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Writers@Grinnell: Lynn Powell

Award-winning poet Lynn Powell will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, Nov. 16, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The reading will begin at 8 p.m. in  Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

In addition, Powell, who teaches in the creative writing program at Oberlin College, will lead a roundtable discussion at 4:15 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 209. The discussion will focus on teaching imaginative writing, specifically the work of the Oberlin Writers in the Schools program, which Powell directs. This nationally recognized program engages Oberlin students in teaching creative writing in local schools.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Powell is the author of three books of poetry, including Season of the Second Thought, winner of the 2017 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. Her poems have been published in many journals, including Poetry, the Georgia Review, and the Paris Review, and anthologized in 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day and The Norton Introduction to Literature.

Her book of nonfiction, Framing Innocence, won the Studs and Ida Terkel Award from the New Press. Her other honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Writers@Grinnell Brings Carmen Machado, Alissa Nutting to Campus

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the story collection Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf Press), which is currently shortlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in fiction. Her memoir House in Indiana is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2019. She is a fiction writer, critic, and essayist whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Guernica, Electric Literature, AGNI, NPR, Gulf Coast, Los Angeles Review of Books, VICE, and elsewhere. Her stories have been reprinted in Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and Best Women’s Erotica. She was named as a "Writer to Watch" for Fall 2017 by Publisher's Weekly. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the University of Iowa, the Yaddo Corporation, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Artist in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.  

Grinnell College assistant professor Alissa Nutting is the author of three books, including Made for Love, which was published in July 2017 by Ecco Press/HarperCollins. Along with her writing partner Dean Bakopoulos, she is currently developing a television series based on the novel for Paramount. Her story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls will be reissued by Ecco in Summer 2018, as part of its Art of the Story series, and Ecco will publish her collection of nonfiction essays in 2019.

Writers@Grinnell: Kiese Laymon & Dwayne Betts

Award winning authors Kiese Laymon and Dwayne Betts will read from their work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 28, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Joe Rosenfield 25 Center (JRC) room 101.

In addition, a conversation with Kiese Laymon and Dwayne Betts will be held at 4:15 p.m. in JRC 101.

Kiese Laymon is currently a Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, New York Times, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Fader, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony, and Guernica. He is a contributing editor of Oxford American. Three essays in How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America have been included in the Best American series, the Best of Net award, and the Atlantic's Best Essays of 2013. He was selected a member of the Root 100 in 2013 and 2014 and Ebony Magazine Power 100 in 2015.

Reginald Dwayne Betts, is a poet, memoirist, Yale law graduate, and activist. He is the author of three books: the recently published Bastards of the Reagan Era, the 2010 NAACP Image Award winning memoir, A Question of Freedom, and the poetry collection, Shahid Reads His Own Palm. Dwayne is currently enrolled in the PhD in Law Program at the Yale Law School. He has earned a J.D. from the Yale Law School, an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College’s M.F.A. Program for Writers, and a B.A. from the University of Maryland and served on a presidential advisory board during the Obama administration.

Writers@Grinnell: Jamaal May and Tarfia Faizullah

The Saadi Simawe Memorial Reading will be given by award winning poets, Jamaal May and Tarfia Faizullah  on Thursday, October 5th as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

In addition, May and Faizullah will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m., also in the Faulconer Gallery.

Jamaal May is the author of Hum (Alice James Books, 2013) and The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James Books, 2016). His first collection received a Lannan Foundation Grant, American Library Association’s Notable Book Award, and was named a finalist for the Tufts Discovery Award and an NAACP Image Award. Jamaal’s other honors include a Spirit of Detroit Award, the Wood Prize from Poetry, an Indiana Review Prize, and fellowships from The Stadler Center, The Kenyon Review, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy. Jamaal May’s poetry explores the tension between opposites to render a sonically rich argument for the interconnectivity of people, worlds, and ideas. He co-directs OW! Arts with Tarfia Faizullah.

Bangladeshi American poet Tarfia Faizullah grew up in Midland, Texas. She earned an MFA from the Virginia Commonwealth University program in creative writing. Her first book, Seam (2014), won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Focused around a long sequence “Interview with a Birangona,” the book explores the ethics of interviewing as well as the history of the birangona, Bangladeshi women raped by Pakistani soldiers during the Liberation War of 1971. Faizullah received a Fulbright award to travel to Bangladesh and interview the birangona. Faizullah lives in Detroit where she teaches at the University of Michigan. Her second book is Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf Press, 2018).

This event is dedicated to the memory of Saadi Simawe...

Saadi Simawe joined Grinnell’s English department in 1992. He gained tenure in 2000, went on to SFS in 2008, and transferred to emeritus status in 2012. His Ph.D. was awarded by the University of Iowa and his teaching and research interests included Arabic language and literature, Middle Eastern literatures, and the study of literary interconnections between the West and the Islamic East. From 1994 to 1998, he was director of the Grinnell Writers’ Conference, inviting significant authors to come to Grinnell to read from their work. He convened a Race and Ethnicity Reading Group of faculty members, and helped plan a number of symposia at the College.

In addition to teaching and service to the College, Simawe taught at Nanjing University as part of the Grinnell-Nanjing exchange and was a Fulbright teacher-scholar at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal. He specialized in African-American literature and maintained a keen scholarly interest in the constructions and expressions of blackness in Arabic literature. He brought this into his classes, introducing in his African-American literature courses elements from Arabic and Islamic literature and Grinnell recognized his scholarship with a Rosenbloom Award for Interdisciplinary Study of the Arts in 1999. In 2000, he published Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison. He also published widely on Arabic literature.

A native of Iraq, Simawe was imprisoned as a dissident under the Saddam Hussein regime during the 1970s. He came to the United States for graduate studies and never returned to Iraq. After becoming a U.S. citizen, he frequently traveled abroad to maintain a close network with the Iraqi diaspora. He was well known as a sensitive translator and an advocate for Arabic literature, particularly Iraqi art and literature.

Simawe was highly regarded by early career faculty at Grinnell as an excellent and thoughtful mentor. A scholar whose body of work bridged cultures, he was known to deploy a formidable wit and a wonderful sense of language to confront the sorrows of history. Regarded by all as a lovely, gentle man with a soaring heart and quiet sense of humor, he will be missed by his faculty colleagues, his students, and the many writers who knew him.

Writers@Grinnell: Roy Scranton

Writers at GrinnellAward winning author, Roy Scranton will read from his work and discuss writing on Thursday, September 7, as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Burling Lounge.

In addition, Scranton will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public at 4:15 p.m. September 7 in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 209.

Roy Scranton is the author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization (City Lights, 2015) and the novel War Porn (Soho Press, 2016). His essays, journalism, short fiction, and reviews have appeared widely. In addition, Roy co-edited Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War (Da Capo, 2013). Roy's New York Times essay “Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene” was selected for The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014, and his essay “The Terror of the New” was selected as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2015. He was the recipient of a Mrs. Giles G. Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities (2014–2015), won the Theresa A. White Literary Award for short fiction (2009), and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice University (2016).

Roy’s current project, The Politics of Trauma: World War II and American Literature, is a critical genealogy of American World War II literature, tracing how a complex array of texts exploring the problem of the hero in industrial capitalism was obscured and displaced, during and after the Vietnam War, by a literary canon centered on narratives of American trauma.

Writers@Grinnell: Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

On Thursday, September 14, Award winning Kenyan writer Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor willYvonne Adhiambo Owuor image read from her work and discuss writing as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. 

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was named Woman of the Year by Eve Magazine in Kenya in 2004 for her contribution to the country's literature and arts. She won the 2003 Caine Prize for African Writing for her story "Weight of Whispers," which considers an aristocratic Rwandan refugee in Kenya.

Born in Nairobi, Owuor studied English at Jomo Kenyatta University, before taking a master's in TV/Video development at Reading University. She has worked as a screenwriter and was the executive director of the Zanzibar International Film Festival from 2003 to 2005. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications worldwide including Kwani? and McSweeney’s, and her story "The Knife Grinder’s Tale" was made into a short film in 2005. Her novel Dust published in 2014 received widespread critical recommendations as a vivid and often poetic portrayal of the violent history of Kenya in the second half of the 20th century.

Presented in partnership with the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and Grinnell College’s Institute for Global Engagement. Professor Owuor is teaching a short course in the English department this fall, English 295-02.

Writers@Grinnell: Benjamin Percy

On Thursday, August 31, thriller author, comic book writer, and screenwriter, Benjamin Percy will read from his work and discuss writing as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 6 p.m. at the Pioneer Bookshop, located at 933 Main in downtown Grinnell.

In addition, Percy will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. August 31 in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 209.

Benjamin Percy is the author of four novels — mostly recently, The Dark Net (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) — two books of short stories, and a book of essays. He writes the Green Arrow and Teen Titans series for DC Comics, and James Bond for Dynamite Entertainment. His fiction and nonfiction have been published in GQ, Esquire, Time, Men's Journal, the New York Times, and the Paris Review. His honors include a Whiting Award, an NEA fellowship, the Plimpton Prize, two Pushcart Prizes and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics.

Writers@Grinnell: Bennett Sims

Bennett Sims imageAward winning author Bennett Sims will read from his work on Friday, April 28, at the final Writers@Grinnell event this semester.  Bennett will be reading from "White Dialogues," a horror story set at a lecture on Hitchcock's Vertigo.  His presentation will also include a multimedia piece incorporating visuals from the film. The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 4:15 p.m. in Burling Library Lounge.

The spring writing contest winners will be announced after the reading.

Bennett Sims is the author of the novel A Questionable Shape, which received the Bard Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Believer Book Award. White Dialogues, a story collection, is forthcoming in September 2017. His stories have appeared in A Public Space, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, Tin House, Zoetrope: All-Story, and the 2015 Pushcart Prize Anthology. He has taught at Bard College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently teaching the Weird Fiction short course at Grinnell.

Refreshments will be served.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. If you plan to attend this event and need accommodation, please contact Burling Library as soon as possible to make your request.

James McBride & The Good Lord Bird Band

Bestselling author, musician, and screenwriter James McBride and The Good Lord Bird Band will perform at the next Writers@Grinnell event.

Writers at GrinnellA Writers@Grinnell roundtable with James McBride will take place at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Rosenfield Center, Room 209. At 8 p.m. that evening in Herrick Chapel, James McBride and The Good Lord Bird Band will give a performance and lecture. The public is welcome at the free events.

James McBride is an author, musician and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, rested on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. It is considered an American classic and is read in schools and universities across the United States.  His debut novel, Miracle at St. Anna, was translated into a major motion picture directed by American film icon Spike Lee. It was released by Disney/Touchstone in September 2008.  James wrote the script for Miracle At St. Anna and co-wrote Spike Lee's 2012 Red Hook Summer. His novel, Song Yet Sung, was released in paperback in January 2009. His latest novel, The Good Lord Bird, about American revolutionary John Brown, is the winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction. 

James is also a former staff writer for The Boston Globe, People Magazine, and The Washington Post. His work has appeared in Essence, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times. His April 2007 National Geographic story “Hip Hop Planet” is considered a respected treatise on African American music and culture.

James is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools. He studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22. He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a distinguished writer in residence at New York University.

The events are sponsored by Writers@Grinnell, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Music Department, Center for Humanities, American Studies, Intercultural Affairs, and Artists@Grinnell.

Writers@Grinnell Presents the Mando Lecture

Armando Alters Montano image

The first Annual Armando Montaño ’12 Memorial Lecture features Pulitzer Prize winning Dale Maharidge and photographer Michael Williamson. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

4:15 p.m. Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101
Sad! Or Stronger Than Ever? American Journalism in the Age of Fake News, Social Media, and Donald Trump.

Writers@Grinnell roundtable with Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson, moderated by Dean Bakopoulos, Grinnell College writer-in-residence, and Diane Alters ’71, journalism lecturer, Colorado College.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

4:15 p.m. Rosenfield Center, Room 101
The First Annual Armando Montaño '12 Memorial Lecture: Reflections by Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer Dale Maharidge & photographer Michael Williamson

This newly endowed lecture honors the memory and spirit of journalist Mando Montaño ’12.

Maharidge and Williamson

Michael Williamson image

Dale Maharidge imageMaharidge and Williamson are longstanding friends of Mando's parents, Diane Alters ’71 and Mario Montaño; Michael is Mando's godfather. Mando grew up inspired by these two journalists, and sought their advice as he prepared to be a reporter himself.

Maharidge and Williamson collaborated on And Their Children After Them: The Legacy of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: James Agee, Walker Evans, and the Rise and Fall of Cotton in the South (Pantheon) and other books and specialize in covering poverty and other social issues. Maharidge is the author of ten books, most recently Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War (PublicAffairs 2013). He is on the faculty of the Columbia University Journalism School. 

Williamson is a staff photographer at The Washington Post and shared a second Pulitzer in 2000 with two Post colleagues for their coverage of Kosovo. Both Maharidge and Williamson have been busy, of late, covering the policies of the Trump White House, especially the effects these policies have on marginalized communities.