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Writers Series 2019-20

The Writers Series is designed to expose Richmond students, the greater university community, and city residents to some of today’s most celebrated writers.  Readings are free and open to the public, though seating is on a first come, first served basis.  Each reading will be followed by a Q&A session and book-signing. 

The Writers Series is sponsored by the Department of English and the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.  Campus partners this year include the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the Robins School of Business, the university Cultural Affairs Committee, WGSS, and the WILL* Program.

For more information about the series, please contact the English Department at (804) 289-8287 or


Events include:

Casey GeraldCasey Gerald – Tuesday, October 8, 7 PM
Brown-Alley Room, Weinstein Hall
Casey Gerald’s memoir, There Will Be No Miracles Here, was named a Best Book of 2018 by both NPR and The New York Times.  Born in Oak Cliff, Texas, Gerald played football for Yale University, where he received both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  There Will Be No Miracles Here recounts this personal journey, as well as his efforts co-founding “MBAs Across America”—a program that Gerald would ultimately shutter as he came to understand “how the world crushes those who live at its margins … [and] the elite perpetuate the salvation stories that keep others from rising.”  BookPage describes the memoir as “staccato prose and peripatetic storytelling [that] combine the cadences of the Bible with an urgency reminiscent of James Baldwin,” while Entertainment Weekly notes that “Gerald writes a powerful commentary on race in America simply by telling his life story.”  A keynote speaker at SXSW, he has also been featured on TED, PBS Newshour, MSNBC, and in Fast Company and The Financial Times.  His appearance is co-sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Committee, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, and the Robins School of Business.


Gillian ConoleyGillian Conoley – Wednesday, October 30, 7 PM
Brown-Alley Room, Weinstein Hall
Gillian Conoley was awarded the 2017 Shelley Memorial Award for lifetime achievement from the Poetry Society of America. A Little More Red Sun on the Human: Selected Poems is forthcoming with Nightboat Books in Fall 2019.  She is the author of seven previous books, including PEACE, an Academy of American Poets Standout Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work has received the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Fund for Poetry Award. Conoley’s translations of three books by Henri Michaux, Thousand Times Broken, appeared with City Lights. Conoley is Poet-in-Residence and Professor of English at Sonoma State University, where she edits Volt.


Chet'la SebreeChet’la Sebree – Tuesday, November 19, 7 PM
Commons, Carole Weinstein International Center
Chet’la Sebree graduated from the University of Richmond in 2010—an alumna of English, Creative Writing, and the WILL* program.  Her first book, Mistress, won the 2018 New Issues Poetry Prize and will be published in October 2019.  Judge Cathy Park Hong notes that “Sebree runs from—and faces—the dark looming historical forces of miscegenation, enslavement, and the abjection of the black female body. The ghost of Sally Hemings as aberration, as mistress, determines the speaker’s id; tugs at her solitary fantasies; a violent erotic invasion that she inverts and turns on its head with lines etched in rage.”  Sebree was the 2014-2016 Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University and has received fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Richard H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies.  In 2019, she will return to Bucknell as Assistant Professor and Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry and Literary Arts.  Her appearance at the University of Richmond is also part of the 2019-20 WILL*/WGSS Speakers Series.


Lauren GroffLauren Groff – Wednesday, March 4, 7 PM
Commons, Carole Weinstein International Center
Lauren Groff is the author of three novels and two short-story collections, including The Monsters of Templeton, Delicate Edible Birds, and Arcadia (a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the Medici Book Club Prize).  Her third novel, Fates and Furies, was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the 2015 American Booksellers’ Association Indies’ Choice Award.  The New York Times notes that “One of the pleasures of reading Ms. Groff is her sheer unpredictability: She can inject her narrator’s voice at any time, turn a sentence into a small hurricane.” Her short fiction has been selected for inclusion in five editions of the Best American Short Stories, and Granta magazine has named her one of the Best Young American Novelists of her generation.  Her latest work is Florida (2018), which Vogue magazine calls “Easily the year’s best story collection.”  She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, two sons, and dog.


Laura SimsLaura Sims – CANCELLED

Laura Sims grew up in Richmond and attended the College of William and Mary.  She is most recently the author of Looker, a psychological thriller published by Scribner in January 2019.  As People magazine describes it, “In Sims’s creepy debut, a woman fixates on the actress living across the street, admiration tilting into pathology as events in her own life—infertility, her husband’s desertion—unmask her fragility. The ultimate unreliable narrator, she reveals her instability slowly.”  Also a poet, Sims has published four full-length collections, most recently Staying Alive and My god is this a man.  Her honors include the 2005 Fence Books Alberta Prize and a Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship from the Japan-US Friendship Commission.  She presently teaches creative writing at New York University and lives outside the city with her family.