Visiting Writers Series Returns With Notable Authors, Film Director


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 8, 2021)  The Visiting Writers Series, hosted by the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky, kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 1,3 with Academy Award winner Kevin Willmott.

The VWS began in the spring of 2014 with a reading by poet Roger Reeves. Each year, the Department of English continues to bring nationally renowned authors to UK.

"This series is a source of inspiration and excitement for our students, faculty and staff and continues to add to the overall vibrant literary culture of Lexington,” said Crystal Wilkinson, associate professor of English.

You can find a full schedule of 2021 VWS events listed below.

Kevin Willmott (presented by Film and Media Studies): 7 p.m. Oct. 13, William T. Young Auditorium, Register Here

Willmott is an Oscar and Academy Award-winning American film director and screenwriter, as well as a professor of film at the University of Kansas. He is known for co-writing and directing "The 24th" — a historical drama on the true story of the Houston riot of 1917. Willmott grew up in Junction City, Kansas, and received his bachelor’s degree in drama from Marymount College. After graduation, he returned home and worked as a civil rights activist, fighting for the rights of the poor, creating two Catholic worker shelters for the homeless and forcing the integration of several long-standing segregated institutions.

Carter Sickels (presented by the Appalachian Center): 7 p.m. Oct. 21, online via Zoom, Register Here

Sickels is the author of the novel "The Prettiest Star," (Hub City Press) which is a recipient of the 2021 Southern Book Prize and the Weatherford Award. The novel was also selected as a Kirkus Best Book of 2020 and named a Best LGBT Book of 2020 by O Magazine. His debut novel, "The Evening Hour" (Bloomsbury 2012), was adapted into a feature film, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Additionally, Sickels' works have appeared in a variety of publications, including The Atlantic, Oxford American, Poets & Writers, BuzzFeed, Joyland, Guernica, Catapult and Electric Literature. Sickels, who is an assistant professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University, is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award and has earned fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and MacDowell.

Nicole Chung: 7 p.m. Nov. 18, online via Zoom, Register Here

Chung is an American writer and editor. She is the former managing editor of The Toast, the editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine and the author of the national bestseller, “All You Can Ever Know.” The memoir was named Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR and the Library Journal. Additionally, it was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a semifinalist for the PEN Open Book Award, an Indies Choice Honor Book and an official Junior Library Guild Selection. Chung's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Time, The Guardian and Vulture, among others. She was also named to the "Good Morning America" AAPI Inspiration List honoring those “making Asian American history right now."

All Visiting Writers Series events are free and open to the public.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.