Visiting Writers Program

The Richard Blanco Writers Series

Rather than seeing writing as a celebrated art from the past, the Richard Blanco Writers Series aims to engage students with contemporary writers, helping to cultivate new generations of literature enthusiasts.

While on campus, visiting writers work with Gould Academy students and faculty through classroom visits and workshops, giving them the opportunity to connect with and learn from a living artist.

Through public readings and events, the program also exposes the larger community and region to great contemporary writers.

Richard Blanco

“Through this program and contact with contemporary authors, students can appreciate and understand that poetry, just like any art, is still vibrant and alive today – one that can teach us about ourselves and about the world.” – Richard Blanco

Up Next

April 23, 2019 – Richard Blanco

Photo by Craig Dilger

Poet Richard Blanco

This spring, Richard Blanco comes in person to launch his new collection of poems. He will read from his new book, How to Love a Country, a collection from the renowned inaugural poet in which he  explores immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues, and more, in accessible and emotive verses. Blanco digs deep into the very marrow of our nation through poems that interrogate our past and present, grieve our injustices, and note our flaws, but also remember to celebrate our ideals and cling to our hopes. It was released by Beacon Press on March 26.

In 2013, Blanco was chosen to serve as the fifth inaugural poet of the United States. Blanco performed “One Today,” an original poem he wrote for the occasion, becoming the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and openly gay writer to hold the honor.

Reading at 7:00 pm in Bingham Auditorium, free and open to the public.
Reception to follow in the Marlon Family IDEAS Center at 8:00 pm.

Past Visitors

September 2018 – Blair Braverman

Blair Braverman is a nonfiction writer and dogsledder whose work has appeared in This American Life, Outside, VQR, The Guardian and elsewhere. She is training for the Iditarod, a 1000-mile dogsled race across Alaska. Her first book is WELCOME TO THE GODDAMN ICE CUBE, out now from Ecco/HarperCollins.

April 2018 – Ross Gay

Ross Gay is the author of three books: Against WhichBringing the Shovel Downand Catalog of Unabashed Gratitudewinner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Catalog was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, the Ohioana Book Award, the Balcones Poetry Prize, the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award, and it was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

February 2018 – Richard Taylor

Richard Taylor is a poet, author, educator, coach and former US Olympic Nordic Ski athlete. His latest book titled, The Absence of Strangers (Goose River Press, 2017), ponders life’s solitudes, its various rejections, exult in our successes, as fleeting as they are.

October 2017 – Jeffrey Thomson

Jeffrey Thomson is a poet, memoirist, and translator, and is the author of multiple books including The Belfast Notebooks, fragile, Birdwatching in Wartime, The Complete Poems of Catullus, and From the Fishouse. He has been an NEA Fellow and a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar.  He is a professor at the University of Maine Farmington.

April 2017 – Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith is Assistant Professor of English at Lesley University. He has an M.F. A. in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. Smith teaches Creative Writing, Poetry, Popular Culture, and Gender Studies. His books of poetry include Blue on Blue Ground, Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005,) Appetite (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012,) and Primer (University of Pittsburgh Press November 11, 2016.)

October 2016 – Monica Wood

Monica Wood was born and raised in Mexico, Maine in a family of devout Irish Catholics. The men in her family worked in the paper mill. She and her sister were the first in her family to graduate from college. Wood’s family is from Prince Edward Island in Canada. They brought the island’s rich sense of storytelling with them to Western Maine. Monica Wood has most recently published a novel, One-in-a-Million Boy. Previously she published a memoir, When We Were the Kennedys, three other novels, a book of connected stories, two books for writers, and three books for teachers.

April 2016 – Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith is the author of six critically-acknowledged volumes of poetry, including Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, which was awarded the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress, was the winner of the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy American Poets, and was a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist; Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series winner (all from Coffee House Press); Close to Death and Big Towns, Big Talk (both from Zoland Books), and Life According to Motown, just released in a special 20th anniversary edition (Tia Chucha Press). She also edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir. Her contribution to that anthology, the story “When They Are Done With Us,” won an award from Mystery Writers of America and was published in Best American Mystery Stories. She is a Cave Canem faculty member, a professor of English at CUNY/College of Staten Island and a faculty member of the Sierra Nevada MFA program.

October 2015 – Richard Hoffman

English_Visiting Writers Program_Richard Hoffman_2

Richard Hoffman is the author of: The Half the House: A Memoir, and the poetry collections, Without Paradise, Gold Star Road — which won the 2006 Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the 2008 Sheila Motton Award from the New England Poetry Club — and Emblem. A fiction writer as well, his Interference & Other Stories was published in 2009. His new memoir, Love & Fury, is just out from Beacon Press. He is Senior Writer in Residence at Emerson College.

March 2015 – Rachel McKibbens

rachel mckibbens

Regarded as one of the most dynamic speakers in the country, Rachel McKibbens is a legend within the poetry slam community, noted for her accomplishments both on and off the stage: she is a nine-time National Poetry Slam team member, has appeared on eight NPS final stages, coached the New York louderARTS poetry slam team to three consecutive final stage appearances, is the 2009 Women of the World Poetry Slam champion and the 2011 National Underground Poetry Slam individual champion.

March 2014 – Spencer Reece

Spencer Reese

Poet Spencer Reece was the first participating writer in the Richard Blanco Visiting Writers Program and Retreat, visiting Bethel, Maine in March 2014.

An Episcopal priest ordained in 2011, Reece’s poems explore faith and family. His debut collection, The Clerk’s Tale, was published in 2004 and received the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for poetry, selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Louise Gluck and awarded by the Middlebury College Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. He is also the author of the collection The Road to Emmaus published in 2013, which was a longlist nominee for the National Book Award.

Reece’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, grants from the Fulbright Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Council, a Witter Bynner fellowship from the Library of Congress and a Whiting Writer’s Award.