MFA Creative Writing
Fiction | Creative Nonfiction | Poetry

  Dept. of English
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Distinguished Writers Series, Fall 2020

Visitors have never been permitted to see the most magical part of the Hunter MFA, the evenings when a famous writer visits a class and engages with our talented ambitious students. But now we are in the age of Zoom and we will admit you as a trusted visitor.

Alex Halberstadt

Date: Thursday, September 17, 2020, at 6:30pm

See the event above.

There have been stacks of great reviews to quote from but we choose the celebrated writer John Jeremiah Sullivan, to sum up the magic Halberstadt has wrought.

"I remember being in a bar with Alex Halberstadt almost twenty years ago, talking about our families, when he said, 'Did I ever tell you my grandfather was Stalin's bodyguard?' He hadn't. I suggested that he write a book about it. Not in my most hopeful imaginings could that book have turned out to be as surprising, sad, funny, and engrossing as the one he wrote. This is history as memoir, and vice versa. Describing Russia in the twentieth century as a place where 'the buffer between history and biography became nearly imperceptible,' he made me feel how this is true of all places, for all of us."


Hernan Diaz

Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020, at 6:30pm

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A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Hernan Diaz has published stories and essays in Cabinet, The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, Playboy, Granta, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. His first novel, In the Distance, was the winner of the Saroyan International Prize, the Cabell Award, and the New American Voices Award, among other distinctions. It was also a Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book of the Year, one of Lit Hub's Top 20 Books of the Decade, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He is the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award and one of this year's fellows at the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.


Major Jackson

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2020, at 6:30pm

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Major Jackson is the author of five books of poetry, including The Absurd Man (2020), Roll Deep (2015), Holding Company (2010), Hoops (2006) and Leaving Saturn (2002), which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems. His edited volumes include: Best American Poetry 2019, Renga for Obama, and Library of America's Countee Cullen: Collected Poems. A recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, Major Jackson has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writers' Award, and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Major Jackson lives in South Burlington, Vermont, where he is the Richard A. Dennis Professor of English and University Distinguished Professor at the University of Vermont. He serves as the Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review.


Claudia Rankine

Date: Thursday, November 19, 2020, at 6:30pm

Location: The Zoom Room - Click to ENTER
RSVP: No RSVP required. Readings are free and open to the public.

Recipient of the 2016 MacArthur Fellowship, Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don't Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Citizen: An American Lyric was the winner of the 2015 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry (it was also a finalist in the criticism category, making it the first book in the award's history to be a double nominee), the NAACP Image Award, the PEN Open Book Award, and the LA Times Book Award for poetry. She lives in New Haven, CT and teaches at Yale University as the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry.

ZZ Packer

Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2020, at 6:30pm

Location: The Zoom Room - Click to ENTER
RSVP: No RSVP required. Readings are free and open to the public.

ZZ Packer's collection of short stories Drinking Coffee Elsewhere won the Commonwealth First Fiction Award, an ALEX Award and was a National Book Award 5 under 35 winner. It became a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2004, and was selected for the Today Show Book Club by John Updike. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Story, Ploughshares, Granta, Zoetrope All-Story, Best American Short Stories 2000 and Best American Short Stories 2003 and, 100 Years of The Best American Short Stories published in 2015. Her non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, The Believer, The American Prospect, The Oxford American, The Guardian, and The New York Times Book Review. She has appeared on MSNBC as a Huffington Post contributor. She was a Stanford Wallace Stegner Fellow, a Princeton Lewis Center for the Arts Hodder Fellow, and a Lillian Golay Knafel fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.