21st Annual Villanova University Literary Festival Features Award-Winning Poet Claudia Rankine

VILLANOVA, Pa. – For its 21st consecutive year, the Villanova University Literary Festival brings prize-winning poets, novelists and playwrights to campus, including Claudia Rankine, whose book-length poem “Citizen: An American Lyric” was praised as “a dazzling expression of the painful double consciousness of black life in America” in The Washington Post. The semester-long event kicksoff on Feb. 5 with a visit from National Book Award finalist Ross Gay.

The Literary Festival is sponsored by the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Every year, prominent writers present lectures and readings to the Villanova community, followed by a reception and book signing. All events start at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Ross Gay is a poet and professor at Indiana University
Photo by: Natasha Komoda

February 5: Ross Gay, PhD

Speakers' Corner, Falvey Library

A prolific poet, Dr. Gay has published three books of poetry—including Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Bringing the Shovel Down, and Against Which—and his fourth book of essays, The Book of Delights, releases in February 2019. His poems have appeared in the American Review, Harvard Review and various anthologies. Catalog was a finalist in the 2015 National Book Award for poetry, and it won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He teaches at Indiana University.

Lauren Grodstein is an author and directs the Master of Fine Arts program at Rutgers University-Camden.
Photo by: Ken Yanoviak

February 21:  Lauren Grodstein

Speakers' Corner, Falvey Library

Known for her use of family narratives, Grodstein has published six novels including the New York Times bestseller A Friend of the Family, and the Washington Post Book of the Year, The Explanation for Everything. She was nominated for the Philolexian Prize, the oldest prize at Columbia University in 1997 and currently directs the Master of Fine Arts program at Rutgers University-Camden.

Mike McCormack is the 2019 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University.

March 21:  Mike McCormack

Presidents' Lounge, Connelly Center

A novelist and short story writer, McCormack grew up in the northwestern County Mayo of Ireland and joins the Villanova Community as the 2019 Charles A. Heimbold Jr., Chair of Irish Studies. McCormack has published two collections of short stories, as well as three novels. He won the 1996 Rooney Prize for Irish literature, and his novel Getting it in the Head was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His book Solar Bones won the Goldsmiths Prize, and in 2018 he won the Dublin literary prize. He is the 2019 Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University.

Claudia Rankine is a poet, playwright and founded the Racial Imaginary Institute.

April 4: Claudia Rankine

Connelly Center Cinema

Poet, playwright and innovator—Rankine is an accomplished creative. She founded the Racial Imaginary Institute—an interdisciplinary cultural hub committed to contextualizing and exploring race in our time—and authored two plays and five poetry collections. Citizen: an American Lyric won the Los Angeles Times Book Award in 2014, the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, as well as the T.S Eliot Prize. She was also awarded 2014 Morton Dauwen Zabel award, the 2014 Jackson Poetry prize, and the 2014 Lannan Foundation literary award. Rankine was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2013 and earned the prestigious McArthur fellowship—unofficially known as the “Genius Grant”—in 2016. She has also held fellowships at the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation. She is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University

Julia Kasdorf is a professor of English and Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University.
Photo by: Zsuzsanna Nagy

April 30: Julia Kasdorf, PhD

Room 300, St. Augustine Center

Dr. Kasdorf’s writing is often concerned with social and environmental justice. She has published four books of poetry including Sleeping Preacher, Eve’s Striptease, Poetry in America and Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields. Her awards include the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, The Great Lakes College’s Association Award for New Writing, a Pushcart Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. She is professor of English and Women’s Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University.

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 cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world.  With more than 40 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.