Virginia Quarterly Review will host a reading to celebrate Sweet Briar’s creative writing program and faculty at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at the University of Virginia’s Colonnade Club in Charlottesville.
The event will feature original works read by nonfiction writer Nell Boeschenstein, novelist John Gregory Brown and poet John Casteen.
“This reading will see off the tradition of the [creative writing] program, whose excellence long predates our arrival,” Casteen said, adding he was grateful for the opportunity offered by the journal.
“It’s also very gratifying to be able to read with John, who hired me and has directed the program for many years, and Nell, who is a great friend and a brilliant writer whose work I admire very deeply.”
The impending closure of Sweet Briar, Casteen said, had “brought some strange and sad times.
“I’m looking forward to this occasion to wrap up our work there with a public — and positive — farewell.”
Boeschenstein received her M.F.A. from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in the Morning News, the Rumpus, the Believer, Newsweek, the Guardian and elsewhere. Prior to Sweet Briar, she worked as a producer at NPR’s Fresh Air, taught English as a second language in Slovakia, and worked as an assistant for Pete Seeger.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Brown is the author of the novels “Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery” (1994), “The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur” (1996) and “Audubon’s Watch” (2001). His fourth novel, “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere,” will be published by in 2016. Brown’s honors include a Lyndhurst Prize, the Lillian Smith Award, the John Steinbeck Award and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year Award. He is the Julia Jackson Nichols Professor of English at Sweet Briar College, where he lives. He and his wife, the novelist Carrie Brown, have three children.
John Casteen is the author of “Free Union” (2009) and “For the Mountain Laurel” (2011) from the VQR Poetry Series, published by the University of Georgia Press. Recent or forthcoming poems appear in Fence, The Southern Review, the Paris Review, From the Fishouse, Ploughshares, Shenandoah and other magazines, and in Best American Poetry and The Rumpus Poetry Anthology. He has contributed personal and topical nonfiction to Offline, The Morning News, Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other magazines and newspapers. He lives in Earlysville and teaches poetry at Sweet Briar College, where he founded and directs the Sweet Briar Undergraduate Creative Writing Conference.