AMHERST, Mass. – This semester’s Visiting Writers Series at the University of Massachusetts Amherst kicks off Thursday, Sept. 20 with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Ashbery reading from his work at 8 p.m. in Memorial Hall.
Other scheduled speakers include James Salter (Oct. 11), Alice Oswald (Oct. 30), Junot Diaz (Nov. 1) and Noy Holland (Nov. 15).
For nearly 50 years, the Visiting Writers Series has brought renowned and emerging poets and writers to UMass Amherst for public readings of new work. All readings are on Thursdays at 8 p.m. in Memorial Hall except for Alice Oswald, who will read on a Tuesday at the University Club and Junot Diaz, whose reading is this year’s Troy Lecture and starts at 4:30 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium. All are free and open to the public. Information about past readers can be found at www.umass.edu/english/MFA_VWS.htm
The Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by UMass Amherst’s MFA Program for Poets and Writers and the Juniper Initiative, and made possible by support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, UMass Arts Council, the vice provost of research and engagement, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the English department.
Ashbery is the author of more than 20 books of poetry, most recently Planisphere, A Worldly Country, and Where Shall I Wander. He has won nearly every major American award for poetry, including the National Book Award Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
Salter is author of 12 books, including the novels A Sport and a Pastime, Light Years, and the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning collection Dusk and Other Stories. His stories have appeared in O. Henry collections and in the Best American Short Stories. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2000 and received The Paris Review’s Hadada Prize in 2011.
Oswald trained as a classicist and was the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award. She has been awarded the Froward Poetry Prize in 1996 and the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize in 2002 for her poetry collections The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile and Dart, respectively. Her latest book is Memorial: An Excavation of the Illiad.
Díaz is the author of the short-story collection Drown, as well as the critically-acclaimed novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction. He is the fiction editor at The Boston Review.
Holland is the author of The Spectacle of the Body, What Begins with Bird, and Swim for the Little One First. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, the University of Florida and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. She is a professor of English at UMass Amherst.