Acclaimed authors Bernice L. McFadden and Tyehimba Jess to read at SMU’s 2016 Kimbilio Litfest Thursday, Oct. 13


Acclaimed authors Bernice L. McFadden and Tyehimba Jess to read at SMU’s 2016 Kimbilio Litfest Thursday, Oct. 13

Kimbilio Fiction logoLiterature fans and aspiring authors at SMU and throughout North Texas have an opportunity to meet and read with acclaimed writers Bernice L. McFadden and Tyehimba Jess at SMU’s second annual Kimbilio Litfest.

The group will meet Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. A reception will be held at 6 p.m., with readings scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Professor of English and Creative Writing Director David Haynes started the Kimbilio project in 2012 as a writers’ retreat at SMU-in-Taos. Kimbilio, which means “safe haven” in Swahili, is “a community of writers and scholars committed to developing, empowering and sustaining fiction writers from the African diaspora and their stories,” according to its mission statement.

> Learn more about Kimbilio at

This year’s guest authors:

Bernice L. McFaddenBernice L. McFadden is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a three-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). She lives in Brooklyn, New York. McFadden will read from hter latest novel, The Book of Harlan.

Visit Bernice L. McFadden’s personal homepage:

Tyehimba JessTyehimba Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU alumnus, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a 2004-05 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.” His other honors include a 2000-01 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. Olio, his second collection, was published by Wave Books in April 2016.

Visit Tyehimba Jess’ personal homepage:

> Visit SMU’s Department of English online:

October 13, 2016|Calendar Highlights, Faculty in the News, News|

New and notable authors to visit SMU LitFest 2015, March 19-21

SMU’s LitFest 2015 will feature an array of readings, receptions and book signings celebrating the creative work of poets, novelists and students from Thursday, March 19, through Sunday, March 21.

Pen in HandSponsored by SMU’s Department of English, most festival events will be free and open to the public.

> Find a complete SMU LitFest schedule

The annual festival “has an excellent record of bringing in rising literary stars,” says Dallas Morning News books editor Michael Merschel in a March 5 story about the popular event, which since the 1980s has featured such notable writers as John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Norman Mailer and Jill McCorkle.

“I’m particularly excited this year that, first, we’re expanding our offerings to include writers of creative nonfiction and also that this year our guests include so many writers who are working on multiple genres,” SMU Creative Writing Director David Haynes told Merschel. “It’s a genuinely versatile group of writers. And a quite diverse one, too.”

Visiting authors include:

Jeffrey Renard Allen: Author of two collections of poetry and two works of fiction including the celebrated novel,Rails Under My Back, winner of The Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction.

Jericho Brown: His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker, The New Republic and The Best American Poetry. He is an assistant professor of poetry at Emory University.

Liam Callanan: Author of two critically acclaimed novels, All Saints and The Cloud Atlas, his new book, Listen & Other Stories, will be released in April. Callanan teaches in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Elizabeth T. Gray Jr.: Her poetry has appeared in such publications as Harvard Review, Poetry International andBest New Poets of 2012. Gray also translates classical and contemporary Persian poetry.

Joe Milazzo: Author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and a forthcoming volume of poetry, The Habiliments, his writings have appeared in Black Clock, Black Warrior Review and The Collagist. He is editor of the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing].

R. Flowers Rivera: Her work has been published in such journals as African American Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Columbia and Feminist Studies. Her short story “The Iron Bars” has received numerous accolades.

Alan Shapiro: Author of 12 books of poetry (including the National Book Award finalist Night of the Republic), four books of prose, and two translations with Oxford University Press. His many awards include The Kingsley Tufts Award, LA Times Book Prize and a Guggenheim.

Peter Turchi: Author of five books of fiction and nonfiction and co-editor of three writing anthologies, Turchi has been called by The Houston Chronicle, “one of the foremost thinkers on the art of writing.”

Written by Ariel Monticure and Denise Gee

March 19, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News|

SMU’s DeGolyer Library celebrates Joe Coomer’s life in letters

Author Joe Coomer, SMU '81

Award-winning author and SMU alumnus Joe Coomer will be celebrated in a retrospective exhibition running through May 24 at SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

The career and achievements of acclaimed author and SMU alumnus Joe Coomer is celebrated in a retrospective exhibition running through Friday, May 24, 2013 in SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

“Joe Coomer: A Life in Letters” explores Coomer’s creative process using handwritten drafts, manuscripts, galleys, letters, first editions, translations and other materials drawn from the literary archive he recently donated to DeGolyer Library.

The gift of more than 20 boxes of materials includes essays and stories, tests, a transcript and other papers from Coomer’s time as an undergraduate in SMU’s creative writing program. He graduated in 1981.

Known for his graceful prose and memorable characters, Coomer has published eight works of fiction, two non-fiction books and one collection of poetry. His writing has been praised by The Boston Globe as “fresh and authentic” and as “compelling” and a “genuine pleasure” by The New York Times.

The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country by Joe Coomer

A 30th-anniversary edition of Joe Coomer’s debut novel, ‘The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country,’ has been published by SMU’s DeGolyer Library. Coomer graduated from the University in 1981.

“Joe Coomer is one of the great voices to emerge from SMU’s English department and creative writing program,” says Russell L. Martin III ’78, ’86, DeGolyer director. “We are honored and delighted to have his papers, where they will join our growing collection of the archives of other contemporary writers. It is also fitting, during SMU’s centennial, that we recognize our own.”

A 30th-anniversary edition of Coomer’s debut novel, The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country, will be published by DeGolyer Library in conjunction with the exhibit. He will sign copies and talk about his work at a reception and lecture Thursday, April 18 as part of the SMU Founders’ Day weekend. The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the library and will be free and open to the public.

First published in 1983, the book won the Jesse A. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984. He started writing the book as an SMU student.

“I wrote three of the short segments for an independent study with Marsh [Terry]. He liked them, so after I graduated, I wrote 55 more,” Coomer says.

Terry ’53, ’54, who retired in 2007 as the E. A. Lilly Professor of English, founded the creative writing program and the SMU Literary Festival and became Coomer’s mentor and friend.

“Joe Coomer transferred into SMU and came to my office in Dallas Hall and asked, ‘Are you the writing teacher?’ I nodded my head and did my best, and Joe turned out to be the leader of our nationally celebrated SMU Literary Festival. John Updike and Raymond Carver heard him read at the festival and were impressed,” Terry recalls.

> Read the full story from SMU News


March 22, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|

LitFest 2013 welcomes established and student writers March 20-23

AStock photo of stacked library booksStudent writers from the Greenhill School, Hockaday, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Yavneh Academy, and Texans CAN Academy will read their works to open SMU’s 2013 Literary Festival on Wednesday, March 20.

The Wordspace Student Readings, culminating in the 2013 Tale of One City Awards for outstanding high school writers, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The Department of English in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences presents the annual celebration of writing and writers, which runs through Saturday, March 23. The four-day festival includes author readings, receptions, student conferences and book signings. All events are free and open to the public.

Since the early eighties, LitFest has featured writers such as John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Walker, Norman Mailer, Robert Pinsky and Jill McCorkle. For 2013, the line-up includes:

  • Camille Dungy is author of the poetry collections Smith Blue (winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Open Book Prize), Suck on the Marrow and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison.
  • Vievee Francis has been published in CallalooMargieCrab Orchard Review and Detroit’s Metro Times. She is the author of Blue-Tail Fly, a Callaloo Workshop participant and Cave Canem Fellow.
  • Alix Ohlin is the author of InsideSigns and WondersThe Missing Person and Babylon and Other Stories. Her work has appeared in Best American Short StoriesBest New American Voices, and on public radio’s Selected Shorts.
  • Matt Olzmann’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Kenyon ReviewNew England ReviewSalt HillMargie and other journals. He is a Kundiman Fellow and a writer-in-residence for the InsideOut Literary Arts Project.
  • Alan Michael Parker has received awards and fellowships including three Pushcart Prizes, the Fineline Prize from the Mid-American Review, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. His novel, Whale Man, was a finalist for the 2011 ForeWord Reviews’s “Book of the Year Award” in the category of Literary Fiction.
  • Natalie Serber, recipient of the John Steinbeck Award, Tobias Wolff Award, and H.E. Francis Award, has been short-listed in Best American Short Stories. Her latest book is Shout Her Lovely Name, a collection of stories about the relationships between mothers and daughters.
  • Tatjana Soli’s first and second novels, The Lotus Eaters and The Forgetting Tree, have won awards including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, New York Times Notable Book 2010, ALA 2011 Notable Book, LA Times Book Award Finalist, Kirkus Reviews Top Debut Fiction, and Bookmarks Magazine Best Literary Fiction.
  • Debra Spark, author of the novels Coconuts for the Saint, The Ghost of Bridgetown and Good for the Jews, edited the best-selling anthology Twenty Under Thirty: Best Stories by America’s New Young Writers. Her newest book is The Pretty Girl, a collection of stories about art and deception.

For more information and the schedule of events, visit the official SMU LitFest blog at

March 20, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|

Prize-winning authors visit for 2012 SMU LitFest

The SMU Literary Festival, an annual event celebrating good writing, will feature readings by prize-winning authors, as well as receptions, student conferences and book signings. Sponsored by the Department of English in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, LitFest 2012 author readings will take place Thursday, March 22 through Saturday, March 24. All events are free and open to the public.

“We are beyond pleased at the level of talent in our lineup this year,” said David Haynes, head of the University’s Creative Writing Program. “This is an incredible opportunity for our students and the extended SMU community.”

Author readings will be held in the Texana Room of SMU’s DeGolyer Library. For more information and the schedule of events, visit the SMU LitFest website.

A look at this year’s featured writers:

  • Dean Bakopoulos is the author of two novels, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon (2005) and My American Unhappiness (2011), both published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts award, and is currently a visiting professor of fiction at Grinnell College in Iowa.
  • Shannon Cain’s debut story collection, The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, is the winner of the 2011 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her stories have been awarded the Pushcart Prize, the O. Henry Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Eduardo Corral‘s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior Review, Huizache, Indiana Review, The Journal, Jubilat, New England Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Post Road, Quarterly West, Salt Hill and Witness. His work has been honored with a “Discovery”/The Nation award and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarship,
  • Amina Gautier is the winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for her short story collection At-Risk (University of Georgia Press). Seventy of Gautier’s stories have been published, appearing in Best African American Fiction, Callaloo, Chattahoochee Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, North American Review, Shenandoah, and Southern Review.
  • Tyehimba Jess’ first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.” He received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a 2004-5 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.
  • Krys Lee is the author of recently published Drifting House. Her short stories and articles have been published or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Narrative MagazineCalifornia QuarterlyAsia Weekly and Conde Nast, UK.
  • Corey Marks, editor of American Literary Review, is author of Renunciation, a National Poetry Series selection, and The Radio Tree, a Green Rose Prize winner. His poems have appeared in New England Review, Ploughshares, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, TriQuarterly, and The Virginia Quarterly Review.
  • Martha Rhodes is the author of four poetry collections: At the GatePerfect Disappearance (winner of the Green Rose Prize), Mother Quiet, and The Beds. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

> Visit the SMU LitFest homepage

March 22, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|
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