Hickory – Returning for its 28th season, Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Visiting Writers Series will begin the 2016-17 season on Thursday, September 8. For nearly three decades, the series has brought world-renowned authors to members of the LRU campus and the citizens of Hickory, NC.

The North Carolina Arts Council will kick off the series with three award winning writers presenting Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. in Belk Centrum.

Alina “Tita” M. Ramirez, Anna Lena Phillips Bell, and Julie Funderburk are all recipients of the NC Arts Council Artist Fellowship Award in the literary category. The award recognizes individual artists for excellence and achievement within their art forms or traditions. The three writers were among 18 artists to receive the award out of more than 260 submissions from across the state.

The complete season listing is as follows: All events begin at 7 p.m.

October 13, 2016
Marlon James
Belk Centrum

Marlon James has taught English and creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota since 2007. His most recent novel, 2014’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, explores several decades of Jamaican history and political instability through the perspectives of many narrators. It won the fiction category of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, having been the first book by a Jamaican author ever to be shortlisted.

October 27, 2016
Sarah Vowell
PE Monroe Auditorium

American author, journalist, essayist, social commentator, and actress, Sarah Vowell, is often referred to as a “social observer.” Vowell has written seven nonfiction books on American history and culture. She was a contributing editor for the radio program, This American Life on Public Radio International from 1996 to 2008. She was also the voice of Violet in the animated film The Incredibles.

November 17, 2016
Marie Howe
Belk Centrum

Marie Howe was the Poet Laureate of New York State from 2012 to 2014. She published her best-known book of poems, What the Living Do in 1998. The title poem in the collection is a haunting lament for her brother with the plain-spoken last line: “I am living, I remember you.”

January 19, 2017
Leslie Rindoks
Belk Centrum

Leslie Rindoks, who writes under the nom de plume of Avery Caswell, has had numerous essays published in Baltimore Fishbowl, Baltimore Style and the literary journal Welter. Her manuscript Fall placed in the top 20 percent of new American fiction in 2012 and was a runner-up for Hub City fiction award.

February 9, 2017
Denise Kiernan
Belk Centrum

Denise Kiernan is an American journalist, producer and author who lives in Asheville, North Carolina. She has authored several history titles, including Signing Their Lives Away, Signing Their Rights Away, and The Girls of Atomic City. She started out in journalism and has covered everything from women’s issues, sports, and history to food, travel, and education in places like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Saveur, Discover, Ms., Reader’s Digest, and others. Kiernan has also worked as a head writer for ABC’s “Who Wants to be Millionaire” during its Emmy award-winning first season, and has produced for ESPN, MSNBC, and a variety of independent productions.

February 23, 2017
Reginald Dwayne Betts
Belk Centrum

Poet and criminal justice reform advocate, Reginald Dwayne Betts says one book completely changed his life: The Black Poets. At 16 he was arrested for carjacking and sentenced to nine years in prison. While he was in in solitary confinement, the anthology was slid under his cell door. The book opened up a world of possibilities for Betts, and he has since written two volumes: Masters of the Reagan Era, which received a PEN New England Award for poetry, and Shahid Reads His Own Palm. His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, tells the story of his confinement in some of Virginia’s worst prisons; The Baltimore Times called the book a “must-read”. He has also been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. This event is co-sponsored by Exodus Homes, Hickory.

March 9, 2017
Erik Larson
PE Monroe Auditorium

Erik Larson is author of five New York Times bestsellers, his most recent being, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. His book The Devil in the White City stayed on the Times’ hardcover and paperback lists for a combined total of over five years. It won an Edgar Award for nonfiction crime writing and was a finalist for a National Book Award. The option to make a movie of the book was acquired in November 2010 by Leonardo DiCaprio, and in August 2015, he formed a new alliance to make the film, in which Martin Scorsese will direct, and Billy Ray will write the screenplay. Paramount will be the backing studio. This event is co-sponsored by the Hickory Public Library.

April 1, 2017 – The Little Read: Dan Santat
PE Monroe Auditorium
*Please note this event will take place at 12 noon*
Dan Santat is an American author and illustrator known for his children’s book The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, which won the 2015 Caldecott Medal for distinguished illustration. He also wrote The Guild of Geniuses and created the Disney Channel animated series The Replacements.

Sponsors of the 2016-17 Series include:

Sponsors of this year’s Visiting Writers Series include Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Crowne Plaza–Hickory, Hickory Public Library, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, Our State: North Carolina, The Beaver Family Foundation, Inc., and WFAE 90.3 FM. The series is also sponsored and supported by the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

All events are open to the public, and free for all guests. No tickets or reservations are required.