Visiting Writers Series

  • Assistant Professor
  • English
1221 Patterson Office Tower
Other Affiliations:
  • Institute of American Indian Arts

The Visiting Writers Series began in the Spring of 2014 with a reading by poet Roger Reeves. After the start of the MFA in Creative Writing in the Fall of that year, the VWS took off. Over the past two years, the MFA in Creative Writing has hosted nationally renowned poets and writers, adding to the vibrant literary culture of Lexington. All events are free and open to the public.


Visiting Writers 2016/2017

Friday September 16,  2016
Singletary Center
Dana Spiotta is the author of four novels: Innocents and Others, forthcoming from Scribner in March 2016; Stone Arabia (2011), a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in fiction; Eat the Document (2006), a finalist for the National Book Award and a recipient of the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and Lightning Field (2001). Spiotta was a Guggenheim Fellow, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, and won the 2008–9 Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. She lives in Syracuse with her daughter Agnes and teaches in the Syracuse University MFA program.
Dana Spiotta will be moderating a Q&A with Mary Karr as part of the Kentucky Women's Writers Conference.
Friday September 16th,  2016
Singletary Center
Mary Karr's first memoir, The Liars' Club, is credited with sparking the memoir renaissance and won nonfiction prizes from PEN and the Texas Institute of Letters. Also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, it spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, and Entertainment Weekly recently rated it number four in the top one hundred books of the past twenty-five years. Her second memoir, Cherry, was also a hit bestseller and on notable book lists at the New York Times and dozens of other publications nationwide. Her third in this autobiographical series, Lit, is the story of her alcoholism, recovery, and conversion to Catholicism. For thirty years Karr has also taught memoir, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse University. In her latest book, The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre. A Guggenheim Fellow in poetry, Karr has won Pushcart Prizes for both verse and essays. Other grants include the Whiting Award and Radcliffe’s Bunting Fellowship. She is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University.
Mary Karr will be reading and participating in a Q&A as part of the Kentucky Women's Writers Conference.
October 5,  2016
Holmes Hall Performance Studio
Detroit native Tyehimba Jess’ first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.” Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU alumnus, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000 – 2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TEDxNashville Conference. Olio, his second collection, is forthcoming from Wave Books in April 2016. Jess is an Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island.
Wednesday, November 16th,  2016
Holmes Hall Performance Studio
Ada Limón is the author of four books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist for the 2015 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 splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California.
Wednesday November 30th,  2016
William T Young Auditorium
Claire Vaye Watkins is the author of Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn, which won the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. A Guggenheim Fellow, Claire is on the faculty of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. She is also the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.
Wednesday November 30th,  2016
William T Young Auditorium
Derek Palacio received his MFA in Creative Writing from the Ohio State University. His short story “Sugarcane” appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, and his novella How to Shake the Other Man was published by Nouvella Books. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor, MI, is the co-director, with Claire Vaye Watkins, of the Mojave School, and serves as a faculty member of the Institute of American Indian Arts MFA program. His debut novel, Mortifications, will be published October 4, 2016.
Wednesday March 22nd,  2017
Location TBA
Dinaw Mengestu is the award-winning author of the novels, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2007) and How to Read the Air (2010) and All Our Names (2015). He is a graduate of Georgetown University and of Columbia University’s M.F.A. program in fiction and the recipient of a 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation and a 20 Under 40 award from The New Yorker. His journalism and fiction have appeared in such publications as Harper’s Magazine, Granta, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal. He is a recipient of a 2012 MacArthur Foundation genius grant and currently lives in New York City.
Wednesday, March 29,  2017
7 pm
Location TBA
Poet, novelist, performer and art journalist Eileen Myles is the author of nineteen books including I Must Be Living Twice: New & Selected Poems and a re-issue of Chelsea Girls, both out in fall 2015, from Ecco/Harper Collins. Her next memoir, Afterglow, is forthcoming April 2017.
Wednesday, April 12, Spring,  2017
7 pm
The Burl
375 Thompson Rd, Lexington, KY 40508
John Jeremiah Sullivan is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the southern editor of The Paris Review. He has also written for GQ, Harper's Magazine, and Oxford American, among other publications. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award for emerging writers and two National Magazine Awards for feature writing. His books include Blood Horses and the New York Times-bestselling Pulphead, which was a 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee, a New York Times Notable Book, and a Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly Top 10 Nonfiction Book of the Year. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Sullivan currently lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.


Past Visiting Writers

Wednesday April 13th,  2016
WT Young Auditorium
Peter Fallon has been Poet in Residence at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and, in the Spring of 2000, he was the inaugural Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at Villanova University, PA, which conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate. He was Burns Professor at Boston College (2012-2013). He is a member of Aosdána, the association which elects and ‘honours artists who have made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland’. In 2009 he received an Alumni Award and, the following year, was appointed Adjunct Professor in the School of English of Trinity College, Dublin. He serves on the Board of Poetry Ireland and is Chairman of the Board of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig. He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Honorary President of the Classical Association of Ireland. He lives in Loughcrew in County Meath where he farmed for many years.

2016 Writer-in-Residence

Monday April 18th, 2016
Young Library Auditorium
Helen Oyeyemi is the Department of English's inaugral MFA Writer-in-Residence for the Spring 2016 semester. She is the author of four novels, including White is for Witching, which won a 2010 Somerset Maugham Award, and Mr Fox
Tuesday March 22nd, 2016
Niles Gallery
Rob Spillman is editor of Tin House magazine and editorial advisor of Tin House Books. He was previously the monthly book columnist for Details magazine and is a contributor of book reviews and essays to Salon and Bookforum. He has written for the Baltimore Sun, the Boston Review, British GQ, Connoisseur, Details, Nerve, the New York Times Book Review, Premiere, Rolling Stone, Spin, Sports Illustrated, SPY, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and Worth, among other magazines, newspapers, and online magazines. He has also worked for Random House, Vanity Fair, and the New Yorker.


Whitehall Classroom Bldg. rm 116
November 13th, 2015

Wayne Koestenbaum’s books include Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon; Andy Warhol; The Queen’s Throat, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism; and Humiliation, a meditation on one of the most disquieting of human experiences. A graduate of Harvard and Princeton, he is a distinguished professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center and also a visiting professor in the painting department of the Yale School of Art. 

This reading is sponsored by the University of Kentucky Art Museum.

W.T. Young Library
November 10th, 2015
Adrian Matejka's first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden, won the 2002 New York / New England Award from Alice James Books. His second collection, Mixology (Penguin 2009), was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and was a finalist for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature – Poetry. His most recent book, The Big Smoke, was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was also finalist for the 2013 National Book Award and for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Matejka is a winner of the Julia Peterkin Award and recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lannan Foundation. He teaches in the MFA program at Indiana University in Bloomington.


Recital Hall, Singletary Center
October 14th, 2015

Roxane Gay’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK. She is also the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, and Hunger, forthcoming from Harper in 2016.

This reading is co-sponsored by African American and Africana Studies Program and Department of Gender and Women's Studies.


Talk as part of the Symposium on The Intersections of Violence in Latin America
West End Room, 18th floor, Patterson Office Tower
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Reading and Q&A
The Niles Gallery
Thursday, October 01, 2015

Francisco Goldman's most recent novel is Say Her Name, which won the 2011 Prix Femina Etranger. His novels have been winners and finalists for several prizes, including The Pen/Faulkner and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Cullman Center Fellow at the NY Public Library, and a Berlin Fellow at the American Academy. He has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, The Believer, and many other publications. He directs the Aura Estrada Prize ( Every year Goldman teaches one semester at Trinity College in Hartford, Ct., and then hightails it back to Mexico City. 

This talk is sponsored by the Department of Hispanic Studies and co-sponsored by the Department of English

Singletary Center
Friday, September 11, 2015
Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections, in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century, and in Jennifer Egan’s The Best American Short Stories 2014. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She was the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia (Emerita). She is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Maine and Key West, Florida.
Ann Beattie will be reading as the keynote speaker at the Womens Writers Conference.

Dara Wier & Emily Pettit
UK Art Museum
Wednesday April 29, 2015

Dara Wier's newest book is You Good Thing from Wave Books; she has often directed the MFA for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a program in which she offers poetry workshops and form & theory of poetry seminars.  Her interest in printing, verse print culture, the art of the book, broadsides, and chapbooks has been a lifelong love.  She's an editor for factory hollow press.

Emily Pettit's book is Goat in the Snow.  She is publisher and editor of the literary journal jubilat, and publisher and editor of factory hollow press, a literary press specializing in short print runs of broadsides, chapbooks, and some full length poetry books. She teaches poetry workshops and literary reading classes at Elm College and at Flying Object, an independent art center in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Nic Brown
Niles Gallery
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
7:00 PM

Nic Brown is the author of the novel Doubles and the story collection Floodmarkers, which was selected as an Editor's Choice by The New York Times Book Review. A new novel, In Every Way, was released by Counterpoint in February 2015. He is currently an assistant professor of English at Clemson University.

Jim Gavin
W.T.Young Auditorium
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
7:00 PM

Jim Gavin’s is the author of Middle Men, and his fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Zoetrope, Esquire, Slice, The Mississippi Review, and ZYZZYVA. He lives in Los Angeles.

Jill McCorkle
UK Art Museum
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jill McCorkle published her first two novels 1984. Of these novels, The New York Times Book Review said, “One suspects the author of The Cheer Leader is a born novelist, with July 7th, she is also a full grown one.” Since then she has published three other novels—her latest, Life After Life coming March 2013—and four collections of short stories. Her story “Intervention” is included in the Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. McCorkle currently teaches creative writing in the MFA Program at NC State University and is a core faculty member of the Bennington College Writing Seminars. She lives with her husband, photographer Tom Rankin, in Hillsborough, NC.

See pictures of Jill McCorkle's reading here.

Roger Reeves
The Marksbury Theater
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
7:00 pm

Roger Reeves' poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, and Tin House, among others. Kim Addonizio selected “Kletic of Walt Whitman” for the Best New Poets 2009 anthology. He was awarded a 2013 NEA Fellowship, Ruth Lilly Fellowship by the Poetry Foundation in 2008, two Bread Loaf Scholarships, an Alberta H. Walker Scholarship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and two Cave Canem Fellowships. He earned his PhD the University of Texas-Austin and is currently an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Illinois, Chicago. His first book is King Me (Copper Canyon Press, 2013).


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