Fall 2022 Creative Writing Presenters

A woman with red lipstick and a red shirt
A Reading and Conversation: Bree Barton ’07

Wednesday, September 21st 7:00 pm
CHI Think Tank (Frost Library, 2nd floor)

Bree Barton is an author, speaker, performance artist, and mental health advocate. Her books for young readers have been published in nine countries and six languages, including the Heart of Thorns fantasy series (KT/HarperCollins), and her bestselling middle grade debut, Zia Erases the World (Viking/PRH). Connecting with teens and tweens is her raison d'être: she speaks at schools, libraries, and nonprofits around the country about mental health. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Slate, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Zócalo, and NPR, and her short fiction in The Iowa Review, McSweeney's, and Roxane Gay’s PANK.

A book cover titled Zia Erases the World
She is the recent recipient of a Creative Recovery Grant; her project, “Naming the Unnamable: Youth Stories of Resilience and Survival,” will premiere in Ithaca, New York next year. She is a proud 2007 graduate of Amherst College, where she performed in Mr. Gad’s House of Improv and never stopped striving to be funny. Bree lives in Ithaca with her partner Chris and their two waggish dogs, Piglet and Finley Fergus Fitzgerald III.

“Luminous, empowering, and full of heart-healing truths, this is a novel that belongs on every shelf.”

—Katherine Applegate, Newbery Award winning author, on Zia Erases the World

A woman wearing a blue coat standing in front of a city skyline
A Performance and Conversation: Virginia Grise

Thursday, October 6th, 7:00 pm
CHI Think Tank (Frost Library, 2nd floor)

From panzas to prisons, from street theatre to large-scale multimedia performances, from princess to chafa – Virginia Grise writes plays that are set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. Her published work includes Your Healing is Killing Me (Plays Inverse Press), blu (Yale University Press), The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press) and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press). Virginia is a recipient of the Alpert Award in the Arts, Yale Drama Award, Whiting Writers' Award, Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing, and the Playwrights’ Center’s Jerome Fellowship. She is an alum of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab & the Women's Project Theatre Lab.

A book cover titled Your Healing Is Killing Me
In addition to plays, she has created a body of work that includes multimedia performance, dance theater, performance installations, guerilla theater, site specific interventions, and community gatherings. Virginia has taught writing for performance at the university level, as a public school teacher, in community centers, women’s prisons and in the juvenile correction system. She is the Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Cara Mia Theatre and a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.

"Virginia Grise is a blazingly talented writer.”

—Playwright David Hare, judging the Yale Drama Award

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A Reading and Conversation: Mona Awad

Tuesday, October 25th, 7:00 pm
CHI Think Tank (Frost Library, 2nd floor)

Mona Awad was born in Montreal and has lived in the US since 2009. Her debut novel, 13 Ways Of Looking at a Fat Girl (Penguin, 2016), won the Amazon Best First Novel Award, the Colorado Book Award and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Arab American Book Award. It was also long-listed for the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour and the International Dublin Award.

Bunny, her second novel (Viking, 2019), was a finalist for a GoodReads Choice Award for Best Horror, the New England Book Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, and it won The Ladies of Horror Fiction Best Novel Award. Her newest book is All’s Well. She lives in Boston.

A book cover titled All's Well
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

“Wild and exhilarating and so fresh it takes your breath away, All's Well is an utterly delicious novel of pain and vitality, Shakespeare and the uncanny, and our own subtle moral failures when we brush up against the pain of others. Mona Awad's talent is so vital that it absolutely roars out of her.”

—Lauren Groff, author of Matrix

A woman wearing a black sweater and glasses
A Reading and Conversation: Catherine Ciepiela

Wednesday, November 2nd, 7:00 pm
CHI Think Tank (Frost Library, 2nd floor)

Catherine Ciepiela studies and translates Russian literature. She co-edited, with Honor Moore, The Stray Dog Cabaret, an anthology of poems by the Russian modernists, and edited the anthology Relocations, featuring three contemporary Russian women poets. Her translations have appeared in The Nation, The Massachusetts Review, Seneca Review, and elsewhere.

A book cover titled Living Pictures
She recently published her translation of Polina Barskova’s prose, Living Pictures, with NYRB. The book got a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and The Spectator made special note of “the excellent translator Catherine Ciepiela.” She is the Howard M. and Martha P. Mitchell Professor of Russian at Amherst College.

“With its impeccable scholarship, theoretical acumen, and rich, resourceful close readings, Catherine Ciepiela's The Same Solitude marks a major contribution to the study of Russian modernist poetry and gender.”

—Clare Cavanagh, Herman and Beulah Pearce Miller Research Professor in Literature, Northwestern University

A woman wearing glasses and smiling
A Reading and Conversation: Catherine Newman ’90

Thursday, November 10th, 7:00 pm
The Powerhouse

Catherine Newman is the author of the memoirs Catastrophic Happiness and Waiting for Birdy, the middle-grade novel One Mixed-Up Night, and the best-selling how-to books for kids How to Be a Person and What Can I Say?, and co-author, with Nicole Blum, of the kids’ craft book Stitch Camp.

A book cover titled We All Want Impossible Things
She edits the non-profit kids' cooking magazine ChopChop, has written the etiquette column for Real Simple magazine for 10 years, and is a regular contributor to the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, Cup of Jo, and many other publications. Her newest book, We All Want Impossible Things, is a novel for adults, and comes out in November. She is the Academic Department Coordinator of Creative Writing at Amherst College.

“Newman is a comic masterhand and a dazzling philosopher of the day-to-day.”

—Amity Gaige, author of Sea Wife