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Experience a Dynamic Literary Community.

The Contemporary Writers Series at Mills College features monthly readings and talks by renowned and emerging writers. Graduate students produce and promote the series, which brings the Mills community and San Francisco Bay Area audiences together to enjoy an intimate evening followed by a reception. All events are free, open to the public, and held in the Mills Hall Living Room, unless otherwise indicated.

Spring 2020 Literary Series

Brenda Shaughnessy
Brenda Shaughnessy
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room
  • Brenda Shaughnessy was born in Okinawa and raised in Southern California. She is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Octopus Museum. She’s the recipient of a 2018 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a 2013 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She is currently writing an opera libretto for the composer Paola Prestini, commissioned by The Atlanta Opera. Shaughnessy is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Rutgers University-Newark.
Aria Aber
Aria Aber
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room
  • Aria Aber was raised in Germany, where she was born to Afghan refugees. Her debut book, Hard Damage, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was published in 2019. Aber’s poems are forthcoming or have appeared in the New Yorker, New Republic, Kenyon Review, Yale Review, Poem-A-Day, Narrative, Muzzle Magazine, Wasafiri, and others. She holds awards and fellowships from Kundiman and Dickinson House and was the 2018–19 Ron Wallace Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. Aber is the spring 2020 Li Shen Visiting Writer at Mills College.
Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room
  • Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her first novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, was a silver medal winner in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, a New York Times editor's choice, and was long listed for the International Dublin Literary Prize. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Paris Review, Buzzfeed, Nylon, Guernica, and elsewhere. She is working on a family memoir about her grandfather, a curandero from Colombia who it was said had the power to move clouds.

MFA Alumni Reading Featuring mai c. doan & Aiden Thomas

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room
Reception at 5:15 pm for newly admitted Mills graduate students, followed by readings.

mai c. doan
mai c. doan 
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room 
  • mai c. doan is poet and writer from Southern California. Her first full-length collection, water/tongue, was published by Omnidawn in 2019. She has published and performed her work though the National Queer Arts Festival, RADAR Productions, Entropy Magazine, Mixed Up!: A Zine about Mixed Race Queer and Feminist Experience, and more. She holds an MFA from Mills College, where she attended as a Community Engagement Fellow.
Aiden Thomas
Aiden Thomas
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room  
  • Aiden Thomas is a YA author with an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. As a queer, trans Latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden's debut novel, Cemetery Boys, is a Dia de Muertos paranormal romance about Yadriel (a gay, trans brujo) who accidentally summons the wrong ghost. Cemetery Boys is forthcoming from Macmillan in July 2020.

Fall 2019 Literary Series

Carmen Gimenez Smith
Carmen Giménez Smith

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room

  • Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of a memoir and six poetry collections, including Milk and Filth, a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award. Her newest collection is Be Recorder, published by Graywolf Press. She was awarded an American Book Award for Bring Down the Little Birds and the Juniper Prize for Poetry for her collection Goodbye, Flicker. She is the publisher of Noemi Press, co-director for Canto Mundo, and co-edited Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing. Giménez Smith is a Professor of English at Virginia Tech and with Steph Burt, poetry editor of The Nation.
Wendy Ortiz
Wendy C. Ortiz
Tuesday, September 24, 2019 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room
  • Wendy C. Ortiz is the author of Excavation: A Memoir, Hollywood Notebook, and the dreamoir Bruja. In 2016 Bustle named her one of "9 Women Writers Who Are Breaking New Nonfiction Territory.” Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the National Book Critics Circle Small Press Spotlight blog. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Joyland, and Fence, among other places. Wendy is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles.
Patricia Smith; photo by Beowulf Sheehan
Patricia Smith in conversation with Ajuan Mance
Friday, October 4, 2019 | 7:30 pm | Lisser Hall
  • Please join us for this special event, presented by We Are the Voices, made possible by the generous support of the Andrew W Mellon Foundation. Poet Patricia Smith will give a reading followed by a conversation with Mills faculty, scholar, and visual artist Ajuan Mance.

    A master of poetic forms, Patricia Smith's poetry fearlessly engages with America’s continuous war on black bodies. She is the award-winning author of eight critically acclaimed books of poetry, most recently Incendiary Art, winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, NAACP Image Award, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a finalist for the Pulitzer. Smith is a Guggenheim fellow and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. She is a professor at the College of Staten Island and teaches widely, including at the VONA summer workshop.

Laleh Khadivi, photo by Ed Ntiri
Laleh Khadivi
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 | 5:30 pm | Mills Hall Living Room
  • Laleh Khadivi was born in Esfahan, Iran. She is the author of three novels that form an interconnected trilogy about nationalism, belonging, and migration. Khadivi is the recipient of the Whiting Award for Fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Pushcart Prize. Her debut documentary film 900 WOMEN aired on A&E and premiered at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Sun, and other publications. She is an alumni of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Mills College and a professor at the University of San Francisco.