Cornell Reading Series features writers with diverse artistic range

The Spring 2022 Barbara & David Zalaznick Reading Series, beginning Feb. 24, will feature a wide range of artistic styles and voices from around the world. The series, hosted by Cornell’s Creative Writing Program, brings innovative, award-winning authors to read from their work on Cornell’s Ithaca campus. Each reading closes with a live Q&A where students, faculty, and the public have the opportunity to interact with the speakers, and is followed by a book signing with books made available for purchase on-site by Ithaca’s Buffalo Street Books.
All events are free. Attendance guidelines are mandatory and subject to change; visit for current guidelines and more information.
The series will open with the Richard Cleaveland Memorial Reading by novelist J. Robert Lennon and poet, writer, and scholar Mukoma Wa Ngugi on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 5:00 p.m. in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, G70 Klarman Hall. 

J Robert Lennon and Mumoka Wa Ngugi
Provided J. Robert Lennon and Mumoka Wa Ngugi

J. Robert Lennon is the author of three story collections and nine novels, including Familiar, Broken River, and Subdivision. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, and Harper’s, and his criticism in The London Review of Books, The Guardian, and The New York Times Book Review. Lennon is a professor in the Department of Literatures in English. 

Mukoma Wa Ngugi is an associate professor in the Department of Literatures in English and the author of the recently released Unbury Our Dead with Song; as well as The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Ownership; the novels Black Star Nairobi and Nairobi Heat; and two books of poetry, Logotherapy and Hurling Words at Consciousness. His novel Mrs. Shaw was released in Eastern Africa as We, the Scarred in 2020. Nairobi Heat has just been optioned by a major Hollywood studio.
Fiction writer, Kirkus Prize winner, and Cornell alumna Ling Ma will visit next on Mar. 10 at 5:00 p.m. in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, G70 Klarman Hall.

Ling Ma
Provided Ling Ma

Ling Ma is the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Severance, which won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Named a New York Times Notable Book and an NPR Best Book of 2018, it has been translated into seven languages. Ma's fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Granta, Playboy, Vice, Chicago Reader, Ninth Letter, Buzzfeed, and more. Her fellowships include a Whiting Award and an NEA creative writing fellowship. Ma was born in Sanming, China, and grew up in Utah and Kansas. She received her MFA from Cornell in 2015. Prior to graduate school she worked as a journalist and editor. She has taught creative writing and English at Cornell University and the University of Chicago.
Poet & PEN/Nabokov Award winner M. NourbeSe Philip will deliver the third reading on Apr. 14 at 5:00 p.m. in Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium, G70 Klarman Hall. 

Born in Tobago, M. NourbeSe Philip is a poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and independent scholar who lives in the City of Toronto, where she practiced law for seven years before becoming a poet and writer. Among her published works are She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks; the speculative prose poem, Looking for Livingston: An Odyssey of Silence; the young adult novel, Harriet’s Daughter; the play, Coups and Calypsos; and four collections of essays including her most recent collection, BlanK.

M. NourbeSePhilip
Provided M. NourbeSePhilip

 Her book-length poem, Zong!, was named the 2021 winner of World Literature Today’s 21 Books for the 21st Century. Among her numerous awards are the Pushcart Prize; the 2020 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature; and the 2021 Canada Council for the Arts’ lifetime achievement award, the Molson Prize, for her “invaluable contributions to literature.” Her fellowships include Guggenheim, McDowell, and Rockefeller (Bellagio). She is an awardee of both the YWCA Woman of Distinction (Arts) and the Elizabeth Fry Rebels for a Cause awards.

Vietnamese American multigenre writer Bao Phi will close the series on Apr. 28 at 5:00 p.m. in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium, 132 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Bao Phi is a two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist, whose poetry is included in the 2006 Best American Poetry anthology and published widely elsewhere, including two collections published by Coffee House Press as well as other collections and magazines such as Spoken Word Revolution Redux, Poetry Magazine, Asian-American Literary Review, and many others.

His fiction and essays have appeared in Octavia's Brood: Stories from Social Justice Movements, A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota, and others. He is also known for his three children’s books: his A Different Pond received six starred reviews and multiple awards, including the Caldecott Honor, an Ezra Jack Keats Honor, the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association award for best picture book, the Minnesota Book Award for picture books, and other recognitions. Phi is a visiting critic in the Department of Literatures in English during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Bao Phi
Bao Phi Bao Phi

Worried about parking? TCAT bus Route 30 (Shops at Ithaca Mall-Cornell-Commons loop) leaves Seneca Street station every 15 minutes and stops outside Klarman/Goldwin Smith Halls where the readings will be held. TCAT bus Route 10 (Commons-Cornell shuttle) leaves Seneca Street station every 10 minutes Monday-Friday until 5:10 p.m. and will stop if requested outside Klarman/Goldwin Smith Halls. After that time, Route 10 runs every 20 minutes until about 7:00 p.m. The cash fare for a single ride is $1.50. You can track the location of TCAT buses using the myStop mobile app – for more information visit For short term parking options, visit or call Transportation Services at 607-255-4600.
For more information, visit, email or call 607-255-7847.

Read the story in the Cornell Chronicle.

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Event poster: Zalaznick Reading Series