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Center for Writers

Visiting Writers Series

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For over forty years, The Center for Writers at USM has brought internationally acclaimed authors of poetry and fiction to Hattiesburg and the USM community for public readings, workshops, and individual conferences with Center graduate students.  

Over a long history, and with the generous support of the university, the College of Arts and Letters, private donors, and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Visiting Writers Series has brought to campus Lee K. Abbott, Toni Cade Bambara, Russell Banks, John Barth, Frank Bidart, Robert Olen Butler, Raymond Carver, Angela Carter, Robert Coover, John Dufresne, Richard Ford, Tess Gallagher, William Gass, Barry Hannah, John Hawkes, Lynda Hull, Hugh Kenner, Galway Kinnell, Kenneth Koch, Larry McMurtry, W.S. Merwin, Edna O’Brien, Charles Simic, W.D. Snodgrass, Gerald Stern, Mark Strand, Derek Walcott, Joy Williams, Charles Wright, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Percival Everett, Stuart Dischell, Stephen Dobyns, Lucie Brock-Broido, Francine Prose, Tim O’Brien, Amy Hempel, Padgett Powell, Dana Gioia, Rick Moody, Mary Gaitskill, Kelly Cherry, Bobbie Ann Mason, Diane Williams, Ann Beattie, and Dara Wier.

Since 2012, visiting writers have included poets Forrest Gander, Natasha Trethewey, Hanif Abdurraqib, Eduardo Corral, Ada Limón, Natalie Shapero, Kevin Young, Don Bogen, Alex Lemon, Caki Wilkinson, Adam Vines, Catherine Pierce, Farrah Field, Allan Peterson, and  L. Lamar Wilson, as well as fiction writers Jamel Brinkley, Katy Simpson Smith, Justin Torres, Lauren Groff, Mary Miller, Michael Farris Smith, and Peter Orner.

Our disposition has always been toward a mix of well-established and interesting writers and new on scene and interesting writers, with the idea that each serves the students in a unique way and that exposure to different aesthetics and styles is vital to learning the art.

2023-2024 Schedule


Rodrigo Toscano

September 6, 2023, 5pm

Location: Poynter Room, Ogletree Alumni House

Rodrigo Toscano

Rodrigo Toscano is a poet and dialogist based in New Orleans. He is the author of eleven books of poetry. His most recent books are The Cut Point (Counterpath, 2023), and The Charm & The Dread (Fence Books, 2022). His previous books include In Range, Explosion Rocks Springfield, Deck of Deeds, Collapsible Poetics Theater (a National Poetry Series selection), To Leveling Swerve, Platform, Partisans, and The Disparities. His poetry has appeared in over 20 anthologies, including Best American Poetry, Best American Experimental Poetry (BAX), Voices Without Borders, Diasporic Avant Gardes, Imagined Theatres, In the Criminal’s Cabinet, and Earth Bound. Toscano has received a New York State Fellowship in Poetry. He won the Edwin Markham 2019 prize for poetry. His works have been translated into French, Dutch, Italian, German, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Catalan.


Claire Jiménez

October 18, 2023, 5pm

Location: Poynter Room, Ogletree Alumni House

 Claire JiménezClaire Jiménez is a Puerto Rican writer who grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York. She is the author of the novel What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez (Grand Central Publishing, 2023). What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez has been noted as one of the most anticipated books of 2023 by over forty publications, including Elle, USA Today,, Good Housekeeping, Bustle, The Week, Goodreads, Bookriot, and SheReads. The book is also the recipient of starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, and has been featured on NPR. She is also the author of the short story collection Staten Island Stories (Johns Hopkins Press, December 2019), which received the 2019 Hornblower Award for a first book from the New York Society Library. Jiménez received her PhD in English with a concentration in ethnic studies and digital humanities from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and her MFA from Vanderbilt University. Recently, she was a research fellow at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. In 2020, she was awarded a Mellon Foundation grant from the U.S. Latino Digital Humanities Program at the University of Houston. Jiménez is an assistant professor of fiction at the University of South Carolina.


 S.L. Wisenberg

November 1, 2023, 5pm

Location: Poynter Room, Ogletree Alumni House

Richie HofmannS.L. Wisenberg is the author of The Wandering Womb: Essays in Search of Home, winner of the Juniper Prize in nonfiction. She's also the author of a short-story collection, The Sweetheart Is In; an essay collection, Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, & Other Obsessions; and a nonfiction chronicle, The Adventures of Cancer Bitch. She  lives in Chicago and edits Another Chicago Magazine. She was a feature writer for the Miami Herald and has published prose and poetry in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Narrative, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, and many other places. Her anthologized work is in Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction, Creating Nonfiction: A Guide and Anthology, Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, Life is Short--Art is Shorter, and a number of other books. She received an Illinois Arts Council 2023 Fellowship Award for Prose. In October 2023 The Wandering Womb was named a finalist for the CHIRBy (Chicago Review of Books) award in nonfiction; the winner will be announced in December.


Saddiq Dzukogi

January 30, 2024, 5pm

Location: Gonzales Auditorium - Liberal Arts Building 108

sdSaddiq Dzukogi was born in Minna, Nigeria. He holds a B.Sc. in mass communication from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His book Your Crib, My Qibla (University of Nebraska Press, 2021) received critical acclaim and was named a notable African book of the year by The Africa Center/Brittle Paper, as well as being included in the Africa Report list of the top 20 literary books of 2021. The book was also named one of the 29 best poetry collections in America by Oprah and the winner of the 2022 Derek Walcott Poetry Prize and the Julie Suk Poetry Award. He was also a finalist for the 2022 Nigeria Prize for Literature. His poems have been widely published in, among others, Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Poetry London, Guernica, Oxford Poetry, Oxford Review of Books, Poetry Society of America, Poetry Wales, and World Literature Today, among several others across England, America, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Nigeria. His chapbook, Inside the Flower Room, was selected by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani for the APBF New Generation African Poets Chapbook Series. Saddiq was a finalist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize and a recipient of fellowships and grants from the Nebraska Arts Council, Pen America, the Obsidian Foundation U.K., and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His other accolades include the Gaffney Award of the Academy of American Poetry Prize, the Vreeland Poetry Award, and a two-time ANA Poetry Prize finalist. Saddiq is an assistant professor of English and African American studies at Mississippi State University.


Ravi Howard

March 27, 2024, 5pm

Location: Poynter Room, Ogletree Alumni House

rhRavi Howard is the author of two novels, Driving the King (HarperCollins) and Like, Trees, Walking (HarperCollins), a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Howard has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and the Hurston-Wright Foundation. His short fiction and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Massachusetts Review, Atlanta, and Alabama Noir. He has recorded commentary and fiction for NPR’s All Things Considered and Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Thacker Mountain Radio. He has taught creative writing with the Hurston-Wright Foundation, Callaloo, Kimbilio, Minnesota Northwoods, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He is currently an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Florida State University.



Dara Barrois/Dixon 

April 15, 2024, 5pm

Location: TBD

dbdDara Barrois/Dixon lives and works in western Massachusetts. The Lannan Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council and National Endowment for the Arts have all supported her work with generous grants of money and time. Her poems have been awarded the American Poetry Review’s Shestack Prize, The American Poetry Center’s book of the year award for Reverse Rapture and a Believer's reader’s choice selection for You Good Thing. Her most recent book is Extremely Expensive Mystical Experiences for Astronauts from Conduit Books. Other recent books are Tolstoy Killed Anna Karenina and In the Still of the Night from Wave Books.









Recent Visiting Writers


Natasha Trethewey

Mississippi native holds a prominent spot among the nation's foremost contemporary poets, having captured the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for "Native Guard," one of her four published poetry collections, before serving two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States, from 2012 to 2014. She served simultaneously as Poet Laureate of Mississippi, the first poet to concurrently hold state and national posts.

As Poet Laureate, Trethewey's name ranks among some of the nation's most revered poets. Her work has appeared in several volumes of Best American Poetry and in journals such as the American Poetry Review and Ploughshares. 

Trethewey, who earned a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia, an M.A. in English and creative writing from Hollins University and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts, has earned fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Academy of American Poets and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is also a member of the esteemed American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hanif Abdurraqib

Hanif Abdurraqib

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. His next books are Go Ahead In The Rain, a biography of A Tribe Called Quest due out in 2019 by University of Texas Press, and They Don't Dance No' Mo', due out in 2020 by Random House.


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 MFA program, and the online and summer programs for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer in Lexington, Kentucky.


Photo credit: Michael Sandoz, Student Printz


Ben Lerner

Benjamin S. Lerner is an American poet, novelist, essayist, and critic and he is a former MacArthur Fellow.

beth ann fennelly

Beth Ann Fennelly

Beth Ann Fennelly, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Beth Ann has published six books--three of poetry: Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables, all with W. W. Norton. Beth Ann's poetry has been in over fifty anthologies, including Best American Poetry 1996, 2005, and 2006, The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Poets of the New Century, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, and in textbooks such as Contemporary American Poetry and Literature.

Jamel Brinkley

Jamel Brinkley

Jamel Brinkley is the author of A Lucky Man: Stories, a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction, the Story Prize, the John Leonard Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His writing has appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2018, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, The Threepenny Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, A Public Space, Tin House, and The Believer, and has been selected for The Best American Short Stories 2019. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he was also the 2016-17 Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. He is currently a 2018-20 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University.


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347 Liberal Arts Building (LAB)
118 College Dr. #5144
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

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