A reading and conversation with UChicago alumni writers, Catherine Chung, Kiki Petrosino, & Elinam Agbo about how they shape writing projects from novels to short stories to poems. What role does research play in their work as poets and fiction writers, and how are moral and political questions explored in creative projects?
Elinam Agbo was born in Ghana and grew up in Kansas. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she co-founded MQR Mixtape, an online imprint of Michigan Quarterly Review. A graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, she is a winner of the 2018 PEN/Dau Short Story Prize, two Hopwood Awards, and the Les River Fellowship for Young Novelists. She was also a 2019 Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellow and received the honorable mention prize for fiction in the 2019 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in American Short Fiction, Nimrod International Journal, Waxwing, and elsewhere.
Catherine Chung is the author of The Tenth Muse and Forgotten Country, for which she won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award. She has been a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, a Granta New Voice, a Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the recipient of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize in poetry. She has a degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago, and worked at a think tank in Santa Monica before receiving her MFA from Cornell University. She has published work in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Granta.
Kiki Petrosino is the author of four books of poetry: White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia (2020), Witch Wife (2017), Hymn for the Black Terrific (2013) and Fort Red Border (2009), all from Sarabande Books. She holds graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry, The Nation, The New York Times, FENCE, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Tin House and on-line at Ploughshares. She teaches at the University of Virginia as a Professor of Poetry. Petrosino is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Al Smith Fellowship Award from the Kentucky Arts Council.