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W&L Writer-in-Residence R.T. Smith to Give Reading

Washington and Lee University’s Writer-in-Residence R. T. Smith will give a reading from some of his own works on Wednesday, March 24, at 4:30 p.m. in Staniar Gallery, Wilson Hall.

The reading is free and open to the public. A reception will be held in the Lykes Atrium after the reading.

Against the backdrop of Staniar Gallery’s book arts exhibition, Beyond Text and Image: the Book as Art, Smith will read some of his recent poems plus a short story from his new book, “The Calaboose Epistles” (Iris Press, 2009). All of the stories in this book are locally based, set in Southwest Virginia.

“All the stories in The Calaboose Epistles are about people in jail, people just out of jail or people who certainly ought to be locked up,” Smith said.

Smith, who has been at W&L for 15 years, is the editor of Shenandoah: the Washington and Lee University Review and also teaches writing in the English department. Smith has been the writer-in-residence at since 2009. This is his first official reading as W&L’s writer-in-residence.

Before coming to W&L, Smith taught at Auburn University for 19 years, serving as Alumni Writer-in-Residence for his last 12 years there.

Smith is the author of over 12 poetry collections including “Outlaw Style,” “The Hollow Log Lounge,” and “Brightwood.” In addition to “The Calaboose Epistles,” he also has written three collections of stories including, “Faith” and “Uke Rivers Delivers.”

In addition to winning two Library of Virginia Poetry Book of the Year Awards, for Outlaw Style (2008) and Messenger (2002), Smith has received one fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, two Virginia Arts Commission fellowships, three Alabama Arts Council fellowships and the Alabama Governor’s Award for Achievement by an Artist.

Smith’s writings have won the Pushcart Prize three times, have been published five times in New Stories from the South, and have been published in Best American Short Stories, Best American Poetry, Atlantic Monthly and Southern Review, among others.

The reading is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the College.