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John Irving is first John Gardner Reader


Best-selling author John Irving will give a reading this month on campus, highlighting a stellar season of literary events sponsored by the Binghamton Center for Writers.

Irving, author of 11 novels — including The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules — will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the Anderson Center Concert Hall. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a question-and-answer session as well as a reception.

Irving is the inaugural John Garner Reader, which is to be an annual honor given in memory of the late novelist John Gardner. The two were friends, fellow writers and colleagues at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont.

Gardner, who died in 1982, taught in the creative writing program at Binghamton. He was the author of the novels The Sunlight Dialogues, Grendel and October Light as well as volumes of poems, short stories and criticism. There is also an annual book award in his name at Binghamton.

Associate Professor Bob Micklus, undergraduate director in the English Department, is teaching a course on John Irving and John Gardner this semester. He and Professor Liz Rosenberg, who was married to Gardner, worked together to invite Irving to Binghamton as a way to mark the 25th anniversary of Gardner’s death.

“There’s not an author alive whose works are filled with a greater sense of compassion, life and humanity than John Irving,” Micklus said. “His fiction deals with the hopes and fears, the deepest anxieties that make us human, in a way that is life-affirming.”

Micklus said it’s inspiring for young writers to meet an author of Irving’s stature. It’s also a good reminder, he said, not to lose sight of authors as “real people” while studying critical theories about their work.

Beyond Irving’s reading, the Binghamton Center for Writers’ schedule includes:

• An appearance by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.D. Snodgrass, who will speak as the Milt Kessler Distinguished Poetry Reader at 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, in S1-149. The author of more than 30 books and translations, Snodgrass won the Pulitzer for his first collection of poetry, Heart’s Needle.

• The 10th annual Writing by Degrees Graduate Creative Writing Conference, Sept. 27-29 in the Bundy Museum, Main Street, Binghamton. The conference features panels, readings and workshops, most of which are open to the public for free. Featured readers this year are Jo Ann Beard in creative nonfiction, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in fiction and Vijay Seshadri in poetry. Visit for more details.

• Susan Campbell Bartoletti reads from her work at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in S1-149. Bartoletti, a Binghamton graduate, is an award-winning writer of children’s literature, including the Newbury Honor book Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow and the Sibert Gold Medal-winning Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850.

• A Writing Life: Conversations with Writer/Editors Event with Tom Popp, editor of F Magazine, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, in the Reinhardt Room.  

• A Writing Life: Conversations with Writer/Editors Event with Tim Green, editor of Rattle, from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, in UUW-324.

• A reading in celebration of the publication of new collections of short stories by two current graduate students will take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, in S1-149. Katherine Arnoldi’s first collection of short stories, All Things Are Labor, has just been published as the winner of the Juniper Prize from the University of Massachusetts Press. Jennifer Pashley’s collection, States, has just been published by Lewis Clark Press.

• Binghamton Professor Maria Mazziotti Gillan will read from her newest collection of poetry, All That Lies Between Us, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in S1-149.

• A Writing Life: Conversations with Writer/Editors Event with James Reese, editor of Paddlefish, will run from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, in the Reinhardt Room.
All events are free and open to the public. For more details, visit

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Last Updated: 10/14/08