Skip to main content
poet Cornelius Eady leans on a lectern and speaks to a crowd of students and faculty seated in a lecture hall

Gertrude & Harold S. Vanderbilt Visiting Writers Series

About the Gertrude and Harold S. Vanderbilt Visiting Writers Series

The Gertrude 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 or to sign up for our e-mail announcement list, contact René Colehour in the Creative Writing program.

Click here for 2021-2022 series poster.

Visiting Writers 2021-2022

  UPCOMING

All readings are held at 7 pm CT | 101 Buttrick Hall | Face masks required

October 21: Sonia Sanchez, poetry (virtual reading)

October 21: Sonia Sanchez, poetry (virtual reading)

Click here to register for this 10/21 reading with Sonia Sanchez.

Please register by Tuesday, 10/19. You will be able to register and attend after this date, but this helps us prepare with an accurate headcount. 

An inspiring poet and activist, Sonia Sanchez is the author of over 16 books, including Homegirls and Handgrenades, Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, Shake Loose My Skin, and most recently, Collected Poems (Beacon Press, 2021). The recipient of many awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, she is a Robert Frost Medalist awarded by the Poetry Society of America. Well-known as a central figure of the 1960s Civil Rights struggle and Black Arts Movement, Sonia Sanchez taught many years at Temple University as a Presidential Fellow and Laura Carnell Chair in English. An iconic peace and justice advocate, Sanchez is a Ford Freedom Scholar who has traveled and lectured extensively in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Nicaragua, Norway, and the People’s Republic of China. Formerly the Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia, she is a member of the Granny Peace Brigade, sponsor of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and former board member of MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization and feminist fund. Sonia Sanchez is the subject of the documentary BaddDD. Her poems have been included in television series and films, most recently, Lovecraft Country.

 

 

  FALL 2021

September 9: Sheba Karim, fiction & Didi Jackson, Poetry | faculty reading

The Marvelous Mirza Girls (Cover) by Sheba KarimSheba Karim is the author of the YA novels Skunk GirlThat Thing We Call a Heart, which made several Best Book lists including, Bank Street and Kirkus, and Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, which was named an NPR Best Book of the Year, and The Marvelous Mirza Girls (May 2021). Her fiction and essays have been featured in 580 Split, Asia Literary Review, Femina, India Today, Literary Hub, Off Assignment, Shenandoah, South Asian Review, The Rumpus, Time Out Delhi, and in several anthologies in the United States and India. She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a Writer-in-Residence at Vanderbilt University. https://www.shebakarim.com/

 

 

 

Moon Jar by Didi JacksonDidi Jackson is the author of Moon Jar (Red Hen Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Jackson’s poems have been selected for the Best American Poetry Series and Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Vanderbilt University.  https://didijackson.com/

 

 

 

 

September 23: Carl Phillips, poetry

Carl Phillips is the author of 15 books of poetry, most recently Pale Colors in a Tall Field (FSG, 2020). His other books include Wild Is the Wind (FSG, 2018), winner of a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Publisher’s Weekly, in a starred review, called it “haunting and contemplative as the torch song for which the collection is named.” His selected poems, Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006, was published by FSG in 2007. Other books include The Tether (FSG, 2002), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, Double Shadow (FSG, 2012), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Silverchest (FSG, 2014), a finalist for the Griffin Prize. He recently published a chapbook, Star Map with Action Figures (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019). A four-time finalist for the National Book Award,  and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, his other honors include the Lambda Literary Award, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Award, the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Academy of American Poets, for which he served as Chancellor from 2006-2012.

 

September 30: Deb Olin Unferth, fiction/nonfiction (virtual reading)

Click here to register for this 9/30 reading with Deb Olin Unferth.

Please register by Tuesday, 9/28. You will be able to register and attend after this date, but this helps us prepare with an accurate headcount. 

Deb Olin Unferth’s novels and short story collections are widely celebrated as wickedly comic and cutting edge. She is the author of six books of fiction and nonfiction. Her most recent book is the novel Barn 8 (Graywolf, 2020 ). Her other books include the graphic novel I, Parrot(Catapult 2017) in collaboration with the illustrator Elizabeth Haidle; the memoir Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War; Vacation (McSweeney’s 2008), winner of the Cabell First Novel Award; and the story collection Minor Robberies (McSweeney’s 2007).  She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Pushcart Prizes. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Harper’s, The Paris Review, Granta, Vice, Tin House, NOON, the New York Times, and McSweeney’s. https://www.theshipmanagency.com/deb-olin-unferth

 

 

 

October 7: Lydia Peelle, fiction

Lydia Peelle is a mother, writer, dancer and photographer. The Whiting Award-winning author of the novel The Midnight Cool and the story collection Reasons For and Advantages of Breathing, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice book which received an honorable mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for The Orion Book Prize, Peelle is also a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor and the Anahid Award for Armenian American writers. She will be Writer in Residence at Vanderbilt University in Fall 2021.  http://www.lydiapeelle.com/

 

 

 

 

October 21: Sonia Sanchez, poetry (virtual reading)

Click here to register for this 10/21 reading with Sonia Sanchez.

Please register by Tuesday, 10/19. You will be able to register and attend after this date, but this helps us prepare with an accurate headcount. 

An inspiring poet and activist, Sonia Sanchez is the author of over 16 books, including Homegirls and Handgrenades, Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, Shake Loose My Skin, and most recently, Collected Poems (Beacon Press, 2021). The recipient of many awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, she is a Robert Frost Medalist awarded by the Poetry Society of America. Well-known as a central figure of the 1960s Civil Rights struggle and Black Arts Movement, Sonia Sanchez taught many years at Temple University as a Presidential Fellow and Laura Carnell Chair in English. An iconic peace and justice advocate, Sanchez is a Ford Freedom Scholar who has traveled and lectured extensively in Africa, Cuba, England, the Caribbean, Australia, Nicaragua, Norway, and the People’s Republic of China. Formerly the Poet Laureate of the City of Philadelphia, she is a member of the Granny Peace Brigade, sponsor of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and former board member of MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization and feminist fund. Sonia Sanchez is the subject of the documentary BaddDD. Her poems have been included in television series and films, most recently, Lovecraft Country.

 

November 4: Carlina Duan, poetry

Carlina Duan is a writer-educator from Michigan and the author of the poetry collections I Wore My Blackest Hair (Little A, 2017) and Alien Miss (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2021). Her poems have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Poets.org, The Rumpus, and more, and her writing has been supported with residencies and awards from Tin House, the Academy of American Poets, the U.S. Fulbright Program, Sundress Academy for the Arts, the Hopwood Program, Signal Fire Arts, and Willapa Bay AiR. Carlina received her M.F.A. in Poetry from Vanderbilt University. She currently teaches community-engaged writing at the University of Michigan and is a doctoral student in U-M’s Joint Program in English and Education.  http://www.carlinaduan.com/

 

 

 

November 11: Tommy Orange, fiction (virtual reading)

Tommy Orange is an American novelist and writer from Oakland, California. His first book, There, There, won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the American Book Award. He is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and he is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He currently lives in Angels Camp, California, with his wife and son.https://www.prhspeakers.com/speaker/tommy-orange

 

 

 

 

  SPRING 2022

♦January 27: Shane McCrae, poetry

♦February 3: Kate Daniels, poetry | faculty reading

♦February 10: Brandon Taylor, fiction

♦February 17: Lisa Russ Spaar, poetry

♦February 24: Margaret Renkl, nonfiction | visiting faculty

♦March 17: Claire Jimenez, fiction & Clara Dees, poetry

♦March 31: Mark Jarman, poetry & Lorraine Lopez, fiction | faculty reading

♦April 7: Aimee Bender, fiction

♦April 14: Vievee Francis, poetry

Previous Visiting Writers

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

 

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

AY 2019-2020

  • 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

AY 2018-2019

  • 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

AY 2017-2018

  • 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.

AY 2016-2017

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

Ay 2015-2016

  • 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.

AY 2014-2015

  • 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.

AY 2013-2014

  • 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.

AY 2012-2013

  • 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.

AY 2011-2012

  • 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.

AY 2010-2011

  • 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.

AY 2009-2010

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

 

Robert Penn Warren * Eudora Welty * Kingsley Amis * V.S. Pritchett * Elizabeth Spencer * Yusef Komunyakaa * Junot Diaz * Ruth Fainlight * Rose Tremain * Allan Sillitoe * Rita Dove * Agha Shahid Ali * Ellen Gilchrist * Marilyn Nelson * Garrett Hongo * Judith Ortiz Cofer * William Matthews * Diane Ackerman * Ellen Douglas * Margot Livesey * Jessica Hagedorn * Alan Shapiro * Julia Alvarez * Seamus Heaney * Charles Wright * J.M.Coetzee * Richard Ford * Maxine Kumin * Wyatt Prunty * Ellen Bryant Voigt * Robert Lowell * Pauline Kael * David Lehman * Linda Gregerson * James Wood * Stanley Elkin *  Lee Smith * Chang-rae Lee * Al Young * Wally Lamb *  Donald Justice * Philip Levine * Peter Matthiessen * Andrew Hudgins *  Medbh  McGuckian * Erin McGraw * Sydney Lea * Marita Golden * Antonya Nelson * Gerald Stern * Eileen Simpson * Karen Yamashita * Richard Bausch * Richard Tillinghast * Anne Patchett * Martín Espada * Tony Hoagland *  R. S. Gwynn *  Mary Gordon *  T. R. Hummer * Alison Lurie *  Fred Chappell * Pam Durban * Craig Arnold