This series is sponsored by the Drake English Department and made possible by a grant from the Drake University Center for the Humanities. All events are free and open to the public.
Thursday, September 29: Writer’s Night, Medbury Honors Lounge, Drake University, 7pm
Thursday, October 7: Tarfiah Faizullah, Location and Time TBA
Winner of the 2016 Drake Emerging Writer Award
Born in Brooklyn and raised in west Texas, Tarfia Faizullah is the Pushcart Prize winning author of Register of Illuminated Villages (forthcoming from Graywolf in 2017), Seam (SIU, 2014), winner of the 2012 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, the 2015 VIDA Award, the Milton Kessler First Book Prize, and the GLCA New Writers' Award. Her poems appear in Poetry Magazine, American Poetry Review, Oxford American, jubilat, New England Review, The Missouri Review, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere, and are anthologized in The New Breakbeat Poets Anthology, Poems of Devotion, Excuse This Poem: 100 Poems for the Next Generation, The Book of Scented Things, and Best New Poets 2013, and elsewhere.
Honors include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, a Ploughshares Cohen Award, scholarships and fellowships from Kundiman, the Fulbright Foundation, Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and Vermont Studio Center. She has collaborated with rapper and emcee Brooklyn Shanti, composer Jacob Cooper, and photographer Elizabeth Herman. She is the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor of Creative Writing in Poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ Program and co-directs the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Press & Video Series with Jamaal May.
Wednesday, October 26: Kiese Laymon, Cowles Reading Room, Cowles Library, Drake University, 7pm.
Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University and is currently a Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony and Guernica.
Long Division was named one of the Best of 2013 by Buzzfeed, The Believer, Salon, Guernica, Contemporary Literature, Mosaic Magazine, Library Journal, Chicago Tribune and the Crunk Feminist Collective. It was also short-listed for the Believer Book Award, the Ernest Gaines Award and the Morning News Tournament of Books. Long Division won the 2014 Saroyan International Writing Award on November 10th. Three essays in "How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America" have been included in the Best American series, the Best of Net award, and the Atlantic's Best Essays of 2013. He was selected a member of the Root 100 in 2013 and 2014 and Ebony Magazine Power 100 in 2015.
Kiese Laymon has two books forthcoming, including a memoir called Heavy and the novel called And So On which can be expected in 2017, both from Scribner.
Tuesday, February 7: Writer’s Night, Medbury Lounge, Drake University, 7pm.
Wednesday, February 22: Chigozie Obioma, Cowles Library Reading Room, Drake University, 7pm.
"In his exploration of the mysterious and the murderous, of the terrors that can take hold of the human mind, of the colors of life in Africa, with its vibrant fabrics and its trees laden with fruit, and most of all in his ability to create dramatic tension in this most human of African stories, Chigozie Obioma truly is the heir to Chinua Achebe." Fiammetta Rocco, The New York Times.
Chigozie Obioma was born in Nigeria. He has lived in Cypru, Turkey, and now the United States where he is a professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His debut novel, THE FISHERMEN, won the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer Award for Fiction and the NAACP Image Award for Debut Literary Work, as was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize 2015. THE FISHERMEN was also included on the “best of 2015” lists for The Economist, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR,and has been published in 24 languages. Additionally, Obioma is a recipient of Hopwood Awards in fiction and poetry, his fiction has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review and Transition, and he was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Influential People of the year in 2015.
Thursday, April 20: Rekha Basu, Cowles Library Reading Room, Drake University, 7pm.
Born in India and raised in New York, New Delhi and Bangkok, Rekha Basu completed her global, multicultural perspective with a move to the Heartland. Her columns in The Des Moines Register span politics, culture, human rights and social justice, and frequently examine the news from a gendered and minority perspective.
Basu’s columns are distributed nationally by Tribune Content Agency news service. She appears on KCWI’s Great Day morning show in a weekly segment called Rekha’s Voice. She is the author of the book, "Finding Her Voice," a compilation of columns on women's struggles and triumphs in the Midwest.
Basu has a master's degree in political economy from Goddard-Cambridge Graduate School, a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in sociology from Brandeis University. She got her international baccalaureate degree from the United Nations International School in New York. Her columns have earned her an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Grinnell College along with a variety of journalism and social justice awards, including form the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame, the Iowa Farmers' Union, Friends of Iowa Civil Rights and the Iowa Interfaith Alliance. She has worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist at newspapers in New York, Florida and Iowa and been published in scores more across the country and outside it.
Her frequent public speaking appearances include college convocations and a Ted X talk. She has been a guest on The Rachel Maddow Show, BBC, C-Span, CNN. and public radio She's the 2015 moderator for the Des Moines Smart Talk women's lecture series.
Drake Emerging Writer Award
The Drake University Writers & Critics Series is accepting submissions for its eighth annual Drake University Emerging Writer Award. The faculty and students of Drake University’s English Department select one outstanding first book from among the entries, and the author receives an honorarium of $1000 plus travel and lodging expenses to read at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Each year, the award rotates among genres (short fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry). We are currently accepting submissions of first books of short stories (collections) for consideration for the Drake University Emerging Writer Reading, which will be held in the month of September, 2017. Entries must have a copyright date of 2014 or later, and may be submitted by the author or the publisher. Submissions must include a copy of the published book; a cover letter that includes a brief biography, contact information (phone and email) for the author, and a statement affirming that this is the author’s first book-length publication of a collection of short stories. Entries must be postmarked by November 1, 2016. Materials postmarked after November 1, 2016 will not be considered. Entries will not be returned and will become the property of the Drake University English Department.
The winner will be notified by May 1, 2017. All entrants will be notified of the results by June 1, 2017.
This year, the award is open to single-author first books of short stories (collections) only. Authors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and must agree to attend and participate in the reading at Drake University in November 2017 to receive the award. The following are ineligible for the awards: 1) authors who have published more than one book of short stories through independent, university, or commercial publishers; 2) entries from vanity presses and self-published books; 3) current students and employees of Drake University.
Send all materials to:
Drake University Emerging Writer Award
c/o Brian Spears, Writers and Critics Series
English Department, Howard Hall
2507 University Ave
Des Moines, IA 50311
For questions about the award or the series, please e-mail:
Payton Prize Call for Submission (click for information)