Grand Valley Writers Series

The Grand Valley Writers Series has a long history of bringing distinguished and emerging writers to campus to read from their work, visit classes, and interact with students across Grand Valley's campus. Along with the yearly Fall Arts Celebration and the Office of the President that co-sponsors Poetry Night, among other events, the following writers have come to read on campus: Charles Baxter, Amy Benson, Billy Collins, Peter Ho Davies, Junot Diaz, Rita Dove, Dan Gerber, Jim Harrison, Jonathan Johnson, Galway Kinnell, Philip Levine, Debra Marquart, Michael Martone, David Means, Sharon Olds, Sonia Sanchez, and Joe Wenderoth, C. K. Williams, Charles Wright, and many more.

Any questions about the series should be referred to GV Writers Series Coordinator and Assistant Professor Oindrila Mukherjee (, 616-331-8034)

Grand Valley Writers Series 2014-15


Lacy Johnson
September 18

Lacy Johnson

Craft Talk  4.00 to 5.15 Kirkhof 2215/16
Reading and Book Signing  6.00 to 7.30 Cook DeWitt Center

Lacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based artist, curator, teacher, activist, and is author of THE OTHER SIDE (Tin House Books, 2014) and TRESPASSES: A MEMOIR (Iowa, 2012). She is co-creator of the location-based storytelling project [the invisible city], and her work has appeared in Dame Magazine, Tin House, Creative Nonfiction, Poets & Writers, Gulf Coast and elsewhere. She teaches interdisciplinary art at the University of Houston.



Monica McFawn Robinson
October 14

Monica McFawn Robinson

Reading and Book Signing: 6.00 to 8.00 Alumni House Dining Room 

Monica McFawn Robinson holds an MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, and teaches in the Writing Department at Grand Valley State University.  She has published fiction and poetry in Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Missouri Review, Conduit, Exquisite Corpse, and others.  Her debut collection of stories, Bright Shards of Someplace Else, won the 2013 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction.  She is also the author of a hybrid poetry chapbook, A Catalogue of Rare Movements, and her plays and screenplays have had readings in Chicago and New York.



Angie Cruz
November 17

Angie Cruz

Craft Talk: 3.00 to 4.15  Kirkhoff 2215/16
Reading and Book Signing: 7.30 to 8.45 Kirkhoff 2215/16

Angie Cruz is the author of two novels, Soledad, which she has adapted into a screenplay, and Let It Rain Coffee, which was a finalist in 2007 for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. She has published short fiction and essays in Callaloo, The New York Times, Kweli, Phatitude, South Central Review, and elsewhere. Cruz is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, and the editor of the activist literary journal, Aster(ix). She is of Dominican descent and often writes about being Latin American in the US, women's issues, and themes of exile and displacement. 



Todd Kaneko and Beth Peterson
January 22

Todd Kaneko
Beth Peterson

Reading and Book Signing: 6.00 to 7.30 Cook-DeWitt Center

W. Todd Kaneko is the author of the Dead Wrestler Elegies (Curbside Splendor, 2014). His prose and poems have appeared in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, Barrelhouse, the Normal School, the Collagist and many other journals and anthologies. He has received fellowships from Kundiman and the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he teaches at Grand Valley State University.

Beth Peterson is a nonfiction writer and a new assistant professor of writing at GVSU.  Beth has an MA from Wheaton College, an MFA from the University of Wyoming and a PhD in Creative Writing & Literature from the University of Missouri.  A wilderness guide before she began writing, Beth is just finishing her first book of lyric essays, set in a disappearing glacial landscape in Norway.  Beth has recent work in Fourth Genre, River Teeth and Passages North. 



Jamaal May and Tarfia Faizullah
February 16

Jamaal May
Tarfia Faizullah

Craft Talk: 6.00 to 7.00 Devos 203E (Pew Campus)
Reading and Book Signing: 7.30 to 8.45 University Club (Pew)

Jamaal May is a poet and the author of Hum, which received the 2012 Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books, the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award, and an NAACP Image Award nomination. From Detroit, Jamaal mentors young writers, teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program, and co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series with poet Tarfia Faizullah. He has been named a 2014-2016 Kenyon Review Fellow.

Tarfia Faizullah is the Pushcart Prize winning author of Seam (SIU, 2014), winner of the 2012 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems appear in American Poetry Review, Oxford American, jubilat, New England Review, and anthologized in Poems of Devotion, Excuse This Poem: 100 Poems for the Next Generation, The Book of Scented Things, and Best New Poets 2014. Honors include scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, the Fulbright Foundation, Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and Vermont Studio Center. She has collaborated with rapper and emcee Brooklyn Shanti, composer Jacob Cooper, and photographer Elizabeth Herman. She is the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor of Creative Writing in Poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program and co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press & Video Series with Jamaal May.



Samuel Park
March 12

Samuel Park

Craft Talk: 4.00 to 5.15 Multi Purpose Room (Mary Idema Pew Library)
Reading and Book Signing: 6.00 to 7.30 Cook DeWitt Center

Samuel Park is the author of This Burns My Heart, chosen as Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Amazon,, and BookPage. Foreign editions include Germany, Norway, China, and South Korea. He is also the author of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, adapted into a short film that he wrote and directed. His scholarly articles and reviews have appeared in the journals Shakespeare Bulletin, Theatre Journal, and Black Camera. He is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago.


Previous Writer's Series Events

Visiting Writers Series 2013-2014

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 – Roxane Gay

11.30 to 12.45, Kirkhoff 2266: Craft Talk

4.00 to 5.15, Mary Idema Pew Library, Multipurpose Room: Discussion on 

7.30 p.m., Alumni House Perry Dining Room: Reading

Roxane’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal, and many others. Her novel, An Untamed State, will be published by Grove Atlantic and her essay collection, Bad Feminist, will be published by Harper Perennial, both in 2014.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 – Jenni Lamb

4.00 to 5.15, Mary Idema Pew Library, Multipurpose Room: Craft Talk

7.30 p.m., Cook DeWitt: Reading and Improv

Jenni is a Chicago-based playwright and former actress and improviser. In 2006, she wrote, produced, and performed in Memento Polonia, which was “Highly Recommended” by the Chicago Reader. Her plays have had readings at The Gift Theatre, Wordsmyth Theatre (Houston) Northwestern University, and Chicago Dramatists. Jenni was a semi-finalist for the 2012 O’Neill Playwrights Conference and is currently a member of the Living Room Playmakers collective in Chicago. Jenni holds an MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage from Northwestern University.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 – GVSU Faculty Reading

Professors Amorak Huey and Caitlin Horrocks

7.00 p.m., Cook DeWitt 

Amorak is Assistant Professor of Writing at Grand Valley State University. His poetry appears and is forthcoming in numerous print and online journals, including Oxford American, The Southern Review, Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, PANK, Poet Lore, Atlanta Review, Contrary, Linebreak and Spitball. He recently completed a collection of poems inspired by the blues. Amorak has worked for the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat; the Courier-Journal of Louisville; The News-Enterprise of Hardin County, Ky.; the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader; and The Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press, where he was assistant sports editor.

Caitlin is the author of the story collection, This Is Not Your City. Her stories and essays appear in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories 2011, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009, The Pushcart Prize XXXV, The Paris Review, Tin House, One Story and elsewhere. Her work has won awards including the Plimpton Prize, and fellowships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences. She was formerly the 2006-2007 Theresa A. Wilhoit Fellow at Arizona State University. Currently, she is an Associate Professor of writing at Grand Valley State University and the fiction editor of The Kenyon Review.

Monday, February 24, 2014 – Caroline Maun and Frank Koscielski 

6.00 to 7.00 p.m., University Club (Pew Campus): Craft Talk

7.30 to 9.00 p.m. University Club (Pew Campus): Reading & Musical Performance

Caroline is an Associate Professor of English at Wayne State University. She is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Sleeping and What Remains, two poetry chapbooks, Cures and Poisons and Greatest Hits, and Mosaic of Fire: The Work of Lola Ridge, Evelyn Scott, Charlotte Wilder, and Kay Boyle. She has edited The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott. Maun is the co-songwriter of original music for the Detroit-area band Black Hat, whose albums Phases of the Sun and Hooray for Love were published by Detroit Radio Company. 

Frank, Ph.D., is a life long musician and labor historian.  He works as a recruiter and advisor for the Labor@Wayne program at Wayne State University and has been a singer/songwriter in the group Black Hat since 2008, going by the stage name Frankie the K.  With lyricist Caroline Maun, he has co-written the musical albums Phases of the Sun (2009) and Hooray for Love (2012), both published by Detroit Radio Company. In addition, he plays keyboards and performs vocals for M. L. Liebler's Coyote Monk Poetry Band, big Shorty, Johnny G and the Blue Rockets, and--back in the 1970s--Badge. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014 – Samrat Upadhyay

4.00 to 5.15, Mary Idema Pew Library, Multipurpose Room: Craft Talk

7.30 to 9.00 p.m., Cook DeWitt: Reading

Samrat is the author of Arresting God in Kathmandu, a Whiting Award winner; The Royal Ghosts, which won the Asian American Literary Award and was declared a Best of Fiction by the Washington Post; The Guru of Love, a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year; and Buddha's Orphans. He has written for the New York Times and has appeared on BBC Radio and National Public Radio. Upadhyay is a Martha Kraft Professor of Humanities at Indiana University.

Grand Valley Writers Series ’12-‘13

The Grand Valley Writers Series for Winter '13 now includes an additional visitor (poet Traci Brimhall, on March 11), and a date change: the First Books Festival will now be Thursday April 11, instead of April 1-2. The full, updated schedule is below. Please consider adding the events to your Winter course schedules, encouraging students to come, and/or bringing your classes that meet during these events.

Poet Traci Brimhall

March 11, 7:30pm reading at University Club, Pew Campus

Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton, 2012), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award.  Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Slate, Ploughshares, New England Review, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere.  She’s received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the King/Chávez/Parks Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

GVSU Faculty Reading: Patricia Clark and Chris Haven

Tuesday February 12, 2013

Reading 4pm Cook-Dewitt Auditorium

Patricia Clark is Poet-in-Residence and Professor in the Department of Writing at Grand Valley State University. She is the author of four books of poetry: Sunday Rising, She Walks Into the Sea; My Father on a Bicycle; and North of Wondering. Her poetry has appeared in magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly, Slate, Poetry, Mississippi Review, The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Pennsylvania Review, North American Review, Seattle Review, and Iowa Woman. She has also co-edited an anthology of contemporary women writers called Worlds in Our Words, and served as the Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan from 2005-2007.

Chris Haven’s poetry and fiction appears or is forthcoming in a number of journals including Threepenny Review, Hunger Mountain, Blackbird, The Normal School, Cold Mountain Review, Copper Nickel, Slice, Quiddity, and The New York Quarterly. He is an associate professor at Grand Valley State University, where he is the editor of Wake: Great Lakes Thought & Culture.

David Shields

Tuesday March 19, 2013

Reading and Q+A 6pm KC 2263

David Shields is the author of thirteen books, including How Literature Saved My Life (Knopf, 2013); Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (Knopf, 2010), named one of the best books of the year by more than thirty publications; The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead (Knopf, 2008), a New York Times bestseller; Black Planet: Facing Race during an NBA Season, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, winner of the PEN/Revson Award; and Dead Languages: A Novel, winner of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. His essays and stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, Esquire,Yale Review, Village Voice, Salon, Slate, McSweeney’s, and Utne Reader. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. Shields has received a Guggenheim fellowship and two NEA fellowships, among other awards. He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle, where he is the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington.

Festival of First Books: Poet Glenn Shaheen, novelist V.V. Ganeshananthan, and short story writer Amina Gautier

Thursday April 11: Panel discussion about publishing 2:30-3:30 215/2216 Kirkhof
Reading at 7:30pm 2215/2216 Kirkhof

Individual Q+As: there are primarily class visits, but open to the public:

Glenn Shaheen visits WRT 320 Thursday 4/11, 4-5:15pm, 136 LSH

Amina Gautier visits WRT 430 Thursday 4/11, 4-5:15, ASH 1136

V. V. Ganeshananthan visits WRT 430 Thursday 4/11, 4-5:15, HON 220

V.V. Ganeshananthan, a fiction writer and journalist, is a graduate of Harvard College, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, Sepia Mutiny, Himal Southasian, and The American Prospect, among others. A former vice president of the South Asian Journalists Association, she currently serves on the board of the Asian American Writers' Workshop and on the graduate board of The Harvard Crimson. She teaches at the University of Michigan, where she is the Zell Visiting Professor of Creative Writing. Random House published her first novel, Love Marriage, in April 2008. The book was longlisted for the Orange Prize and named one of Washington Post Book World's Best of 2008, as well as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick.

Amina Gautier is the winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction for her short story collection At-Risk. More than seventy of her short stories have been published and her fiction appears in the anthologies Best African American Fiction and New Stories from the South and in numerous literary journals including Antioch Review, North American Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, and StoryQuarterly.

Gautier is the recipient of the William Richey Prize, the Jack Dyer Prize, and the Danahy Fiction Prize, among others. She has received fellowships and scholarships from Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, Sewanee Writer's Conference, Callaloo Writer's Workshop, Hurston/Wright Writer's Workshop, and the Ucross Residency. Gautier was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and currently lives in Chicago, IL, where she is an assistant professor of English at DePaul University, teaching courses in creative writing and African American literature.

Glenn Shaheen received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. He was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and currently lives in Michigan, where he edits the journal NANO Fiction and is the poetry editor for Third Coast. His book of poems, Predatory, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and is available from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Work has appeared in Ploughshares, The New Republic, Subtropics, and elsewhere. He presently serves on the board of directors for the Radius of Arab-American Writers, Inc.

Distinguished Alumni-in-Residence reading: T Fleischmann

Thursday October 18, 2012

1-2:15pm craft talk in KC 2263

4-5pm reading in KC 2263

T Fleischmann, a 2005 GVSU graduate and Writing major, lived by the Great Lakes until attending the University of Iowa and completing an MFA in Nonfiction Writing. Their essays have appeared in Fourth Genre, Pleiades, Indiana Review, Gulf Coast, and The Pinch, as well as in the feminist magazine make/shift, and have been Notable Essays in The Best American Essays, 2009 and 2010. A Nonfiction Editor at DIAGRAM, T has settled in rural Tennessee after traveling for several years across the United States. T’s book, Syzygy, Beauty: An Essay, was released in April 2012 from Sarabande Books.

My Heart is an Idiot: Found Magazine's 10th Anniversary Tour with Davy and Peter Rothbart

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Craft talk 4:30-5:30pm, Pere Marquette Room, KC

Performance 7:30pm, Cook-DeWitt Auditorium

Davy Rothbart is the creator of Found Magazine, a frequent contributor to This American Life, and author of the story collection The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas. He writes regularly for GQ and Grantland, and his work also appears in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Believer. His forthcoming book of personal essays is called My Heart is an Idiot, out in September, 2012, from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Los Angeles, California.

Peter Rothbart is an award-winning songwriter, and the frontman for folk/rock group The Poem Adept. His third solo album, You Are What You Dream, will be released in fall 2012, and his music was featured in McSweeney's Wholphin DVD and the 2012 documentary film Mister Rogers & Me. He is also an editor at FOUND Magazine, and the executive director of the urban gardening organization We Patch.  He lives in Seattle, Washington.