26th Annual Villanova University Literary Festival Features Tracy K. Smith, 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States

Villanova, Pa. – For 26 years, the Villanova University Literary Festival has been a cornerstone event, bringing award-winning poets, novelists and playwrights to campus. This year also marks 75 years of the English major at Villanova, making this a special year in literary appreciation. Pulitzer Prize winner and 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith will be among the lineup of acclaimed speakers, contributing to the legacy of this festival by sharing a reading of their work with the Villanova community.

V.V. Ganeshananthan

V.V. Ganeshananthan

Feb. 15 | 7 p.m. talk | Speakers’ Corner, Falvey Memorial Library

V. V. Ganeshananthan (she/her) is the author of the novels Brotherless Night, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and Love Marriage, which was longlisted for the Women's Prize and named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post. Her work has appeared in Granta, The New York Times and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other publications.

A former vice president of the South Asian Journalists Association, she has also served on the board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and is presently a member of the boards of the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies and the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. The National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, Yaddo, MacDowell, and the American Academy in Berlin have awarded her fellowships. She has served as visiting faculty at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan and at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Ganeshananthan now teaches in the MFA program at the University of Minnesota, where she is a McKnight Presidential Fellow and associate professor of English. She co-hosts the podcast Fiction/Non/Fiction on Literary Hub, which is about the intersection of literature and the news.

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith

March 12 | 7 p.m. talk | Cinema, Connelly Center

Tracy K. Smith is the author of four books of poetry: The Body's Question (2003), which won the Cave Canem prize for the best first book by an African-American poet; Duende (2007), winner of the James Laughlin Award and the Essense Literary Award; Life on Mars (2011), winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Wade in the Water (2018). In 2014 she was awarded the Academy of American Poets fellowship. She has also written a memoir, Ordinary Light (2015), which was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction.

In June 2017, Smith was named U.S. Poet Laureate. She teaches at Harvard University, where she is a professor of English and of African and African American Studies and the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. She also hosted American Public Media's daily radio program and podcast The Slowdown, which is sponsored by the Poetry Foundation.

Emilie Pine, PhD

Emilie Pine: 2024 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair of Irish Studies

March 14 | 6 p.m. reception, 7 p.m. talk | Presidents’ Lounge, Connelly Center

Emilie Pine, PhD, is professor of Modern Drama in the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin. She has published widely as an academic and critic, including The Politics of Irish Memory: Performing Remembrance in Contemporary Irish Culture (Palgrave, 2011), and most recently The Memory Marketplace: Witnessing Pain in Contemporary Theatre (Indiana University Press, 2020), and she was editor of the Irish University Review 2017-2021.

As a writer, Dr. Pine collaborated with ANU Productions on the Ulysses 2.2 project in 2023, creating All Hardest of Woman at the National Maternity Hospital. Her first play, Good Sex, was a collaboration with Dead Centre Theatre Company, and was shortlisted for Best New Play and Best Production at the 2023 Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards. She is the author of the bestselling essay collection, Notes to Self, which won the 2018 Irish Book of the Year award and has been translated into 15 languages. Her novel Ruth & Pen (2022) won the 2023 Kate O’Brien First Novel Award. Dr. Pine is the 2024 Heimbold Chair.

Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché

April 3 | 7 p.m. talk | Speakers’ Corner, Falvey Memorial Library

Carolyn Forché’s first volume, Gathering the Tribes, winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, was followed by The Country Between Us, The Angel of History and Blue Hour. Her most recent collection is In the Lateness of the World. She is also the author of the memoir What You Have Heard Is True (Penguin Random House, 2019), a devastating, lyrical and visionary memoir about a young woman’s brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others, which was nominated for the 2019 National Book Awards. She has translated Mahmoud Darwish, Claribel Alegria and Robert Desnos. Her famed international anthology, Against Forgetting, has been praised by Nelson Mandela as “itself a blow against tyranny, against prejudice, against injustice,” and is followed by the 2014 anthology The Poetry of Witness. In 1998 in Stockholm, she received the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture Award for her human rights advocacy and the preservation of memory and culture.

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has been the heart of the Villanova learning experience, offering foundational courses for undergraduate students in every college of the University. Serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students, the College is committed to fortifying them with intellectual rigor, multidisciplinary knowledge, moral courage and a global perspective. The College has more than 40 academic departments and programs across the humanities, social sciences, and natural and physical sciences.