Pulitzer Prize Winners Tracy K. Smith and Ayad Akhtar to Headline MFA Winter Residency

Pulitzer Prize Winners Tracy K. Smith and Ayad Akhtar to Headline MFA Winter Residency

Headshots of Playwright and Novelist Ayad Akhtar and Poet Tracy K. Smith.

(l-r): Playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar (photo credit, Vincent Tullo) and poet Tracy K. Smith (photo credit, Rachel Eliza Griffiths).

Poet Tracy K. Smith and playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar will be guest writers and speakers during the MFA in Creative Writing program’s virtual Winter Residency.

Fairfield University’s low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program will welcome two Pulitzer Prize-winning writers to speak to students and faculty at this winter’s virtual residency: poet Tracy K. Smith (Wade in the Water; Life on Mars; Such Color: New and Selected Poems), and playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced; The War Within). Each will each engage with student writers on topics surrounding their selected works. The intensive residency will take place on Zoom from Dec. 21 through Jan. 4, 2022.

“We are excited to host such distinguished writers at our residency,” said Carol Ann Davis, professor of English and director of the MFA program. “In addition to each’s singular accomplishments — two Pulitzer Prizes among them — both of these writers bring the valuable lesson of writing in more than one genre to our students. A poet who is an essayist, and a playwright/novelist: these writers model the capaciousness and curiosity so crucial to the enterprise of writing. What could be more important for our students than that lesson?”

Celebrated poet Tracy K. Smith’s third book of poems Life on Mars (Graywolf Press, 2011) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2012, and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, as well as a New Yorker, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. Her most recent and fifth collection is Such Color: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2021). She is also the author of Duende (Graywolf Press, 2007), winner of the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, as well as Wade in the Water (Graywolf Press, 2018), winner of the 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry. Smith also served as the U.S. Poet Laureate (2017 – 2019).

Renowned novelist and playwright Ayad Akhtar’s play Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013, showcasing at the Claire Tow Theater at Lincoln Center Theater. He co-wrote and starred in The War Within (Magnolia Pictures), which was released internationally and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay. Akhtar’s other works for the stage include Written Junk (Lincoln Center, Broadway; Kennedy Prize for American Drama, Tony nomination), The Who & The What, and The Invisible Hand (NYTW; Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, Olivier, and Evening Standard nominations). He is also the author of the novel Homeland Elegies (Little, Brown & Co.), which The Washington Post called “a tour de force.”

Fairfield University’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program is a two-year program that brings together students, faculty, guest writers, editors, and agents in collaboration for the improvement of their craft. Students get the chance to develop their own literary voice, as well as establish important connections, which will lead to future publication. This is done through a series of workshops, seminars, and lectures, where students gain hands-on experience and work with an award-winning staff. Students gather for ten-day, intensive residencies.

For more information or to apply to the program visit fairfield.edu/mfa.

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