New Leaves, George Mason University

This week, George Mason University’s English Department and Creative Writing Program host the annual New Leaves Festival and Writers’ Conference. My own work on this is behind-the-scenes rather than on stage myself, but I’m so pleased about and proud of the events ahead, so wanted to share the schedule below. Hope folks in the area will come out and join the fun!


7:30 p.m. —Visiting Writer Ed Roberson (Poetry)
Fenwick Library Reading Room (Fenwick 2001)
Ed Roberson is the author of numerous books of poetry, including To See the Earth Before the End of the World, which was a runner up for the Los Angeles Times Poetry Award; The New Wing of the Labyrinth; City Eclogue; Atmosphere Conditions, which was chosen for the National Poetry Series and was a finalist for the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Award; Just In: Word of Navigational Change: New and Selected Work; and Voices Cast Out to Talk Us In, which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. His most recent publication is the chapbook Closest Pronunciation. Roberson’s honors include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2016, the Lila Wallace Writers’ Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Award, and the 2016 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.


7:30 p.m. — Mason Professor Susan Tichy and MFA Alum J.K. Daniels
Fenwick Library Reading Room (Fenwick 2001)
On the eve of her retirement, Mason’s Creative Writing Program celebrates one of its longest-serving and most celebrated professors, Susan Tichy. Tichy’s most recent collection, The Avalanche Path in Summer, takes her “life-long experience of walking in mountains and stirs into it a mix of ideas about mountains from the European and Chinese traditions.” She is also the author of five additional collections of poetry, including A Smell of Burning Starts the Day; The Hands in Exile, which was selected for the National Poetry Series; Bone Pagoda; Gallowglass; and Trafficke. Tichy will be joined by J.K. Daniels, whose book Wedding Pulls wasselected by C.D. Wright for the New Southern Voices Poetry Prize and published by Hub City Press. A Mason MA and MFA graduate, she serves as the College Dean of Languages and the Annandale Campus Dean of Languages, Arts, & Social Sciences for Northern Virginia Community College.


7:30 p.m. — Visiting Writer Jane Brox (Nonfiction)
Fenwick Library Reading Room (Fenwick 2001)
Jane Brox’s fifth book, Silence, was published in January 2019. Her previous book, Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2010 by Time magazine. She is also the author of Clearing Land: Legacies of the American Farm; Five Thousand Days Like This One, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction; and Here and Nowhere Else, which won the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award.


1:30 p.m. — Workshop: Pitching and Querying
Fenwick Library Reading Room (Fenwick 2001)
Writing a query letter for your novel. Pitching articles to publications. Crafting a book proposal. If you want to publish your work and get paid for it, these skills are non-negotiable. Mason alum Sam Ashworth—whose fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, Catapult, Nylon Magazine, Hazlitt, the Time Literary Supplement, The Rumpus, and more—leads a crash course on all these topics, examining sample queries, discussing how to engage agents and editors, exploring how to negotiate payment, and answering frequently asked questions, like, “How do I figure out who to send my pitch to?” and “What if I don’t have a bazillion twitter followers?” Attendees should feel free to bring their own query/pitch letters—at any level of the drafting/submitting process—for possible workshop, time permitting. 

3 p.m. — Panel Discussion: Literary Journals
Fenwick Library Reading Room (Fenwick 2001)
Editors from three literary journals—Tara Campbell, fiction editor at Barrelhouse; Tara Laskowski, co-editor of SmokeLong Quarterly; and Gregory Donovan, senior editor of Blackbird—share behind-the-scenes stories about their journals, their editorial processes, and current trends in submissions, and offer tips on submitting your stories, poems, and more for publication. Moderated by Sam Ashworth.

7:30 p.m. — Film Screening: A Late Style Of Fire: Larry Levis, American Poet
Fenwick Library Reading Room (Fenwick 2001)
Filmmakers Michele Poulos and Gregory Donovan will host a screening and discussion of A Late Style of Fire, a documentary on the life and work of acclaimed poet Larry Levis, a California native who spent the last years of his life teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University. The film explores “his childhood working alongside Mexican-American field hands, three marriages, friendships with America’s greatest poets, and his own words”—drawing on poetry from collections including Wrecking CrewThe AfterlifeWinter StarsThe Widening Spell of LeavesElegySelected Levis, and The Gazer WithinCo-sponsored by Film and Media Studies and the Undergraduate English Society.


5 p.m. — Visiting Writer Jamel Brinkley (Fiction)
Fenwick Library Reading Room (Fenwick 2001)
Jamel Brinkley is the author of A Lucky Man: Stories, a finalist for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2018A Public Space, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, The Threepenny Review, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, Tin House, and other places He is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University.

7 p.m. — SmokeLong Quarterly Reading
Epicure Café, 11104 Lee Highway, Fairfax, Virginia
One of the world’s leading flash fiction journals—established in 2003 and now edited by Mason alum Tara Laskowski—hosts a reading featuring Christopher Allen, Randall Brown, Tara Campbell, and Tyrese Coleman, as well a trio of other Mason alums published by the journal: Kara Oakleaf, Michelle Orabona, and Colleen Rich.