The Department of English at Ohio Wesleyan University has a longstanding tradition of inviting nationally and internationally recognized writers to campus for the purpose of engaging, inspiring, and stimulating thoughtful discussion.

In addition to reading from new and oftentimes unpublished work, writers visit classes and meet with students. All readings are proceeded by a Q&A and are free and open to the public.

Spring 2024 Visiting Writers

Koritha Mitchell

Wednesday, February 7th, 4:15-5:15pm in the Benes Rooms of HWCC
"What if Americans Had Listened to Black Women of the 1800s?"

Award-winning scholar Koritha Mitchell shares insights from editing the work of Harriet Jacobs while witnessing the Supreme Court's commitment to ending abortion access and limiting the right to vote. Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is the first book-length autobiography by a formerly enslaved African American woman. Despite facing obstacles typically avoided by white women and Black men, Jacobs published her life story in 1861. This work sheds light on the experience of a particular demographic—nineteenth-century Black women. In the process, it exposes American culture's fundamental beliefs as the nation built its foundation on treating Black women not as people but as chattels, moveable pieces of property. Using Harriet Jacobs as a case study, Mitchell shows how Black women were model citizens who could not vote. Even while enslaved, Jacobs exemplified the critical thinking of engaged citizenship. Her writing exposes the brutally inventive creativity of the nation's most vaunted nonfiction texts. Jacobs proves to be unequivocal: legal statutes exert very real pressure on her life, but they rely on the relentlessly reiterated fiction that she is not fully human and deserves no rights. Mitchell is the English Department's endowed Katherine Kearney Carpenter Lecturer. This event is free and open to the public.

Melissa Febos

Thursday, February 29th (OWU Connection Day), 2-3:30pm in Merrick #301
"Body Work: The Power of Personal Writing"

Melissa Febos is the author of four books, including the nationally bestselling essay collection, Girlhood, which has been translated into seven languages and was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, and named a notable book of 2021 by NPR, Time, The Washington Post, and others. Her craft book, Body Work (2022), was also a national bestseller, an LA Times Bestseller, and an Indie Next Pick. Her fifth book, The Dry Season, is forthcoming from Alfred. A. Knopf. The recipient of a 2022 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a 2022 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, and the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary, Melissa's work has appeared in publications including The Paris Review, The New Yorker, The Sun, The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Granta, The Believer, McSweeney's, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Elle, and Vogue. Her essays have won prizes from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly, The Sewanee Review, and The Center for Women Writers at Salem College. She is a four-time MacDowell fellow and has also received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation, The BAU Institute at The Camargo Foundation, The British Library, The Black Mountain Institute, The Ragdale Foundation, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which named her the 2018 recipient of the Sarah Verdone Writing Award. She co-curated the Mixer Reading and Music Series in Manhattan for ten years and served on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts for five. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is a full professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program. She lives in Iowa City with her wife, the poet Donika Kelly. Febos is the English Department's endowed Osborne Lecturer, and her reading will be followed by a Q&A and book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

Lydia Conklin

Wednesday, March 27th, 4:15-5:15pm in the Milligan Room of Slocum Hall

Lydia Conklin is the author of the short story collection Rainbow, Rainbow, a collection of stories that celebrates the humor and depth of the queer and trans experience and works to engage elements not typically represented in queer literature, including liminal or uncertain identities, queer conception, and queer joy. They currently serve as an Assistant Professor of Fiction at Vanderbilt University and previously held the Helen Zell Visiting Professor position in Fiction at the University of Michigan. They've received a Stegner Fellowship in Fiction at Stanford University, a Rona Jaffe Writer's Award, three Pushcart Prizes, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, a Creative & Performing Arts Fulbright to Poland, work-study and tuition scholarships from Bread Loaf, and fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, Djerassi, Hedgebrook, the James Merrill House, the Vermont Studio Center, VCCA, Millay, Jentel, Lighthouse Works, Brush Creek, the Santa Fe Art Institute, Caldera, the Sitka Center, and Harvard University, among others. They were the 2015-2017 Creative Writing Fellow in fiction at Emory University. Their fiction has appeared in Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, and The Paris Review. They have drawn graphic fiction for Lenny Letter, Drunken Boat, and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago and cartoons for The New Yorker and Narrative Magazine. Following their reading, Lydia will offer a Q&A and book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

Lars Horn

Wednesday, April 10th from 4:15-5:15 p.m. in the Milligan Room of Slocum Hall

Lars Horn is a writer and translator working in literary and experimental nonfiction. Their first book, Voice of the Fish, won the 2020 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, the 2023 Great Lakes College Association New Writers Award, and was named an Honor Book for the 2023 Stonewall Israel Fishman Nonfiction Book Award as well as an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce Selection. The recipient of the Tin House Without Borders Residency and fellowships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Horn's writing has appeared in Granta, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Kenyon Review, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. Initially specialising in Phenomenology and Visual Arts scholarship, they hold MAs from the University of Edinburgh, the École normale supérieure, Paris, and Concordia University, Montreal. They teach at Columbia University and live in New York with their wife, the writer Jaquira Díaz. Following their reading, Lars will offer a Q&A and book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

Fall 2023 Visiting Writers

Aza Pace

Tuesday, September 26th from 4:15-5:15 p.m. in the Milligan Room of Slocum Hall

Aza Pace is a poet interested in eco-poetics, ekphrasis, and rewritings of myth. She often draws on Texas landscapes to explore how storytelling rooted in place can help foster a sense of common life in the Anthropocene. Her poems appear in The Southern Review, Copper Nickel, Tupelo Quarterly, Crazyhorse (now Swamp pink), New Ohio Review, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere, and she is the winner of two Academy of American Poets University Prizes. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in the English Department at OWU. The reading will be followed by a Q&A and book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

James Fujinami Moore

Monday, October 30th from 4:15-5:15 p.m. in the Milligan Room of Slocum Hall

James Fujinami Moore's debut poetry collection is indecent hours (Four Way Books, 2022), winner of the GLCA New Writers Award in Poetry and finalist for the Golden Poppy's Martin Cruz Smith Award & the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Asimov's Science Fiction, Barrow Street's 4x2, The Brooklyn Rail, Guesthouse, Jet Fuel Review, The Margins, the Pacifica Literary Review, and Prelude. He has received fellowships from Poets House, Bread Loaf, and the Frost Place, and earned his MFA from Hunter College in 2016. Following his reading, James will offer a Q&A and book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

Spring 2023 Visiting Writers

Chinelo Okparanta

Thursday, March 2nd from 4:10-5:10 p.m. in the Milligan Room of Slocum Hall

Author of the bestselling novel Harry Sylvester Bird, named "Best Book of the Summer," "Most Anticipated," and "New And Noteworthy Book" by The New York Times, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, LitHub, Lambda Literary, Poets & Writers, and more. Okparanta is also the author of the short story collection Happiness, Like Water and the novel Under The Udala Trees. Her work has been awarded two Lambda Literary Awards and an O. Henry Prize. Okparanta joins the Department of English as our celebrated Michael C. Quinn Memorial Lecturer. The reading will be followed by a Q&A and book signing. This event is free and open to the public.

Brendan Isaac Jones

Monday, March 20th from 4:10-5:10 p.m. in the Milligan Room of Slocum Hall

Brendan Isaac Jones is a novelist, essayist, and journalist primarily interested in drawing attention to environmental issues concerning the Tongass rainforest in Alaska. He is the author, most recently, of the young adult novel Whispering Alaska and the novel The Alaskan Laundry, and his essays and works of literary journalism have appeared in The New York Times, The Smithsonian, The Huffington Post, Narrative Magazine, the Anchorage Daily News, and NPR. He is a graduate of Oxford University and Stanford University, where he was awarded a Stegner Fellowship in fiction, and is the recent recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in Russia. In addition to teaching, he has also worked as a carpenter, sea cucumber deckhand, commercial fisherman, book-stacker in a library for the blind, and farmhand, among others. Following his reading, Brendan Isaac Jones will offer a Q&A and books will be available for purchase and signing. This event is free and open to the public.

Elissa Washuta

Tuesday, April 25th from 4:10-5:10 p.m. in the Milligan Room of Slocum Hall

Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a nonfiction writer. Her essay collection, White Magic, was selected as a finalist for the PEN/Open Book Award, longlisted for the PEN/Jean Stein Award, and named among the best books of 2021 by TIME, the New York Public Library and NPR. She is the author of Starvation Mode and My Body Is A Book Of Rules, and with Theresa Warburton, she is the co-editor of the anthology Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. Elissa's honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Creative Capital award, and the Artist Trust Arts Innovator Award. Following her reading, Elissa Washuta will offer a Q&A and books will be available for purchase and signing. This event is free and open to the public.

Fall 2022 Visiting Writers

Anni Liu ('13)

Tuesday, November 29, 2022 from 4:10-5:10 p.m. in the Benes Rooms in Hamilton-Williams Campus Center

Author of the debut poetry collection Border Vista, which was awarded the 2021 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize from Persea Books, Anni Liu's poetry explores familial distance and intimacy, bureaucracy and state-sanctioned violence, racism and whiteness, the land, intimate partner violence, and the "minor feelings" and major joys of being an alien and finding home. Liu earned her BA in Creative Writing with honors from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MFA at Indiana University, where she served as poetry editor of the Indiana Review. The reading will be followed by a Q&A and a book signing.

David Eye

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 from 4:10-5:10 p.m. in the Bayley Room of Beeghly Library

Author of Seed, a poetry collection chosen by award-winning poet Eduardo C. Corral for "The Word Works," and the chapbook Rain Leaping Up When a Cab Goes Past, published in 2013 in the Editor's Series at Seven Kitchens Press, David Eye's poetry has been hailed as "both uncompromising and tender" and "beautiful and bracing," "[illuminating] how queerness shapes and shelters the self." Eye has joined the Department of English and the Creative Writing Program at Ohio Wesleyan University as a Visiting Assistant Professor and will read from his work on Wednesday, October 19th at Ohio Wesleyan University. The reading will be followed by a Q&A and book signing.