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Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Writing Forward Reading Series To Feature Pulitzer Novelist, Viet Thanh Nguyen

Writing Forward is the English Department’s signature Reading series which brings outstanding creative writers to campus every year. We hosted fiction writer Tobias Wolff (Pen/Faulkner Award, National Medal of the Arts) in the fall, memoirist and novelist Reyna Grande (American Book Award) in the winter, and poet Raina Leon (Cave Canem First Book Prize) in the spring. For 2017-18, the series will feature novelist and Asian-American scholar, Viet Thanh Nguyen, who won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and award-winning, alumna poet and non-fiction writer, Cheryl Dumesnil.

Writing Forward stands out for its engagement with students. Co-sponsored by the Santa Clara Review, the Creative Writing Program, and the Department of English, the Writing Forward series brings writers to campus to participate in classes as well as meet with students and faculty in small groups to discuss writing and publishing. Writers give a reading followed by a reception/book signing with the campus community and general public. Authors have also held interviews conducted by students and provided materials for the student literary arts journal, the Santa Clara Review. The series aims to mix nationally renowned authors with up-and-coming poets and writers from diverse backgrounds.

A key goal of the series is to provide students in-depth contact with writers to inspire creativity as well as reinforce awareness of writing as a means of personal, intellectual, and social growth. The series seeks authors who represent diverse voices and backgrounds, and whose work and interactions with the campus community engage issues of social justice and offer writing tools to create voices for expressing unique identities. This year Reyna Grande and Raina Leon guest-taught creative writing classes that focused on developing craft as well as tackling difficult personal, political, and social material. Tobias Wolff talked with a number of student writers individually after his reading about their work and writing goals.

Writing Forward also collaborates with other departments, programs, and student organizations to promote wider engagement and participation from diverse groups. Ethnic Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Modern Languages, the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences, and the SCU Library, as well as student groups, such as the Multi-Cultural Center and The Santa Clara newspaper, have all participated in helping to make the series successful.

In its several-year history, Writing Forward has brought to campus many notable poets and writers of fiction and non-fiction, including two U.S. Poet Laureates and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Guggenheim Fellowships, MacArthur Genius grants, and many other awards. Writers have included Robert Hass, Juan Felipe Herrera, Carolyn Forché, Gerald Stern, Martín Espada, Rigoberto González, Norma Cantú, Dana Gioia, and Jim Shepard.