Media contacts: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu
and Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or Christine_Gillette@uml.edu
LOWELL, Mass. – Author Steve Almond, whose insightful, often irreverent take on contemporary American life has earned him both literary praise and prizes, will teach English at UMass Lowell this semester as the Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence for 2016.
The program invites a prominent author to visit the university to teach, write and present a program for the campus and public during the academic year. The residency is offered through the Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for the Public Humanities at UMass Lowell, which was established with support from John Sampas – the executor of Jack Kerouac’s literary estate – to promote the study of American culture.
Skilled in both fiction and non-fiction genres, Almond writes short stories and essays and is the author of more than 10 books, three of them New York Times bestsellers. He will talk about his creative process, read from his work and answer questions from the audience at a free event on Tuesday, Feb. 9 that is open to the public and campus community.
The program will be held at 5 p.m. in the O’Leary Library Learning Commons, Room 222 on UMass Lowell’s South Campus at 61 Wilder St. in Lowell. Afterward, he will sign copies of his books, which will be available for purchase. Free parking is available across the street from the venue.
Almond’s most recent work, “Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto,” which tackles the thorny subject of America’s fascination with the sometimes brutal sport, has drawn acclaim from many corners, including author Andre Dubus III, an associate professor in UMass Lowell’s English Department. Dubus invited Almond to come to the university, where Almond is teaching writing for the semester.
“I’ve known Steve and his wonderful work for many years,” Dubus said. “He’s not only a prolific writer but he’s also an immensely brave and honest writer who is seemingly fearless about taking on controversial subjects. He’s an excellent teacher and public speaker with a wide following. I predict UMass Lowell students will love him.”
Along with “Against Football,” Almond’s bestsellers include “(Not That You Asked) Rants, Exploits and Obsessions” and “Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America,” which took the author on a pilgrimage across the country to explore candy factories and the industry that sugarcoated his childhood memories.
Almond’s short stories have been published in the Best American and Pushcart anthologies and his story collection, “God Bless America,” won the Paterson Prize for Fiction. Before writing his first book, “My Life in Heavy Metal,” he spent seven years as a newspaper reporter in Texas and Florida. Today, his work appears in publications including the New York Times Magazine and GQ and he can be heard on shows such as National Public Radio’s “Here and Now.” His literary heroes include author Kurt Vonnegut and Lowell native Jack Kerouac, for whom the UMass Lowell residency is named.
“It will come as no surprise, I hope, that Kerouac was an inspiration to me,” Almond said. “In fact, I received word of the UMass Lowell appointment on the same night I was teaching a workshop that included an excerpt from ‘On the Road,’ so the whole thing strikes me as splendid and fated. I’ve heard that the students at UMass Lowell are terrific and I can’t wait to meet them. I love more than anything the chance to spread the gospel of literature on a campus with such a rich tradition.”
Past honorees of the Kerouac Writer-in-Residence program include Dubus, along with fiction writer Jennifer Tseng, playwright Laura Harrington and poet Major Jackson.
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 17,500 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers. www.uml.edu