Susan Glaspell Writers & Critics Series

‌2016-2017 Schedule

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. If you have any questions regarding Writers & Events, please contact Yasmina Madden at .


SPRING 2017 Events

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 canW and C pic 8/29/16 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.

Wednesday, April 5: Payton Prize Winner, Erica Trabold, Cowles Library Reading Room, Drake University, 3:30pm.

‌The Susan Glaspell Writers and Critics Reading Series is proud to announce the winner of the 2017 ‌Payton James Freeman Essay Award is “A List of Concerns” by Erica Erica TraboldTrabold. Of this essay, final judge Thomas Page McBee wrote:

"A list of concerns" utilizes the brevity, directness, and thematic structure of a numbered list to unpack an complex story about friendship, tragedy, and the failure inherent to being human. I was moved by the unflinching spareness of the piece, and the way the list held a certain depth of character. There is a kind of person who can only tell a story sideways, like this narrator, and that type of person is more vulnerable in a different kind of way than just about anyone else. I marvel at all that's held here.

Trabold will be awarded $500 and brought to Drake University in April of this year to read her essay and speak to students and the public. The essay will also be published in The Rumpus.

This year’s finalists were:

"103 Pages” by Soniah Kamal
“A List of Concerns” by Erica Trabold
“Bengali Swan Brother” by M. Sophia Newman
“Delta Alpha Delta” by A.L. Diaz
“My Stop” by Anahit Moumjian
“Radio Baltica” by Olga Zilberbourg

While we acknowledge by name these six finalist essays for their exceptional strength and interest, we wish to add that the essays submitted were particularly strong this year; the reading was enjoyable for first readers, but the decisions were very difficult. The students and faculty of Drake University wish to thank everyone for sending your essays for our consideration. We encourage all entrants to keep writing and submitting work for publication.

With all our best,

The Susan Glaspell Writers and Critics Reading Series

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 W and C pic 8/29/16Basu 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
Drake University
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)

ArtSci News
March 10, 2017
A leading national expert on Japanese politics and foreign policy will discuss U.S.-Japan relations under the Trump Administration during a free lecture at Drake University on March 21.