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Kiese Laymon

The University of Central Arkansas College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) will host author Kiese Laymon as an artist-in-residence Feb. 23-24.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m., Laymon will host a public reading, interview and Q&A via Zoom with meeting ID number 831 0260 1516 and passcode 992840. Attendees can access the Zoom session here. Earlier that afternoon, Laymon will instruct a masterclass with UCA Master of Fine Arts students and participate in an informal Q&A with faculty, both via Zoom.

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, Laymon will host a craft talk and Q&A with students via Zoom. 

Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi, who is known for his observant, often humorous work that delves into issues such as race and family, body and shame, poverty and place. He is the author of the award-winning “Heavy: An American Memoir,” the essay collection “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” and the novel “Long Division.”

“I honestly don’t know if there is another writer in the U.S. who speaks as relevantly and urgently to the social, cultural and political issues of the day as Kiese Laymon,” said Tom Williams, dean of CAHSS. “In his fiction and memoir, he has staked out an unmatched honesty and originality. Plus, he knows all the secrets to break your heart and leave you laughing. We’re so lucky to welcome Kiese Laymon to campus via Zoom.”

In addition to authoring several books, Laymon is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, and his work has appeared in numerous other publications, including The New York Times, Esquire, Colorlines, The Lost Angeles Times, The Guardian, Ebony, Lit Hub and The Oxford American, which is a quarterly literary magazine published by UCA.

A member of Black Artists for Freedom, he was named to the Ebony Magazine Power 100 in 2015 and selected as a member of the Root 100 in 2013 and 2014. Laymon’s bestselling memoir “Heavy: An American Memoir” won the 2019 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times.

He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Indiana University and is currently the Hubert H. McAlexander Chair of English at the University of Mississippi, where he founded the Catherine Coleman Initiative for the Arts and Social Justice.

For more information about Laymon, visit For more information about the residency, contact M Shelly Conner, assistant professor of creative writing, at (501) 420-4749‬ or

About the UCA College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS): The mission of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences is to excel in developing creativity and knowledge; in cultivating the next generation of artists, informed citizens, scholars and socially responsible leaders; and to equip students for lifelong intellectual and personal growth. The CAHSS is committed to the values of collaboration, communication, diversity and inclusion, and embracing these values, the college promotes the exploration of multiple cultures, disciplines, languages and viewpoints. CAHSS celebrates artistic, professional and scholarly achievement through exhibitions, lectures, performances, publications, recitals, screenings and service. For more information about CAHSS, visit or call (501) 450-3293.