Tyeimba Jess performs a poetry reading at Villanova University.

A highly anticipated annual tradition, the Villanova Literary Festival takes place each spring. The festival hosts major poets and fiction writers on campus to give readings and meet with students.

Visiting fiction writers have included Jonathan Franzen, Michael Cunningham, Colson Whitehead, Chang-Rae Lee, Junot Diaz, Lydia Davis, and Diana Abu-Jaber. Poets have included Marilyn Chin, Robert Creeley, Mark Doty, and Harryette Mullen.

Sponsored by the English Department, this event reflects our commitment to celebrating and cultivating the ongoing role of literature in American life.

Please enjoy our back catalogue of speaker videos here.

Lit Fest 2024 Speakers

All readings will begin at 7 p.m.

February 15: V. V. Ganeshananthan

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.

The writer V. V. Ganeshananthan looking to camera
Photo by Sophia Mayrhofer

March 12: Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith was born in Massachusetts and raised in northern California. She earned a BA from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. From 1997 to 1999 she held a Stegner fellowship at Stanford University. 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.

The writer Tracy K. Smith smiling at the camera
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths, courtesy of Blue Flower Arts

March 14: Emilie Pine

Emilie Pine is Professor of Modern Drama at University College Dublin, Ireland. She has published widely as an academic and critic. Her first collection of personal essays Notes to Self won the Butler Literary Award, the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year Award, and Book of the Year 2018 at the Irish Book Awards. Emilie Pine is the 2024 Heimbold Chair.

The author Emilie Pine

April 3:  Carolyn Forché

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.


The author Carolyn Forché smiling at the camera
Courtesy of Blue Flower Arts

Villanova University
Department of English
St. Augustine Center
Room 402

Department Chair
Professor Heather Hicks