Fall 2023 Creative Writing Series

Mona Susan Power

Wednesday, September 13th, 7:00 pm         
CHI Think Tank (Lyceum 101)

Mona Susan Power is the author of four books of fiction: The Grass Dancer (winner of the PEN/Hemingway award), Roofwalker, Sacred Wilderness, and the newly released novel, A Council of Dolls. Fellowships in support of her writing include an Iowa Arts Fellowship, James Michener Fellowship, Radcliffe Bunting Institute Fellowship, Princeton Hodder Fellowship, USA Artists Fellowship, McKnight Fellowship, and Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship. Her short stories and essays have been widely published in journals, magazines and anthologies including: The Best American Short Stories, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, and Ploughshares. Power is Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Dakhóta, and an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Saint Paul where she is currently working on a new novel.

Mona Susan Power’s website

“This heartstopper of a book reached out, grabbed me, and did not let go. Power’s ability to make language sing, cry, scream, and laugh illuminates this book that shines a light into the dark corners of America’s history. Read it—and be healed.”

—Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of The Evening Hero

Leaning Toward Light: A Celebration of Poetry for Gardens and the Hands that Tend Them

Tuesday, September 19th, 7:00 pm            
Book & Plow Farm Pavilion (425 South East Street) 
(in the event of a thunderstorm, the event will be held in the CHI Think Tank, Lyceum 101)

Leaning Toward Light is an anthology from a wide range of voices that speak to the collective urge to grow, tend, and heal—an evocative celebration of our connection to the green world. The book party will include poetry readings by contributors Hannah Fries, Kirun Kapur ’97, Anna Ross, Brian Simoneau ’99, and the book’s editor, Tess Taylor ’99.

Tess Taylor, an avid gardener, is the author of five acclaimed collections of poetry including Work & Days, which was named one of the 10 best books of poetry of 2016 by the New York Times. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Tin House, The Times Literary Supplement, CNN, and the New York Times. Taylor has been Distinguished Fulbright US Scholar at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Queen’s University in Northern Ireland, and the Anne Spencer Poet-in-Residence at Randolph College. She has also served as on-air poetry reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered for over a decade. Taylor lives in El Cerrito, California, where she tends to fruit trees and backyard chickens.

Leaning Toward Light website

“Among the many things to love about this beautiful anthology is that it reminds us that gardening  is a gathering practice, a practice of gathering, and the more we do it together—with collaborators human, critterly, fungal, floral, meteorological, cosmic, unborn, living, living now as soil, etc.—the better, by which I mean the more lovingly, the more belovingly, the more truly, we do it.”

— Ross Gay, author of Inciting Joy and The Book of Delights

About the Venue:

Transport and Parking 
Walking: Book and Plow Farm is about a 15 minute walk from the center of campus. You can walk through campus to the Tennis Courts, and then follow signs onto Farm Rd, a gravel road past campus materials piles and construction parking, that leads to the farm Core Site. There is also access via just off the bike trail or through our Sanctuary Trail System. 
Driving: If you want to drive to the farm you can take that same Farm Road, or you can drive up the hill from a second entryway at 425 South East St. If you are interested in booking vehicles to travel to the farm, you can reserve vehicles via the Amherst Virtual EMS site. We can accommodate about 2 dozen vehicles around our grass parking area, and there is more space for parking further up Tuttle Hill. 

The Pavilion is a brand new space on campus that is wheelchair accessible, with one designated accessible parking space. We also newly have an accessible port-a-potty on site. The road up to and around the farm is gravel. 

Wesley Straton ’11

Thursday, October 12th, 6:30 pm            
CHI Think Tank (Lyceum 101)

Wesley Straton was raised by Deadheads in Northern California and now lives in Brooklyn by way of New England, New Zealand, and Australia. She holds an MFA from Brooklyn College, where she was a two-time recipient of the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award and served as an editor for the Brooklyn Review. Wesley writes fiction about found families, alienation, and how where we live shapes who we are. Her work has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Common, and Meniscus, and has been shortlisted for the Disquiet Literary Prize. Wesley has worked in the service industry since 2011, mostly as a bartender, and has written about international bar culture for Roads & Kingdoms, GQ, and The Counter. Her debut novel, The Bartender’s Cure, was published by Flatiron Books in 2022.

Wesley Straton’s website

“Like a finely crafted cocktail, this novel’s brilliance exists in its perfect balance of sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and strength. As much a love letter to the service industry as it is a coming-of-age story, Straton’s rendering of Brooklyn bars and found families will leave you yearning for your favorite local. Shake this triumphant debut with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. No garnish necessary.”

—Camille Perri, author of When Katie Met Cassidy and The Assistants

Danielle Vogel

Tuesday, October 24th, 7:00 pm            
CHI Think Tank (Lyceum 101)

Danielle Vogel is a poet, lyric essayist, and interdisciplinary artist working at the intersections of queer ecology, somatics, and ceremony. She is the author of four hybrid poetry collections, including Edges & Fray and a triptych of poetic texts: Between Grammars, The Way a Line Hallucinates Its Own Linearity, and A Library of Light (forthcoming 2024). Her installations and site-responsive works have been displayed at RISD Museum, among other art venues, and adaptations of her work have been performed at such places as Carnegie Hall in New York and the Tjarnarbíó Theater in Reykjavík, Iceland. Vogel is an associate professor at Wesleyan University, where she teaches workshops in innovative poetics, memory and memoir, and composing across the arts. She makes her home in the Connecticut River Valley where she also runs a private practice as a herbalist and flower essence practitioner.

Danielle Vogel’s website

“Danielle Vogel is an alchemist of language, time, and the body. Reading A Library of Light, I almost expected my thoughts to materialize in front of me. What a strange, intense pleasure it is to feel the categories dissolving, to be allowed to accompany Vogel in her journey 'through the door of [her] mother's body' and into all the light she both finds and makes beyond.”

—Heather Christle, author of The Crying Book

Neema Avashia

Wednesday, November 8th, 7:00 pm            
CHI Think Tank (Lyceum 101)

Neema Avashia is the daughter of Indian immigrants, and was born and raised in southern West Virginia. She has been an educator and activist in the Boston Public Schools since 2003, and was named a City of Boston Educator of the Year in 2013. Her first book, Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place, was published by West Virginia University Press in March 2022. It has been called “A timely collection that begins to fill the gap in literature focused mainly on the white male experience” by Ms. Magazine, and “A graceful exploration of identity, community, and contradictions,” by Scalawag. The book was named Best LGBTQ Memoir of 2022 by BookRiot, was one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2022, and was a finalist for the New England Book Award, the Weatherford Award, and a Lambda Literary Award. She lives in Boston with her partner, Laura, and her daughter, Kahani.

Neema Avashia’s website

“Neema Avashia, in this book, has named the unnamed, spoken the unspoken so that it does not become—to paraphrase Adrienne Rich—the unspeakable, and she has done so in language that is both lyrical and direct, both entertaining and edifying, both challenging and generous. I love this book and believe it introduces an important voice in America’s ongoing racial reckoning.”

—Rahul Mehta, author of No Other World

Ling Ma

Wednesday, December 6th, 7:00 pm           
CHI Think Tank (Lyceum 101)

Ling Ma’s most recent book is Bliss Montage: Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2022), which was named a National Indie Bestseller, a New Yorker Best Book of the Year, and a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Severance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2018), described as a “meticulous, caustic description of life in big cities and what happens when a terrible pandemic slowly annihilates most of the human population.” Severance won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Named a New York Times Notable Book and an NPR Best Book of 2018, it has been translated into seven languages. Ling’s fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Granta, Playboy, Vice, Chicago Reader, Ninth Letter, Buzzfeed, and more. Her fellowships include a Whiting Award, and an NEA creative writing fellowship. Ling was born in Sanming, China, and grew up in Utah and Kansas. She received her MFA from Cornell University. Prior to graduate school she worked as a journalist and editor. She has taught creative writing and English at Cornell University and the University of Chicago. She lives in Chicago.

Ling Ma’s website

“Weird and wonderful, surreal and subversive . . . Ma is well on her way to a landmark career.”

―Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire