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River City Writers' Series

The River City Writers Series (RCWS) is one of the longest running reading series in the nation, serving the University of Memphis and Mid-South community since 1977. The series welcomes prominent authors to campus to participate in a public reading, an interview hosted by our MFA program and often, an intensive workshop for select MFA students. Past speakers have included Gwendolyn Brooks, John Updike, Seamus Heaney and many others.

The series not only serves the local literary community, but also is a key component in our Creative Writing program. MFA graduate, Jenny Lederer notes, "I've been fortunate enough to interview one of my personal favorite authors. It's really a great opportunity to interface in a very intimate setting with these writers who you normally wouldn't have access to."

Cary Holladay, Creative Writing professor, explains that students have the opportunity to have a chance to not only have a conversation with acclaimed authors but also learn the business side of a writer's craft as they help organize and publicize the series, useful skills as students look to become literary professionals. "It's always been really inspiring and helpful to be exposed to a lot of working artists," says Lederer. "It's very inspirational to see people actually making their dreams into a career and learn from them and the value of their experience."

The RCWS is sponsored by Student Event Allocation, the English Department, the Creative Writing Club, Sigma Tau Delta, the National Endowment for the Arts and South Arts. All events are free and open to the public.

2015 River City Writers' Series

Jo Ann Beard

Jo Ann Beard

Jo Ann Beard is the author of In Zanesville, a novel, and The Boys of My Youth, a collection of autobiographical essays. Other work has appeared in magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. She is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her MFA is from the University of Iowa, and she teaches at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

Wednesday, February 25
Reading at 8:00 pm
University Center, Room 300 or 304

Thursday, February 26
Interview with students at 10:30 am
Patterson Hall, Room 456


Liz Robbins

Liz Robbins

 Liz Robbins' third collection, Freaked, won the 2014 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award, judged by Bruce Bond. Her second collection, Play Button, won the 2010 Cider Press Review Book Award, judged by Patricia Smith; her album Picked Strings is a recording of various poems from that collection. Her chapbook Girls Turned Like Dials won the 2012 YellowJacket Press prize. She won the 2015 Crab Orchard Review Special Issue Feature Award in Poetry, and her poems are in recent or forthcoming issues of American Literary Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cortland Review, Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Kenyon Review Online, and River Styx. She's an associate professor of creative writing at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.

Tuesday, April 14
Reading at 8:00 pm
University Center, Room 300 or 304

Wednesday, April 15
Interview with students at 10:30 am
Patterson Hall, Room 456


RCWS South ArtsNEA