MFA Creative Writing Reading Series Announces 2016-17 Lineup of Stellar Authors

What: The MFA Creative Writing Program at Saint Mary's College of California continues its extraordinary Creative Writing Reading Series for fall 2016 and spring 2017 with a stellar lineup of nationally celebrated authors of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The engaging East Bay literary series features a diverse collection of outstanding writers such as Natalie Bazsile, author of the novel,Queen Sugar, adapted for TV by writer/director Ava DuVernay of Selma and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey for the OWN network, best-selling novelist Joyce Maynard, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Tracy K. Smith, and celebrated poet Arisa White.

Unless otherwise noted, all Creative Writing Reading Series events are free and open to the public, and are located on the campus of Saint Mary’s College of California, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga, Calif. 94556.

Tracy K. SmithTracy K. Smith
7:45 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016
Lafayette Library and Learning Center, 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, CA 94549
Cost: $15 general admission, reserve tickets, free for students with ID

Tracy K. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015) and three books of poetry. Her collection Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Duende won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. In 2014 the Academy of American Poets awarded her the Academy Fellowship. Smith is Director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.

Juliana SpahrJuliana Spahr
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016
Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall, Saint Mary’s College Campus
Cost: Free and open to the public

Juliana Spahr edits the book series Chain Links with Jena Osman and the collectively funded Subpress with 19 other people and Commune Editions with Joshua Clover and Jasper Bernes. With David Buuck she wrote Army of Lovers. She has edited with Stephanie Young A Megaphone: Some Enactments, Some Numbers, and Some Essays about the Continued Usefulness of Crotchless-pants-and-a-machine-gun Feminism (Chain Links, 2011), with Joan Retallack Poetry & Pedagogy: the Challenge of the Contemporary (Palgrave, 2006), and with Claudia Rankine American Women Poets in the 21st Century (Wesleyan University Press, 2002). Her most recent book is That Winter the Wolf Came from Commune Editions.

Natalie BaszileNatalie Bazsile
7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15, 2017
Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall, Saint Mary’s College Campus
Cost: Free and open to the public

Natalie Baszile is the author of the novel, Queen Sugar, adapted for TV by writer/director Ava DuVernay of Selma and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey for the OWN network.Queen Sugar was named one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Books of 2014, was long-listed for the Crooks Corner Southern Book Prize, and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Baszile has a MA in Afro-American Studies from UCLA, and an MFA from Warren Wilson College’s Program for Writers. She lives in San Francisco.

Arisa WhiteArisa White
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall, Saint Mary’s College Campus

Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and a faculty advisor in the low-residency BFA Creative Writing Program at Goddard College. White's debut collection, Hurrah’s Nest, was a finalist for the 2013 Wheatley Book Awards, the 82nd California Book Awards, and nominated for the 44th NAACP Image Award. A Penny Saved, inspired by the true-life story of Polly Mitchell, was published in 2012. Forthcoming is the full-length collection You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened.


Joyce MaynardJoyce Maynard
7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall, Saint Mary’s College Campus

Joyce Maynard is the author of 16 books including the novels To Die For and Labor Day (both adapted for film) and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World. A fellow of the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, she founded the Lake Atitlan Writers’ Workshop in 2001. Maynard makes her home in Lafayette, where she is currently at work on the screenplay for her novel, Under the Influence. A memoir about finding her husband at age 58, marrying him at 59, and losing him to cancer three years later, will be published in fall 2017.


In keeping with its focus on workshops and the craft of writing, the MFA Creative Writing Program offers Afternoon Craft Conversations that feature authors from the Creative Writing Reading series, and others, discussing the process and journey of becoming a writer. All Afternoon Craft Conversations are free and open to the public, and unless otherwise noted, are located on the Saint Mary’s College campus.


  • Ethan Nosowsky: Publishing and the Literary Ecosystem
    2:30 p.m., Oct. 5, 2016, Dante Hall, Room 204
  • Juliana Spahr: The Politics of Poetry Production, The Politics of Poetic Form
    2:30 p.m., Nov. 9, 2016, Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall 
  • Jennifer Bertman: Scavenger Hunts, Talking Mice, and Boy Wizards: Writing for Younger Audiences
    2:30 p.m., Nov. 30, 2016, Moraga Library, Community Room, 1500 St Mary’s Rd, Moraga, CA 94556
  • Arisa White: Queer Imaginary: A Black Female Aesthetic
    2:30 p.m., Feb. 15, 2017, Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall
  • Joyce Maynard: The Anatomy of a Personal Essay
    2:30 p.m., March 22, 2017, Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall
  • Natalie Baszile: Species of Light and Bruised Landscapes: The Importance of Place in Fiction
    2:30 p.m., April 19, 2017, Hagerty Lounge, De La Salle Hall

Background: The 2016-17 Creative Writing Reading Series is presented by Saint Mary's MFA in Creative Writing. Founded in 1995, the program is a two-year course of study leading to the MFA degree in creative fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. More than 350 students have received degrees from the MFA in Creative Writing. Alumni have published over 60 books, have been published in numerous journals and periodicals, and won many distinguished literary prizes.

After more than 20 years the SMC MFA in Creative Writing continues to thrive, distinguishing itself with its award-winning faculty and opportunities for students in the areas of teaching, publishing, and community engagement. It remains a major part of the literary culture in the Bay Area and beyond. The program is directed by New York Times Poetry Editor, noted poet and Saint Mary’s English Professor Matthew Zapruder. For more information about the Saint Mary's College Creative Writing Reading Series, contact Program Manager Sara Mumolo at or (925) 631-8556.

About SMC
The Saint Mary's College of California experience inspires learning that lasts a lifetime. For more than 150 years, the College has provided students with a rigorous education that engages their intellect and spirit, and awakens a desire to transform society. Guided by the Christian Brothers, the Catholic Church's oldest order dedicated exclusively to teaching, the College enrolls more than 4,200 students in undergraduate and graduate liberal arts and business programs. For more information visit Saint Mary's College at and just 23 miles east of San Francisco.