Spring is here! The spring semester that is. And that means a new season for Writers Speak Wednesday (WSW), the reading series presented by Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literature. This semester’s diverse and eclectic group of writers, editors, teachers, filmmakers and news reporters will share their work, and insights into their craft, with the program’s students and the East End community. Yes, you’re invited and so are all your friends, no reservations required. Just bring an open mind—and money to buy a book or two, which you can get signed. And questions! Following each reading the floor is open to you, the audience, for a short Q&A session.
The season kicks off on February 8 with Stony Brook Southampton MFA alumna and author of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson. Two weeks later on February 22, Jamal Joseph, a professor at the Columbia Graduate Film Program; director of a new film, Chapter & Verse; and author of Panther Baby, a book based on his involvement with the Black Panther Party, and Tupac Legacy, an interactive biography of the actor and hip hop artist. Joseph is also the Executive Artistic Director of New Heritage Theater and Films and the founder of the acclaimed Impact Repertory Youth Theater of Harlem.
Here’s to hoping your Wednesdays are free in March, because WSW meets every week but one. March 1 Omar Bah will be in conversation with poet and novelist Harriet Levin Millan. Bah is the founder and Executive Director of the Refugee Dream Center, Inc. in Providence, Rhode Island. He is a torture survivor, former journalist, refugee from The Gambia in West Africa and the author of Africa’s Hell of Earth: The Ordeal of an African Journalist. The very next week, March 8, come out to listen to Stony Brook Southampton’s MFA faculty including Star Black, Kaylie Jones, Susan Scarf Merrell, Julie Sheehan, Terese Svoboda and Lou Ann Walker—as they read from works-in-progress.
Take a breather on March 15, because on March 22 Tim Murphy comes to the series. Murphy is a reporter and editor at Poz magazine, an award-winning print and online brand for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. He is also a staff writer at New York Magazine and the author of Getting off Clean and The Breeders Box. Those attending March 29 will see poet and University of Nebraska professor Stacey Waite discussing her forthcoming book Teaching Queer: Radical Possibilities for Writing and Knowing with fellow poet Charif Shanahan, author of Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing, which won the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award in 2015.
On April 12 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter; adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute; contributing editor to City Journal; author of The Story, A Reporter’s Journey Judith Miller—she of Iraq WMD fame—visits the series. The next week, April 19, Julie Shigekuni, a creative writing professor from the University of New Mexico and recipient of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature & American Japanese Literary Award visits.
Finally, on May 3 come support the writers of the future at the MFA reading, where current students will share the work they’ve been working oh so hard on for years and years.
So get yourself involved in the local arts scene and mingle with some young, energetic artistic types. Remember: All are welcome. Each reading begins at 7 p.m. A reception before each event begins at 6:30 p.m. with delicious finger foods and booze. Writers Speak Wednesday is supported in part by Harbor Books of Sag Harbor, who will be selling books at each event.
For a full calendar of events visit stonybrook.edu/mfa. WSW meets on the second floor of Chancellor’s Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway. Call 631-632-5287 for more information or find them on Facebook and on Twitter.