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Eastern Visiting Writers Series

The Eastern Visiting Writers Series, inaugurated in 2006, serves as a forum for writers of national standing to read from their work, share their views regarding the craft of writing and the state and outlook of literary publishing, and to interact with the Eastern community through class visits and small-group workshops. Through the Visiting Writers Series, Eastern has hosted Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists, National Book Award finalists, MacArthur Grant recipients, and best-selling authors of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

Videos of previous Eastern visiting writers

MessineoTeresa Messineo - April 2023 Reading

Historical fiction novelist; author of the international bestseller The Fire by Night and What we May Become. The Fire by Night is about frontline military nurses of WWII, and What We May Become, is set in Tuscany during WWII and deals with themes of betrayal, survival, and rising above our darkest selves. She spent seven years researching The Fire by Night, which currently available in three languages in seven countries, opening in the number one slot on Canada’s Best Sellers List. She teaches at Drexel University in Philadelphia. (Sponsored by CT Humanities)

LinGrace Lin - April 2023 Reading

NY Times bestselling author/ illustrator of children's books; a National Book Award Finalist; winner of the Newbery Honor and Caldecott Honor; recognized as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling; 2022 winner of the Children’s Literature Legacy Award from the American Library Association. (Sponsored by CT Humanities)

Marilyn NelsonMarilyn Nelson - March 2023 Reading

Author or translator of more than 20 books for adults, young adults, and children; a three-time finalist for the National Book Award; recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s award for “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry"; former Poet Laureate of Connecticut. (Sponsored by CT Humanities)

Anna Qu - April 2022 Reading Qu

Anna Qu read excerpts from her incredible memoirist, Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor. Anna Qu is the author of Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor. She writes personal essays on identity and growing up in New York as a Chinese immigrant. Her work has appeared in Poets & Writers, Lithub, Threepenny Review, Lumina, Kartika, Kweli, Vol.1 Brooklyn, and Jezebel, among others. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College. 

Dantiel W. Moniz - March 2021 Reading

Dantiel W. Monize is the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction, the Cecelia Joyce Johnson Emerging Writer Award by the Key West Literary Seminar, and a Tin House Scholarship. Her debut collection, Milk Blood Heat, is an Indie Next Pick, an Amazon "Best Book of the Month" selection, a Roxane Gay Audacious Book Club pick, and has been hailed as "must-read" by TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Elle, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, Harper’s Bazaar, Tin House, One Story, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and elsewhere. She lives in Northeast Florida and teaches fiction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hannah Ensor - November 2020 ReadingHannah

Hannah Ensor is a poet and essayist working around topics of pop culture, sports, queer television, and mass media. Her first book of poetry is Love Dream With Television (Noemi Press, 2018). With Natalie Diaz she served as associate editor of Bodies Built for Game, an anthology of contemporary sports literature, and with Laura Wetherington and Jill Darling she co-wrote the collaborative poetry chapbook at the intersection of 3

In 2019 she won the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging Writers from Lambda Literary. Her writing has appeared in literary journals and anthologies, including the PEN Poetry Series, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-DayEssay Daily, JUPITER88, and Anne Carson: Ecstatic Lyre.  

MarkMark Polanzak - October 2020 Reading

Mark Polanzak is author of The OK End of Funny Town (BOA Editions, 2020), which won the BOA Short Fiction Prize, and the hybrid fiction/memoir POP! (Stillhouse, 2016). His stories have appeared in The Southern Review and The American Scholar, and anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017. He is a founding editor of draft: the journal of process and a contributor to The Fail Safe podcast. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s MFA program in fiction, Mark Polanzak teaches writing and literature at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He lives in Salem, Massachusetts.

RichardRichard Bausch - February 2020 Reading

Bausch is the award-winning author of 13 novels and nine short story collections, three of which have been adapted into motion pictures. He is a recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Award in literature, the PEN/Malamud Award for short story excellence, and the Rea Award in fiction.

Bruce Weigl - October 2018 Reading

Bruce Weigl is the author of sixteen collections of poetry, including the forthcoming On the Shores of Welcome Home, The Abundance of Nothing (2012), a Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems (1999), and Song of Napalm (1988), which was nominated for the Pulitzer. He has also written a memoir, The Circle of Hanh, and translated four poetry collections into English. The Pulitzer Prize jury called The Abundance of Nothing "a powerful collection of poems which explore the trauma of the Vietnam War and the feelings that have never left many of those who fought in the conflict." He retired in May 2018 from Lorain (OH) County Community College, where he served for many years as Distinguished Professor and Director of Veterans Services.

Andrew Calhoun Scottish Folk Ballads - April 2018

Andrew Calhoun is a Chicago singer-songwriter, poet, author, and scholar. He has released thirteen albums-nine of original songs, two of traditional ballads, one of African-American spirituals and folk songs, and one of American and Irish folk songs.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan - April 2018 Reading

Maria Mazziotti Gillan has published 22 books of and about poetry and 4 anthologies. She received the 2014 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs).
Founder and executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ.
Director of the College Writing Program and Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University-SUNY

Laurie Halse Anderson - April 2017 Reading

Laurie Halse Anderson writes in a range of genres for young readers, from picture books to young adult novels, from nonfiction to historical fiction and contemporary realism. Her books for young readers have won national and international acclaim; two of her novels, Speak and Chains, were finalists for the National Book Award.

Ruchama King Feuerman - October 2016 Reading

Ruchama King Feuerman's celebrated first novel, Seven Blessings, about modern day matchmaking in Jerusalem, earned Feuerman the praise of the New York Times, and Kirkus Reviews dubbed her the "Jewish Jane Austen." Her second novel, In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, portrays the complexity of Jerusalem's history and people. It was chosen as best novel of the year by the Wall Street Journal, and Buzzfeed included it among "31 books that will restore your faith in humanity."

Joan Seliger Sidney and Jordan Thompson - October 2016 Reading

Joan Seliger Sidney is a writer of poetry and children's books in Storrs, Connecticut. She is a second generation Holocaust Survivor and writes to remember all that was lost during the Holocaust and how to live well with secondary-progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Joan Seliger Sidney has written 3 poetry books and has appeared in several publications and anthologies. Some of her books are Bereft and Blessed: Poems, Body of Diminishing Motion: Poems and a Memoir, and The Way the Past Comes Back. She received the 2013 Grand Prize, The Whole Megillah's Picture Book Awards, and the 2015 Category Finalist, Eric Hoffer Book Awards.

Jordan Thompson graduated from Eastern in 2015 with a degree in Sociology and a minor in English. He recently accepted a position at Disabilities Unlimited, which helps children and adults with all disabilities. He will advocate for them so they can live independent lives. Several of his poems appear in recent issues of Eastern's student literary arts journal, Eastern Exposure. He continues to write poetry in his spare time.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan - November 2015 Reading

English Department's Visiting Writers Series and the Eastern Writers Guild will present Maria Mazziotti Gillan Poetry Reading on Thursday, 11/19, at 5:30 p.m.

Maria Mazziotti Gillan is the Director of the Creative Writing Program and Professor of Poetry at Binghamton University; Founder/Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ; and editor of the Paterson Literary Review. She is the author of twenty books, most recently The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets, Ancestors' Song, Writing Poetry to Save Your Life: How to Find the Courage to Tell Your Stories, and the bilingual poetry collection In a Place of Flowers & Light. Dr. Gillan received the 2014 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the AWP, the 2011 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers and the 2008 American Book Award for her poetry collection All That Lies Between Us.

Paul Martin - September 2015 Reading

Paul Martin is the author of six poetry collections, including Morning on Canal Street (2005), Closing Distances (2009), and, most recently, Floating on the River (2015), which won the 2015 Grayson Books Chapbook Competition. His 2013 collection, Rooms of the Living, was a co-winner of the 2012 Coal Hill Review Chapbook Prize. His poems have been published in numerous journals, including America, Boulevard, Commonweal, New Letters, Poetry East, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and Southern Poetry Review, and have been included in several important anthologies, including Boundaries of Twilight: Czecho-Slovak Writing from the New World; Carrying the Darkness: Poetry of the Vietnam War; Family: A Celebration; Life on the Line; From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath; and Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania.
This event is sponsored by the Eastern Writers Guild and the Eastern Visiting Writers Series.

Jim Shepard - April 2015 Reading

Wednesday, April 15, 2015, the Eastern Writers Guild welcomed author and professor Jim Shepard. Aside from his many published works of short stories, this Bridgeport, CT, native teaches at Williams College and as serves as an editor for the Amherst College literary magazine, The Common. Jim Shepard did a reading of his 2011 short story collection You Think That's Bad at 5:30 p.m. in Goddard 100.

This event was co-sponsored by the Eastern Writers Guild and Eastern Visiting Writers Series.

HartBeat Ensemble - February 2015 Performance

HartBeat Ensemble performed "Can't Wait: Reflections on the Movement" as part of African-American History month/ Intercultural Celebration calendar on February 4 at 3 p.m. The event took place in the Theater, Student Center. A talk-back with the actors followed the performance.

Can't Wait/Reflections on the Movement takes Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous Letters from a Birmingham Jail, and interweaves his reflections with the many voices from then until now. From Maya Angelou to Jay-Z, comments from social media and the music of Sam Cooke and George Clinton, hear how the Civil Rights movement echoes the hopes, fears, dreams and living nightmares of today. How have things changed? We have made progress for the better, what can we do about the things that are worse?

This event was co-sponsored by the Intercultural Center, the Department of English, and Eastern Visiting Writers Series.

Michael Sheehan - March 2012 Reading

Eastern Visiting Writers Series presented Michael Sheehan reading on Wednesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in Science Building Room 301. He read from Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned published by Colony Collapse Press in 2012.

Michael Sheehan's fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Conjunctions, Sakura Review, Heavy Feather Review, DIAGRAM, Necessary Fiction, The Quarterly Conversation, and The Rumpus. He is a former fellow of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the Vermont Studio Center as well as a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Arizona. Sheehan was editor in chief of Sonora Review, and currently he is the reviews editor and assistant fiction editor for DIAGRAM.

Lesléa Newman - November 2012 Reading

Lesléa Newman's three-day residency included meeting with the LGTBQA campus community, consulting with student writers, and visiting multisiciplinary classes from November 6 - November 8, 2012.

Lesléa Newman is the author of sixty books, nine of which have been Lambda Literary Award finalists. She has received many literary awards including Poetry Fellowships from the Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Highlights for Children Fiction Writing Award, the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement, and three Pushcart Prize Nominations. Some topics that her books deal with include lesbian identity, Jewish identity and the intersection and collision between the two. Other topics Ms. Newman explores include AIDS, eating disorders, butch/femme relationships and sexual abuse. In addition to being an author, Ms. Newman is a popular guest lecturer and has spoken on college campuses.

Geraldine Mills and Lisa C. Taylor - March 2012 Reading

The Eastern Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English presented Geraldine Mills and Lisa C. Taylor reading from their international collaborative collection of poetry, The Other Side of Longing, and newer work on March 12 in the Science Building Room 301 at 7 p.m. Introduced by Connecticut poet, Charlie Chase

Geraldine Mills is an award-winning Irish poet and short fiction writer, author of two publications of fiction and four collections of poetry, most recently An Urgency of Stars. She has won the OKI Award, the Moore Medallion, and was the Millennium winner of the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune New Irish Writer Award. She was chosen, along with Lisa C. Taylor for for the Elizabeth Shanley Gerson Lecture at UConn in 2011.

Lisa C. Taylor is an award-winning poet and the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Insufficient Thanks (2012). Lisa'swork has been included in two anthologies, and she's been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the L.L. Winship PEN New England Award. She has taught part-time at Eastern for over five years.

M. T. Anderson - November 2011 Reading

M. T. Anderson will read from his work and conduct a master class for students in English 309, Writing for Children and Young Adults, on Monday, November 28, 2011 at 4 p.m. in Science Building Room 301. Members of the university community are invited to attend. Light refreshments anda book signing will follow the discussion.

M. T. Anderson, a popular speaker on college campuses, has written stories for adults, picture books for children, adventure novels for young readers, and several books for older readers (both teens and adults). His satirical book Feed was a Finalist for the National Book Award and was the winner of the L. A. Times Book Prize. The first volume of his Octavian Nothing saga won the National Book Award and the Boston Globe / Horn Book Prize. Both the first and second volumes of that two-part series were Printz Honor Books. He has published stories for adults in literary journals like The Northwest Review, The Colorado Review, and Conjunctions.

Lisa C. Taylor and Geraldine Mills - April 2011 Reading

Eastern Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English presented Lisa C. Taylor and Geraldine Mills reading from their newly released international collaborative collection The Other Side of Longing. The reading was held on Monday, April 4, at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Theater.

Geraldine Mills is the author of two published collections of short fiction and four collections of poetry, including Toil the Dark Harvest (2004) and an Urgency of Stars (2009). Her writing has earned her the OKI Award, the Moore Medallion, the RTÉ/Penguin Short Story Competition, and a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship. She was named the Millennium winner of the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune New Irish Writer Award.

Lisa C. Taylor is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Talking to Trees (2007). In 2009, Lisa was awarded a Surdna Arts Teaching Fellowship to travel to Ireland to explore landscape, culture, and folklore with Geraldine. The result is a co-authored book, The Other Side of Longing (Arlen House/Syracuse University Press, 2011).

Gail Carson Levine - March 2010 Reading

The Visiting Writers Series presented children's book author, Gail Carson Levine, in a reading on Monday, March 15, 2010. Gail Carson Levine grew up in New York City and has been writing all her life. Her first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a 1998 Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Fairest; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; and the six Princess Tales books. She is also the author of the nonfiction book Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly and the picture book Betsy Who Cried Wolf, illustrated by Scott Nash.

Patrick Rosal - March 2010 Reading

The ECSU Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English presented a reading by Patrick Rosal on Thursday, March 11, 2010.

Patrick Rosal is the author of two full-length poetry collections, including My American Kundiman, which won the Association of Asian American Studies 2006 Book Award in Poetry as well as the 2007 Global Filipino Literary Award. Hisbook Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive won the Members' Choice Award from the Asian American Writers' Workshop. He was recently awarded a Fulbright grant as a U.S. Scholar to the Philippines. The son of immigrants from the Ilocosregion of the Philippines, Rosal is a New Jersey native, a life-long amateur musician, an old-school b-boy and DJ. He can still uprock and do baby swipes.

Aracelis Girmay - April 2009 Reading

Curbstone Press, the Department of English, and the Women's Studies Program presented writer Aracelis Girmay in a writing workshop and reading on Tuesday, April 7, 2009.

Aracelis Girmay's first collection, Teeth, has been called "one of the best debuts by any poet in recent memory." Her poems explore love, war, violence, defiance, and hope. Her children's art book, Changing Changing, was published by George Braziller in 2005. She is a former Watson and Cave Canem fellow whose work has been published in numerous journals and literary magazines.

Mari L'Espearance - March 2009 Reading

The ECSU Visiting Writers Series and the Department of English presented Mari L'Esperance reading her award winning poetry on Monday, March 30, 2009.

Mari L'Esperance's first full-length collection The Darkened Temple was awarded the 2007 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and published by University of Nebraska Press in September 2008. She has also published an award-winning chapbook titled Begin Here (2000, Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press). L'Esperance's poems have appeared in The Beloit Poetry Journal, Many Mountains Moving, Pequod, Salamander, and elsewhere and her work has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.

Born in Kobe, Japan and raised in California, Guam, and Japan, Mari L'Esperance is a graduate of New York University's Creative Writing Program and a recipient of grants from the New York Times Company Foundation, Hedgebrook, and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, L'Esperance lives in Oakland, California.

ZZ Packer - February 2009 Reading

Acclaimed novelist and short story writer ZZ Packer was at ECSU on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 24 and 25 as part of the Eastern Visiting Writers Series.

ZZ Packer's debut collection of short stories, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (Riverhead Books) was a New York Times Notable Book, winner of a Commonwealth Club Fiction Award and an Alex Award and a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist. The book was personally selected by John Updike for the Today Show Book Club. Kirkus Reviews calls Drinking Coffee Elsewhere "highly personal yet socio-politically acute: a debut collection that cuts to the bone of human experience and packs a lasting wallop."

Packer's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Zoetrope, and the Best American Short Stories Anthology, and she was named one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists. Her non-fiction has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Times Book Review and Salon. She has received a Whiting Writers' Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Jack Adam York - April 2008 Reading

Dr. York gave two presentations. During the University Hour (3-4 p.m.), he spoke about the craft of poetry writing and the challenges of writing poetry inspired by history. At 7 p.m., he gave a poetry reading.

Jake Adam York is the author of Murder Ballads (Winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize and published in 2005), The Architecture of Address: The Monument and Public Speech in American Poetry (Routledge, 2005), and, most recently, A Murmuration of Starlings (Southern Illinois Press, 2008), the second in a projected series of volumes that elegize the martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement.

Dr. York has an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University and is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado-Denver, where he serves as a faculty advisor and editor for Copper Nickel, an impressive new literary journal.

Kim Addonizio - March 2008 Reading

Kim Addonizio is the author of four books of poetry (The Philosopher's Club, Jimmy & Rita, Tell Me (2000 National Book Award Finalist), and What Is This Thing Called Love) and two novels, Little Beauties and My Dreams Out in the Street.

In addition, she has published a book of stories, In the Box Called Pleasure, and is also co-author, with Dorianne Laux, of The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry. With Cheryl Dumesnil she co-edited Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos.

Her awards include two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, a Commonwealth Club Poetry Medal, and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rattawut Lapcharoensap - November 2007 Reading

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted a reading featuring, young award-winning Thai-American writer Rattawut Lapcharoensap on Thursday, November 29, 2007.

Rattawut Lapcharoensap's debut collection of short stories, Sightseeing, was published in 2005 (Grove Press) and has been translated into many languages. It was selected for the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" program, won the Asian American Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. Granta Magazine recently included Lapcharoensap in its "Best of Young American Novelists" issue. His work has appeared in numerous literary magazines as well as in Best New American Voices 2005 (Harvest Books) and Best American Non-required Reading 2005 (Houghton Mifflin).

Born in Chicago and raised in Bangkok, Lapcharoensap resides in New York City where he teaches creative writing and literature.

Richard Bausch - October 2007

Richard Bausch is one of the premier fiction writers in America today. He is the author of ten highly acclaimed novels and seven volumes of short stories. His most recent novel is Thanksgiving Night (HarperCollins 2006) and in 1996 The Modern Library published an edition entitled The Selected Stories of Richard Bausch.

He also is the editor of The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, GQ, and other publications, and has been featured in numerous best-of collections, including the O. Henry Awards, The Best American Short Stories, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, and New Stories from the South. Two of Mr. Bausch's novels were finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and in 2004 he won the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.

He taught for many years at George Mason University in Virginia and currently holds the Moss Chair of Excellence in English at the University of Memphis.

Bruce Weigl - March 2007 Reading

Dr. Weigl's first full-length collection of poems, A Romance, was published in 1979. Two more poetry collections, The Monkey Wars and Song of Napalm, quickly followed, with his most recent collections being Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems and After the Others (1999). He received a Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 1979, and taught at the University of Arkansas, Old Dominion University, Penn State, and is now distinguished professor at Lorain County Community College.

Weigl has contributed various well-renowned poems for over 25 years. Many of his poems are inspired by the time he spent in the U.S. Army and Vietnam. Weigl has also translated poems of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers captured during war with Thanh T. Nguyen of the Joiner Research Center. Weigl has received the American Academy of Poets prize, two Pushcart Prizes, a Patterson Poetry Prize, and a Yaddo Foundation Fellowship. Weigl was awarded the Bread Loaf Fellowship in Poetry in 1981 and was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988 for Arts and Creative Writing. He was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Song of Napalm.

Mark Winegardner - October 2006

Mark Winegardner published his first book at age 26 while still in graduate school. He has taught at Miami, George Mason, George Washington, and John Carroll Universities, and is now a professor in the creative writing program at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

Winegardner has won grants, fellowships and residencies from the Ohio Arts Council, the Lilly Endowment, the Ragdale Foundation, the Sewanee Writers Conference and the Corporation of Yaddo. His books have been chosen as among the best of the year by the New York Times Book Review, Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, the New York Public Library, and USA Today. His work has appeared in GQ, Playboy, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, DoubleTake, Family Circle, The Sporting News, Witness, Story Quarterly, American Short Fiction, Ladies Home Journal, Parents and The New York Times Magazine. Several of his stories have been chosen as Distinguished Stories of the Year in The Best American Short Stories.