University of Pittsburgh
August 17, 2011

Pitt Alumnus Terrance Hayes, 2010 National Book Award Winner, to Open Pitt’s Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series 2011-12 Season Sept. 19

Hayes, who won the award for the book of poems Lighthead, is this year’s William Block Sr. Writer
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh Writing Program’s Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series will open its 2011-12 season with a reading by 2010 National Book Award Winner for Poetry Terrance Hayes, this year’s William Block Sr. Writer, at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland.

A professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University and a Pitt alumnus (MFA ’97), Hayes won the National Book Award for his fourth collection of poetry, Lighthead (Penguin, 2010). Hayes earned his BA degree from Coker College in Hartsville, S.C.

Hayes’ other books of poetry are Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006), which was named one of the best 100 books of 2006 by Publishers WeeklyHip Logic (Penguin, 2002), winner of the 2001 National Poetry Series Open Competition and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and Muscular Music (Tia Chucha, 1999), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

While at Pitt, Hayes served as Pitt Professor of English Toi Derricotte’s graduate assistant and the first staff person for Cave Canem, a nationwide fellowship founded in 1996 by Derricotte and poet Cornelius Eady that cultivates the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. 

Among Hayes’ many honors are the Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writers Award, three Best American Poetry selections, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His work has appeared in American Poetry ReviewPoetry, and The New Yorker and has been featured on the PBS NewsHour.

At Carnegie Mellon, Hayes developed Out Poetry, a readings-in-poetry course that explores the intersections of poetry and the public sphere. He has conducted workshops in prisons, high schools, and at colleges and universities throughout the country.

The complete schedule for the 2011-12 Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series follows.

Sept. 19

2011-12 William Block Senior Writer

8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

Terrance Hayes, 2010 National Book Award for Poetry recipient.

Sept. 27

John D’Agata

 8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

 D’Agata is author of Halls of Fame (Graywolf Press, 2001), a collection of lyric essays,                      and About a Mountain (W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), a creative nonfiction work,                      and is editor of two essay collections.

Oct. 20 

 Toi Derricotte and Dawn Lundy Martin

 8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

 Derricotte is the author of several collections of poetry, including Tender (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997), Captivity (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989), Natural Birth (Crossing Press, 1983), and The Empress of the Death House (Lotus Press, 1978).  Martin’s books of poetry include A Gathering of Matter/A Matter of Gathering (University of Georgia Press, 2007) and Discipline (Nightboat Books, 2011).

Nov. 3

 Fred R. Brown Literary Award Reading

8:30 p.m., G-24 Cathedra of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland Wells Tower, 2011 Fred R. Brown Literary Award winner and short story and nonfiction author, will give a reading of his work.

Jan. 26

Wayne Koestenbaum and Myung Mi Kim

8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

Koestenbaum is author of several collections of poetry, including Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems (Persea, 1990), Best Selling Jewish Porn Films (Turtle Point, 2006), and Model Homes (BOA Editions, 2004). Kim’s books of poetry include The Bounty (Chax Press, 1996) and Under Flag (Kelsey St. Press, 1991).

Mar. 22

Eula Biss

8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

Biss is artist in residence at Northwestern University and founding editor of Essay Press, which is dedicated to innovative nonfiction.

Apr. 5

Ron Carlson

8:30 p.m., Frick Fine Arts Auditorium

Among Carlson’s books are A Kind of Flying (W.W. Norton, 2003), The Speed of Light (HarperCollins, 2003), and At The Jim Bridger (Picador Paperback, 2003).

The 2011-12 Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series season is cosponsored by Pitt’s Writing Program and The Book Center.

All events in the Writers Series are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Sten Carlson at or visit