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The Richard Cleaveland Memorial Reading by Valzhyna Mort and Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Virtual Event

The Spring 2021 Barbara & David Zalaznick Creative Writing Reading Series kicks off with the Richard Cleaveland Memorial Reading featuring poet Valzhyna Mort and author Nafissa Thompson-Spires.

REGISTER HERE to attend this free literary event!

Valzhyna Mort is a poet and translator born in Minsk, Belarus, and she writes in English and Belarusian. She is the author of three poetry collections, Factory of TearsCollected Body and, mostly recently, Music for the Dead and Resurrected. Her work has been honored with the Lannan Foundation fellowship, the Amy Clampitt fellowship, and the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry. Her work has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for the Best Single Poem, and has appeared in Best American Poetry, The New YorkerPoetryPoetry ReviewPoetry InternationalGranta, and many more. Mort translates between English, Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish. She has received the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation and the National Endowment for the Arts grant in translation for her work on Polina Barskova’s book of selected poems, Air Raid. With Ilya Kaminsky and Katie Farris, Mort co-edited Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poems and Prose. Valzhyna Mort’s poetry collections have come out in translation in Germany, Sweden and Ukraine, while single poems have been translated into a dozen of languages. Outside the US, she has received the Burda Prize for Eastern European authors (Germany) and the Crystal of Vilenica prize (Slovenia). Mort is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University.

Nafissa Thompson-Spires is the author of Heads of the Colored People, which won the PEN Open Book Award, the Hurston/Wright Award for Fiction, and the Los Angeles Times’ Art Siedenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her collection was also longlisted for the National Book Award, the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Award, and several other prizes. She is also the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award. She earned a doctorate in English from ­­­­Vanderbilt University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from ­­­­­­the University of Illinois. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in The Paris Review DailyThe Root, The White ReviewStoryQuarterlyLunch Ticket, and The Feminist Wire, among other publications, and work is forthcoming in multiple anthologies. Thompson-Spires is the Richards Family Assistant Professor of English at Cornell University, teaching creative writing in both the MFA and undergrad programs. 

The Richard Cleaveland Memorial Reading was created in 2002 by family and friends of Richard Cleaveland, Cornell Class of ’74, to honor his memory.

This is the first virtual event in the Spring 2021 Barbara & David Zalaznick Reading Series: Together. Livestream powered by our friends at eCornell.

This event is presented by the Department of Literatures in English / Creative Writing Program at Cornell University

Next event in the series: Talk by Rita P. Davis on Thu, Mar 11, at 7:00 pm ET

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Reading, Author Appearance, Special Event




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Contact Name

Lynn Lauper

Dept. Web Site

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If you need additional accommodations to participate in this event, please contact us as soon as possible

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Open to the public

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