Hickory – The Lenoir-Rhyne University Visiting Writers Series continues its 31st season with North Carolina native Abigail DeWitt, Thursday, Jan. 23, at 7 p.m. in Belk Centrum. In addition, DeWitt joins the LR Hickory campus for her second time as a visiting writer-in-residence. For the spring semester, she will teach a creative writing workshop in fiction.

The author of three novels, including “The Boston Globe” bestseller “Dogs,” Dewitt’s work is described as engrossing and ambitious by “The New York Times.” Her most recent novel, “News of Our Loved Ones,” was named an Editor’s Choice by both BookBrowse and the Historical Novel Society. Often compared to Irène Némerovsky’s “Suite Française,” the novel is based on DeWitt’s family’s experiences during World War II and received rave reviews from several publications.

DeWitt’s short fiction, which has been cited in “Best American Short Stories” and nominated for a Pushcart, has appeared in such journals as “Narrative,” “Five Points,” “The Alaska Quarterly Review,” and “Witness.”

The recipient of grants and fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the McColl Center for the Arts, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, and the Michener Society, DeWitt has taught creative writing at Harvard University Summer School, University North Carolina of Asheville, and Appalachian State University. She is on the permanent faculty of the Table Rock Writers Workshop, formerly the Duke University Writers Workshop, and has taught in writing workshops throughout the east coast and in France.

She received her bachelor’s degree in English and American literature from Harvard University, and her master’s degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop, where she studied with James Alan McPherson. To learn more about the author, visit abigaildewitt.com.

Joining DeWitt during her presentation is Susan Southard and D.M. Spratley. Southard’s book, “Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War” received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in Nonfiction and the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, sponsored by the Columbia School of Journalism and Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism. It was also named a best book of the year by “The Washington Post” and the American Library Association. Published in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, and China, excerpts of the book have appeared in journals around the world. Southard has a master’s degree in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and was a nonfiction fellow at the Norman Mailer Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. To learn more about the author, visit susansouthard.com.

Another North Carolina native, Spratley’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in “POETRY,” “32 Poems,” and the Lambda Literary Poetry Spotlight, among other journals. She has received fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council and Wildacres Leadership Institute. Spratley earned her master’s degree from Hollins University and her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, where she completed a creative thesis under the guidance of Tracy K. Smith. She is currently at work on a chapbook manuscript, a full-length poetry manuscript, and a fiction project. Visit dmspratley.com to learn more about the author.

LR’s VWS is 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. The VWS is also supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and the Unifour Foundation, a component fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation.

Sponsors of the 2019-20 VWS include: Cafe Rule, Corning Foundation, Crowne Plaza Hickory, Footcandle Film Society of Catawba County, The Hickory “Hop,” Hickory Public Library, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, and United Arts Council of Catawba County.

For more information, visit lr.edu/VWS or call the LR Box Office, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 828.328.7206.

Established in fall 1998, the Visiting Writers Series at Lenoir-Rhyne University invites authors to tell the stories behind their own works in a relaxed environment before an audience filled with campus and community members. The Writers Series’ mission is to build a community of readers, because it believes a community that reads is a more creative, open, and tolerant community. The VWS believes the beauty and power of words help people make sense of the world. Children’s writers, mystery writers, essayists, poets, and novelists all participate in this celebration of the written and spoken word.
Abigail DeWitt