2016 Writers' Festival Guest Authors
Three distinguished authors will be on campus April 7-8, 2016, for Agnes Scott College’s 45th Annual Writers’ Festival, the oldest continuous literary event in Georgia. The 2016 visiting authors are poet and memoirist Richart Blanco, novelist and memoirist Dani Shapiro, and Agnes Scott alumna writer, poet Charleen McClure ’10.
Richard Blanco is the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history—the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work. He is the author of the memoirs The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey; the poetry chapbooks Matters of the Sea, One Today, and Boston Strong; the poetry collections Looking for the Gulf Motel, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, and City of a Hundred Fires; and a children’s book of his inaugural poem, “One Today,” illustrated by Dav Pilkey. With Ruth Behar, he recently co-created Bridges to/from Cuba: Lifting the Emotional Embargo, a blog providing a cultural and artistic platform for sharing the real lives and complex emotional histories of thousands of Cubans across the globe. Blanco’s many honors include the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press, the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center, the Paterson Poetry Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, and two Maine Literary Awards. The Academy of American Poets named him its first Education Ambassador in 2015. He has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Fresh Air. He has been a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and received honorary doctorates from Macalester College, Colby College, and the University of Rhode Island. He has continued to write occasional poems for organizations and events such as the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana. Blanco shares his time between Bethel, ME and Boston, MA.
Dani Shapiro is the bestselling author of the memoirs Devotion and Slow Motion, and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and has been broadcast on “This American Life.” Dani was recently Oprah Winfrey’s guest on”Super Soul Sunday,” and was chosen by Arianna Huffington to speak at the New York City “Thrive” conference. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, The New School, and Wesleyan University; she is co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. A contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler, Dani lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut. Her latest book is, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life.
Charleen McClure was born to Jamaican parents in London, England and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a Fulbright scholar and a graduate of Agnes Scott College, where she received a BA in English-Literature. She has received fellowships from The Watering Hole, VONA, and US Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Muzzle, Mosaic, FreezeRay, Kinfolks Quarterly, and African Voices. She currently lives in New York City.