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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Raymond Carver Reading Series

The Raymond Carver Reading Series features twelve to fourteen prominent writers yearly as part of a large undergraduate class taught by TAs from the Creative Writing Program. The readings have an extended question-and-answer session along with a reading. Recent authors include Chanelle Benz, Bryan Washington, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Sigrid Nunez, Yiyun Li, and Robert Lopez.

Due to the generous support of Leonard and Elise Elman two distinguished authors each year spend two-day residencies at SU: the Richard Elman Visiting Writer and the Leonard and Elise Elman Visiting Writer. Learn more about Leonard in his interview with Rob Enslin.

Past readings have been recorded and are in the process of being made available online by Bird Library at SUrface.

Normally these readings take place in Gifford Auditorium on Syracuse University’s main campus and are open to the public, but because of the global-health situation the Fall 2020 Reading Series will be conducted virtually via the videoconferencing platform Zoom. If you are interested in a Zoom invitation to a particular reading, please contact Sarah Harwell at scharwel@syr.edu

All readings begin at 5:00 p.m. and are preceded by a question-and-answer session that begins at 4:00 p.m.

Fall 2020 Writers

Kaveh Akbar

Kaveh Akbar

September 9, 2020
Photo By Hieu Minh Nguyen

Kaveh Akbar’s poems appear in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Times, Paris Review, The Nation, Best American Poetry, The New Republic, The Guardian, American Poetry Review, The Poetry Review, PBS NewsHour, and elsewhere. His second full-length volume of poetry, Pilgrim Bell, will be published by Graywolf in 2021. His debut, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, is out now with Alice James in the US and Penguin in the UK. The recipient of honors including a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, multiple Pushcart Prizes, the Levis Reading Prize, and a Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency MFA programs at Randolph College and Warren Wilson.

Kaveh founded Divedapper, a home for dialogues with the most vital voices in American poetry. With Sarah Kay and Claire Schwartz, he writes a weekly column for the Paris Review called "Poetry RX." Previously, he ran The Quirk, a for-charity print literary journal. Kaveh is currently editing an anthology of poetry of the spirit for Penguin Classics.

Deb-Olin-Unferth.jpg

Deb Olin Unferth

September 23, 2020
Photo by Nick Berard

Deb Olin Unferth is the author of six books of fiction and nonfiction, including, most recently, the novel Barn 8 (Graywolf, March 2020). Her writing has appeared in Harper’s, The Paris Review, Granta, Vice, Tin House, NOON, the New York Times, and McSweeney’s. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Pushcart Prizes, she grew up in Chicago and received an M.F.A. from Syracuse University. She is now an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches for the Michener Center for Writers and the New Writers Project.

An advocate of prison reform, Unferth founded and runs the Pen City Writers, a creative-writing certificate program at a maximum security prison in southern Texas. For this work she won the 2017 Texas Governor's Criminal Justice Service Award and the 2017 American Short Fiction Community Star Award.

Janice N. Harrington

Janice N. Harrington

October 7, 2020
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Janice N. Harrington writes poetry and children’s books. She grew up in Alabama and Nebraska, and both those settings, especially rural Alabama, figure largely in her writing. Her first book of poetry, Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone (2007), won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Her second book of poetry, The Hands of Strangers: Poems from the Nursing Home, came out in 2011, and her third book, Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin, appeared in 2016. She is also the winner of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship for Poetry and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award for emerging women writers.

Harrington's children’s books have won many awards and citations, including a listing among TIME Magazine’s top 10 children’s books and the Ezra Jack Keats Award from the New York Public Library.

Harrington’s poetry appears regularly in American literary magazines. She has worked as a public librarian and now teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Illinois.

Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste
The Jane and Daniel Present Lecturer

October 21, 2020
Photo by Nina Subin

Maaza Mengiste is a novelist and essayist. Her most recent novel, The Shadow King, was called “a brilliant novel…compulsively readable” by Salman Rushdie. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, was selected by The Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and other publications. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Creative Capital. Her work can be found in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Granta, The Guardian, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and BBC, among other places. Maaza’s fiction and nonfiction examines the individual lives at stake during migration, war, and exile, and considers the intersections of photography, memory, and violence. She was a writer on the documentary projects, GIRL RISING and THE INVISIBLE CITY: KAKUMA.

Jaswinder Bolina

Jaswinder Bolina

November 4, 2020

Jaswinder Bolina is an American writer. Of Color, his first collection of essays, was published by McSweeney’s in June 2020, and The 44th of July, his most recent collection of poetry, was released by Omnidawn in April 2019. His previous collections include Phantom Camera (winner of the 2012 Green Rose Prize in Poetry from New Issues Press), Carrier Wave (winner of the 2006 Colorado Prize for Poetry from the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University), and the digital chapbook The Tallest Building in America (Floating Wolf Quarterly 2014). An international edition of Phantom Camera is available from Hachette India. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and been included in The Best American Poetry series.

His essays can be found at The Poetry Foundation, McSweeney’s, Himal Southasian, The Writer, and other magazines. He currently teaches on the faculty of the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Miami.

Dewaine Farria

Dewaine Farria

November 18, 2020
Photo by Iryna Farria

Dewaine Farria’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Rumpus, The Mantle, CRAFT, and the Southern Humanities Review, and he co-edits The Maine Review’s weekly “Embody” Column. Tobias Wolff selected his novel, Revolutions of All Colors, as the winner of Syracuse University’s 2019 Veterans Writing Contest. Syracuse University Press will release the book in the fall of 2020.

Farria holds an MA in International and Area Studies from the University of Oklahoma, where—as a David L. Boren National Security Education Program Fellow—he studied at the Kyiv Linguistic Institute in Ukraine. He also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

As a U.S. Marine, he served in Jordan and Ukraine. Besides his stint in the military, he has spent most of his professional life working for the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), with assignments in the North Caucasus, Kenya, Somalia, and Occupied Palestine. He was awarded UNDSS’s Bravery Award for his actions during an attack on the UNDP compound in Mogadishu in June 2013. He currently lives in Manila and is a Senior Security and Emergency Services Specialist for the Asian Development Bank.