UK English Department to bring authors to campus as part of Visiting Writers Series

UK will soon be calling all lovers of literature to campus as the Visiting Writers Series starts a new chapter. The annual event is back with new writers and new works to appreciate.

The VWS started in 2014 with a poem recitation from Roger Reeves, according to the English department’s website. With the addition of the MFA in Creative Writing, the VWS has grown into a respectable program, hosting distinguished writers such as Viet Thanh Nquyen and Roxane Gay.

Though the program boasts nationally renowned authors, it also hosts up-and-coming ones as well like Marie-Helene Bertino and Margaret Lazarus Dean. It is with a “collaborative spirit” that the program both highlights new writers while engaging audiences with more familiar ones.

A range of different writers are brought to campus. Some specialize in fiction, others in poetry, some in creative nonfiction. By bringing a variety of writers to campus, it is the hope of English department members to help diversify the community.

“The Visiting Writers Series brings to campus a diverse group of emerging and established writers and thinkers to read and discuss literature with students, faculty, and community members,” said Hannah Pittard, director of the MFA program.

It seems only fitting that Pittard herself is an award-winning author. Her novels have been highlighted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly and more. According to Pittard’s website, she is also a winner of the 2006 Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award, a MacDowell Colony Fellow and a consulting editor for Narrative Magazine.

Not to be outdone by the program’s director, this year’s series lineup includes a Pulitzer Prize winner and a bestselling author, along with other award-winning writers. One of the acclaimed writers set to present in the VWS is a local favorite, Silas House. House has six novels, one book of nonfiction and three plays that are New York Times best sellers.

When asked about his feelings about returning to his home state for a reading after traveling around the world promoting his new book, he said he was “glad to finally be back.” House’s visit on Oct. 10 will be only his second time reading at the University.

Like many visiting writers before him, House plans on having an open dialogue as part of his presentation. Typically, audience members at VWS events can expect authors to read their work– possibly new material– and talk about related themes then open the floor to a Q&A session. This session is an opportunity for audience members to ask some of their literary idols things they might not have ever gotten the chance to before.

“The VWS provides a great path for everyone in Lexington to engage intimately with brilliant and diverse writers of different ages, backgrounds, and perspectives,” said Pittard.

House said he is most looking forward to the Q&A sessions, as many of the visiting writers do. He is especially looking forward to discussing the issues presented in his most recent novel.

“Novels should start dialogues and that’s what I hope this book will do at UK. And I hope the conversation will continue after I leave,” said House.

The 2018-2019 series will begin on Sept. 11 with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gregory Pardlo. His reading will begin at 7 p.m. in Worsham Cinema, located in the Gatton Student Center.

Other writers planned to visit this year are Mary Gaitskill and Maurice Manning. Gaitskill is set to read on Sept. 14 while Manning will recite his poetry on Nov. 14.