UNT Visiting Writers Series | Department of English

UNT Visiting Writers Series

The UNT Visiting Writers Series brings nationally and internationally renowned authors to campus for readings and book siginings.

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Previous Visitors

For audio files of previous visiting writers click here.


Andrew Boryga

Andrew Boryga began his career writing for a local newspaper in the Bronx at age 16. Two years later, he worked his way into an internship with The New York Times. Since then, his nonfiction work has appeared frequently in the Times, as well as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The Daily Beast, and many other outlets. His writing has been awarded prizes by Cornell University, the University of Miami, the Susquehanna Review, the Michener Foundation, the Florida Society of News Editors, the Florida Press Club, and the Society of Professional Journalists. Now, his debut novel, titled Victim, is being released by Penguin Random House.


2023 UNT Rilke Prize

Chris Abani

Chris Abani has won the 2023 Rilke Prize. He is a poet and novelist born in Afikpo, Nigeria. He is the author of eight poetry collections, Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001), Daphne's Lot (Red Hen Press, 2003), Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon Press, 2006), There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), Feed Me the Sun (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), and, most recently, Smoking the Bible (Copper Canyon Press, 2022). His prose includes Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985), GraceLand (FSG, 2004), Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006), Song for Night (Akashic, 2007), The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), The Secret History of Las Vegas (Penguin 2014), and The Face, A Cartography of the Void (Restless Books, 2016). He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the Pen Hemingway Book Prize, a Guggenheim award, a Ford Foundation Artists Fellowship, a Middleton Fellowship, an Edgar Prize, a Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Award, a Finalist for the Dublin IMPAC Award, and Finalist for the PEN/Vockler Award. He is also the member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University where he directs the Creative Writing Program and the Program for African Studies.

To find out more about the UNT Rilke Prize visit: https://english.unt.edu/creative-writing/unt-rilke-prize.


2022 UNT Rilke Prize

Valzhyna Mort

Valzhyna Mort has won the 2022 Rilke Prize. She is a poet and translator born in Minsk, Belarus. She is the author of three poetry collections, Factory of Tears (Copper Canyon Press 2008), Collected Body (Copper Canyon Press 2011) and, most recently, Music for the Dead and Resurrected (FSG 2020), named one of the best poetry books of 2020 by The New York Times, and the winner of the International Griffin Poetry Prize. Mort is a recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Rome, the Lannan Foundation, and the Amy Clampitt Foundation. Her work has been honored with the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, the New Yorker, Poetry, Poetry Review, Poetry International, Prairie Schooner, Granta, Gulf Coast, White Review, and many more. With Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris, Mort co-edited Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poems and Prose. Mort teaches at Cornell University and writes in English and Belarusian. She translates between English, Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish. She has received the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation and the National Endowment for the Arts grant in translation for her work on Polina Barskova's book of selected poems Air Raid (Ugly Duckling 2021).

To find out more about the UNT Rilke Prize visit: https://english.unt.edu/creative-writing/unt-rilke-prize.


2021 UNT Rilke Prize

Kiki Petrosino

Kiki Petrosino has won the 2021 Rilke Prize. She is the author of four books of poetry: White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia (2020), Witch Wife (2017), Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013) and Fort Red Border (2009), all from Sarabande Books. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry, The Nation, The New York Times, FENCE, Gulf Coast, Jubilat, Tin House and online at Ploughshares. She teaches at the University of Virginia as a Professor of Poetry. Petrosino is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Al Smith Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council.


2020 UNT Rilke Prize

Kathleen Graber

Kathleen Graber has won the 2020 Rilke Prize. She is a poet and educator. She is the author of two previous collections of poems, Correspondence (Saturnalia Books, 2006) and The Eternal City (Princeton University Press, 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was the winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Poetry. She was raised in southern New Jersey, where her parents operated games of chance on the Wildwood boardwalk. After earning a B.A. in Philosophy from Hofstra University, she returned to her hometown to teach in the public school system there and to operate a seasonal independent music store. She did not become seriously interested in writing and studying poetry until the age of forty. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from New York University and has been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She now lives in Powhatan, Virginia and is a professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University.

To find out more about the UNT Rilke Prize visit: https://english.unt.edu/creative-writing/unt-rilke-prize.


James Marcus

James Marcus was the editor of Harper's Magazine. His personal essays and other work have appeared in The Best American Essays, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper's, The American Scholar, VQR, The Guardian, and The Nation. He is the author of Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot-Com Juggernaut and seven translations from the Italian, including Giacomo Casanova's The Duel.


Laird Hunt

A former United Nations press officer and current Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University, Laird Hunt is the author of 8 novels, a collection of stories and two book-length translations from the French. Kind One was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and won the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Fiction, and Neverhome won the Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine and Italy's Bridge Prize and was shortlisted for the Prix Femina Étranger. His reviews and essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Irish Times and the Los Angeles Times, and his fiction has appeared in many literary journals here and abroad.


Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the author of five books of poetry, including The Carrying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was named one of the top 5 poetry books of the year by the Washington Post. Her fourth book Bright Dead Things was named a finalist for the National Book Award, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A program, and the online and summer programs for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer in Lexington, Kentucky.


Donald Revell

Donald Revell is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, most recently of The English Boat (2018) and Drought-Adapted Vine (2015), both from Alice James Books. Revell has also published six volumes of translations from the French, including Apollinaire's Alcools, Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, Laforgue's Last Verses, and Verlaine's Songs without Words. His critical writings have been collected as: Essay: A Critical Memoir; The Art of Attention; and Invisible Green: Selected Prose. Winner of the PEN USA Translation Award and two-time winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry, he has also won the Academy of American Poets' Lenore Marshall Prize and is a former Fellow of the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations. Additionally, he has twice been awarded Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Having previously taught at the Universities of Alabama, Denver, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, and Utah, Donald Revell is currently a Professor of English at UNLV and faculty affiliate of the Black Mountain Institute.


2019 UNT Rilke Prize

David Keplinger

David Keplinger has won the 2019 Rilke Prize. He is a poet and translator. His collections of poems include The Most Natural Thing, The Prayers of Others, The Clearing, The Rose Inside and, most recently, Another City. His translations include Carsten René Nielsen's World Cut Out with Crooked Scissors and House Inspections, a Lannan Translations Selection; his most recent translation is Jan Wagner's The Art of Topiary. Keplinger's work has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, and The Writer's Almanac, and has been translated and included in anthologies in China, Germany, Denmark, Northern Ireland, and elsewhere. The recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Keplinger has received support from the Soros Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the D.C. Council on Arts and Humanities, and the Danish Council on the Arts. He has also received the T.S. Eliot Award, the Colorado Book Award, the Cavafy Prize from Poetry International and The Erksine Poetry Prize from Smartish Place. Keplinger teaches in the MFA Program at American University in Washington, DC.

You can find more information about the UNT Rilke Prize and a list of our previous winners here: https://english.unt.edu/creative-writing/unt-rilke-prize.


Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is the recipient of a 2012 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for "her grace and intelligence in writing." She is the author of Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Home, winner of the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Lila, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her first novel, Housekeeping, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Robinson's nonfiction books include The Givenness of Things, When I Was a Child I Read Books, Absence of Mind, The Death of Adam, and Mother Country, which was nominated for a National Book Award. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and lives in Iowa City.


Eduardo Corral

Photo: Matt Valentine

Eduardo C. Corral's first book, Slow Lightning, won the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2011. His poems have appeared in Ambit, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and Poetry Magazine. He's the recipient of residencies from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. He's also the recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Hodder Fellowship and the National Holmes Poetry Prize, both from Princeton University. He teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing at North Carolina State University.


Colin Barrett

Colin Barrett's first collection of stories, Young Skins, was originally published by Stinging Fly Press in 2013. It won the 2014 Frank O'Conner International Short Story Prize, The Guardian First Book Award and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Colin was one of the 5 under 35 honorees for The National Book Foundation in the United States in 2015. Young Skins has been translated into 8 languages so far and one of the stories, Calm With Horses, is being made into a feature film produced by DNC films, Film4 and Element Pictures. Colin's short stories and nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, A Public Space, the New Statesman, The Guardian and other magazines and journals. In 2018 he was selected as one of 4 protégés for the Rolex Arts Initiative.


Lucas Mann

Lucas Mann is the author of Captive Audience: On Love and Reality TV, Lord Fear: A Memoir, and Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere, which earned a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. His essays and stories have appeared in Guernica, BuzzFeed, Slate, Wigleaf, and The Kenyon Review, among others. He has received fellowships from United States Artists and The National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches writing at The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and lives in Providence, RI.


Ruth Ellen Kocher

Ruth Ellen Kocher is the author of seven books of poetry, including Third Voice (Tupleo Press, 2016), Ending in Planes, winner of the Noemi Poetry Prize, Goodbye Lyric: The Gigans and Lovely Gun (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2014) and domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press 2013). Her poems have been translated into Persian in the Iranian literary magazine, She'r, and have appeared in various anthologies including: Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poets, Black Nature, From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great, An Anthology for Creative Writers: The Garden of Forking Paths. She has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, and Cave Canem. She is currently an Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she teaches Poetry, Poetics, and Literature in the undergraduate and MFA writing programs. http://www.ruthellenkocher.org/


Paul Beatty

Paul Beatty is the author of the novels, Tuff, Slumberland, and The White Boy Shuffle, and two poetry collections Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He was the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. Paul grew up in California and moved to the East Coast for his higher education. Paul has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College and an MA in psychology from Boston University. In 1990, he was the first person crowned as Grand Poetry Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which led to his first book deal. Paul has performed poetry on MTV and PBS. Paul is the recipient of the 2016 Man Booker Prize for his most recent novel, The Sellout. The Sellout is also the winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction and was named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times Book Review and the Wall Street Journal. He currently lives in New York City. https://us.macmillan.com/author/paulbeatty

Paul Beatty wins the Man Booker Prize: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/business/media/paul-beatty-wins-man-b...


2018 UNT Rilke Prize

Allison Benis White

Allison Benis White's Please Bury Me in This, published by Four Way Books, has won the 2018 UNT Rilke Prize. The $10,000 prize recognizes a book written by a mid-career poet and published in the preceding year that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision. A Q&A and reception for White will be held on Wednesday, April 11, at UNT on the Square and a campus reading will take place on Thursday, April 12, 2018.

Allison Benis White is the author of Please Bury Me in This and Small Porcelain Head, selected by Claudia Rankine for the Levis Prize in Poetry and named a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the California Book Award. Her first book, Self-Portrait with Crayon, received the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Book Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, 2017 Pushcart Prize XLI: Best of the Small Presses, and elsewhere. She has received honors and awards from the San Francisco Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, and Poets & Writers magazine. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. http://www.allisonbeniswhite.com/

Click here for a feature on KERA's Art & Seek about Allison Benis White and the UNT Rilke Prize.

To find out more about the UNT Rilke Prize visit: https://english.unt.edu/creative-writing/unt-rilke-prize.


Jaquira Díaz

Jaquira Díaz is the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, an NEA fellowship to the Hambidge Center for the Arts, and fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Ragdale Foundation. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Best American Essays 2016, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Kenyon Review, The Sun, Brevity, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. She teaches at Kenyon College, where she is the 2016-18 Kenyon Review Fellow in prose. http://www.jaquiradiaz.com/


Padma Viswanathan

Padma Viswanathan's debut novel, The Toss of a Lemon, was published in eight countries, a bestseller in three, and a finalist for the Commonwealth (Regional) First Book Prize, the Amazon.ca First Novel Prize and the Pen Center USA Fiction Prize. Her second novel, The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, has been published in Canada, the USA, India and Australia. In Canada, it was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a national bestseller.

Viswanathan's short fiction appears in various journals; her story "Transitory Cities" won the 2006 Boston Review Short Story Contest. Her plays include House of Sacred Cows and Disco Does Not Suck. She has published cultural journalism and reviews in such venues as Elle Canada, The National Post, The Rumpus and Guernica. Her handwritten Letter-in-the-Mail for The Rumpus can be found in Best American Non-Required Reading 2012. She has also published several short translations of Brazilian fiction.

Viswanathan teaches fiction-writing and literature in the Programs in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville. She has served on juries for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Neustadt Prize, and others. http://padmaviswanathan.com/