Fresh Voices

Stony Brook University
Last year’s Writers Speak.

Stony Brook Southampton MFA in Creative Writing and Literature welcomes the return of Writers Speak Wednesdays, a semester-long series showcasing selected authors and their works.

Curating Writers Speak this semester is associate professor at the MFA program, Paul Harding. In 2010, Harding’s novel “Tinkers” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and his second novel “Elon,” in 2013, received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the PEN American Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers. In addition, Harding has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Grinnell College.

“This semester, we have almost all younger writers who have just published their first books. That’s cool for the students here because getting that first book out into the world sometimes can look pretty daunting from the perspective of grad school. Seeing people who are essentially peers read from their shiny new books is inspiring,” Harding said. “Readers are always hungry for new voices, new faces on the scene.”

Each semester the lineup changes, giving students an opportunity to listen, learn, and perhaps admire writers from varied genres, walks of life, and stages in their careers. Harding said, “The best reactions from students are when a reader’s work opens up a new doorway in their own imaginations. I love that moment of recognition.”

Beyond the student body, readers from all over gather to listen to the authors and hear their stories, both personal and professional.

“I know all the authors and can’t wait for them to meet our students, and our students to meet them,” Harding said.

The spring series launched on February 26 with author Ayana Mathis, graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the 2014-15 New York Public Library’s Cullman Center Fellowship.

Continuing the line-up of authors will be the MFA faculty reading featuring Cornelius Eady, Neal Gabler, Paul Harding, Ursula Hegi, Amy Hempel, Christian McLean, Susan Scarf Merrell, Roger Rosenblatt, Julie Sheehan, and Lou Ann Walker on March 11; Simeon Marsalis “As Lie is to Grin” and Dawnie Walton “Opal & Nev” on April 8; Stony Brook alumna Caitlin Mullen reads from “Please See Us” on April 15; Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Kiley Reid will share her New York Times bestseller “Such a Fun Age” on April 22; The Southampton Review Summer/Fall 2020 Issue Launch Party will take place on April 29; and the final session, on May 6, will be a reading featuring students of the Stony Brook Southampton MFA Program.

These readings are free open to the public. Receptions begin at 6:30 PM and readings start at 7 PM in the Rakoff Theater on the second floor of Chancellors Hall of the university, at 239 Montauk Highway in Southampton. For more information, visit

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