Festival of Writers to Feature Leading Literary Voices November 12–13, 2021

Decorative header

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - October 19, 2021

A Festival of Writers—featuring the award-winning Roxane Gay, Jericho Brown and Tracy K. Smith—will be presented at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13, 2021. The culmination of the Year of Creative Writers series, this festival spotlights some of the nation’s leading creative writers and authors.

All events are free and open to the public, but do require tickets. Visit the links below to learn more about each event and to reserve tickets.

BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE: Books by the featured authors are available now at the Illini Union Bookstore—look for the Festival of Writers display in store or visit their special dedicated web page!

Festival of Writers Schedule

All events will be held in the Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (500 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana).

Download the program (PDF)


Tracy K. Smith Poetry Reading and Q & A  |  4:30 p.m.

Join us for a lively poetry reading and Q & A with the 22nd United States poet laureate: celebrated writer Tracy K. Smith. View event page


Jericho Brown Poetry Reading and Q & A  | 2:00 p.m.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jericho Brown will read from a selection of his work and engage in a Q & A. View event page

Roxane Gay and Jericho Brown in Conversation  |  4:00 p.m.

Join us for an illuminating conversation with Roxane Gay and Jericho Brown, moderated by University of Illinois Art and Design Professor Stacey Robinson. View event page

Roxane Gay Reading and Q & A  | 7:30 p.m.

New York Times bestselling author, professor, editor and leading public voice Roxane Gay will present on her work followed by a Q & A. View event page

About the Year of Creative Writers Series

“A Year of Creative Writers" is a series of conversations in Urbana, Chicago and Springfield with some of the nation’s leading creative writers and authors. It launched in February 2020 with in-person events that spring, pivoting to virtual events in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Year of Creative Writers is presented by Humanities Research Institute and the Creative Writing Program in the Department of English (University of Illinois) and Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Cosponsors include the Institute for the Humanities (University of Illinois Chicago), UIC Program for Writers, UIS Creative Writing, The Champaign Public Library, The Urbana Free Library, Illinois Public Radio and the Illini Union Bookstore.

The series was supported by the Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and the Humanities.

About the Writers

Roxane Gay headshot


Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming and is also at work on television and film projects. She also has a newsletter, The Audacity.




Headshot of Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Brown’s first book, Please (2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of the collection The Tradition (2019), which was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Buzzfeed, The Nation, the New York Times, The New Yorker, The New Republic, Time, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and several volumes of The Best American Poetry anthologies. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University in Atlanta.

Headshot of Tracy K. Smith


Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith was appointed the 22nd United States Poet Laureate in 2017. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015) and four books of poetry, including her most recent Wade in the Water (Graywolf, 2018). Her collection Life on Mars won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Duende won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. In 2014 the Academy of American Poets awarded Smith with the Academy Fellowship, awarded to one poet each year to recognize distinguished poetic achievement. She is Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.