Spring 2021 Remote Reading Series

A photo of Kirun Kapur
Kirun Kapur ’97: A Reading and Conversation

Monday, March 1 

A book cover with a woman's face with the title Women in the Waiting Room
Amherst College Writer-in-Residence, Kirun Kapur’s newest book, Women in the Waiting Room, which Aimee Nezhukumatathil calls “a must-read for these times and beyond,” was a finalist for the National Poetry Series. Her first collection, Visiting Indira Gandhi's Palmist, was awarded the 2013 Antivenom Poetry Award and was described as a “stellar debut by a major new voice” by Andre Dubus III.

“In astonishing lyrics that give us more than intimate negotiations of memory, the poems in Women in the Waiting Room work an entrancing weave of Hindu mythology, ravishing songs, and the language of crisis hotlines as a means of limning the fate of women's bodies and psychological distress. If O'Hara's Personism figures a poem as a telephone call then Kapur's wondrous lines serve to heal, like all poignant and meaningful human to human exchanges: interventionist language that disrupts easy sanctuaries of meaning yet is consoling in its artfulness. I call this life on the page, one you'll be happy to encounter.” – Major Jackson

Video of Poetry Reading by Kirun Kapur

A photo of a man in glasses with a goatee
Eduardo C. Corral: A Reading and Conversation

Thursday, April 22nd

A book titled Guillotine by Eduardo C. Corral with an illustration of a man
Eduardo C. Corral is the son of Mexican immigrants. He is the author of Guillotine, which was longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry, and Slow Lightning, which won the 2011 Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. Natalie Scenters-Zapico describes Corral as “A master artist. [. . .] Only a poet as skilled as Corral could connect rejection from the US nation-state with unrequited love to such effect. Carefully code-switching between Spanish and English, Corral is a poet to be studied for his radical contributions to the American canon.” He's the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. He teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

Apá, dying is boring. To pass las horas,
                                                                          I carve
                                                our last name
                                                                 all over my body.
I try to recall the taste of Pablo’s sweat.
                                                                              Whiskey, no.
                                                           Wet dirt, sí.
                                                                     I stuff English
          into my mouth, spit out chingaderas.
                                                                           Have it your way.
                                                   Home of the Whopper.
for the border. ¡Aguas! The mirror
                                                                    betrayed us.

—from “Testaments Scratched into a Water Station Barrel

Video of Reading and Conversation with Eduardo Corral

A photo of Dan Bernitt
Dan Bernitt: A Performance and Conversation

Wednesday, March 10
7 – 8:30 pm

Register in advance for this event:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

A photo of a man's head with Greek letters cut into his hair
Please join us for award-winning playwright Dan Bernitt’s Phi Alpha Gamma and a conversation with poet and Amherst College professor Shayla Lawson. The play, which Bernitt will be streaming from an immersive home theater space complete with lighting and sound, explores masculinity, homophobia, and men’s relationships in a college fraternity.

Using the structure of a Greek tragedy, the performance weaves together the voices of four fraternity brothers as they grapple with the remnants of a hate crime and their own fears. Pioneer Press calls it a “MUST-SEE SHOW ... Bernitt's savvy script offers few easy answers and plenty of twists that toy with the audience's sympathies.”

Photo Credit: Deogracias Lerma

A photo of Elissa Washuta
Elissa Washuta: A Reading and Conversation

Thursday, March 25th
7 – 8:00 pm

Register in advance for this event:

https://amherstcollege.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYoduqqrzItGt Q7now5cKbVHM6UEbhoIFeV

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.

A black book cover with the title White Magic
Please join us. Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a nonfiction writer. She is the author of My Body Is a Book of Rules and Starvation Mode, and her book White Magic is forthcoming from Tin House Books in April. With Theresa Warburton, she is co-editor of the anthology Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. She’s a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient, a Creative Capital awardee, and an assistant professor of creative writing at the Ohio State University.

“Elissa Washuta is exactly the writer we need right now: as funny as she is formidable a thinker, as thoughtful as she is inventive—her scrutiny is a fearless tool, every subject whittled to its truest form. White Magic is a bracingly original work that enthralled me in a hypnosis on the other side of which I was changed for the better, more likely to trust my own strange intelligence.” —Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood.

A photo of Kazim Ali
Kazim Ali: A Reading and Conversation

Tuesday, April 13

A book cover with an abstract collage and the title The Voice of Sheila Chandra
A reading and conversation with multi-genre writer Kazim Ali, and a conversation between Ali and Amherst College Visiting Writer Thirii Myint. Ali’s books include several volumes of poetry, novels, essays, and translations. He is currently a Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. His newest books include a collection of three long poems entitled The Voice of Sheila Chandra and a memoir of his Canadian childhood, Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water.

“Much of what the poet has presented to us is painful, yes, but it is also beautiful in how it uses voice as a symbol for continued imagination. Altogether, The Voice of Sheila Chandra is both an excavation and compilation of our survival.” – NPR

Video of Poetry Reading by Kazim Ali

the common 21

The Common Spring Launch Party

Thursday, May 6

Amherst College's award-winning literary magazine The Common celebrated the release of Issue 21 with authors from around the world. Writers Aleksandar Hemon, Celeste Mohammed, Abdelaziz Errachidi, and translator Nariman Youssef gave brief readings followed by conversations about place, culture, and translation, hosted by the magazine's editor in chief Jennifer Acker. This event was co-sponsored by the Arts at Amherst Initiative.

Aleksandar Hemon is a novelist, screenwriter, and memoirist, and the author of the forthcoming oral history collection, How Did You Get Here?: Tales of Displacement, which received a PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History.

Celeste Mohammed is the author of Pleasantview: A Novel in Stories, which received a 2018 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, as well as the 2019 Virginia Woolf Award for Short Fiction, and the 2017 John D Gardner Memorial Prize for Fiction.

Abdelaziz Errachidi’s work includes two short story collections, two novels, and collected travel chronicles. He received the Moroccan Writers Union Award and directs the International Storytelling and Folklore Festival in Zagora as well as the Agadir Novel Symposium.

Nariman Youssef is a Cairo-born, London-based semi-freelance translator who works between Arabic and English and part-time manages a translation team at the British Library.

Four author photos of a man in red shirt, a woman in a green suit coat, a man in a keffieh and a woman with tussled hair

Video of The Common Spring Launch Party

Zoom screenshot of people attending the Poupeh Missaghi reading.

Fall 2020 Reading Series Videos

Watch videos of the 2020 readings by Poupeh Missaghi, Rafael Campo ’87, Shayla Lawson, Amity Gaige, and Mairead Case.