Living Writers

The Muhlenberg College English Department is offering the semester-long course “Living Writers” in Fall 2015. The course, which is in its 20th year, brings both burgeoning and established authors to campus. In addition to interacting with students, each author holds a public reading and book signing, both of which are open to the public.

Students enrolled in the course read recent works from the selected authors and then interact with the writers directly as they visit campus for a day. Writers attend classes, have lunch with students and then give a public reading of their work in the evening.

Fall 2015 Schedule:

All readings, except for Gaiman's, are free of charge.

Patricia Smith, poet
Sept. 14, 7 p.m. - Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Patricia Smith is the author of 6 poetry collections. More so, with 4 National Poetry Slam individual champions, Patricia is considered one of the world's best spoken word performers.

The Living Writers class is reading Blood Dazzler, which chronicles the emotional, physical and human toll exacted by Hurricane Katrina. This collection was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award.

Stephen Kuusisto, memoirist and poet
September 28, 7 p.m. - Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Stephen Kuusisto is the author of two memoirs and two collections of poetry. Blind since birth, Kuusisto speaks widely on diversity, disability education and public policy. He directs the Renee Crown University Honors Program at Syracuse University.

Living Writers students are reading Kuusisto's second memoir, Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening. This book focuses on the art of perception, listening and the willingness to be surprised.

Read Kuusisto's blog post about his visit to campus.

Maggie Shipstead, novelist
Oct. 19, 7 p.m. - Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Maggie Shipstead is the author of two novels. Her first novel won the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction and the Dylan Thomas Prize.

Living Writers students are reading her second novel, Astonish Me, which is set in the world of ballet and focuses on classic themes in all novels, love, betrayal and obsession.

Aracelis Girmay, poet
Nov. 2, 7 p.m. - Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Aracelis Girmay is the author of three poetry collections. She was born and raised in Southern California but describes herself as a woman with roots in Puerto Rico, Eritrea and African America.

Living Writers students are reading Kingdom Anamalia, which won the Isabella Gardiner Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award. Her poems are interested in issues of transformation, loss and love, both private and public.

Neil Gaiman, author of fiction, graphic novelist
Nov. 16, 7 p.m. - Empie Theatre, Center for the Arts - sold out

Neil Gaiman is the best-selling author of fiction for adults and children. He is probably best known for his children's book, Coraline, which was made into a movie, his Newberry Award winning, The Graveyard Book, and the New York Times best-sellers, Anansi Boys and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Living Writers students are reading his most recent short story collection, Trigger Warnings, which, like all of Gaiman's work, tips to dark and at times disturbing fantasy.

Tickets for the Gaiman reading are sold out.

Gaiman's books are available for online purchase ahead of his visit. To purchase them from the ‘Berg Bookshop, follow the links below:
The Sleeper and the Spindle
American Gods
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Trigger Warning

Phil Klay, author of short fiction
Nov. 30, 7 p.m. - Miller Forum, Moyer Hall

Phil Klay's first published book, a short story collection, entitled Redeployment, won the 2015 National Book Award. The short stories take place in Iraq and describe the experiences of the soldiers there. Phil is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq's Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer.

Living Writers students are reading Redeployment.

Started in 1994, “Living Writers” is a course offered once every three years which brings six established and emerging writers to Muhlenberg College. The students read their recent works and then interact with the authors directly as they visit campus for a day. The writers come to class, have lunch with students and then give a public reading of their work in the evening. Each writer is interviewed on the college’s radio station and written up in the local newspaper. Their visit is a community event. In the past we have had the honor of hosting David Sedaris, Jonathan Franzen, Gary Snyder, Adrienne Rich, Francine Prose, Galway Kinnell, Robert Pinsky, Michael Ondaatje, and Phillip Levine.

The 2013 Living Writers series includes lectures by novelist Cristina García; novelist, journalist and playwright Colm Toibin; poet and environmentalist Patrick Lawler; poet Kay Ryan; poet Terrance Hayes; and graphic novelist Chris Ware. To listen to interviews with the writers, please visit our Soundcloud page.

Other Living Writers have included:

Dannie Abse
Russell Banks
Andrea Barrett
Charles Baxter
David Bradley
Rosellen Brown
Frederick Busch
Robert Olen Butler
Peter Carey
Alan Cheuse
Lucille Clifton
Jim Crace
Nicholas Delbanco
Carolyn Forche
Alice Fulton
Suzanne Gardinier
William H. Gass
Barry Hannah
Matthea Harvey
Ha Jin
Yusef Komunyakaa
Chang-Rae Lee
Li-Young Lee
Kenny Marotta

John McGahern
Paul Muldoon
Alicia Ostriker
Alan Michael Parker
Michael Pollan
Scott Russell Sanders
Art Spiegelman
Gerald Stern
Dovie Thomason
Monique Truong
Sarah Vowell
Jay Wright