U.Va. to Host Several Writers on Grounds, including Joseph O'Neill, Starting Tuesday

September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011 — Several writers will read from their work this semester as Rea Lecturers at the University of Virginia, while another will come for a longer visit in November.

Beginning Sept. 27, the Creative Writing Program in U.Va.'s College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences will sponsor the events, free and open to the public.

As Rea Visiting Lecturers, Kevin Wilson will read from his fiction on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. in the U.Va. Bookstore, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Claudia Emerson will read her poetry on Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. at the same location.

Wilson's debut novel, "The Family Fang," was a New York Times best-seller earlier this year. His first collection of stories, "Tunneling to the Center of the Earth" was compared to the work of Shirley Jackson.

Emerson, who earned her B.A. in English from U.Va., won the Pulitzer in 2006 for her poetry collection, "Late Wife." She also has published the books, "Pharoah, Pharoah," "Pinion: An Elegy" and "Figure Studies." A professor at the University of Mary Washington, Emerson served as poet laureate of Virginia from 2008 to 2010.

Poet Joanna Klink, another Rea Lecturer, will give a poetry reading Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. in the U.Va. Bookstore Her most recent poetry collection is "Raptus," and she has also published "They Are Sleeping" and "Circadian." She received her M.F.A. in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and her Ph.D. in humanities from Johns Hopkins University. Klink has been a member of the poetry faculty at the University of Montana since 2001.

On Nov. 30, Darcey Steinke, an M.F.A. alumna and also a Rea Visiting Lecturer, will read at 8 p.m. in the U.Va. Bookstore Currently on the faculty of the New School, she has published the memoir "Easter Everywhere" and the novels, "Up Through the Water," "Jesus Saves" and "Suicide Blonde." She has also edited a collection of essays with Rick Moody, "Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited."

Two Rea Visiting Writers each year come for a weeklong stay on Grounds to give a reading, hold a discussion about the craft of writing and give one-on-one tutorials with graduate students. Joseph O'Neill, whose third novel, "Netherland," won the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award, will read on Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. in the U.Va. Bookstore, during his residency as the Rea Visiting Writer.

O'Neill, the son of a Turkish mother and an Irish father, was born in Ireland and raised in Holland. He is the author of two previous novels, "This Is the Life" and "The Breezes" and of a family history, "Blood-Dark Track," which was a New York Times Notable Book. A regular contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, he received a law degree from Cambridge University and previously worked as a barrister in London.

O'Neill's "Netherland" uses the unlikely game of cricket to tell the intersecting stories of two men and how immigration and pursuit of the American dream influenced their lives, especially after Sept. 11, 2001.

Poet Jane Hirshfield will be the second Rea Visiting Writer, with a weeklong residency scheduled in February. She received her B.A. from Princeton University, and was part of the school's first coed graduating class. She went on to study at the San Francisco Zen Center. Her books of poetry include the most recent "Come, Thief," "After" and "Given Sugar, Given Salt," which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Sponsored by the English Department's Creative Writing Program in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the visiting writers series is funded through the Dungannon Foundation in memory of Michael Rea, an ardent supporter of the arts and U.Va.

Other Upcoming Readings

• Sandra Beasley, Sept. 29, 5:30 p.m., New Dominion Bookshop

Beasley, a 2002 U.Va. graduate in English, has published two books of poetry. She will read from her new memoir, "Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life."

• Chad Harbach, Sept. 30, 5:30 p.m., New Dominion Bookshop

This 2004 M.F.A. graduate recently published his debut novel, "The Art of Fielding," to much acclaim. An excerpt can be found in the October issue of Vanity Fair. The novel tells the story of Henry Skrimshander, an impressionable young baseball talent and the newest freshman member of Wisconsin's Westish College Harpooners, and Mike Schwartz, the team's confident and dedicated catcher and leader. Harbach is a cofounder and co-editor of the literary journal, n+1.

• Stephen Cushman and Charles Wright, Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m., U.Va. Bookstore

Cushman, Robert C. Taylor Professor of English, has published four books of poetry, the most recent being "Riffraff," which followed "Heart Island," "Cussing Lesson" and "Blue Pajamas."
Both a poet and a scholar, he has published other books of nonfiction and literary criticism: "Bloody Promenade: Reflections on a Civil War Battle," "Fictions of Form in American Poetry" and "William Carlos Williams and the Meanings of Measure." He has taught at U.Va. since 1982.

Wright, who retired in May and taught in the English department's Creative Writing Program for 28 years, has published 20 poetry collections and has won the National Book Award, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the Pulitzer Prize. His many honors include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit Medal and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. In 1999, he was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

• Caroline Preston, Oct. 25, 8 p.m., U.Va. Bookstore

Preston's new book, "The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt," was inspired by vintage ephemera the author, a former archivist, has collected. Preston, the wife of Chris Tilghman, who directs U.Va.'s Creatvie Writing Program, has published three other novels, including "Gatsby's Girl," which chronicles F. Scott Fitzgerald's first girlfriend, who was the model for Daisy Buchanan.

• Will Boast, Oct. 28, 3 p.m., U.Va. Bookstore

Boast is a 2007 M.F.A. alumnus with a new book, "Power Ballads," that won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. The 10 linked stories in the collection are devoted to the unheard virtuoso: the working musician. Currently, Boast lives and writes in San Francisco and moonlights as a performing musician around the Bay Area. 

 — By Anne Bromley

Media Contact

Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications