Creative Writing Program Presents Readings by Two Distinct Authors

Monday, November 13, 2023 

Pictured Above: Marlon James. Photo credit: Mark Seliger.



Princeton, NJ – The Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing at Princeton University, continues the 2023-24 season with a reading by writer Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings and the acclaimed Dark Star Trilogy, and Patricia Smith, a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner and professor of creative writing at Princeton. The reading begins at 7:30 p.m. on November 14 in the Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton University campus.

Pictured Above: Patricia Smith. Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths.

Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for A Brief History of Seven Killings, making him the first Jamaican author to take home the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award. A Brief History of Seven Killings also won the American Book Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. James is also author of the novels John Crow’s Devil, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Commonwealth Writers Prize; and The Book of Night Women, winner of the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and Minnesota Book Award. His bestselling Dark Star Trilogy, a fantasy series set in African legend, includes Black Leopard, Red Wolf; Moon Witch, Spider King; and the forthcoming title White Wing, Dark Star. James’ short fiction and nonfiction have been anthologized in Bronx Noir, The Book of Men: Eighty Writers on How to Be a Man and have appeared in Esquire, Granta, Harper’s, The Caribbean Review of Books and elsewhere. In early 2016 his viral video, Are you racist? ‘No’ isn’t a good enough answer, received millions of hits. James co-hosts with Jake Morrissey a popular podcast about literature called Marlon and Jake Read Dead People. For HBO and U.K. Channel 4, he is currently writing and executive producing Get Millie Black, a six-part crime drama set in Jamaica. In 2018 James received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, and Time Magazine named him among 100 Most Influential People of 2019. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and teaches English and creative writing at Macalester College.

Patricia Smith is the author of nine books of poetry including Unshuttered (2023), a collection of dramatic monologues accompanied by 19th-century photos of African Americans; Incendiary Art, winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry, the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist; and three collaborations with award-winning visual artists — Gotta Go, Gotta Flow with Chicago photographer Michael Abramson, and the books Crowns and Death in the Desert with Sandro Miller. Her other books include the poetry volumes Teahouse of the Almighty, Close to Death, Big Towns Big Talk, and Life According to Motown; the children’s book Janna and the Kings and the history Africans in America, a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in the anthologies Best American Poetry and Best American Essays. In addition to the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize that celebrates lifetime achievement, Smith is also recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, and four individual championships of the National Poetry Slam. In 2023, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She joined Princeton’s creative writing faculty as professor in July 2023 and teaches introductory and advanced poetry workshops for undergraduate students. Smith is currently at work on her first novel and second children’s picture book.

The Lewis Center’s Program in Creative Writing annually presents the Althea Ward Clark W’21 Reading Series, which provides an opportunity for students, as well as all in the greater Princeton region, to hear and meet the best contemporary writers. The series is organized by Lecturer in Creative Writing and award-winning poet Michael Dickman. All readings are at 7:30 p.m. in the Darpkin Studio and are free and open to the public.

Additional readings in the 2023-24 series include:

  • David Henry Hwang and Ilya Kaminsky on February 20
  • Khaled Mattawa and Hiroko Oyamada, with translator David Boyd, on March 26
  • Students in the creative writing program will read from their recent work in December and April
  • Seniors in the program will read from their thesis work in fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and literary translation in May

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required through University Ticketing. Guests in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at at least one week prior to the event date.

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