Fall Series 2009


Reading from Poems from the Women's Movement

Wednesday, September 16th, 7:30 pm
Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall 

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?/ The world would split open.”  Muriel Rukeyser's lines epitomize the spirit of a whole generation of women poets, from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, who explored the unspoken truths of their lives and sparked a literary revolution. Poets Joan Larkin, Honor Moore, and Eileen Myles will read their own poems and others from Moore's anthology. Several students from the Five Colleges will join them in reading from the collection of 58 poets, which includes Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and Diane Di Prima, and which is listed in Oprah’s Book Club’s "25 Books You Can't Put Down." Co-sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center and English Department, The Massachusetts Review, the Poetry Center at Smith College, Perugia Press, and The Everywoman’s Center at the University of Massachusetts.

Richard Wilbur '42
Thursday, September 17th, 8 pm
Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather

In a review of Wilbur's 600-page Collected Poems 1943-2004, the TheNew York Times wrote, "The emergence of a poet like Wilbur as a hero to a new generation of critics is cause for hope: that readers, not gatekeepers, might rediscover poems written in the spirit of generosity and care, and disciplined by the idea of an uncaptive audience." Or, asSlate put it, "Wilbur's poems matter not because they may or may not be stylish at any given moment but because they keep the English language alive: Wilbur's great poems feel as fresh—as astonishing, as perplexing, as shocking—as they did 50 years ago."  The former U.S. poet laureate's vivid array of honors includes the National Book Award and two Pulitzer Prizes--as well as a 1942 BA from Amherst College.  He has recently returned as a John Woodruff Simpson Lecturer to co-teach a poetry workshop.

Jedediah Berry
Wednesday, October 14th, 8 pm
Amherst Books

Jedediah Berry's first novel, The Manual of Detection, was described byThe New Yorker as "the kind of mannered fantasy that might result if Wes Anderson were to adapt Kafka." In fact, Google "Jedediah Berry" with "Kafka" and you'll get more than 3500 hits, with "Borges" and you'll get 2500; the glowing comparisons abound, and The Wall Street Journalreferred to Berry's unique cross of hard-boiled detective fiction with absurdist art as "a surreal transmogrification of a genre." Berry's short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Best New American Voices, Best American Fantasy, Conjunctions, andChicago Review. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, and works as assistant editor of Small Beer Press.

Sigrid Nunez
Tuesday, September 29th, 8 pm
Amherst Books

Sigrid Nunez has published five novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, For Rouenna, and, most recently, The Last of Her KindThe New York Times described this last, set in the American counterculture of 1968, as "A remarkable novel. . .it startles and lingers long in the heart and the mind." And The Boston Globe called it " a brilliant, dazzling, daring novel. Nunez has taken the old American Dream and stood it on its head." Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including The New York Times, Harper’s, Tin House, and The Believer.The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, Nunez lives and works in New York City; her sixth novel will be published next year.

Brad Leithauser
Thursday, November 12, 8 pm
Amherst Books

The New York Times writes, "Why devote oneself to that aggressively minor genre, poetry, when novels and screenplays and tell-all memoirs get more notice and make more money? Brad Leithauser answers that question in Curves and Angles."Leithauser is the author of five novels, five volumes of poetry, a novel in verse, two collections of light verse, and a book of essays. Among the many awards and honors he has received are a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship; in 2005, Leithauser was inducted into the Order of the Falcon by the president of Iceland for his writings about Nordic literature. He and his wife, the poet Mary Jo Salter, divide their time between Amherst and Baltimore, where they both teach at Johns Hopkins. 

Spring Series 2010

Franz Wright
Tuesday, March 23rd 2010, 8 pm
Alumni House

Franz Wright won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2004 for his bookWalking to Martha's Vineyard. He and his father James Wright are the only parent-child pair to have won the Pulitzer Prize in the same category. His other collections include Wheeling Motel, God's Silence, and The Beforelife (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize). Boston Review has called Wright's poems "among the most honest, haunting, and human being written today," and Denis Johnson has described them as "tiny jewels shaped by blunt, ruined fingers--miraculous gifts." Wright currently lives in Waltham, Massachusetts.

 This event is co-sponsored by the Amherst College Creative Writing Center and the Department of European Studies. It is free and open to the public, and will be followed by refreshments. 

deanna fei

Deanna Fei '99
Monday April 12th
, 8 pm
Amherst Books

Ann Patchett calls novelist Deanna Fei "one to watch," Anita Shreve callsA Thread of Sky (Penguin, 2010) "a remarkable debut by a gifted young novelist," and Alexander Chee writes, "Fei's debut novel is both intensely enjoyable and, I think, important--this novel charts the cost of that famous Asian silence between generations, as a family takes in the price of it across several generations. But it is also an intimate portrait of that famous 'new China', as much of a surprise to Chinese-Americans as it is to the rest of us. Truly a book for our times."

Deanna Fei was born in Flushing, New York, and has lived in Beijing and Shanghai, China.  A 1999 graduate Amherst College, she has received a Fulbright grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, and a Chinese cultural scholarship, among other awards.  She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she teaches in public schools and is at work on her second novel. 

Alexander Chee
Thursday, April 29th, 8:00 p.m.

Amherst Books 

This event, sponsored by the Creative Writing Center, is free and open to the public and will be followed by refreshments.

 Chee, whom Edmund White has called "The best new novelist I've seen in some time" and Annie Dillard called "a brilliant new writer," is the author of Edinburgh (Picador, 2002), and The Queen of the Night (forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). The Guardian called Edinburgh “A complex, sophisticated, elegant investigation of trauma and desire - like a white hot flame," and Washington Post Book World described it as “A coming-of-age novel in the grand Romantic tradition, where passions run high, Cupid stalks Psyche, and love shares the dance floor with death . . . A lovely, nuanced, never predictable portrait of a creative soul in the throes of becoming.” The novel won the Michener Copernicus Prize, the AAWW Lit Award and the Lambda Editor’s Choice Prize, and was aPublisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year. Out Magazine honored Chee as one of their 100 Most Influential People of 2003. 

Chee was born in Rhode Island, and raised in South Korea, Guam and Maine. He was a recipient of the 2003 Whiting Writers’ Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in Fiction and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Ledig House, The Hermitage and the VCCA. He lives in Amherst and New York.

an na

Talk with Your Mouth Full: Lunch with writer An Na, '94
Thursday, February 4th, 12:30. Webster 215.
Come, have a sandwich, and talk about writing and publishing with critically acclaimed--and wildly popular--young adult author An Na. An Na was born in Korea, grew up in San Diego, California, and graduated from Amherst in 1994. Her first novel, A Step from Heaven, received the American Library Association's Michael L. Printz Award, and was a National Book Award Finalist and a "Notable" of the New York Times Book Review, which called the book "endowed with a haunting grace by the exquisite voice of a new young writer." Lunch will be provided.