Literary Festival

The 17th Annual Villanova Literary Festival will feature the following writers.

All readings are free and are followed by a reception and book signing.


2015 Literary Festival

James McBride

Tuesday, Feb. 3, Connelly Center Cinema (7 pm)

James McBride is an author, musician and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, rested on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. It is considered an American classic and is read in schools and universities across the United States. His debut novel, Miracle at St. Anna, was translated into a major motion picture directed by American film icon Spike Lee. It was released by Disney/Touchstone in September 2008. McBride wrote the script for Miracle at St. Anna and co-wrote Spike Lee's 2012 Red Hook Summer. His novel Song Yet Sung was released in paperback in January 2009. His latest novel, The Good Lord Bird, about American revolutionary John Brown, is the winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction.  McBride is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York City public schools. He studied composition at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22. He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

Bruce Smith, poet

Thursday, Februrary 19, Falvey Library Speaker's Corner (7 pm)

Bruce Smith, who is originally from Philadelphia, is the author of several books of poems, including The Other Lover (2000), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Influenced by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, Smith’s poetry moves like jazz, incorporating images and narratives into a startling, musically unified whole.  In a 2007 interview, Smith explained his poetry’s aspiration to song: “When the language works to seduce and . . . move us, when it works its blues on us, bounces us and trembles us, makes us swerve from our upright and rational propositions . . . we are thinking and listening at the same time or really listening and not thinking, like a good song does.” A “Discovery”/The Nation Award winner, Smith has received a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Arts.  His work has appeared in Best American Poetry (2003 and 2004) and the 2009 Pushcart Prize anthology. Smith has been a co-editor of the Graham House Review and a contributing editor of Born Magazine. He has taught at the University of Alabama and Syracuse University.

Claire Kilroy, novelist

Tuesday, March 17, Connelly Center President’s Lounge (7 pm)

Claire Kilroy, the 2015 Heimbold Visiting Professor of Irish Studies, was born in Dublin and studied English in Trinity College. After a time as assistant editor of a TV series, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the same university. Her début novel, All Summer, was published by Faber & Faber in May 2003 and won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature the following year. Kilroy's second novel, Tenderwire, was published in 2006 and shortlisted for the 2007 Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel Award as well as the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. Her most recent novels, All Names Have Been Changed from 2009 and The Devil I Know from 2012, have been published to critical acclaim. Claire Kilroy lives in Dublin.

Patricia Smith, poet

Tuesday, March 31, Radnor/St. David’s Room, Connelly Center (7 pm)

Patricia Smith has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.”  She is the author of six books of poetry, including Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), which won the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (2008), a chronicle of the human and environmental cost of Hurricane Katrina which was nominated for a National Book Award; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a 2005 National Poetry Series selection published by Coffee House Press.  Her work has appeared in Poetry, the Paris Review, the New York Times, TriQuarterly, Tin House, The Washington Post, and in both Best American Poetry and Best American Essays.  Her contribution to the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir, which she edited, won the Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best debut story of the year and was chosen for Best American Mystery Stories 2013. Smith also penned the critically acclaimed history Africans in America (1999) and the award-winning children’s book Janna and the Kings (2003).  She is a 2014 Guggenheim fellow, a 2012 fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo, a two-time Pushcart Prize winner, recipient of a Lannan fellowship and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history.  She is currently working on a biography of Harriet Tubman, a poetry volume combining text and 19th century African-American photos, and a collaborative novel with her husband Bruce DeSilva, the Edgar-Award winning author of the Liam Mulligan crime novels.  Smith is a professor at the College of Staten Island and an instructor in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College.

Jay Cantor

Thursday, April 16, Radnor/St. David’s Room, Connelly Center (7 pm)

Jay Cantor is the author of three novels, The Death of Che Guevara, Krazy Kat, and Great Neck, two books of essays, The Space Between and On Giving Birth to One’s Own Mother, and a recent collection of short stories, Forgiving the Angel, which the New Yorker praises for itsOffbeat and psychologically incisive storytelling.”  A MacArthur Fellow, Cantor teaches at Tufts University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife and daughter.