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English Lit News and Events


In Fall 2023, Professor Dilruba (Ruba) Ahmed served as the Blanche Armfield Poet in the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill. In Spring 2024, she was the featured writer at the 26th annual Literary Festival at Penn State-Brandywine.

Blanche Armfield Poet

Congratulations to the 2024 winners of our student writing contests:

The Lois Morrell Poetry Award
First Place: Natalie Fraser
The John Russell Hayes Poetry Prize
Second Place: Hannah Zhang '26
Third Place: Ella Harrigan 

The Nathalie F. Anderson Poetry Prize
Ivy Hoffman
Foster Hudson
Swarthmore Prize in Creative Nonfiction
Winner: Rose Gotleib
Honorable Mentions: Shannon Friel and Alicia Liu
The William Plumer Prize in Fiction
First Place: Fiona Stewart
Second Place: Ethan Sheppard
Third Place: Serena Yang
Honorable Mentions: Finn Verdonk and Robert Bonner 

Professor Betsy Bolton's new book, Mouth Art of the Bald-faced Hornet, is scheduled to be released on May 17, 2024 by Finishing Line Press. See more about her book at the publisher's website .

Rachel Sagner Buurma ’99 Honored for Showcasing Everyday Teaching of Literature

Congratulations to Professor Bakirathi Mani and the entire steering committee on the launch of the new Tri-College Asian American Studies Program. For more information about the program, check out this recent announcement:
Posted 11/10/2022

Congratulations to Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan! Their book The Teaching Archive just won the Modernist Studies Association's Book Prize.
Posted 11/01/2022

Coming Soon: New Books by Professors Chinelo Okparanta and Eric B. Song!
Posted 01/31/2022

Professor Okparanta's new book Harry Sylvester Bird: A Novel is being published by Mariner Books and is available for pre-order now with a release date of July 12, 2022. See more about her book at the publisher's website.

New Book by Chinelo Okparanta


Professor Song's new book, Love Against Substitution: Seventeenth-Century English Literature and the Meaning of Marriage, is scheduled to be released in April by Stanford University Press. See more at the publisher's website.

New Book by Eric B. Song


Associate Professor Chinelo Okparanta was recently featured in the January/February 2022 issue of Poets and Writers:
Posted 01/27/2022

For over five years Lambda Literary—a national organization that champions lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) books and authors—has been changing the lives of students across New York City through its free Writers in Schools program. The program centers on a simple yet profound idea: Through reading books by LGBTQ authors, then meeting those authors in person to hear about their life experiences, youth will learn to celebrate queerness."

Chinelo Okparanta, whose second novel, Harry Sylvester Bird, is forthcoming from Mariner Books in July, has been a part of the program since 2017 and has visited a number of high schools throughout New York City. Over e-mail she said, “I always expect that I will learn as much from the students as they learn from me, so it’s important for me to listen well and ask questions, too.” Through talking with students, she said, “I have stumbled upon new ways of understanding the world—and of interrogating my work.” 

To see the full article, visit


The Maine Arts Commission announced that Swarthmore alum, Julia Bouwsma '02, has been named as the new Maine Poet Laureate. 


Congratulations to Professors Buurma and Mani on the publication of their recent books, The Teaching Archive: A New History for Literary Study (University of Chicago Press) and Unseeing Empire: Photography, Representation, South Asian America (Duke University Press).

Rachel Buurma and Bakirathi Mani display their new books 

For more information, visit the publishers' websites below:

Past Events

Tuesday, July 12, 2022 @ 7:30 pm
Professor Chinelo Okparanta will launch her new book Harry Sylvester Bird at the Philadelphia Free Library on July 12 at 7:30 pm. The event will be moderated by Haverford's superb Asali Solomon ( 

Harry Sylvester Bird has just recently been named one of the best 20 books of the summer by Esquire magazine (alongside many excellent authors like Mohsin Hamid):

Here is a Publisher's Weekly profile on Professor Okparanta as well as a recent Kirkus review:

Please find the link for the Philadelphia launch below. It will take place on July 12th, at 7:30pm:

Swat Writers' Week, March 21-25, 2022




Daisy Fried '89, The Year the City Emptied, Monday February 21, 4:30 pm, McCabe LibLab Space
Swarthmore grad, poet Daisy Fried '89, will visit on Monday, February 21, to read from The Year the City Emptied, Baudelaire Fleurs du Mal adaptations inspired by the Covid-19 shutdowns and 2020 political turmoil. Daisy Fried will also read selected other poems of her own. Afterwards, there will be a brief conversation with Professor Peter Schmidt about Daisy Fried's new work, followed by a Q&A with the audience. Refreshments will be served.

A Conversation with Tommy Orange, Monday, April 26, 7:30 pm EST
Please join us for a public conversation with Tommy Orange, award-winning author of There There, on April 26th at 7:30 pm EST.  Orange will be in conversation with Prof. Sangina Patnaik (English) and Sierra Mondragón ’21 (History & Indigenous Studies Special Major). 

An enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Orange is a graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. His debut novel There There is a dazzling exploration of contemporary urban Native American experience. The New York Times hailed the novel as a "new kind of American epic."  There There won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and the American Book Award. It was shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. It appeared on countless “Best Books of the Year” lists, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Time, O: The Oprah Magazine, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, and Buzzfeed. 

Like his written work, Orange's public conversations take up the question of Native representation in public culture (see, for example, this New Yorker interview and this conversation with Oakland's Youth Poet Laureate).  He has emerged as a new and leading voice in conversations around indigenous rights, racial justice, and the function of the arts in representing and resisting inequity. 

This event is hosted by the Department of English Literature, the President’s Fund for Racial Justice, the Cooper Series, and the Hormel-Nguyen Intercultural Center.

A Festival of Poetry: An Afternoon with Swarthmore Alumni Poets, Saturday, April 10, 1:00 to 5:00 pm EST

Panel 1
Mary Jean Chan, Jessica Fisher, Daisy Fried, Rowan Ricardo Phillips
1:00 - 1:50 Poetry Readings
1:50 - 2:00 (short break)
2:00 - 2:30 Career Discussion

Panel 2

Julian Randall, Ariana Nadia Nash, Robin Myers, Keetje Kuipers, Julia Bouwsma
3:00 - 4:00 Poetry Readings
4:00 - 4:10 (short break)
4:10 - 5:00 Career Discussion

Julia Bouwsma ‘02, Author of Work by Bloodlight and Midden 
Mary Jean Chan ‘12, Author of A Hurry of English and Flèche 
Jessica Fisher ‘98, Author of Frail-Craft and Inmost
Daisy Fried ‘89, Author of She Didn’t Mean to Do It, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again, and Women's Poetry: Poems and Advice
Keetje Kuipers ‘02, Author of All Its Charms, The Keys to the Jail, and Beautiful in the Mouth 
Robin Myers ‘10, Author of Having/Tener, Else/Lo demás, and Conflations/Amalgama
Ariana Nadia Nash ‘06, Author of Instructions for Preparing Your Skin, and the chapbook Our Blood Is Singing
Rowan Ricardo Phillips ‘96, Author of three books of poems (The Ground, Heaven, and Living Weapon) and two essay collections (The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey and When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness).
Julian Randall ‘16, Author of Refuse 

Brash Bardiness: An Evening with Martha Graham Cracker, Friday, April 9, 7:30 pm EST

Q&A with Dito van Reigersberg (aka Martha Graham Cracker), Friday, April 9, 5:00 pm EST
Martha Graham is the alter ego of Swarthmore alum Dito van Reigersberg '94, co-founder of Philadelphia's experimental Pig Iron Theater Company, and a graduate of Professor Anderson's poetry workshops. Dito will speak about his career and, in the evening's exuberant drag performance, Martha promises to play fast and loose with poetry.

An Evening with Mary Jean Chan '12 and Announcement of the Lois Morrell Poetry Award and John Russell Hayes Poetry Prize Recipients, Thursday, April 8, 5:00 pm EST
Please join us for a reading by Mary Jean Chan '12 on Thursday, April 8, 5:00 pm. The evening will also include the announcement of the recipients of the Lois Morrell Poetry Award and the John Russell Hayes Poetry Prize.
Mary Jean Chan ’12, is the author of the collection Flèche (2019). Flèche won the Costa Book Award for Poetry and was shortlisted for many other awards. Chan’s writings have appeared in The Guardian, The New Statesman, The White Review, and The Poetry Review. Chan is currently senior lecturer in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University in the U.K.; she is the recipient of the Poetry Society’s 2018 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and a 2019 Eric Gregory Award. Chan was honored by Jackie Kay (currently Poet Laureate of Scotland) as one of the 20 Best BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) Writers in the United Kingdom for 2019. 

An Evening with Sam J. Miller and Announcement of the William Plumer Potter Fiction Prize Recipients, Thursday, April 1, 7:30 pm EST
Sam J. Miller's books have been called "must reads" and "bests of the year" by USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, and O: The Oprah Magazine among others. He is the Nebula-Award-winning author of Blackfish City, which has been translated into six languages and won the Campbell Award, and the recent noir-horror novel The Blade Between. Miller's short stories have been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, and Locus Awards, and he has won both the Shirley Jackson Award and the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Novel. In addition to his fiction, Miller co-edited (with Aviva Briefel of Bowdoin College) the critical anthology Horror After 9/11. 

An Evening with Jericho Brown, Tuesday, March 11, 2021
Join us for a Zoom webinar reading by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown. We will invite students to an earlier Q&A on Zoom; registration details will come closer to the event. Sponsored by the Cooper Foundation, the Sager Fund, and the English Department.
Q&A: 5:00 pm EST–5:45 pm EST
Reading: 7:30 pm EST–8:30 pm EST
Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of the collection The Tradition (2019), which was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The Nation, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Time, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry anthologies. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.