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New Vintages and Cellar Favorites: Rising Talents and Seasoned Authors featured in Reading and Lecture Series


Napa Valley Writers' Conference to Host Readings at Silverado, Beringer and Napa Valley College

Debut novelists and up-and-coming poets will be featured alongside seasoned authors in a series of public evening readings July 27-31 during the 34th Napa Valley Writers' Conference, a project of Napa Valley College.

The readings will take place at Silverado Vineyards in Napa, Beringer Vineyards in St. Helena, and both the main campus and Upper Valley Campus of Napa Valley College. Wine receptions will precede the poetry and fiction presentations. Admission costs $10, and is free for students with a valid ID.

The writers, who serve as the conference's faculty, share in common wide acclaim for their work. Long-beloved faculty member Brenda Hillman has published nine volumes of poetry, the most recent of which, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, won the International Griffin Poetry Prize and was a long-list finalist for the National Book Award. Debut author Ayana Mathis' novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2013 and featured as a selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. Mathis, who attended the Napa Valley Writers' Conference in 2011 as a student, returns this year as a faculty member.

The full schedule of readings is as follows:

On Sunday, July 27, at 7:30 p.m. Brian Teare and Justin Torres will read from their work at the Upper Valley Campus, 1088 College Ave., St. Helena. Teare has written seven chapbooks and four full-length collections, including Companion Grasses and the Lambda-Award-winning Pleasure. Torres is the author of the critically acclaimed novel We the Animals, and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train.

On Monday, July 28, at 7 p.m., Camille Dungy and Lan Samantha Chang will read from their work at Silverado Vineyards, 6121 Silverado Trail, Napa. Dungy is the author of the poetry collections Smith Blue, Suck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. Chang, director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is author of Hunger, Inheritance and All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost.

On Tuesday, July 29, at 7 p.m., Hillman and Michael Byers will read at Beringer, 2000 Main St., St. Helena. In addition to Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, Hillman's collections include Pieces of Air in the Epic, Cascadia and Loose Sugar. Byers is author of the novels Percival’s Planet and Long for This World and director of the Helen Zell Creative Writing Program at the University of Michigan. 

On Wednesday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m., Kazim Ali and Mathis will read at the Educational Center for the Performing Arts at Napa Valley College, 2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway (Highway 221), Napa. Ali is a poet, fiction writer, essayist and translator whose four volumes of poetry include the mixed-genre Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities. Mathis is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship, and serves on the MFA faculty at the Writer's Foundry.

The authors will also present morning and afternoon lectures on the art and craft of writing at the Napa Valley College Upper Valley Campus. Members of the public may attend the lectures for $25 apiece, $90 for the four-lecture series in either poetry or fiction, or $175 for all eight lectures. Students with valid ID are admitted free to evening readings and for $15 to lectures. The schedule of lectures is as follows:

Monday, July 28
• 9 a.m.: Brenda Hillman: “Writing Courage”
• 1:30 p.m.: Michael Byers: “Uncertainty, Point of  View, and the Case of the Bad Bully”

Tuesday, July 29
• 9 a.m.: Kazim Ali: “Ecstatic Ardor in the Collaboral Arbor"
• 1:30 p.m.: Fiction lecture by Ayana Mathis TBA

Wednesday, July 30
• 9 a.m.:  Brian Teare: “This Condensery: The Craft of the Short Poem”
• 1:30 p.m.: Lan Samantha Chang: “A Glimpse of Someone We Once Knew”

Thursday, July 31
• 9 a.m.: Camille Dungy: “The Words that Build the Poem Build the Walls”
• 1:30 p.m.: Justin Torres: “Close to the Bone: Creating Fiction from Personal Experience”
• 2:45 p.m.: Participant reading - free and open to the public

For more information about the conference and the reading and lecture series, visit or connect via social media at or

*About the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference*
For 34 years, the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference has given emerging and established writers the opportunity to convene for fellowship and serious work with a focus on craft. Faculty members have included Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners, U.S. Poets Laureate and a winner of the Nobel Prize for Poetry. The conference is sponsored and hosted by Napa Valley College. For more information, visit and join the community via social media at and