The Amherst College Center for Creative Writing holds a Fall and Spring Reading Series every year, with all events free and open to the public. For more information, please call 542-8200 or visit the Creative Writing Center’s Facebook page. If you would like to receive periodic announcements about our events and other events in the Valley, please email crnewman@amherst.edu. For listings of other local literary events, visit the Five-College Creative Writing Event Calendar.

We partner with Amherst Books, which sells books for our events online. Please support out local beloved bookstore!


A photo of the author Aisha Sabatini Sloan Aisha Sabatini Sloan: A Reading and Conversation

Monday, September 27 • 7:30–8:30 pm VIRTUAL

Please register in advance for this event »
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

Please join us for a reading and conversation. Aisha Sabatini Sloan was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her writing about race and current events is often coupled with analysis of art, film, and pop culture. She studied English literature at Carleton College and went on to earn an MA in cultural studies and studio art from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU and an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Arizona. She is the author of the essay collections The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White and Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit. With her father, she is the author of Captioning the Archives, a conversation through image and text. She is a recipient of the 2018 CLMP Firecracker Award for Creative Nonfiction and a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. She teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan. She can be found online at aishasabatinisloan.com.

“An extraordinary experience! The place Borealis takes us to is lodged within a vivid consciousness. Here, the environment is populated by memories of lovers and strangers with guns. Letters from prison arrive in this place, and confinement haunts its wide margins. The soundtrack fades in and out, art is found and made. A landscape has never felt so real to me, so like life.” —Eula Biss, author of Having and Being Had


A photo of the authors Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan: Poet Activists in Conversation

Tuesday, October 26 • 7:30–8:30 pm Virtual

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Please join us for a reading and conversation with the co-authors of the collaborative feminist YA novel Watch Us Rise, which Kirkus called, “A manifesto for budding feminists . . . An inspiring look at two strong-willed teens growing into even stronger young women ready to use their voices and take on the world.”

Ellen Hagan is a writer, performer, and educator. Her books include Blooming Fiascoes, Hemisphere, Crowned, and Reckless, Glorious, Girl. She has had poems and essays published in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry Northwest and in the anthologies: She Walks in BeautySouthern Sin and Women of Resistance. She received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry in 2020 and has received grants from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Ellen is the Director of the Poetry & Theatre Departments at the DreamYard Project and directs their International Poetry Exchange Program with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. She co-leads the Alice Hoffman Young Writer's Retreat at Adelphi University. Raised in Kentucky, she splits her time between Kentucky and New York City with her family. She can be found online at ellenhagan.com.

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author, educator, and activist. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her poetry and fiction often center around the experiences of black girls and women, and explores themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Renée served as Founder and Executive Director of I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit committed to nurturing underrepresented voices in the creative arts, from 2016-2019. Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon, and splits her time between Portland and New York City. She can be found online at reneewatson.net.


A photo of the author Janice Lee Janice Lee: A Reading and Conversation

Thursday, November 4 • 7:30–8:30 pm Virtual

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Please join us for a reading and conversation. Janice Lee is a Korean-American writer, editor, teacher, and shamanic healer. She is the author of 7 books of fiction, creative nonfiction & poetry, most recently: The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), Imagine a Death (Texas Review Press, 2021), and Separation Anxiety (CLASH Books, 2022). She writes about interspecies communication, plants & personhood, the filmic long take, slowness, the apocalypse, architectural spaces, inherited trauma, and the concept of han in Korean culture, and asks the question, how do we hold space open while maintaining intimacy? She is Founder & Executive Editor of Entropy, Co-Founder of The Accomplices LLC, and an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Portland State University. She can be found online at janicel.com.

“If I could swim inside the language of Janice Lee’s Imagine a Death I’d never come out. Just like the ocean, which is just like language and the subconscious, the passages open up from death outward into life and desire, eros and thanatos creating wave after wave of unending being and unbeing, strange undulations of beauty. When pain and loss travel they inhabit us over many different times and places, locate on a single body and then release like energy into a thousand starshot particles. To enter the realm of Imagine a Death is to enter both particle and wave, species and botany, a heart beating toward its own end which is of course all beginnings.” —Lidia Yuknavitch, author of Verge


A photo of the author Evie Shockley Evie Shockley: A Reading and Conversation

Monday, November 15 • 7:30–8:30 pm

Frost Library, CHI Think Tank (Amherst College)
Due to COVID restrictions, this in-person event is for on-campus audiences only. Simulcast information to come.

Please join us for a reading and conversation. Evie Shockley is a poet and scholar. Her most recent poetry collections are the new black (Wesleyan, 2011) and semiautomatic (Wesleyan, 2017); both won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the latter was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the LA Times Book Prize. Her poetry has appeared internationally in print and audio formats, in English and in translation. She has received the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Stephen Henderson Award, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and fellowships from institutions including the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Cave Canem. Shockley is Professor of English at Rutgers University. She can be found online at evieshockley.com.

“In semiautomatic, a 2018 Pulitzer finalist and the recent winner of the Hurston/Wright Award for Poetry, Evie Shockley repurposes literary and musical modes from across centuries of African-American and diasporic traditions. Given the choice between formal flawlessness and page-spanning sprawls, between autobiographical revelation and collective outcry, she welcomes the self-contradictions of being all the above." ―Christopher Spaide (Amherst College ’11), LA Review of Books


A photo of the author Dennis James Sweeney Dennis James Sweeney: A Reading and Conversation

Tuesday, November 30 • 7:30–8:30 pm

Frost Library, CHI Think Tank (Amherst College)
Due to COVID restrictions, this in-person event is for on-campus audiences only. Simulcast information to come.

Please join us for a reading and conversation. Dennis James Sweeney is the author of In the Antarctic Circle, winner of the 2020 Autumn House Rising Writer Prize, as well as four chapbooks of poetry and prose, including Ghost/Home: A Beginner's Guide to Being Haunted. His writing has appeared in Five Points, Ninth Letter, The New York Times, and The Southern Review, among others. A Small Press Editor of Entropy and former Fulbright Fellow in Malta, he has an MFA from Oregon State University and a PhD from the University of Denver. Originally from Cincinnati, he lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he teaches at Amherst College. He can be found online at dennisjamessweeney.com/.

“This elliptical, haunted document is as beautiful and dangerous as the cold continent of which it sings, whispering of loss, of loneliness, of identity, of extinction. A perfect Beckettian marriage between the spoken and the unspoken, the said and the unsayable, this sublime collection speaks as much from its white spaces as from its exquisitely ordered text. In the Antarctic Circle is an unforgettable experience from a master stylist.”
—Maryse Meijer, author of The Seventh Mansion: A Novel


A screenshot of two people having a Zoom meeting

Spring 2021 Reading Series Videos

Watch videos of the spring 2021 readings by Kirun Kapur ’97, Eduardo C. Corral and Kazim Ali, as well as The Common Spring Launch Party.