SMC Announces Stellar Lineup of Authors for 2017-18 Creative Writing Reading Series

Saint Mary's Creative Writing Reading Series, which is sponsored by the College’s MFA Creative Writing Program, presents a remarkable lineup of extraordinary writers for the 2017-18 season. The series features a stellar group of literary artists for SMC’s fall and spring terms, including Pulitzer Prize-winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess; author and art critic Gabrielle Selz, and critically acclaimed poet, educator, and former New York Times Poetry Editor Matthew Zapruder. The series also features a diverse and impressive group of national and international poets, and writers of fiction and nonfiction.

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


Why Poetry? How Form?  
New Books by Robert Hass & Matthew Zapruder
Introduction by Poet & SMC English Professor Brenda Hillman 
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017 —  Le Fevre Theater

Robert HassRobert Hass is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including The Apple Trees at Olema, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning Time and MaterialsSun Under WoodHuman Wishes, Praise and Field Guide. His essay collection Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry received the National Book Critics Circle Award. A former U.S. Poet Laureate, he co-founded River of Words, the national environmental poetry and visual arts contest for K-12 students. The innovative program is now a part of SMC's Center for Environmental Literacy. Hass is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent collection of essays is A Little Book on Form: An Exploration Into the Formal Imagination of Poetry.




Matthew Zapruder, English Professor and director of SMC's MFA in Creative Writing Program has been named the new poetry column editor for the New York Times Magazine. Matthew Zapruder is an award-winning poet, and author of Why Poetry, his celebrated new book about poetry. His four collections of poetry include Sun Bear, American Linden, The Pajamaist, and Come On All You Ghosts. The Pajamaist was selected as the winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and was chosen by Library Journal as one of the top ten poetry volumes of 2006. Come On All You Ghosts was a New York Times Notable Book of the year, and was also selected as the 2010 Booklist Editors' Choice for poetry, as well as the Northern California Independent Booksellers poetry book of the year. Zapruder is an associate professor in Saint Mary’s English department, former poetry editor for the New York Times and editor-at-large for Wave Books.





Writing the World: From Struggle to Joy
7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, 2017
Hagerty Lounge, De LaSalle Hall

Quad photo of Poets Stephen Connolly, khy D'Arcy, Raina Léon and Stephen Sexton.Saint Mary's presents four emerging and celebrated young writers—three from Ireland and one from the U.S. Stephen Connolly, a Belfast-based postgraduate student pursuing his Ph.D. at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, Kathy D'Arcy, a poet, originally trained as doctor, now completing a Creative Writing Ph.D. at University College, Cork, and Stephen Sexton, winner of Ireland’s 2016 National Poetry Competition, join Afro-Latinx poet Raina Léon, a Saint Mary’s Professor of Education, in an evening of dynamic poetry that explores identity, belonging and challenges audiences to action. A moderated discussion with SMC English Professor Rosemary Graham follows.







An Evening With Tyehimba Jess
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Moraga Room, Soda Center

Tyehimba JessTyehimba Jess is the author of leadbelly and the Pulitzer Prize–winning Olio. Jess’s Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, the 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry, and the 2017 Book Award for Poetry from the Society of Midland Authors. It was also a finalist for the 2016 National Books Critics Circle Award, 2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Library Journal called it a “daring collection, which blends forthright, musically acute language with portraiture” and Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called it “Encyclopedic, ingenious, and abundant” and selected it as one of the five best poetry books of 2016. An associate professor of English at College of Staten Island, Jess is also the poetry and fiction editor of the African American Review.





Gabrielle Selz
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 
Hagerty Lounge, De LaSalle Hall

Gabrielle SelzGabrielle Selz is an award-winning author. In 2014, her debut memoir Unstill Life, was named one of the best books by the San Francisco Chronicle, and received the best memoir of the year award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Her essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, MORE Magazine, the L.A. Times, and Newsday. She writes art criticism for Art PapersHyperallergic, and the Huffington Post. Selz is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction and was a New York Moth Story Slam Winner. Selz is currently writing a biography on the noted abstract expressionist Sam Francis.







Shanthi Sekaran
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Hagerty Lounge, De LaSalle Hall

Shanthi SekaranShanthi Sekaran’s latest novel, Lucky Boy, was named an Indie Next Great Read and an Amazon Editors' Pick. Her essays and short fiction have appeared in The New York TimesCanteen MagazineHuffington Post and Best New American Voices. She's a member of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto and a Distinguished Visiting Writer in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction at Saint Mary’s College.






Brynn Saito
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Hagerty Lounge, De LaSalle Hall

Brynn SaitoBrynn Saito is the author of two books of poetry, Power Made Us Swoon and The Palace of Contemplating Departure, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award from Red Hen Press and finalist for the Northern California Book Award. She is also a recipient of a Kundiman Asian American Poetry Fellowship and a California State Library Civil Liberties grant. Her poetry has appeared in the New York Times Sunday MagazinePoetry Northwest, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Originally from Fresno, CA, Saito is the Distinguished Visiting Writer in Poetry at Saint Mary’s College.






Afternoon Craft Conversations

In keeping with the MFA Creative Writing Program’s focus on workshops and the craft of writing, SMC offers free Afternoon Craft Conversations with authors from the series, and others, discussing the process and journey of becoming a writer. Featured writers include Natalie Baszile, Andrew Lam, Manjula Martin, Brynn Saito and Shanthi Sekaran. Schedule details are available online.

Graduate Student Readings

The Creative Writing Reading Series proudly presents curated readings of talented Saint Mary’s graduate students enrolled the MFA in Creative Writing Program. Visit the series schedule online for details.

About Saint Mary's MFA in Creative Writing Program

Founded in 1995, the MFA in Creative Writing 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 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. Noted author and Saint Mary’s English Professor Lysley Tenorio directs the program, which remains a major part of the literary culture in the Bay Area and beyond.

For more information about the MFA in Creative Writing Program, or the Creative Writing Reading Series, check out the series schedule online at or contact program associate director Sara Mumolo at or (925) 631-8556.


 Michael McAlpin, Director of Media Relations
(925) 631-4222 office, (925) 878-9535 cell

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 4,000 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.