2020 Layli Long Soldier

Photograph of Layli Long Soldier
Layli Long Soldier Image Credit: Graywolf Press

October 29, 2020 6pm Via Zoom

Layli Long Soldier’s first volume of poetry, Whereas, explores the systemic violence against and cultural erasure of native tribes in the United States through a thoughtful investigation of language.  In writing these poems, Long Soldier studied similar apologies from governments across the world to indigenous peoples and considered the nature of authentic apology.

Whereas has won multiple awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry, as well as a finalist for the John Leonard Prize.

Layli Long Soldier is an Oglala Lakota poet, writer, feminist, artist, and activist currently working as an adjunct English professor at Diné College.  She grew up in the four corners region of the Southwest, where she continues to live and work to advocate against the continued, systematic oppression of indigenous populations.

2019 Fred Moten

Photo Credit: Robert Adam Mayer

October 16, 2019 6pm in May Hall: McCarthy Auditorium

Fred Moten’s work explores black studies, performances studies, poetry, and critical theory. In 2014, Moten’s The Feel Trio was a poetry finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was winner of the California Book Award; and in 2016 his The Little Edges was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

In 2016 Fred Moten was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry by the African American Literature and Culture Society. Moten has taught at the University of Iowa, Duke University, the Naropa Institute, and Brown University.

Moten currently teaches in the department of performance studies at New York University and lives in New York City.

2018 Ocean Vuong

Image courtesy of the Poetry Foundation

Ocean Vuong is the author of the debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin, 2019). He is also the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.

Vuong’s writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Harpers, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker, alongside Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon and Justin Trudeau, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, VICE, The Fantastic Man, and The New Yorker.

Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at Umass-Amherst. He is currently not writing anything.

For more information about Ocean Vuong and his writing go to: https://www.oceanvuong.com/

2018 Rickey Laurentiis

Image courtesy of the Poetry Foundation

Rickey Laurentiis (b. 1989, February 7) was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, to love the dark. His poetry has been supported by several foundations and fellowships, including the Whiting Foundation (2018), Lannan Literary Foundation (2017), Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy (2014), Poetry International Rotterdam (2014), the National Endowment for the Arts (2013), Cave Canem Foundation (2009-2011), and the Poetry Foundation, which awarded him a Ruth Lilly Fellowship in 2012. In 2016, he traveled to Palestine as an invited reader for the Palestine Festival of Literature. He received his MFA in Writing from Washington University in St Louis, where he was a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow, and his Bachelors in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, where he read literature and queer theory.

He is the author of Boy with Thorn, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the Levis Reading Prize, and a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry and a Lambda Literary Award. Boy with Thorn was also named one of the top ten debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers Magazine and a top 16 best poetry books by Buzzfeed, among other distinctions. Individual poems have appeared widely, including Boston Review, Feminist Studies, The Kenyon Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly, New Republic, The New York Times, and Poetry; have been anthologized in Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers Speak of Palestine, Bettering American Poetry, A Tale of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation, and Prospect.3‘s art catalogue Notes for Now; as well as translated into Arabic, Spanish and Ukrainian.

Laurentiis’ interests include visual culture, ekphrasis, chiaroscuro and shade, revisionary logics, penetration and the body, radical justice, cultural studies, and shame. He has taught at a selection of institutions, including Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, and the 92nd Street Y. He is the inaugural Fellow in Creative Writing at the Center for African American Poetry and Poeticsat the University of Pittsburgh, and serves on the executive board for the Black Art Futures Fund.

For more information about Rickey Laurentiis and his writing go to: https://www.rickeylaurentiis.com/#1