Nationally prominent BIPOC authors will appear for public readings and on-stage interviews in March and April 2022, as well as at non-public events for current students, prospective students from area high schools, and Minnesota State Write Like Us mentees.
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in 2019 by Tin House, and won the 2020 Lenore Marshall Prize. His newest release, A Little Devil In America, was published with Random House in 2021. He is a graduate of Beechcroft High School.
When Brit Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers was published in the fall of 2016, she was named a 5 Under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation and the book was longlisted for the NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Her second novel, The Vanishing Half, was a New York Times #1 bestseller and Good Morning America June Book Club pick. The Vanishing Half was longlisted for both the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. Before publishing her novels, Bennett had already built an impressive platform as a social commentator. Her essay in Jezebel, following the Ferguson riots, was shared over a million times. Since then she has been invited to write several Op-Eds in the New York Times, and appeared on NPR’s The Brian Lehrer show. Her work has also been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and The Paris Review. While an undergraduate at Stanford, she won the Bocock/ Guerard and Robert M. Golden Thesis prizes for her fiction. Earning her MFA at University of Michigan, she won a Hopwood Award in Graduate Short Fiction as well as the 2014 Hurston/ Wright Award in College Writing.
Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of the award-winning memoir Heavy, the groundbreaking essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and the genre-defying novel Long Division. Heavy: An American Memoir, was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times and a best book of 2018 by the Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. Long Division was honored with the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in 2014, and was shortlisted for a number of other awards, including The Believer Book Award, the Morning News Tournament of Books, and the Ernest J. Gaines Fiction Award. Laymon is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, ESPN The Magazine, NPR, Colorlines, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Ebony, Guernica, The Oxford American, Lit Hub, and many others in addition to Gawker. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and holds an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University.
Tommy Orange is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel There There, a multi-generational, relentlessly paced story about a side of America few of us have ever seen: the lives of urban Native Americans. There There was one of The New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, and won the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Pen/Hemingway Award. There There was also longlisted for the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Orange graduated from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and was a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California.
Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith is the author of The Body’s Question, selected by Kevin Young as winner of the Cave Canem Prize for the best first book by an African American poet. Her second book, Duende, received the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Smith received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her third book of poems, Life on Mars. In her memoir, Ordinary Light, Smith explores her own experience of race, religion, and the death of her mother shortly after Smith graduated from Harvard. The book was a finalist for the National Book Award, and named a Notable Book by both the New York Times and Washington Post. In 2021 she edited, with John Freeman, the prose anthology There's A Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis. Smith’s fourth book of poems, Wade in the Water, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for its examination of the grave contradictions tied up in America’s history. Her most recent book is Such Color: New and Selected Poems. Smith served two terms as Poet Laureate of the United States, during which time she traveled across America, hosting poetry readings and conversations in rural communities. She edited the anthology American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time during her laureateship. Smith is Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.