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2022 Juniper Literary Festival

The 2022 Juniper Literary Festival will be held on April 1–2, 2022. 

Inaugurated in 2001, the Juniper Literary Festival showcases exciting new writing and explores issues vital to the literary arts, helping to ensure their vitality, plurality, and accessibility. This year, we are excited for a return to an in-person event, and for the opportunity to introduce our newly admitted poets and writers to the vibrant literary community here at UMass and the Pioneer Valley as a whole.

Readings and receptions are open to members of the Five College community with a valid school ID, and the general public with proof of vaccination. Masks are encouraged regardless of vaccination status. Registration for each event is required.

Download the 2022 Juniper Festival Poster

Schedule of Events

Friday, April 1

Reading | Great Hall, Old Chapel, 6pm | Register

Join us for a reading with novelist Mona Awad and poet Mai Der Vang. Awad’s latest novel, All’s Well, is a searing indictment on society’s collective refusal to witness and believe female pain. Vang’s Yellow Rain, a 2022 Pen America Literary Award finalist, is a work of documentary, poetry and collage that calls out the erasure of a history, and the silencing of Hmong refugees. A book signing and reception will follow.

Mona Awad is the author of Bunny, named a Best Book of 2019 by TIME, Vogue, and the New York Public Library. It was a finalist for the New England Book Award and a Goodreads Choice Award. It is currently in development for film with Jenni Konner and New Regency Productions. Awad's first novel, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the Colorado Book Award and the Amazon Canada First Novel Award. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, TIME, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction in the Creative Writing program at Syracuse University. Her new novel, All’s Well, has been named a best or most anticipated book of summer by Entertainment Weekly, O Magazine, Goodreads and many more.

Mai Der Vang is the author of Yellow Rain (Graywolf Press, 2021), and Afterland (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Poetry, and a finalist for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She was also the co-editor of the anthology How Do I Begin? A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011). She has been an assistant professor in the Creative Writing MFA Program at Fresno State University since 2019.

Live Lit | Multi-Purpose Room, Old Chapel, 8pm | Register

The long-standing reading series, run by and featuring current MFA students. Hosted by Danielle Bradley (MFA '24) and Elly O'Leary (MFA '23).

Saturday, April 2

Admitted Students Events | Old Chapel and South College, 10am–2pm

We look forward to welcoming our newly admitted poets and writers! Events will include tours, lunch, and meetings with current students, faculty, and representatives from the Writing Program. For admitted students only.

Alumni Reading and Conversation | Great Hall, Old Chapel, 4pm | Register

Help us welcome back four UMass MFA alumni for a reading and conversation. A book signing and reception will follow.

Emily Hunt (MFA '13) is the author of the poetry collection Dark Green, named a “standout debut” by Publishers Weekly and a "Must-Read Poetry Debut" by Lit Hub, and the chapbook Company. Claudia Rankine selected Hunt’s manuscript-in-progress Stranger as an honorable mention in the 2020 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry competition. Hunt has also published two books of visual art: Cousins and This Always Happens. She lives and teaches in New York.

Robin McLean (MFA '11) was a lawyer and then a potter for 15 years in the woods of Alaska turning to writing at UMass Amherst. Her first short story collection Reptile House, twice a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Prize, won the BOA Editions Fiction Prize and was noted as a best book of 2015 in Paris Review. Her debut novel Pity the Beast was published in November 2021 and named a Best Book of Fiction in The Guardian. Her collection of short fiction Get 'em Young, Treat 'em Tough, Tell 'em Nothing will be published in October 2022. She now directs the Ike’s Canyon Writers Retreat in the high plain desert of central Nevada.

Wendy Xu (MFA '14) is most recently the author of the poetry collection The Past, just published by Wesleyan in September 2021, and Phrasis, named one of the 10 Best Poetry Books of 2017 by The New York Times Book Review. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, Granta, Tin House, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Conjunctions, and widely elsewhere. She is assistant professor of writing at The New School, where she teaches poetry.

​​Jung Yun (MFA '07) is the author of O Beautiful (St. Martin’s Press, 2021), which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and Group Text selection, and Shelter (Picador, 2016), which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award. Her work has appeared in Tin House, The Massachusetts Review, The Indiana Review, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. Currently, she lives in Baltimore and serves as an Assistant Professor of English at the George Washington University. She also serves on the boards of directors at the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and the Alan Cheuse Center for International Writers. 


The 2022 Juniper Literary Festival is a program of the University of Massachusetts Amherst MFA for Poets and Writers’ Juniper Initiative and made possible with generous support from Mass Cultural Council; UMass Arts Council; Office of the Provost; Office of Research and Engagement; Graduate School; College of Humanities & Fine Arts; Department of English; Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures; UMass Libraries; Women of Color Leadership Network; and Arts Extension Service.