With a new year comes a new lineup of extraordinary writers visiting Stony Brook Southampton for the Writers Speak Wednesdays reading series. This season’s lineup is longer than in the past, due to the awarding of the Stony Brook Presidential Mini-Grant for Departmental Diversity.
“This benefits MFA students because it’s a way to expose ourselves to authors, aesthetics, genres, cultures and perspectives beyond what our full-time faculty can provide,” says Anthony Dipietro, current MFA student who worked with faculty liaison Emily Smith Gilbert to receive the grant. “It can also create lasting ties between the program and the wider field of writers out there. I know I couldn’t be more excited about this semester’s lineup.”
The opening night of the series is only the beginning in a long list of exciting and diverse writers. Donald Breckenridge, author of four novels and editor of two anthologies will read, on February 7. Breckenridge is also Fiction Editor of the Brooklyn Rail, and co-founder of InTranslation, a venue for outstanding work in translation and a resource for translators, authors, editors and publishers seeking to collaborate.
On February 14, poet, performer, educator, organizer and poetry editor Sam Sax reads. Sax is the author of Bury It and Madness, which was selected as the winner of the National Poetry Series by Terrance Hayes.
Following Sax, Judith Newman will read on February 21. Newman is a journalist and author who has written for Ladies Home Journal, Parade, People and The New York Times Book Review and is the author of the bestseller To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and The Kindness of Machines.
The month of March will begin with fiction writer Lee Clay Johnson, author of Nitro Mountain, which won the 2017 Sue Kaufman First Fiction Prize. Johnson received his MFA from the University of Virginia, and his work has appeared in numerous journals.
To close out the month, the one and only Jericho Brown will be reading on March 21. Brown’s first poetry collection, Please, won the 2009 American Book Award. His second collection, The New Testament, was named one of the year’s best by the Academy of American Poets. Brown is the recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The series finishes strong during the month of April. On April 18, fiction writer and journalist Daniel Alarcón and poet Debora Kuan read. Alarcón is the author of the novel The King is Always Above the People. He is also a journalist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and Harper’s. He currently teaches at Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Kuan was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, an Iowa fellowship, and residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and is the author of two poetry collections, Xing and Lunch Portraits.
April 25 features two exceptional writers. The first is memoirist Melissa Febos, author of the memoir Whip Smart and the essay collection Abandon Me. She is a professor at Monmouth University. Her colleague, also a professor at Monmouth, will be reading alongside her. Alex Gilvarry is the author of From the Memories of a Non-Enemy Combatant and the novel Eastman Was Here.
Writers Speak Wednesdays are always free and open to the public. Receptions begin at 6:30 p.m., readings begin at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway, Southampton. Call 631-632-5030, or visit stonybrook.edu/southampton for more info.