About the Visiting Writers Reading Series

The Visiting Writers Reading Series brings established and emerging writers to share their work with the community. The Visiting Writers Reading Series is sponsored by the Department of English, the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, the Lawrence Parke Murphy and Robert Goldstein Trust, and by generous donations from the extended Whitman community.

Information about the 2022-2023 series' events can be found below. For more information about upcoming events in the series, please see the campus calendar. 

Visiting Writers Reading Series 2022-2023 Events

Camille Dungy portrait

A Reading and Conversation with Poet & Writer Camille Dungy
Edward J. Arnold Visiting Professor in Environmental Humanities

Olin Auditorium
Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 7 p.m.

This in-person event will also be live-streamed for online viewing at https://live.whitman.edu/

Camille T. Dungy is the 2022-23 Edward J. Arnold Visiting Professor. She's the author of Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and four collections of poetry, including Trophic Cascade, winner of the Colorado Book Award. Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, the first anthology to bring African American environmental poetry to national attention. She also co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology and served as assistant editor for Gathering Ground: Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade. Dungy is the poetry editor for Orion magazine. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, 100 Best African American Poems, Best American Essays, The 1619 Project, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, over 40 other anthologies, plus dozens of venues including The New Yorker, Poetry, Literary Hub, and Poets.org. You may know her as the host of Immaterial, a podcast from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Magnificent Noise. Dungy’s honors include the 2021 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Book Award, and fellowships from the NEA in both prose and poetry.

Melissa Febos portrait

Melissa Febos

Thursday, October 20, 2022: 5:30-6:30 (Virtual Reading)

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir Whip Smart and two essay collections: Abandon Me, a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist and Publishing Triangle Award finalist, and Girlhood, a national bestseller. Catapult will publish a collection of her craft essays, Body Work, on March 15, 2022. A recipient of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and of fellowships from MacDowell, Bread Loaf, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The BAU Institute, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Foundation, and others; her essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Granta, The Yale Review, Tin House, The Sun, and The New York Times Magazine.

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was widely named a Best Book of 2017. Her third book, Girlhood (Bloomsbury 2021), was a national bestseller and the winner of the National Book Critics Circle aware for criticism. Her most recent book is Body Work (Catapult, 2022).

Febos is the recipient of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and the Sarah Verdone Writing Award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and has been awarded other prizes and fellowships from MacDowell, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation, The BAU Institute at the Camargo Foundation, Ragdale, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, and others. Her essays have appeared in Tin House, Granta, The Paris Review, The Sun, McSweeney’s, The Believer, The Yale Review, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. She is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.

Karen Russell portrait

Karen Russell Reading/Q&A 

Olin Auditorium
Thursday, November 10, 2022, 7 p.m.

Karen Russell’s debut novel, Swamplandia!, was chosen by The New York Times as one of the Ten Best Books of 2011, was the winner of the NYPL Young Lions prize, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Russell has been featured in  The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, and was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. In 2009, she received the 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation. In 2013 she was named a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2012 and 2018 winner of the National Magazine Award for the Fiction category, and a 2013 finalist for the Feature Writing category. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American series, optioned for film and television, and adapted for the stage. Her latest book, Orange World, is a stunning new collection of short fiction that showcases Karen Russell’s extraordinary, irresistible gifts of language and imagination. In February 2023, The Night Falls, an evening length work of dance theater developed by librettist and lyricist Karen Russell, the composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, and the choreographer Troy Schumacher, will premiere at Peak Performances.

A captivating speaker, Karen Russell has spoken at libraries, universities, lecture series, and conferences around the country. She has been a visiting professor at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Bryn Mawr College, Williams College, and served as the Endowed Chair of the Texas State MFA program from 2017-2020. She is the recipient of a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship and the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Berlin Prize and was awarded a fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin.

Karen Russell is also the author of the celebrated short story collections St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, and the illustrated novella Sleep Donation, published by Vintage in 2020. Russell graduated summa cum laude from Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University in 2003, and received her MFA from Columbia University in 2006. She was born and raised in Miami, Florida and now lives with her husband, son, and daughter in Portland, Oregon.

Shangyang Fang portrait

Shangyang Fang

Kimball Theatre
Thursday, December 1, 2022, 7 p.m. 

Shangyang Fang grew up in Chengdu, China, and writes both in English and Chinese. A graduate from Michener Center for Writers, he is a recipient of the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Award and the Wallace Stegner fellowship from Stanford University. His works appeared in The Nation, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, The Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and The Forward Book of Poetry Anthology. He is the author of the poetry collection, Burying the Mountain (Copper Canyon Press, 2021). 

Lacy M. Johnson

Lacy M. Johnson

Kimball Theatre
Thursday, February 9, 2023, 7 p.m.

Lacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based professor, curator, activist, and is author of THE RECKONINGS (Scribner, 2018), which was named a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in Criticism and one of the best books of 2018 by Boston Globe,  Electric Literature, Autostraddle, Book Riot, and Refinery 29. She is also author of THE OTHER SIDE (Tin House, 2014). For its frank and fearless confrontation of the epidemic of violence against women, The Other Side was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, the CLMP Firecracker Award in Nonfiction; it was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writer Selection for 2014, and was named one of the best books of 2014 by KirkusLibrary Journal, and the Houston Chronicle. She is also author of   TRESPASSES: A MEMOIR (University of Iowa Press, 2012), which has been anthologized in The Racial Imaginary (Fence Books, 2015) and Literature: The Human Experience (Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2013-2018). She is co-editor, with Cheryl Beckett, of MORE CITY THAN WATER: A HOUSTON FLOOD ATLAS (University of Texas Press, 2022).

She worked as a cashier at WalMart, sold steaks door-to-door, and puppeteered with a traveling children’s museum before earning a PhD from University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, where she was both an Erhardt Fellow and Inprint Fondren Fellow. As a writer and artist, she has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Houston Endowment, Rice University's Humanities Research CenterHouston Arts Alliance, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Kansas Arts Commission (may it rest in peace), the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Inprint, and Millay Colony for the Arts. Her work has appeared in the Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing, the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Paris Review, Orion, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, Guernica, Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, Sentence, TriQuarterly, Gulf Coast and elsewhere. She teaches creative nonfiction at Rice University and is the Founding Director of the Houston Flood Museum.  

Jane Miller portrait

Jane Miller

Kimball Theatre
Thursday, April 6, 2023, 7 p.m.

Jane Miller has written twelve books, most recently the poetry collection Who Is Trixie the Trasher? and Other Questions, and From the Valley of Bronze Camels: A Primer, Some Lectures, & A Boondoggle on PoetryShe has performed her creative work and lectured on literature and the fine arts at universities, colleges, libraries, community centers, and arts venues for over thirty years. Miller is the recipient of a Wallace Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Western States Book Award, and the Audre Lorde Award. She served as a professor for many years in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona—including a stint as its director—and as a visiting poet at the University of Texas Michener Center for Writers in Austin.

Rachel Heng portrait

Rachel Heng

Kimball Theatre
April 27, 2023, 7 p.m.

Rachel Heng is the author of the novels The Great Reclamation (Riverhead, 2023) and Suicide Club (Henry Holt, 2018), which has been translated into ten languages worldwide. Rachel's short fiction has been published in The New Yorker, McSweeney's Quarterly, Glimmer Train, Best Small Fictions, Best New Singaporean Short Stories and elsewhere. She is currently an Assistant Professor in English at Wesleyan University.