Bennington Writing Seminars hosts acclaimed authors with virtual Writers Reading series

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Bennington Writing Seminars hosts acclaimed authors with virtual Writers Reading series

Wed, 06/02/2021 - 11:32am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine From June 3 - 11, critically acclaimed, award-winning authors and faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars will host Writers Reading, an evening reading series during the MFA program's summer residency, which is being conducted remotely this term. 

All readings are free, open to the public, and will take place virtually via Zoom and begin Thursday.

On Thurs. June 3 at 7:00 PM, Writers Reading welcomes Benjamin Anastas and April Bernard. Anastas is the author of the novels An Underachiever’s Diary (Dial Press) and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastor’s Disappearance (FSG). His memoir Too Good to Be True (Little A) was a national bestseller, and his short fiction has appeared in The Paris Review and Yale Review, where it was awarded the annual Smart Family Prize for Fiction. 

Bernard is a poet, novelist, and essayist. Brawl & Jag, her fifth collection of poems, was recently published by W.W. Norton; previous books of poems are Romanticism, Swan Electric, Psalms, and Blackbird Bye Bye, which won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets.

On Fri. June 4 at 7:00 PM, Writers Reading welcomes Brian Blanchfield and Victoria Chang. Blanchfield is the author of three books of prose and poetry: Proxies: Essays Near Knowing, which received a 2016 Whiting Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Gay Memoir/Biography; Not Even Then; and A Several World, which was a longlist finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and the recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. 

Chang’s poetry books include OBIT, Barbie Chang, The Boss, Salvinia Molesta, and Circle. OBIT was named a New York Times Notable Book and a TIME best book of the year. OBIT received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and the PEN Voelcker Award, and was longlisted for a National Book Award and named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Griffin International Poetry Prize. 

On Sat. June 5 at 7:00 PM, Writers Reading welcomes Jennifer Chang and Chelsea Hodson. Chang is the author of The History of Anonymity and Some Say the Lark, which received the 2018 William Carlos Williams Award. She has new poems forthcoming in American Poetry Review, The Believer, Poetry Northwest, A Public Space, and the Yale Review

Hodson is the author of the book of essays Tonight I’m Someone Else. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Bennington College and has been awarded fellowships from MacDowell Colony and PEN Center USA Emerging Voices. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Frieze Magazine, Black Warrior Review, and elsewhere.

On Sun. June 6 at 7:00 PM, Writers Reading welcomes Manuel Gonzales and Katy Simpson Smith. Gonzales is the author of The Miniature Wife and Other Stories, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the John Gardner Prize for Fiction, and the novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack! He has published fiction and nonfiction in Buzzfeed Reader, Virginia Quarterly Review, Oxford American, Esquire, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and The Believer

Simpson Smith is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and the novels The Story of Land and Sea, Free Men, and The Everlasting, which the New York Times named among the Top 10 Historical Fiction of 2020. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Paris Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Oxford American, Granta, and Literary Hub.

On Mon. June 7 at 7:00 PM, Writers Reading welcomes Susan Cheever and Dinah Lenney. Cheever’s most recent book Drinking in America, a look at American History through the lens of alcoholism, was long listed for a PEN nonfiction award in 2017. Her biographies include E.E. Cummings: A Poet’s Life, Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography, and American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work. She has published seven other books of nonfiction and five novels. 

Lenney is the author of Coffee (Bloomsbury), The Object Parade (Counterpoint), and Bigger than Life: A Murder, a Memoir, selected for the American Lives series by the University of Nebraska Press. She co-wrote Acting for Young Actors (Random House), and co-edited Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction with the late Judith Kitchen (W.W. Norton, 2015).

On Wed. June 9 at 7:00 PM, Writers Reading welcomes Lynne Sharon Schwartz and Peter Trachtenberg. Schwartz’s 28th book, a collection of stories called Truthtelling, was published in October 2020. She is the author of novels, short-story collections, nonfiction, poetry, and translations. Her 2018 translation from Italian of Silvana Gandolfi’s young adult novel, Run for Your Life, was named an honoree from the American Library Association’s Batchelder Award for children’s literature in translation. 

Trachtenberg is the author of 7 Tattoos, The Book of Calamities, and Another Insane Devotion, a 2012 New York Times Editors’ Choice. His essays, journalism, and short fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, A Public Space, Bidoun, The New York Times’s travel magazine, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and Story Quarterly.

On Thurs. June 10 at 7:00 PM, Writers Reading welcomes Ramona Ausubel and Amy Hempel. Ausubel is the author of the novels Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One Is Here Except All of Us. Her new novel The Last Animal is forthcoming from Riverhead. She is the winner of the PEN Center USA Fiction Award, the VCU Cabell First Novel Award and finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award. 

A recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the United States Artists Foundation, and the Academy of Arts and Letters, Hempel is the author of five collections of stories, most recently Sing To It, published in 2019. She is also the author of Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Tumble Home, and The Dog of the Marriage, and is co-editor of Unleashed

On Fri. June 11 at 7:00 PM, Writers Reading welcomes Jenny Boully and Wayne Koestenbaum, who will also be this term’s Bennington Writing Seminars Commencement speaker. Boully is the author of Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life (Coffee House Press, 2018). She is the author of five previous books, not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them (Tarpaulin Sky Press), The Books of Beginnings and Endings: Essays (Sarabande Books), [one love affair]* (Tarpaulin Sky Press), of the mismatched teacups, of the single-serving spoon: a book of failures (Coconut  Books), and The Body: An Essay (Essay Press, first published by Slope Editions). 

Koestenbaum—poet, critic, novelist, artist, performer—has published 21 books, including The Cheerful Scapegoat, Figure It Out, Camp Marmalade, My 1980s & Other Essays, The Anatomy of Harpo Marx, Humiliation, Hotel Theory, Circus, Andy Warhol, Jackie Under My Skin, and The Queen’s Throat (nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award). In 2020, he received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

Writers Reading is a hallmark series of the Bennington Writing Seminars, a two-year low-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing program with ten-day residencies in January and June. During the Seminars, students work closely with distinguished and actively publishing faculty, their path determined by the reading discipline as well as the production of original work. The mission of the Seminars is to connect the emerging writer with much of the best that has been done and to cultivate the critical skills that serve the writing as much as the reading.

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About the Bennington Writing Seminars

Steeped in the Bennington College’s literary legacy, Bennington Writing Seminars is consistently named one of the top low-residency Masters of Fine Arts in Writing programs. Founded in 1994, the Seminars was one of the first low-residency graduate writing programs in the country. During this two-year, low-residency program, students commit as much to reading as to writing and conceive reading lists that strengthen and broaden their knowledge. Students perform critical literary analysis and craft bold new works of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry inspired by their discoveries. They finish with a polished thesis and a parting lecture. All this with the expert guidance of authors who, throughout individualized instruction, become familiar with and develop a stake in students’ work.