Creative Writing Month

Sponsored by the Department of English and its Creative Writing Program

Literary events throughout the month! Meet other student writers, hear award-winning authors discuss their work, and learn more about creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

View Past Years

Roxane Gay, bestselling author of Hunger and Bad Feminist

Thursday, October 4, 7:00 Pm, Nebraska Union Centennial Room

Free and open to the public. No advance tickets/reservations required, but seating is limited. The event will be live streamed by IANR Media (available at After the reading, doors open again for book signing.

Roxane Gay is an author, cultural critic, and UNL English alumna whose writing is unmatched and widely revered. Her work garners international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism and social criticism. With a deft eye on modern culture, she brilliantly critiques its ebb and flow with both wit and ferocity.

Words like "courage," "humor," and "smart" are frequently deployed when describing Roxane. Her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, is universally considered the quintessential exploration of modern feminism. NPR named it one of the best books of the year and Salon declared the book "trailblazing." Her powerful debut novel, An Untamed State, was long listed for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. In 2017, Roxane released her highly anticipated memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, as well as a collection of short stories titled Difficult Women.

Roxane is a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, was the co-editor of PANK, and formerly was the non-fiction editor at The Rumpus. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney's, The Nation and many other publications. She recently became the first black woman to ever write for Marvel, writing a comic series in the Black Panther universe called World of Wakanda. Roxane fronts a small army of avid fans on social media and when she finds the time, she dominates the occasional Scrabble tournament.

Developing a Literary Career

Monday, October 8, 3:30 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

A conversation with Professor Jonis Agee (author of The Bones of Paradise), author and alum Jordan Farmer (The Pallbearer), and alum and literary agent Noah Ballard (Curtis Brown).

Reading by Jordan Farmer, alumnus and author of The Pallbearer

Monday, October 8, 7:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Jordan Farmer, who received his Ph.D. in English from Nebraska, will read from his new novel, The Pallbearer. The novel is an unflinching debut for fans of Frank Bill and Sarah Waters that lays bare the lives of the outsiders of society’s outskirts. Set in impoverished Lynch, West Virginia, the novel follows Jason Felts, a dwarf and aspiring social worker who lives above the town funeral home; following threats by one of the town’s corrupt leaders, Jason is coerced into criminal mischief that turns deadly.

Reading by Marianne Kunkel and Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Wednesday, October 17, 5:30 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Marianne Kunkel, assistant professor of Creative Writing and Publishing at Missouri Western State University, is the author of Hillary, Made Up and The Laughing Game. She holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. While earning her Ph.D. at Nebraska, she was the managing editor of Prairie Schooner and the African Poetry Book Fund.

Sarah Fawn Montgomery is the author of Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir and the poetry chapbooks Regenerate: Poems of Mad WomenLeaving Tracks: A Prairie Guide, and The Astronaut Checks His Watch. She holds a Ph.D. in English with a focus in creative writing and women's and gender studies from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She has worked as Prairie Schooner's Nonfiction Assistant Editor since 2011 and is an assistant professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

Publishing panel discussions with agents and editors

Tuesday, October 9, 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Join us for panel discussions with New York City literary agents and editors, and gain insights into the publishing process, seeking an agent, literary trends, professionalization, etc. (Free and open to all.)

Noah Ballard is an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. He studied creative writing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and began his career in publishing at Emma Sweeney Agency. Noah focuses on literary fiction, short story collections and narrative non-fiction, including memoir, journalism and pop culture. Noah has appeared at graduate writing programs and writers conferences across the country speaking about query letters, building non-fiction platforms and submission etiquette. A New Jersey native, Noah currently lives in Brooklyn.

Nell Pierce joined Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. in 2016 and works with Philippa Brophy. She is looking for literary fiction, narrative non-fiction, character-driven young adult novels, poignant and funny middle grade books, and books about language and linguistics. Nell lives in New York.

Zack Knoll has been an assistant editor at the flagship imprint of Simon & Schuster since 2016, where he assists the Editor-in-Chief, a senior editor, and acquires and edits his own list of fiction and nonfiction. Before joining S&S he was an editorial assistant at Abrams Books. Zack’s primary interests are literary and voice-driven fiction, interconnected short stories, memoir, humor, and pop culture, as well as photography and illustrated books. A native Chicagoan, he is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course and Oberlin College, where he studied creative writing with an almost-minor in visual arts. He lives in Brooklyn.

Margo Shickmanter is an associate editor at Doubleday, an imprint of Penguin Random House. She studied English and Creative Writing at Skidmore College, did a stint at her local bookstore, and worked in foreign/translation rights as a literary scout before coming to Doubleday. She publishes literary fiction with a focus on debut, diverse and international voices and looks for lyrical prose that doesn’t sacrifice momentum, as well as books that feature magical realism or quality world building. She is also interested in select narrative nonfiction, specifically memoir and journalism with a personal lens that offers a deep dive into an unexpected subject or explores the contemporary female experience.

UNL Slam Poetry

Thursday, October 18, 7:00 pm, Nebraska Union Crib

Come to the UNL City Campus Union in the Crib to watch or participate in the second poetry slam of the semester! The slam is open to all UNL students to compete and anyone to watch.

Mermaids & Godmothers: The Fairy Tale Revised

Tuesday, October 23, 2:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

In conversation with Carolyn Turgeon, novelist and editor of Faerie Magazine

Carolyn Turgeon will discuss fiction and mythology, fairy tale and feminism, and the role of magic in her novels and in her lifestyle magazine, Faerie (described by the New York Times as: "a mash-up of Medieval, Renaissance and Victorian influences, with hints of Celtic and classical Greco-Roman mythology and a little neo-paganism tossed in for good measure"). Turgeon is the author of the novels Rain Village, Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story, Mermaid, and The Fairest of Them All, and a YA novel, The Next Full Moon. She is also the editor of The Faerie Handbook and The Mermaid Handbook.

The Fables Project: Fiction and Art with Harvey Award-winning artist José Villarrubia

Thursday, October 25, 12:30 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Creative writing students will read their original fables, and exhibit artwork inspired by those fables, as part of The Fables Project, a collaboration between writers and artists. This is the second in a series; the first Fables Project was last spring.

Students in Professor Timothy Schaffert's fiction writing workshops collaborate every semester with students of the Maryland Institute College of Art to create original, illustrated fiction. José Villarrubia, who regularly works as a colorist for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Dark Horse Publishing, leads his art students in these projects. As an illustrator, Villarrubia is best known for his collaborations with Alan Moore: Promethea, Voice of the Fire and The Mirror of Love.

Horror & Heroism: Comics and Activism in the 21st Century

Thursday, October 25, 3:30 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

José Villarrubia will discuss recent projects, such as Infidel (Image Comics), which follows an American Muslim woman and her neighbors who move into a building haunted by entities that feed off xenophobia. The five-part comic, for which Villarrubia served as colorist/editor, has been optioned for film by TriStar. Villarrubia has worked on a number of DC and Marvel comics, contributing to Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Thor, and many other iconographic characters/series, as well as projects such as Cuba: My Revolution and America: The Life and Times of America Chavez. He has collaborated on two books with Alan Moore, including Mirror of Love, an epic poem in prose that recounts the history of same-sex love.

Reading by Ángel García and Gabriel Houck

Tuesday, October 30, 5:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

New poetry and fiction from UNL creative writing Ph.D. students: Ángel García reads from his new book of poetry, Teeth Never Sleep; Gabriel Houck reads from You or a Loved One, a collection of stories.

Ángel García, the proud son of Mexican immigrants, was born in Texas and raised in Southern California. Teeth Never Sleep is the recipient of the 2018 CantoMundo Poetry Prize and published by University of Arkansas Press. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Huizache, among others.

Originally from New Orleans, Gabriel Houck has earned M.F.A.s from the California Institute of the Arts and the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program, and a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he is currently a Lecturer in the Department of English. His first collection, You or a Loved One, won the 2017 Orison Fiction Prize, and was published by Orison Books. His short stories, “The Dot Matrix” and “When the Time Came,” were selected as distinguished stories in the 2017 and 2015 editions of The Best American Short Stories, respectively. Other stories from his collection have won Mid American Review's 2014 Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize, earned 2nd place in the Glimmer Train 2016 New Writer Awards, been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and earned finalist honors in StoryQuarterly's Fiction Prize, among others. Gabriel's fiction appears in Glimmer Train, The Sewanee Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Mid American Review, Western Humanities Review, New Delta Review, Grist, PANK, Moon City Review, Fourteen Hills, Bayou, Fiction Southeast, Psychopomp, Lunch Ticket, Sequestrum, The Cimarron Review, and The Pinch.