cultural Engagement Center and Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies