Writers Read Author Series 2016-17
Writers Read, sponsored by the Language and Literature Department, is a special event featuring authors who read from and comment on their work. Dates, times, costs and locations are indicated below (map of , , , ).
November 10, 2016 – Visiting Scholar Dr. Katherine Clay Bassard, 7:00 p.m., Martin Chapel, freewill donation
Dr. Kathy Bassard is a recognized expert in African American Literature. She examines poetry, novels, speeches, sermons, and prayers by African American women from Maria W. Stewart to Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison, discussing how such texts respond as a collective “literary witness” to the use of the Bible for purposes of social domination. These Black women were both shaped and reshaped by the scriptures they appropriated for their own self-representation. Her recent publications include Spiritual Interrogations: Culture, Gender, and Community in Early African American Women’s Writing and Transforming Scriptures: African American Women Writers and the Bible. She is the author of many outstanding essays on African American literature and on Christianity and literary theory and has presented numerous lectures and scholarly presentations.
Dr. Bassard has received numerous awards and grants for her teaching and research efforts, including recognition by the Center for Teaching Excellence, Honor’s College, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, as well as from the Pew and Ford foundations. In 2005, she was the recipient of the VCU’s prestigious Elske v.P. Smith Distinguished Lecturer award.
Dr. Bassard received her undergraduate degree in English at Wake Forest University, an MA in English at VCU, and her PhD in English at Rutgers University with a Graduate Certificate in Woman’s Studies. From 1992 – 1999 Dr. Bassard taught at the University of California – Berkeley where she rose to the rank of Associate Professor. She returned to VCU in 1999 and was appointed professor of English in 2010, and now serves as senior vice provost for faculty affairs.
February 2, 2017 – Fiction Writer and Poet Sarah Kennedy, 6:30 p.m., Common Grounds, freewill donation
Sarah Kennedy has published seven books of poetry and more recently a series of novels. Her poetry collections include Double Exposure, which won the Cleveland State University Press Open Competition in 2003. Her volume Flow Blue won the Elixir Press Prize in Poetry. Her most recent collection, The Gold Thread (2013) is praised by the US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey as “fierce, elegant poems” that comprise an “extended meditation on the quest for meaning…in a troubled world.”
Her love for historical fiction has spawned a series of novels called The Cross and Crown. This series of novels set in Tudor English traces the life of a former nun who has been displaced by Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. The third and most recent novel in the series is The King’s Sisters (Sept. 2015).
Originally from Indianapolis, Kennedy now lives in Staunton, Virginia, and works as a professor of English at Mary Baldwin University where she leads workshops in poetry and fiction and chairs the English department. She holds an MFA from Vermont College in poetry writing and a PhD from Purdue University in Renaissance poetry. Kennedy has received grants from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities to support her creative work. To learn more about Sarah’s books, click here.
March 23, 2017 – Non-Fiction Writer Katie Fallon, 6:30 p.m., Common Grounds, freewill donation
Katie Fallon, a lifelong resident of Appalachia, is a nature-loving author who reflects this love in her writing. Her books of nonfiction include Cerulean Blue: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird (2011) and Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird, scheduled for publication in March 2017. Much of Fallon’s writing is grounded in naturalism and conservation efforts, especially concerning raptors and other birds. She is also one of the founders for the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, Inc., a nonprofit organization that strives to conserve wild birds.
In addition to her nonfiction nature books, Fallon’s essays have been featured in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, Ecotone, Bark Magazine, Appalachian Heritage, Now & Then, Isotope, Fourth River, the Minnesota Review, and The Tusculum Review. She has received recognition from Best American Science & Nature Writing 2014 and was a finalist in Terrain’s 2011 essay contest for her essay entitled “Hill of the Sacred Eagles.”
Though Fallon grew up in Pennsylvania, she now resides in Cheat, West Virginia, where she works at West Virginia University.