English Department Brings Authors to Campus This Spring

Posted: February 16, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

From a hieroglyphic mystery to a memoir about growing up in Mississippi in the 1960s, the visiting writers and special guests hosted by the English Department this semester are quite diverse. Poetry, nonfiction, and fiction will be represented throughout the semester, and all readings are free and open to the public.

The Visiting Writers series sponsored by the Creative Writing Program invites two poets, two fiction writers, and two nonfiction writers to campus each semester for a public reading and workshops with students. The first of the visiting writers this semester, Steve Yarbrough, will give a reading tonight at 8 p.m. in the Grand Tier III of the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Yarbrough is the author of three novels, most recently last year’s Prisoners of War, plus three collections of short stories. His honors include the Mississippi Authors Award, the California Book Award, and a Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award.

Azar Nafisi, writer of the best-selling memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, will be on the Fairfax Campus Thursday, March 10, to discuss her book and its success. Nafisi’s memoir tells of meeting weekly with seven of her most committed female students in post-revolutionary Islamic Iran to read and discuss forbidden Western literary classics. The students and Nafisi risked being caught by the censors in order to explore the works of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. Critics say the book serves as a celebration of the liberating power of literature. This reading, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center’s Dewberry Hall, will be presented in partnership with the Fairfax County Public Library.

English faculty member Matt Bondurant will read at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6, in the Grand Tier III of the Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Bondurant just published his first novel, The Third Translation, a book of “seduction, conspiracy, and betrayal” that takes place in modern-day London.

Also reading this spring is Tom Harpole, a journalist with more than 15 years experience reporting on and writing about such subjects as the aerospace culture shock suffered by the first American astronauts to fly Russia’s Mir space station; mujahedin fighters in the Philippines; street children in Sao Paolo; and border patrol agents in northern Montana. He will appear Wednesday, April 20, in the Grand Tier III of the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

Other visiting writers include poet Susan Howe, reading Wednesday, March 9, at 8 p.m. in the ballroom of SUB II. Poet and Mason alumnus Jeff McDaniel will read Monday, Feb. 21; novelist Danzy Senna will read Tuesday, March 1; and Ralph Eubanks will read Tuesday, March 22. All three will begin at 8 p.m. in the Grand Tier III of the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

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