Author Chris Abani Begins Trias Series – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Author Chris Abani Begins Trias Series

The Trias Reading Series picked up once again on Thursday, Sept. 11 with a reading given by the fall 2014 Trias Writer-in-Residence, Chris Abani. The acclaimed author of “GraceLand” (2004) and “The Secret History of Las Vegas” (2014) presented works of both fiction and poetry, contributing a uniquely diverse combination of writing to the series’ fourth year. The reading took place at 7:30 p.m. in the Hirshson Ballroom.

As the Trias Writer-in-Residence fall semester of 2014, Chris Abani will lead a workshop and serve as a guide and mentor to many of the Colleges’ most dedicated and driven writers. As part of the residency, he will offer readings to HWS and the general public. This semester, Abani, a Board of Trustees Professor at Northwestern University, has also curated readings with several writers with Cuban and Caribbean influences, such as poet Adrian Castro and novelist Cristina García. Spring semester, Abani will return to his post at Northwestern but will visit campus twice to work with students and introduce the Spring Semester Trias Readers: Mathhew Shenoda and Nnedi Okorafor.

According to Trias director and Assistant Professor of English Kathryn Cowles, “Chris Abani is one of the most deeply articulate, compelling people I have ever met. He has an extraordinary capacity to change the way people think about the world after meeting him just once or after reading one of his books.”

Born in Nigeria, Abani received a B.A. in English from Imo State University in Nigeria, an M.A. in English, gender and culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Southern California. He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award.

His fiction includes “The Virgin of Flames” (2007), “Song For Night” (2007), “Becoming Abigail” (2006) and “Masters of the Board” (1985). In addition to novels, he has also compiled several volumes of poetry, most recently “Sanctificum” (2010), “There Are No Names for Red” (2010) and “Feed Me The Sun – Collected Long Poems” (2010).

In addition, there are two other Trias speakers this semester.

On Thursday, Oct. 30, the Cuban-Dominican poet, performer and interdisciplinary artist Adrian Castro will read from his work. Born in Miami, Castro has cultivated an Afro-Caribbean-American identity, exploring the clash of cultures with a rhythmic pulse. The author of three books of poetry, most recently “Handling Destiny” (2009), he is the recipient of a Cintas Fellowship, the Eric Mathieu King award from the Academy of American Poets and an NALAC Arts Fellowship, among others.

Cuban-born American novelist and journalist Cristina García will join the Trias series on Thursday, Nov. 20. García is the bestselling author of six novels, including her latest work, “King of Cuba” (2013). Her collection of poetry, “The Lesser Tragedy of Death,” was published in 2010. Her work has been nominated for a National Book Award and translated into 14 languages. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and an NEA grant, among others.

The Trias Residency for Writers is supported by The Peter Trias Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing. The fund was established through a generous bequest from Peter J. Trias ’70. Trias graduated from Hobart with a bachelor’s degree in English, and went on to earn his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1972. In 1976, he published a collection of poems, “The House in Venice.” The Trias series is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Africana Studies, Spanish and Hispanic Studies and the English Department.

For more information about The Peter Trias Residency for Writers, visit the website at or contact Kathryn Cowles, director of the Trias Residency for Writers, at