Working Writers Series to Kick Off Spring Semester with Travel Writer and Poet Gretel Ehrlich

Series includes actor, novelist, screenwriter, and more

The Working Writers Series will kick off the spring semester with a reading by Gretel Ehrlich, an American travel writer, poet, and essayist.  Ehrlich will read excerpts from her work on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rehm Library, located in Smith Hall.  The event, sponsored by the English department’s Creative Writing Program and the Environmental Studies Program, is free and open to the public.

Ehrlich is the author of 15 books, including the 2014 National Book Award nominee “Facing the Wave” (Vintage, 2014), which also won the PEN USA Award for nonfiction. “This Cold Heaven” (Vintage, 2003), her book about traveling by dogsled in Greenland, won the PEN Thoreau Award for Nature Writing.  Ehrlich’s other books include “A Match to the Heart” (Penguin Books, 1995), which recounts an experience of being struck by lightning that incapacitated her for several years, “The Solace of Open Spaces” (Penguin Books, 1986), and “Heart Mountain” (Penguin Books, 1989).  Her work has appeared in “Best Essay of the Century,” “Best Essays,” “Spiritual Writing,” and “Best Travel Writing.”  Ehrlich’s writing has been supported by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as three National Geographic Expedition Grants for travel in the Arctic.

The Working Writers Series will also present readings from the following writers throughout the semester. All events will take place in the Rehm Library (unless otherwise noted) and are free and open to the public.

Thu., Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., poet and memoirist Christian Wiman will give both a talk and a reading.  Wiman is the former editor of “Poetry,” America’s oldest magazine of verse, and the author of five books of poetry and two volumes of essays.  He teaches literature and religion at Yale Divinity School.  Wiman’s first collection of poems, “The Long Home” (Story Line Press, 1997), won the Nicholas Roerich Price; another collection, “Every Riven Thing” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), won the Commonwealth Prize from the English Speaking Union, was a finalist for the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award, and was named one of the New Yorker’s top 11 poetry books of the year.  Wiman’s latest collection, “Once in the West” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  His most recent nonfiction book, “My Bright Abyss: Memoir of a Modern Believer” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), recounts his struggle with a rare incurable cancer.  Wiman’s work appears widely in magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Yorker. The event is co-sponsored by the McFarland Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture as one of the Deitchman Family Lectures on Religion and Modernity.

Thu. Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m., poet and actor James Keegan ’83 will return to campus to give a performance and hold a discussion.  Keegan is a poet and actor with the American Shakespeare Center.  He has been with the center for more than 11 years and has performed more than 80 roles in approximately  60 productions.  His performance will include monologues from his favorite roles, including King Lear, Iago, Macbeth, Falstaff, Shylock, Prospero, and Titus Adronicus.  Keegan has performed at The Folger Shakespeare Theater, Pittsburg Irish and Classical Theater, and the Delaware Shakespeare Festival.  He is an associate professor of English and Theatre at the University of Delaware’s Georgetown campus. The event is co-sponsored by the Jenks Chair of Contemporary American Letters and the theatre department.

Tue., Mar. 15 at 7:30 p.m., author Christopher Castellani will give a reading.  He is the author of three critically-acclaimed novels: “A Kiss from Maddalena” (Algonquin Books, 2003), which won the Massachusetts Book Award in 2004; “The Saint of Lost Things” (Algonquin, 2013); and “All this Talk of Love” (Algonquin, 2013), which was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and a finalist for the Ferror-Grumley Award.  His book, “The Art of Perspective: Who Tells the Story,” a book of essays on the craft of writing, was published by Graywolf Press in January 2016.  Castellani is the artistic director of GrubStreet Writing Center and teaches fiction in the M.F.A. Program at Warren Wilson College and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He recently won the “Poets & Writers”/Barnes & Noble "Writer for Writers" Award in recognition of his generosity to other writers and to the broader literary community.  He is currently working on a new novel, “Leading Men,” for which he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014. The event is co-sponsored by the Jenks Chair of Contemporary American Letters.

Thu., Apr. 7 at 7:30 p.m., screenwriter and dramatist Laura Cahill will offer a dramatic reading of a screenplay in the Rehm Library.  Cahill has written screenplays for Miramax, 20th Century Fox, CBS, Lifetime, and the USA network, among others. Her screenplay for HBO’s “Hysterical Blindness,” starring Uma Thurman, Juliette Lewis, and Gena Rowlands, was adapted from her critically acclaimed off-Broadway play which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002 and went on to receive nominations for Emmy, Independent Spirit, and Writers’ Guild Awards. Cahill’s television credits include pilot scripts for HBO, IFC, Touchstone, Warner Brothers, and Paramount, among others, as well as an episode of the one-hour drama “The Beat.”  Her new play, “Sad and Serious News,” was chosen by Vineyard Theatre for their new reading series last fall. Cahill’s other plays include “Mercy,” “Jersey Girls Go to the Park,” “Home,” and “The Way.” The event is co-sponsored by the Jenks Chair of Contemporary American Letters.

Thu., Apr. 21 at 7:30 p.m., fiction writer Matt Bell will give a reading in the Rehm Library. Originally from Michigan and now teaching creative writing at Arizona State University, Bell is the author of several books of fiction, including “In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods” (Soho Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, a Michigan Notable Book, and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient.  It also won the Paula Anderson Book Award.  Bell’s other books include the story collection “How They Were Found” (Keyhole Press, 2010), the novella “Cataclysm Baby” (Mud Luscious Press, 2012), and a nonfiction book about the classic video game “Baldur’s Gate II” (Boss Fight Books, 2015).  His work writing has also appeared in “Best American Mystery Stories,” “Tin House,” The New York Times, “The American Reader,” and many other publications.  Bell’s most recent novel, “Scrapper” (Soho Press, 2015), was published in September.

Thu., May 5 at 4 p.m., a celebration will be held featuring the writing of graduating seniors in Creative Writing: Danielle Burford, LiAnn Butterfield, Christopher Conley, Leonardo Hernandez, Mikayla Michienzi, Catherine Rutter, Hannah Shaw, Christopher Smith, Samuel Stenard, Margaret Walsh, and Kayla Zenk.