The Ethel Walker School Visiting Writer Seminar

Spring 2020 Writer

Alison C. Rollins

Alison C. Rollins holds a Bachelor of Science (summa cum laude & phi beta kappa) in Psychology from Howard University and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Born and raised in St. Louis city, she currently works as the Lead Teaching and Learning Librarian for Colorado College. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry ReviewNew England ReviewThe Poetry Review, and elsewhere. A Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow, she is also a 2016 recipient of the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. Rollins has most recently been awarded support from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and is a recipient of a 2019 National Endowment for the Arts Literature fellowship as well as a 2018 Rona Jaffe Writers' Award. Her debut poetry collection, Library of Small Catastrophes (Copper Canyon Press), is out now.

Alison Rollins

Poet, Educator, and Librarian
Alison C. Rollins

March 2020
The Ethel Walker School
Simsbury, CT

About the Course

Learning should be a lived experience. Literature (reading it and writing it) uplifts and gives voice to our students.

Visiting Writer Seminar

The Ethel Walker School Visiting Writer Seminar is a semester-long course in which students have the rare and special opportunity to immerse themselves in a study of one writer’s works, something few students of English at the undergraduate and graduate levels experience. Throughout the semester, students read a critical mass of texts by that writer, developing a deep and abiding knowledge of that writer’s style, form(s), and ideas.

The course culminates with a visit by the author to Walker's. Through master classes, writing workshops, and readings to the community, students are invited to ask the questions that only the author can answer. At the end of each semester, students in the Visiting Writer Seminar collaborate on a final project in which they conceptualize, layout, design, and publish a class anthology of works, inspired by the writings of the visiting writer.

The magic of this course is created in the collaborative and symbiotic exchange between the writer and the student. Learning and inspiration move from the writer to the student but also, we hope, from the student back to the writer.

Video

Photos

Previous Writers

Paisley Rekdal (Fall 2019)

Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee;  the hybrid photo-text memoir, Intimate; and five books of poetry: A Crash of Rhinos; Six Girls Without Pants; The Invention of the Kaleidoscope; Animal Eye, a finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Prize and winner of the UNT Rilke Prize; and Imaginary Vessels, finalist for the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Prize and the Washington State Book Award. Her newest work of nonfiction is a book-length essay, The Broken Country: On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam. A new collection of poems, Nightingale, which re-writes many of the myths in Ovid's The Metamorphoses, was published spring 2019.  Appropriate: A Provocation, a book-length essay examining cultural appropriation, is forthcoming from W.W. Norton.

Her work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Civitella Ranieri Residency, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Pushcart Prizes (2009, 2013), Narrative's Poetry Prize, the AWP Creative Nonfiction Prize, and various state arts council awards. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The New Republic, Tin House, the Best American Poetry series (2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019), and on National Public Radio, among others.  She teaches at the University of Utah, where she is also the creator and editor of the community web project Mapping Salt Lake City. In May 2017, she was named Utah's Poet Laureate and received a 2019 Academy of American Poets' Poets Laureate Fellowship. 

Read More

 

Naomi Shihab Nye (Spring 2019)

Naomi Shihab NyeNaomi Shihab Nye describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent 40 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspiring students of all ages. Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity.

Naomi Shihab Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes. Her books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East , A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Red Suitcase, Words Under the Words, Fuel, and You & Yours (a best-selling poetry book of 2006). She is also the author of Mint Snowball, Never in a Hurry, I’ll Ask You Three Times, Are you Okay? Tales of Driving and Being Driven (essays); Habibi and Going Going (novels for young readers); Baby Radar, Sitti's Secrets, and Famous (picture books) and There Is No Long Distance Now (a collection of very short stories).

Read More

 

Natalie Diaz (Fall 2018)

Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. After playing professional basketball for four years in Europe and Asia, Diaz returned to the states to complete her MFA at Old Dominion University. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellow and a 2012 Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. In 2014, she was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, as well as the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, and a US Artists Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Residency MFA program and lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she directs the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program, working with the last remaining Mojave speakers at Fort Mojave to teach and revitalize the Mojave language.

In October 2018, Diaz was named one of 25 winners of this year's John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowships, commonly known as 'genius' grants awarded annually to individuals who have demonstrated originality, insight and potential for future achievements.

Read More

 

Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Spring 2018)

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is professor of English in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program and is the author of four collections of poetry: Miracle Fruit, At the Drive-In Volcano, Lucky Fish, and Oceanic. Her most recent collection, Oceanic, was released in April 2018.

Students in the Visiting Writer Seminar describe her work as “witty, sharp, and cutting to the core.” Nezhukumatathil drops her reader into a world with each poem. Her poems are often situated in geographical places and include vivid and even scientific observations of the natural world. She uses those descriptions of place, nature, and animal life to reveal human moments.

Nezhukumatathil is also the poetry editor of Orion magazine, and her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry series, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, and Tin House. Honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pushcart Prize.

Read More


Anne Fadiman (Fall 2018)

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Anne Fadiman is an essayist and reporter. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, her account of the crosscultural conflicts between a Hmong family and the American medical system, won a National Book Critics Circle Award. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, is a book about books (buying them, writing in their margins, and arguing with her husband on how to shelve them). At Large and At Small is a collection of essays on Coleridge, postal history, and ice cream, among other topics; it was the source of an encrypted quotation in the New York Times Sunday Acrostic. Her most recent book, The Wine Lover’s Daughter, is a memoir about her father, wine, and the upsides and downsides of upward mobility. Fadiman is the only writer to have won National Magazine Awards for both reporting (on elderly suicide) and essays (on the multiple and often contradictory meanings of the American flag). She worked with the family of her former student Marina Keegan to edit The Opposite of Loneliness, a posthumous collection of Marina’s work. She has also edited a literary quarterly (The American Scholar) and two essay anthologies. As Francis Writer in Residence, Fadiman teaches nonfiction writing and serves as a mentor to students who are considering careers in writing or editing. In 2012 she received the Brodhead Prize for Teaching Excellence; in 2015 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (english.yale.edu).

Read More