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Visiting Writers Series: Cinelle Barnes, Minda Honey, Kiese Laymon, and Joy Priest

Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Cinelle Barnes, Minda Honey, Joy Priest and Kiese Laymon

Cinelle Barnes, Minda Honey, Kiese Laymon, and Joy Priest

Thursday, Nov. 5th, 2020 7:00pm

Sponsored in collaboration with the Gaines Center for the Humanities 


By Titus W. Chalk


The English Department’s MFA in Creative Writing in the College of Arts & Sciences sponsors the series. Given the health risks associated with live readings, organizers are taking this mainstay of campus literary life online.

“This shows our determination to continue the high calibre and diverse guests our Visiting Writers Series has become known for, in a virtual format,” said Frank X Walker, the new director of Creative Writing. “We’ll also be adding master classes and workshops to ensure a lively literary scene at UK despite COVID-19.”

The events will be held via Zoom webinar with a reading and question-and-answer session from participants.

The Gaines Center & Visiting Writers Series Featuring Cinelle Barnes, Minda Honey, Joy Priest and Kiese Laymon: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, via Zoom.

The event will mark the release of the essay anthology A Measure of Belonging: Twenty-One Writers of Color on the New American South, edited by Barnes. You can register for the  event here:

Cinelle Barnes is from Manila, Philippines. She is the author of Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir (Little A, 2018) and Malaya: Essays On Freedom (Little A, 2019), and she is the editor of A Measure of Belonging (Hub City Press, 2020). She earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Converse College. Her writing has appeared in Buzzfeed Reader, Catapult, Literary Hub, Hyphen, Panorama: A Journal of Intelligent Travel, and South 85, among othersHer work has received fellowships and grants from VONA, Kundiman, the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund, and the Lowcountry Quarterly Arts Grant.

Minda Honey is the founder of TAUNT, a local indie outlet for Louisville, Kentucky. She has a series of essays for Longreads on dating and politics, and her writing has been featured by The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Oxford American, Teen Vogue. Every other week, she tackles the dating woes of strangers as her city's relationship advice columnist at the LEO Weekly. Her work is featured in Burn It Down: Women Writing About Anger by Seal Press and in the forthcoming collection from Hub City Press, A Measure of Belonging: Writers of Color on the New American South. Honey lives in Louisville, where she serves as the director of the BFA in Creative Writing program at Spalding University. 

Joy Priest grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, on the backside of the world’s most famous horseracing track. She is the author of Horsepower, winner of the 2019 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry from AWP, and a 2019-2020 Poetry Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her poems and essays appear in Callaloo, Connotation Press, Four Way Review, Gulf Coast, Mississippi Review, The Rumpus, and Third Coast, and have been anthologized in Black Bone: 25 Years of the Affrilachian PoetsThe Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop, and Best New Poets 2014 and 2016.

Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon’s bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, the Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times. The audiobook, read by the author, was named the Audible 2018 Audiobook of the Year. It was named a best book of 2018 by The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly. Laymon’s debut novel, Long Division, which will be reissued in 2021, received the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Laymon is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Oxford American. A graduate of Oberlin College, he holds an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. He is the Hubert H. McAlexander chair of English at the University of Mississippi and recipient of 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard.

The Visiting Writers Series began in spring 2014 with a reading by poet Roger Reeves. Over the past eight years, the MFA in Creative Writing has hosted nationally renowned poets and writers, adding to the vibrant literary culture of Lexington. All Visiting Writers Series events are free and open to the public. For more, see the UK English Department website at or follow the series on social media @ukyvws.