Stellar Writers Reading

Sandra Lin, Garth Greenwell, Fanny Howe, Sarah Manguso
Sandra Lin, Garth Greenwell, Fanny Howe, Sarah Manguso

The UC Davis Creative Writing Program’s reading series will include one writer with 40 books to her credit and another whose just-released book was called “the first great novel of 2016” by Publishers Weekly.

“We’re very happy to be able to bring such amazing writers to the region,” said Katie Peterson, an assistant professor of English at UC Davis who organized the series and knows most of the writers personally. “These are writers who feel attached to more than one genre and are often working in between a couple of genres. Some started as poets and now write novels, while others were poets and now write non-fiction.” Most also are connected, as is Peterson, to both Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area.

All the readings — free and open to the public — are at 7 p.m. in room 126 Voorhies Hall, on the northwest corner of 1st and A streets, on the UC Davis campus.

The Feb. 16 reading features Fanny Howe who was a finalist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and is winner of the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation for lifetime achievement. She has written 40 books of poetry and prose, the first published in the 1960s. Her poetry collections include Second Childhood, Come and See, On the Ground and Gone, and novels and prose collections The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation, The Lives of a Spirit / Glasstown: Where Something Got Broken and Nod

She has taught at MIT, UC San Diego, Yale and Columbia and lives in Massachusetts. Howe’s writing is concerned with faith, ethics, politics and suffering, and she has been deeply involved in civil rights and anti-war movements for most of her life.

“If someone is alone reading my poems, I hope it would be like reading someone’s notebook. A record. Of a place, beauty, difficulty. A familiar daily struggle,” Howe said in an interview with the Kenyon Review.

“I met Fanny in a kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and we’ve been friends for about 10 years,” said Peterson, who served as Howe’s teaching assistant for a writing program in Russia.

Reading with her will be Sandra Lim, author of two collections of poetry, Loveliest Grotesque and The Wilderness. Published in 2014, The Wilderness explores myths of the American landscape, the fatalism of American Puritanism, family history, New England winters and aesthetic theory. Pulitzer Prize winning poet Louise Gluck called The Wilderness “one of the most thrilling books of poetry I have read in many years.”

She grew up in San Francisco and teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Garth Greenwell’s debut novel What Belongs To You has been getting rave reviews. The book follows an affair between an American teaching in Bulgaria and a charismatic young hustler he meets in a public bathroom where men go for casual sex. He will read April 12.

The books tells of “a complicated relationship, so tangled that it allows the talented Mr. Greenwell to parse the largest questions about human loyalty and compassion,” wrote The New York Times. The New Republic called it “the great gay novel for our times.”

Greenwell studied vocal performance at the Eastman School of Music, taught school in Bulgaria (where his novel is set) and earned degrees, mostly in literature, from several schools, including Harvard. He attended the Iowa Writers Workshop and was a poet before turning to prose.

The series wraps up May 12 with Sarah Manguso, author of two collections of poetry and four books of nonfiction, including 2015’s Ongoingness: The End of a Diary. In the book, she tries to come to terms with a diary — and its 800,000 words — she has been keeping for 25 years. The book was on the NPR “On Point” Best Books of 2015 list, the New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and Paste Magazine 30 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015.

The Paris Review described Ongoingness as  “a bold, elegant, and honest confrontation of a diarist’s motivations and neuroses.”

Manguso is from Boston and lives in the Bay Area.

— Jeffrey Day, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science