2018-19 Visiting Writers

Fatimah Asghar by Cassidy Kristiansen.

Fatimah Asghar

Wednesday, September 19, 8:00 p.m.
Abramson Family Founders Room, School of International Service

Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet, performer, educator, and writer. Her book, If They Come For Us, examines violence and the inheritance of sadness. Ross Gay wrote of the collection: “...the wonder of this book is the way that throughout the anguish and sorrow and rage... there is tenderness. There is care...These, too, are our heirlooms.” Asghar is the writer and co-creator of “Brown Girls”, an Emmy-Nominated series that debuted on Elle’s website and was subsequently picked up by HBO; “Brown Girls” highlights friendships between women of color. In 2017 she was awarded the Ruth Lily and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and was featured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Her work has also appeared in Time, Teen Vogue, and the Huffington Post.

Teju Cole by Martin Lengemann

Teju Cole Presents Blindspot

Wednesday, October 3, 7:00 p.m.
Doyle Forman Theater, School of Communication
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Prolific author, photographer and New York Times photography critic Teju Cole will read and show slides from his most recent work, Blind Spot. The book assembles photographs and text that chronicle Cole’s international travel in a dramatically changing world. At once a lyrical essay on place, and a collection of photographs that insist on seeing what often goes unseen, Blind Spot invites the reader to think through the radical implications of bearing witness.

Known and Strange Things: Art and Activism in the 21st Century

Thursday, October 4, 7:00 p.m.
Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center
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Artist and scholar Teju Cole’s art practice includes photography, novels, art installations, essays and Spotify playlists. Cole will speak about the possibilities of art and activism at a time of wrenching political division. How can art enter—and transform—national conversations? What can activists teach artists about meaningful creative expression in the 21st century?

A book cover for "Footnotes in Order of Disappearance: Poems by Fady Joudah." There is ripped paper and a butterfly.

fady joudah

Wednesday, November 14, 8:00 p.m.
Mary Graydon Center 3-4

Fady Joudah's fourth collection of poetry Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance is described by its publisher Milkweed Press as “love
poems to the lovely and unlovely, the loved and unloved.” The Rumpus writes that Joudah’s “inventive and capacious poems bring wonder and skepticism and incandescent language to bear on questions of human experiences.” A Palestinian American physician, poet, and translator Joudah’s debut collection of poetry The Earth in the Attic won the 2007 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. He followed that collection with Alight and Textu. Joudah was a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry. As a physician, Joudah has worked with Doctors Without Borders in Zambia and Sudan.

Annual Faculty Benefit Reading

Wednesday, January 30, 8:00 p.m.
826DC 3333 14th Street NW Metro: Columbia Heights (Green and Yellow Lines)

Our annual reading of poetry and prose by AU's creative writing faculty features Kyle Dargan, author of Anagnorisis; Stephanie Grant, author of Map of Ireland; David Keplinger, author of Another City; Patricia Park, author of Re Jane; Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of Balm; and Rachel Louise Snyder, author of No Visible Bruises.

Proceeds from this reading will benefit 826DC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Suggested donation at the door is $10.

Min Jin Lee by Elena Seibert

Min jin Lee

Wednesday, February 13, 8:00 p.m.
Abramson Family Founders Room, School of International Service

Min Jin Lee is the author, most recently, of Pachinko, a gripping novel of identity and belonging. A finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, Pachinko was also a New York Times 10 Best Books of 2017, a USA Today Top 10 Books of 2017, and an American Library Association Notable Book, among
others. The New York Times called Pachinko “a compassionate, clear gaze at the chaotic landscape of life itself.” A graduate of Georgetown Law School and Yale University, where she won both the Henry Wright Prize for Nonfiction and the James Ashmun Veech Prize for Fiction, Lee was a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow. Currently, Lee is a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Elena Passarello

Elena Passarello

Wednesday, March 27, 8:00 p.m.
Abrahmson Family Founders Room, School of International Service

Elena Passarello’s book Animals Strike Curious Poses was named a Notable
Book of 2017 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and The Guardian. The New York Times wrote, “The formal exuberance of this modern bestiary is exhilarating.” Her previous collection of essays Let Me Clear My Throat was a finalist for the 2014 Oregon Book Award. Her essays on performance, culture, and the natural world have appeared in Oxford American, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa and was the recipient of the 2015 Whiting Award in Nonfiction. She teaches in the MFA program at Oregon State University.

MFA Graduate Reception and Reading

Sunday, May 12, 6:00 p.m.
Politics and Prose Bookstore
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW
Metro: Van Ness (Red Line)
Bus: L1 or L2 (from Van Ness Metro)

Experience our MFA program’s rich diversity of voices at a group reading of poetry and prose featuring our 2018–2019 graduates.

Boot Camps

Fall 2018

Creative Writing Grants & Fellowships

Wednesday, October 17, 6:30–7:30 p.m.
Mary Graydon Center, Room 200

Join Amy Stolls, the Director of Literature at the National Endowment for the Arts, to learn the basics on creative writing grants, fellowships, and awards. Stolls is a graduate of the American University MFA in Creative Writing, and her books include young-adult novel Palms to the Ground, and the novel The Ninth Wife.

Spring 2018

Submitting to Literary Journals

Wednesday, March 6, 6:30–8:00 p.m.
Mary Graydon Center, Room 2

Learn how to navigate the world of literary magazines, and submit your own work with Allison Wright, executive editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. Wright is president of the literary organization “WriterHouse” and editor of Tiny Hardcore Press. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, VQR, Literary Hub, and the Rumpus.

Bootcamps are open to current MFA students and alums only. Please RSVP at litgrad@american.edu.

Literature Events

See details on all Literature Department Events on our calendar.