Past Speakers

Past speakers have included National Book Critics Circle Award winners Claudia Rankine and Layli Long Soldier, NYT best-selling author Ocean Vuong, and Pulitzer Prize winners Susan-Lori Parks and Jennifer Egan. The Raymo Lecture Series is named in honor of one of the College’s most celebrated faculty members, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy Chet Raymo who has written 18 books on science and nature, four novels, and a science columnist for the Boston Globe for over 20 years.

  • 2022: Eileen Myles

    Eileen Myles is a a Lambda Literary Award-winning poet, novelist, and art journalist whose mutating project of mostly first-person writing has become a touchstone for the identity-fluid internet age. Pathetic Literature, which they edited, came out in November 2022. Their newest collection of poems, a “Working Life,” is out now.

  • 2021: Ross Gay

    Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His new poem, Be Holding, was released from the University of Pittsburgh Press in September of 2020. His collection of essays, The Book of Delights, was released by Algonquin Books in 2019. 

  • 2020: Layli Long Soldier

    Layli Long Soldier’s first volume of poetry, Whereas, explores the systemic violence against and cultural erasure of native tribes in the United States through a thoughtful investigation of language. In writing these poems, Long Soldier studied similar apologies from governments across the world to indigenous peoples and considered the nature of authentic apology.

  • 2019: Fred Moten

    Fred Moten’s work explores black studies, performances studies, poetry, and critical theory. In 2014, Moten’s The Feel Trio was a poetry finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was winner of the California Book Award; and in 2016 his The Little Edges was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

  • 2018: Ocean Vuong

    Ocean Vuong is the author of the debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin, 2019). He is also the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

  • 2018: Rickey Laurentiis

    Rickey Laurentiis poetry has been supported by several foundations and fellowships, including the Whiting Foundation (2018), Lannan Literary Foundation (2017), Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy (2014), Poetry International Rotterdam (2014), the National Endowment for the Arts (2013), Cave Canem Foundation (2009-2011), and the Poetry Foundation, which awarded him a Ruth Lilly Fellowship in 2012.

  • 2017: Teju Cole

    Teju Cole is the Nigerian-American writer and photographer, Teju Cole, whose acclaimed book Blind Spot has been hailed as “an elegy for the lost arts of looking and seeing,” by The Village Voice.

  • 2016: Lynda Barry

    Lynda Barry is an American cartoonist and author. One of the most successful non-mainstream American cartoonists, Barry is perhaps best known for her weekly comic strip Ernie Pook's Comeek.

  • 2015: Claudia Rankine

    Claudia Rankine is one of America’s most powerful poetic voices, She is the author of five collections of award-winning poetry and her current book Citizen, a finalist for the National Book Award, also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category.

  • 2014: Jennifer Egan

    Jennifer Egan is an American novelist and short-story writer. Egan's novel A Visit from the Goon Squad won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

  • 2013: Marjane Satrapi

    Marjane Satrapi is an Iranian-born French artist, director and writer of children's books. Her best-known works include the comic book Persepolis and its film adaptation, the graphic novel Chicken with Plums, and the Marie Curie biopic Radioactive.

  • 2012: Daniel Mendelsohn

    Daniel Mendelsohn is an award-winning author, critic, columnist and translator. He has been a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure and a columnist for The New York Times Book Review, Harper’s, and New York magazine, where he was the weekly book critic.

  • 2011: Junot Diaz

    Junot Diaz is the author of the critically acclaimed Drown; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist.

  • 2010: Jane Hirshfield

    Jane Hirshfield is an award-winning poet and translator who wrote a collection of poetry including Ledger (2020); The Beauty (2015), longlisted for the National Book Award; Come, Thief (2011), a finalist for the PEN USA Poetry Award; and Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Award.

  • 2009: Sarah Vowell

    Sarah Vowell is an American author, journalist, essayist and actress. She has written nonfiction books on American history and culture. She was a contributing editor for the radio program This American Life on Public Radio International. She was also the voice of Violet Parr in the 2004 animated film The Incredibles and its 2018 sequel.

  • 2008: Tony Kushner

    Tony Kushner is an American playwright, author, and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for his play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes.

  • 2007: Susan-Lori Parks

    Susan-Lori Parks is an American playwright who was the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama for Topdog/Underdog in 2002. Her work is now taught at drama schools across the country.

  • 2006: Billy Collins

    Billy Collins is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Florida. The New York Times called Collins 'The most popular poet in America.'

  • 2005: Barry Lopez

    Barry Holstun Lopez was an American author, essayist, nature writer, and fiction writer. An author of nearly 20 books on natural history studies, along with essay and short story collections, Lopez received the National Book Award in 1986 for Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape.

  • 2004: Seamus Heaney

    Seamus Heaney was an Irish poet, playwright and translator. He was the author of over 20 volumes of poetry and criticism. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1995.

  • 2003: Anne Michaels

    Anne Michaels is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her books have been translated into more than forty-five languages and have won dozens of international awards, including the Orange Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Lannan Award for Fiction and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Americas.

  • 2002: Robert Pinksy

    Robert Pinsky is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. He served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress for three years.

2001: Chet Raymo

Chet Raymo is Professor Emeritus at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts. He is the author of fourteen books on science and nature. His work has been widely anthologized, including in the Norton Book of Nature Writing. He is a winner of a 1998 Lannan Literary Award for his nonfiction work, and the subject of a biographical essay in American Nature Writers. Raymo has authored several novels including The Dork of Cork, which was made into a major film (Frankie Starlight). For twenty years he was a science columnist for the Boston Globe.