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Gertrude C. & Harold S. Vanderbilt Visiting Writers Series

About the Gertrude C. and Harold S. Vanderbilt Visiting Writers Series

The Gertrude C. and Harold S. Vanderbilt Visiting Writers Series is named in honor of Vanderbilt founder Cornelius Vanderbilt’s great-grandson and his wife. Each semester, the series brings several professional writers to campus to read from their works and visit classes. This unique and extraordinary program gives English department students and faculty, the Vanderbilt community, and Nashville’s citizens a chance to meet and talk with some of the best writers of our day.

For more information about the Visiting Writers Series and to sign up for our e-mail announcement list, fill out the form below:

Spring 2024 Readings



January 25, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Megan Fernandez, Poetry

Megan Fernandes is the author of I Do Everything I’m Told, and Good Boys, a finalist for the Kundiman Book Prize, the Saturnalia Book Prize, and the Paterson Poetry Prize. She has work published in The New Yorker, The American Poetry ReviewTin House, Ploughshares, Chicago Review, Boston Review, Rattle, PANK, The Common, Guernica, the Academy of American Poets, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others.

Fernandes is an Associate Professor of English and the Writer-in-Residence at Lafayette College, where she teaches poetry, creative nonfiction, and critical theory courses.



March 21, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Edgar Kunz, Poetry

Edgar Kunz is the author of Fixer (Ecco, 2023) and Tap Out (Ecco, 2019), a New York Times New & Noteworthy pick. He has been a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, a MacDowell Fellow, and a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. New poems appear in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, APR, and Oxford American. He lives in Baltimore and teaches at Goucher College.




March 21, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Anders Carlson-Wee, Poetry

Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of Disease of Kings, forthcoming from W.W. Norton in October 2023.  He is also the author of The Low Passions, and Dynamite, winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Prize. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Harvard Review, BuzzFeed, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sun, The Southern Review, and many other publications. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writers, the Camargo Foundation, Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, he is the winner of the Poetry International Prize. His work has been translated into Chinese. Anders holds an MFA from Vanderbilt University.



April 4, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Bianca Stone, poetry

Bianca Stone is the author of the poetry collections What is Otherwise Infinite (Tin House, 2022), which won the 2023 Vermont Book Award in Poetry; The Möbius Strip Club of GriefSomeone Else’s Wedding Vows and collaborated with Anne Carson on the illuminated version of Antigonick. Her work has appeared in many magazines, including The New YorkerThe Atlantic, and The Nation. She teaches poetry and poetic study classes at the Ruth Stone House, where she is editor-at-large for ITERANT magazine and host of Ode & Psyche Podcast.




February 22, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Sidik Fofana, Fiction

Sidik Fofana is the author of Stories from the Tenants Downstairs, his debut short story collection composed of eight narratives about residents of a fictional building in Harlem.   His work has appeared in the Sewanee Review and Granta. Fofana is a graduate of NYU’s MFA program and a public school teacher in Brooklyn.




♦March 21, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Claire Jiménez, Fiction

Claire Jiménez is a Puerto Rican writer who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York. She is the author of the short story collection Staten Island Stories (2019) and What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez (2023). Jimenez received her M.F.A. from Vanderbilt University and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. In 2019, she co-founded the Puerto Rican Literature Project, a digital archive documenting the lives and work of hundreds of Puerto Rican writers from over the last century. She is an Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina.



April 18, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Rebecca Makkai, Fiction

Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great BelieversThe Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for WartimeThe Great Believers was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and received the ALA Carnegie Medal and the LA Times Book Prize, among other honors. Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University and the Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.


Fall 2023 Readings



September 21, 2023, Vanderbilt Bookstore: Sigrid Nunez, Fiction

Sigrid Nunez has published eight novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Friend, and, most recently, What Are You Going Through. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Her new novel, The Vulnerables, will be published by Riverhead Books in November 2023. The Friend, a New York Times bestseller, won the 2018 National Book Award and was a finalist for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award. Her work has been translated into thirty languages. She lives in New York City.



October 12, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Jamil Jan Kochai, Fiction

Jamil Jan Kochai is the author of The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories, winner of the 2023 Aspen Words Literary Prize and a finalist for the 2022 National Book Award.  His debut novel, 99 Nights in Logar, was a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel.  His short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Best American Short Stories.  His essays have been published in The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.  Kochai was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and a Truman Capote Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  Currently, he is a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.



November 9, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Angie Cruz, Fiction

Angie Cruz is a novelist and editor. Her most recent novel How Not To Drown in A Glass of Water (2022) is a finalist for the 2024 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, shortlisted for The Aspen Words Literary Prize, winner of the Gold Medal, Latino Book Award/The Isabel Allende Most Inspirational Book Award, longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize and chosen for The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2022 and The Washington Post 50 Notable Works of Fiction. Her novel, Dominicana was the inaugural book pick for GMA book club and shortlisted for The Women’s Prize, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction, a RUSA Notable book and the winner of the ALA/YALSA Alex Award in fiction. It was named most anticipated/ best book in 2019 by Time, Newsweek, People, Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Esquire. Cruz is the author of two other novels, Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee and the recipient of numerous fellowships and residencies including the Lighthouse Fellowship, Siena Art Institute, and the Macdowell Arts Colony. She’s published shorter works in The Paris Review, VQR, Callaloo, Gulf Coast and other journals. She’s the founder and Editor-in-chief of the award winning literary journal, Aster(ix) and is currently an Associate Professor at University of Pittsburgh.She divides her time between Pittsburgh, New York and Turin.



♦September 28, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Patricia Smith, Poetry

Patricia Smith, recipient of the Ruth Lilly Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, is the author of Unshuttered; Incendiary Art (winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award, the LA Times Book Prize, the NAACP Image Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize); Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets); Blood Dazzler (a National Book Award finalist); Africans in America, companion volume to the award-winning PBS series, and the children’s book Janna and the Kings. Her work has been published in the anthologies Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories. Smith as been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry from the Sewanee Review, residencies at the Macdowell Colony and Yaddo, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is also a 4-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Smith is a professor in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, a former Distinguished Professor for the City University of New York, an Academy of American Poets Chancellor and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



♦October 26, 7 PM, Buttrick 101: Michael Collier, Poetry

Michael Collier is the author of eight books of poems, among them, The Missing Mountain: New & Selected Poems and The Ledge, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Collier has received Guggenheim and Thomas Watson fellowships, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences from 1994-2017 and Poet Laureate of Maryland from 2001–2004, he is an emeritus professor of English.


November 30, 7 PM, Alumni Hall 206: Maggie Millner, Poetry

Maggie Millner is the author of Couplets, published by FSG (US). Maggie’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, POETRY, Kenyon Review, BOMB, The Nation, and elsewhere. She is a Lecturer at Yale and a Senior Editor at The Yale Review.

Maggie was the 2020–’21 Olive B. O’Connor Fellow in Poetry at Colgate University, the 2019–’20 Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University, and the 2016–’18 Jan Gabrial Fellow at NYU, where she received her MFA. She is also the recipient of fellowships from Poets & Writers, the Community of Writers, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Disquiet Literary Program, and the Fine Arts Work Center, as well as the Robert & Adele Schiff Award, the 10th Annual Narrative Poetry Prize, and the Third Coast Poetry Prize.


Visit Vanderbilt University Bookstore or visit their website here to pick up one of the books from the Visiting Writer Series!


Previous Visiting Writers

Please see below for a list of previous visiting writers by year and genre.

  • Poets: Aria Aber, Jill Bialosky, Michael Collier, Carolyn Forché, John Murillo, 
  • Fiction Writers: Uwem Akpan, Katie Kitamura, Megha Majumdar, Moriel Rothman-Zecher, Laura Van Den Berg
  • Poets: Didi Jackson, Carl Phillips, Sonia Sanchez, Carlina Duan, Shane McCrae, Lisa Russ Spaar, Cara Dees, Mark Jarman, Vievee Francis
  • Fiction Writers: Sheba Karim, Deb Olin Unferth, Lydia Peelle, Tommy Orange, Brandon Taylor, Rebecca Bernard, Lorraine López, Aimee Bender
  • Nonfiction/Memoir Writers: Deb Olin Unferth, Kate Daniels, Margaret Renkl

AY 2020-2021:

  • Poets: Timothy Donnelly, Major Jackson, Destiny Birdsong, Edward Hirsch, Monica Youn, Toi Derricote
  • Fiction Writers: Dana Johnson, Simon Han, Lee Conell, Lorraine Lopez, Odie Lindsey, Luis Alberto Urrea, Alexander Chee
  • Nonfiction/Memoir Writers: Fred Arroyo, Myriam Gurba, Alex Espinoza, and Daisy Hernandez

Fall 2019 – Spring 2020

  • Poets: Michelle Penaloza, Beth Bachmann, Kate Daniels, Nicole Sealey, Chad Abushanab, Melissa Range. 
  • Fiction writers: Lysley Tenorio, Samantha Hunt, Charles D’Ambrosio
  • Nonfiction writers: Daisy Hernandez

Fall 2018 – Spring 2019

  • Poets: Danez Smith, Carl Dennis, Blas Falconer, Cathy Hong, Lisa Dordal, Marie Howe, Mary Szybist, Tiana Clark, Edgar Kunz, Anders Carlson-Wee, Beth Bachmann, Kate Daniels
  • Fiction writers: Leopoldine Core, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Piyali Battacharya, Justin Quarry, Carmen Maria Machado, Nayomi Munaweera, Margot Livesey.
  • Nonfiction writer: Camille Dungy

Fall 2017 – Spring 2018

  • Poets Camille Dungy, Molly McCully Brown, Marilyn Kallet, Arthur Smith, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Kendra DeColo
  • Fiction writers: Kevin Brockmeier, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Daniel Alarcón, Lee Conell, Susan Choi, Danzy Senna, Amitav Ghosh, Bryn Chancellor, Amy Hempel
  • Nonfiction writer: Joy Castro.

Fall 2016 – Spring 2017

  • Poets: Terri Witek, Ross Gay, Ocean Vuong, and Ada Limón
  • Fiction writers: Danielle Evans, Ann Patchett, Meg Wolitzer, and Jenny Offill.

Fall 2015 – Spring 2016

  • Poets: Paul Muldoon, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, T.R. Hummer, Wyatt Prunty, Nate Marshall, and Jacqueline Osherow
  • Fiction writers: Charles Baxter, Ottessa Moshfegh, Jaimy Gordon, Lan Samantha Chang, and Julian Barnes
  • Nonfiction writers: Brando Skyhorse and Daisy Hernandez.

Fall 2014 – Spring 2015

  • Poets: Bruce Beasley, David Kirby, A. Van Jordan, Natasha Trethewey, and Jane Hirshfield
  • Fiction writers: Kevin Wilson, Gish Jen, Stuart Dybek, Leah Stewart, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Jamie Quatro
  • Nonfiction writers: Amy Hoffman and Sarah Gorham.

Fall 2013 – Spring 2014

  • Poets: Kevin Young, Lynn Emanuel, David Wojahn, Julie Bruck, and Eavan Boland
  • Fiction writers: Deborah Eisenberg, Edmund White, Steve Stern, Justin Torres, Christine Schutt, and Chris Bachelder
  • Nonfiction writer: Dwight Garner.

Fall 2012 – Spring 2013

  • Poets: Nikky Finney, Jennifer Grotz, Robert Wrigley, Adam Zagajewski, Chase Twichell, Thomas Lux, Tracy Smith, Stephen Dobyns, Garrett Hongo, and Michael Longley
  • Fiction writers: Dan Chaon, Madison Smartt Bell, Adam Ross, Lauren Groff, and Cary Holladay
  • Nonfiction writer: Charlotte Pierce Baker.

Fall 2011 – Spring 2012

  • Poets: Billy Collins, Christopher Buckley, Terrance Hayes, Nick Flynn, Alicia Ostriker, Elizabeth Spires, and Don Paterson
  • Fiction writers: Jaimy Gordon, Rattawut Lapchoreonsap, Anthony Doerr, Wells Tower, Lorrie Moore, Manuel Munoz, Maile Meloy, and Bonnie Jo Campbell.

Fall 2010 – Spring 2011

  • Poets: Frank Bidart, Carl Phillips, Ciaran Carson, Tom Sleigh, Jericho Brown, Edward Hirsch, Molly Peacock, Mary Kinzie, and Bobby Rogers
  • Fiction writers: Bobbie Ann Mason, Tom Perrotta, Salvatore Scibona, Peter Ho Davies, Aimee Bender, Lydia Peelle, and Holly Goddard Jones.

Fall 2009 – Spring 2010

  • Poets: Cornelius Eady, Jean Valentine, and Rebecca Seiferle
  • Fiction writers: Randall Kenan and Jill McCorkle
  • Memoirists: Bich Minh Nguyen and Honor Moore.



Diane Ackerman,  Julia Alvarez, Agha Shahid Ali, Craig Arnold, and Kingsley Amis, and 


Richard Bausch


Fred Chappell, J. M. Coetzee, and Judith Ortiz Cofer


Junot Diaz,  Ellen Douglas, Rita Dove, and Pam Durban


Stanley Elkin and Martín Espada


Ruth Fainlight and Richard Ford


Ellen Gilchrist, Marita Golden, Mary Gordon, Linda Gregerson, and R. S. Gwynn


Jessica Hagedorn, Seamus Heaney, Tony Hoagland, Garrett Hongo, Andrew Hudgins, and T. R. Hummer 


Donald Justice


Pauline Kael, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Maxine Kumin


Wally Lamb, Sydney Lea, Chang-rae Lee, David Lehman, Philip Levine, Margot Livesey, Robert Lowell, and Alison Lurie


Erin McGraw, Medbh McGuckian, William Matthews, and Peter Matthiessen


Antonya Nelson and Marilyn Nelson


Anne Patchett, V.S. Pritchett, and Wyatt Prunty


Alan Shapiro, Allan Sillitoe, Lee Smith, Elizabeth Spencer, Gerald Stern, and Eileen Simpson


Richard Tillinghast and Rose Tremain


Ellen Bryant Voigt


Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, James Wood, and Charles Wright


Karen Yamashita and Al Young