Loyola University Maryland

Writing Department

Modern Masters Reading Series

In the most basic sense, a reading series allows us to hear the work of writers who are currently writing. It gives voice to modern texts, allows writers to provide anecdotal context and for us to enjoy hearing poetry, fiction, nonfiction in the voice of the writer who wrote it.  It is an entirely different enterprise than reading a story, poem or essay silently to one’s self. A reading series elevates the text heard to a group “experience.”

The taproot of any reading series is the fact that the origin of literature is oral. Last but not least, a reading series is a reminder to all of the value of what it means to actually listen, it is an opportunity to practice the art of listening.

2018-2019 Schedule

All readings are free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities who may require special services should contact Disability Support Services at 410.617.2062 at least 48 hours prior to the event.

Picture of Karen Fish

Karen Fish: Reading
Monday, Jan 28 at 5 p.m.
McManus Theater

Karen Fish was trained as a visual artist and then did her graduate work in the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University. She's the author of two books, The Cedar Canoe (University of Georgia) and What is Beyond Us (Harper Collins). Her work has appeared in numerous magazines over the years including The New Yorker, Yale Review, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic and Slate. During the 1990's she taught at Princeton University. Currently, she serves as the chair of the Writing department at Loyola University Maryland.

Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage: Poetry Reading
Modern Masters
Wednesday, Feb 27 at 6 p.m.
McManus Theater

Simon Armitage was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, Spring 2015. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Selected Poems (2001, Faber & Faber), Traveling Songs (2002, Faber & Faber), Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid (2006, Faber & Faber, Knopf 2008), and Seeing Stars (2010, Faber & Faber, Knopf 2011). With Robert Crawford he edited The Penguin Anthology of Poetry from Britain and Ireland Since 1945.

Armitage writes for radio, television and film, and is the author of four stage plays, including Mister Heracles, a version of the Euripides play The Madness of Heracles, and Jerusalem, commissioned by West Yorkshire Playhouse. His dramatization of The Odyssey, commissioned by the BBC, was broadcast on Radio 4 in 2004 and released on CD through BBC Worldwide. It received the Gold Award at the 2005 Spoken Word Awards. The book version, Homer’s Odyssey – A Retelling, is published by Faber and Faber (2006) in the UK and by Norton in the US. Other BBC radio plays include The Raft of the Medusa (2014) and Orpheus (2015). For over ten years he has been a regular guest of The Mark Radcliffe Show, first on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and more recently on the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC 6 Music.

Armitage has written for over a dozen television films, and with director Brian Hill pioneered the docu-musical format which lead to such cult films as Drinking for England and Song Birds. Song Birds screened at the Sun Dance Film Festival in 2006. He received an Ivor Novello Award for his song-lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings, which also won a BAFTA. In 2009 and 2010, Armitage presented films for BBC4 on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Arthurian Literature and on the Odyssey, sailing from Troy in Turkey to the Greek island of Ithaca.

Armitage’s 2012 non fiction book Walking Home, an account of his troubadour journey along the Pennine Way, was a Sunday Times best-seller for over a month and is shortlisted for the 2012 Portico Prize. The follow-up publication, Walking Away also made the Sunday Times best-seller list for non-fiction. Armitage has served as a judge for the Forward Prize, the T.S Eliot Prize, the Whitbread Prize, the Griffin Prize, and in 2006 was a judge for the Man Booker Prize.

Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro: Poetry Reading
Modern Masters
Tuesday, March 19 at 6 p.m.
McManus Theater

Alan Shapiro is the author of numerous collections of poetry. The most recent is Life Pig ;(2016); Reel to Reel (2014), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Night of the Republic (2012), a finalist for the National Book Award and the Griffin Prize; and Old War (2008), winner of the Ambassador Book Award.

Poet-critic J.D. McClatchy observed in a review of Shapiro’s Dead, Alive and Busy (2000), “Mr. Shapiro is a shrewd and sympathetic moralist. He never trivializes his subjects with high-minded flourishes or stylistic gimmicks.” Shapiro’s later collections address the loss of his two siblings to cancer, the aging of his parents, and the strains on a marriage. In describing the domestic details and loss portrayed in Shapiro’s Tantalus in Love (2005), poet Joshua Clover commented, “Such tightly framed tales of domesticity offer a sense of control parallel to Shapiro’s formal facility, reducing and clarifying the poem’s field of action in defense against an abysmal multiplicity of things.”

In his memoirs The Last Happy Occasion (1997), nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award, and Vigil (1997), Shapiro has written about the death of his sister and the role that poetry has played in his life. Shapiro is also the author of a collection of essays on poetry, In Praise of the Impure: Poetry and the Ethical Imagination: Essays, 1980–1991 (1993).

Alan Shapiro has won the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Los Angeles Book Prize, and a Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, Shapiro was invited to read his work at the White House. He read “On Men Weeping,” a poem about Michael Jordan winning one of his six NBA championships. Shapiro has taught at Stanford University, Northwestern University, and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Eliza Griswold

Eliza Griswold: Poetry Reading
Modern Masters
Tuesday, April 2 at 4 p.m.
Knott Hall B01

Eliza Griswold’s book, Wideawake Field was published in 2007 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Her poems have been published in Granta, the New Yorker and the Paris Review. She won a 2010 Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Most recently, as a Berggruen fellow at Harvard Divinity School, Griswold has been using data to map the Syrian poets, artists, filmmakers who’ve fled the country. Her translations of Afghan women’s folk poetry, I am the Beggar of the World, won the 2015 PEN/Prize in Poetry Translation.

Eliza Griswold: Tracking the World
Modern Masters
Tuesday, April 2 at 6 p.m.
McGuire West

Eliza Griswold was a fellow at the New America Foundation from 2008 to 2010 and is a former Nieman Fellow. Her journalism has been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The Nation, Slate and the New York Times Magazine.

Eliza Griswold is the author of The Tenth Parallel (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a book that explores the fraught space where Christianity and Islam meet in Africa and Asia. Griswold’s most recent book, Burden of Proof: The Blessing and Curse of Energy in Amity, Pennsylvania (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) explores water, poverty, fracking and the resource curse in America. Griswold was a 2014 Ferris Professor at Princeton University and currently teaches at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University as a Distinguished Writer in Residence.

Joe Capista

Joseph Capista: Poetry Reading
Modern Masters
Thursday, April 4 at 6 p.m.
McManus Theater

Joseph Capista graduated from Loyola University Maryland in 1999 with a major in Writing and Politics and a minor in Gender Studies. His collection Intrusive Beauty was selected by Beth Ann Fennelly for Ohio University Press’s 2018 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. Poems by Capista have appeared in Agni, The Georgia Review, The Hudson Review, and Ploughshares, and he has received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. As a Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest member, he worked in a group home and in a shelter serving adjudicated youth. Capista holds advanced degrees from Iowa State University and from Warren Wilson College. Capista is currently a lecturer in Towson University’s Department of English.


The reading series was founded in the late 1980’s by Karen Fish and is supported with a grant from the Loyola College Humanities Center. Previous readers include: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Fagles, Denise Levertov, Ralph Angel, Carolyn Chute, Thylias Moss, Robert Coles, Tobias Wolff, Louise Gluck, Russell Banks, Eavan Boland, Mark Strand, Stanley Plumly, Andrew Hudgins, Madison Smartt Bell, Elizabeth Spires, Sherod Santos, David St John, Larry Levis, James Robison, Lynn McMahon, Jorie Graham, James Fenton, Alice Fulton, Darryl Pinckney, Gretel Ehrlich, James McConkey, Brenda Hillman, Jane Shore, Howard Norman, David Wojahn, Bobbie Ann Mason, Michael Ryan, Deborah Digges, Ralph Lombreglia, Jo Ellen Kwiatek, Marvin Bell, Bin Ramke, Ellen Bryant Voight, Deborah Eisenberg, Francine Prose, James Richardson, Jayne Anne Phillips, Ann Beattie, Richard Russo, Khaled Mattawa, Tom Horton, Tatyana Tolstaya, Stephanie Vaughn, Jane Hirshfield, Jo Ann Beard, Patricia Bizzell,Laurence Joseph, Joanna Scott, James Longenbach, Susan Stewart, Simon Armitage, Czeslaw Milosz, William Gass, Lydia Davis, Lorrie Moore, Edmund White, Paul Muldoon, Denis Johnson, Susan Sontag, Adam Gopnik, Rachel Aviv, Richard Ford and on the day her Nobel Prize for Literature was announced, Nadine Gordimer.