Cornell Reading Series features writers with a diverse artistic range

The Spring 2022 Barbara & David Zalaznick Reading Series, beginning February 24, will feature a wide range of art styles and voices from around the world. The series, hosted by Cornell’s Creative Writing Program, brings together innovative and award-winning authors to read their work on Cornell’s Ithaca campus.

Each reading closes with a live question and answer session where students, faculty, and the public have the opportunity to interact with the speakers, followed by a book signing with books available for purchase on-site down Buffalo Street. Ithaca Books.

All the events are free. Attendance guidelines are mandatory and subject to change; visit for current guidelines and more information.

The series will kick off with a Richard Cleaveland Memorial Lecture by novelist J. Robert Lennon and poet, writer and scholar Mukoma Wa Ngugi on Thursday, February 24 at 5:00 pm in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, G70 Klarman Hall. .

J. Robert Lennon and Brother Ngugi

J. Robert Lennon is the author of three collections of short stories and nine novels, including Familiar, Broken River, and Subdivision. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, and Harper’s, and his criticism in The London Review of Books, The Guardian, and The New York Times Book Review. Lennon is a professor in the Department of Literatures in English.

Mukoma Wa Ngugi is an Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature and the author of the recently published Unbury Our Dead with Song; as well as The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Property; the novels Black Star Nairobi and Nairobi Heat; and two books of poetry, Logotherapy and Throwing Words into Consciousness. Her novel Mrs. Shaw was released in East Africa as We, the Scarred in 2020. Nairobi Heat has just been acquired by a major Hollywood studio.

Kirkus Prize-winning fiction writer and Cornell alumnus Ling Ma will visit on March 10 at 5:00 pm at Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, G70 Klarman Hall.

Ling Ma is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Severance, which won the Kirkus Award for Fiction, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Named a New York Times Notable Book and NPR Best Book of 2018, it has been translated into seven languages. Ma’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Granta, Playboy, Vice, Chicago Reader, Ninth Letter, Buzzfeed, and more. His scholarships include a Whiting Award and an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. Ma was born in Sanming, China, and grew up in Utah and Kansas. She received her MFA from Cornell in 2015. Before graduating, she worked as a journalist and editor. He has taught creative writing and English at Cornell University and the University of Chicago.

Poet and PEN/Nabokov Prize winner M. NourbeSe Philip will deliver the third reading on April 14 at 5:00 pm in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, G70 Klarman Hall.

Born in Tobago, M. NourbeSe Philip is a freelance poet, essayist, novelist, playwright and academic living in Toronto, where she practiced law for seven years before becoming a poet and writer. His published works include She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks; the speculative prose poem Looking for Livingston: An Odyssey of Silence; the young adult novel, Harriet’s Daughter; the play Golpes y Calipsos; and four collections of essays, including his most recent collection, BlancK.

His book-length poem, Zong!, was named the 2021 winner of World Literature Today’s 21 Books for the 21st Century. Among his many awards are the Pushcart Award; the 2020 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature; and the Canada Council for the Arts’ lifetime achievement award for 2021, the Molson Prize, for his “invaluable contributions to literature.” His scholarships include Guggenheim, McDowell and Rockefeller (Bellagio). She is a recipient of the YWCA Woman of Distinction (Arts) and Elizabeth Fry Rebels for a Cause awards.

Vietnamese American multi-genre writer Bao Phi will close the series on April 28 at 5:00 pm at Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, 132 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Bao Phi is a two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and National Poetry Slam finalist whose poetry is included in the 2006 Best American Poetry anthology and widely published elsewhere, including two collections published by Coffee House Press, as well as other collections and magazines such as Spoken Word Revolution Redux, Poetry Magazine, Asian-American Literary Review, and many others.

Her fiction and essays have appeared in Octavia’s Brood: Stories from Social Justice Movements, A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, and others. He is also known for his three children’s books: his A Different Pond received six outstanding reviews and multiple awards, including the Caldecott Honor, an Ezra Jack Keats Honor, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award for Best Illustrated Book, the Minnesota Book Award for picture books and other awards. Phi is a visiting critic in the Department of Literatures in English for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Concerned about parking? The TCAT (Shops at Ithaca Mall-Cornell-Commons loop) bus route 30 leaves the Seneca Street station every 15 minutes and stops outside Klarman/Goldwin Smith Halls, where the readings will take place. TCAT Bus Route 10 (Commons-Cornell Shuttle) departs Seneca Street Station every 10 minutes Monday through Friday until 5:10 pm and will stop if requested outside of Klarman/Goldwin Smith Halls. After that time, Route 10 runs every 20 minutes until 7:00 pm The one-way cash fare is $1.50. You can track the location of TCAT buses using the myStop mobile app; For more information, visit For short-term parking options, visit or call Transportation Services at 607-255-4600.

For more information, visit, email, or call 607-255-7847.

Read the story on the College of Arts and Sciences website.

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