Stokes Center for Creative Writing

The Stokes Center enhances the English department’s offerings in creative writing by sponsoring readings, lectures, forums, community projects, and other events that are free and open to the public. It also supports students through its undergraduate and graduate awards in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The Stokes Center is committed to fostering a vibrant writers’ community in Southern Alabama, one that not only showcases both local and national talent, but also provides a meeting place for writers from around the world.

For more information, please contact the Director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing, Dr. Charlotte Pence, at cpence@southalabama.edu.


Next Event


Gyasi HeadshotYaa Gyasi - Thursday, November 16, 2017, 7pm

Yaa Gyasi will talk with Charlotte Pence, Director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing, about her book Homegoing (Knopf, 2016) on stage at the Student Center Ballroom. Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist who moved to Huntsville, Alabama at age ten. Her debut novel Homegoing earned the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for best first book, the PEN/Hemingway Award for a first book, and the National Book Foundation’s "5 under 35" honors for 2016 and the American Book Award.  Homegoing follows two half-sisters who are born into different villages and unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the Cape Coast Castle, the other will be captured, imprisoned in the same castle, and sold into slavery. This story follows the paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations. Yaa Gyasi's novel illuminates slavery's troubled legacy and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.   This event is co-sponsored by the USA Common Read/Common World Program, Jaguar Productions, and USA Academic Affairs.

Please note:  this event will be held in the USA Student Center Ballroom.

Readings & Events


The University of South Alabama has been host to many distinguished authors and scholars over the years, including Margaret Atwood, Charles Bernstein, Jack Gilbert, Marjorie Perloff, Marge Piercy, W. D. Snodgrass, Diane Wakoski, Edward O. Wilson, and Yevgeny Yevtushenko.  Continuing this tradition, the Stokes Center for Creative Writing brings emerging and established authors to campus for readings and craft talks throughout the year.  All events are free and open to the public.


Pence HeadshotCharlotte Pence - Thursday, September 14, 2017, 7pm

Charlotte Pence’s first book of poems, Many Small Fires (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), received an INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award from Foreword Reviews. The book explores her father’s chronic homelessness while simultaneously detailing the physiological changes that enabled humans to form cities, communities, and households. She is also the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks and the editor of The Poetics of American Song Lyrics. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have recently been published in Harvard Review, Sewanee Review, Southern Review, and Brevity. In August, she became the director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing at University of South Alabama.  A reception will follow the reading.

Please note:  this event will be held at the USA Faculty Club.

Walker HeadshotSue Brannan Walker - Wednesday, September 27, 2017, 7pm

Professor Emerita Sue Brannan Walker will celebrate the launch of her new poetry book titled Let Us Imagine Her Name (Clemson University Press, 2017). Walker is a former Poet Laureate of Alabama and is professor emerita of English at University of South Alabama where she served as department chair and director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing. She has published over ten books in her career and is also the founder of Negative Capability Press in Mobile. This event is co-sponsored by the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.  A reception will follow the reading.

Please note:  this event will be held at the USA Faculty Club.

Poole HeadshotNathan Poole - Thursday, October 19, 2017, 6:30pm

Nathan Poole is the author of two books of fiction, Father Brother Keeper (Sarabande, 2015), a collection of stories selected by Edith Pearlman for the 2013 Mary McCarthy Prize and long-listed for the international Frank O’Connor Award, and Pathkiller as the Holy Ghost, a novella selected by Benjamin Percy as the winner of the 2014 Quarterly West Novella Contest. His stories have appeared in various national journals, including EcotoneThe Kenyon ReviewNarrative MagazineImageThe Chattahoochee Review, and The Saturday Evening Post. He has been awarded the Narrative Prize, a Milton Fellowship Seattle Pacific University, a Joan Beebe Teaching Fellowship at Warren Wilson College, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship at the Sewanee Writers Conference. He holds degrees from the Warren Wilson MFA program for Writers and the University of South Carolina.  A reception will follow the reading.

Please note:  this event will be held at the USA Faculty Club.

Prince HeadshotAdam Prince - Monday, October 30, 2017, 4pm

Born and raised in Southern California, Adam Prince earned his B.A. from Vassar College, his M.F.A. from the University of Arkansas, and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. His award-winning fiction has appeared in The Missouri ReviewThe Southern Review, and Narrative Magazine, that last of which named him as one of the best twenty new writers. He has served as a Tickner Fellow at the Gilman School and is currently a Stokes Visiting Writer at the University of South Alabama. He is married to the poet Charlotte Pence and is at work on a novel and several screenplays. His first book, a short story collection called The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men, is now available from Black Lawrence Press.

Please note:  this event will be held in the Terrace Room in the USA Student Center.

Gyasi HeadshotYaa Gyasi - Thursday, November 16, 2017, 7pm

Yaa Gyasi will talk with Charlotte Pence, Director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing, about her book Homegoing (Knopf, 2016) on stage at the Student Center Ballroom. Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist who moved to Huntsville, Alabama at age ten. Her debut novel Homegoing earned the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Award for best first book, the PEN/Hemingway Award for a first book, and the National Book Foundation’s "5 under 35" honors for 2016 and the American Book Award.  Homegoing follows two half-sisters who are born into different villages and unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the Cape Coast Castle, the other will be captured, imprisoned in the same castle, and sold into slavery. This story follows the paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations. Yaa Gyasi's novel illuminates slavery's troubled legacy and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.   This event is co-sponsored by the USA Common Read/Common World Program, Jaguar Productions, and USA Academic Affairs.

Please note:  this event will be held in the USA Student Center Ballroom.

Catharsis HeadshotCatharsis with Dr. Pence's Poetry Class - Thursday, November 30, 2017, 11am

Dr. Charlotte Pence’s fall poetry class will be reading with Catharsis to celebrate the end of the semester. Catharsis has been performing spoken word since 2005 when she was first introduced to open mic events. She released her debut CD, My Thoughts, My Stage My Mic in May of 2012, which sold copies throughout Florida, Alabama, and even gained air play in New York. She competed in the 21st annual regional poetry slam, Southern Fried, in 2013 with Mobile Alabama’s first ever slam team. In 2014, she received the Mousai Award for Best Spoken Word Collaboration (alongside spoken word artist KMarie). She has featured in several poetry shows and venues in Mobile, Alabama. She is also the founder of the poetry troupe, the Powerlines Poets, a poetry troupe that is recognized throughout this region. They have successfully completed three poetry tours (to include Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Palm Bay, and Fort Walton Beach, Florida) since 2012 and recently completed tracks for their debut CD, Shock Treatment V.1.

Please note:  this event will be held in Room 205 in the Student Center.

Knight HeadshotMichael Knight - Thursday, February 8, 2018, 5pm

Raised in Mobile, Michael Knight’s latest collection, Eveningland, is set amid the streets of Mobile and its surrounding waters. Eveningland has been selected as a New York Times Editor’s Choice and as one of Southern Living’s Southern Books of the Year. Throughout his career, Michael Knight has authored two novels (Divining Rod and The Typist), three collections of short stories (Dogfight and Other StoriesGoodnight, Nobody and Eveningland) and a book of novellas (The Holiday Season). His most recent novel, The Typist, was listed as a Best Book of the Year by Huffington Post and The Kansas City Star and appeared on Oprah’s Summer Reading List. His fiction has appeared in places like The New YorkerOxford AmericanPloughshares, Saturday Evening Post and The Southern Review. He lives Knoxville with his wife and two daughters and teaches creative writing at the University of Tennessee. During his time at U.S.A., Knight will work closely with graduate students currently enrolled in fiction at the University of South Alabama and give a public reading.

Please note:  this event will be held in the Terrace Room in the Student Center.

Darnielle HeadshotJohn Darnielle of the Mountain Goats - Monday, February 26, 2018, 7:30pm

The Stokes Center for Creative Writing and the Independent Music Collective are teaming up for a very special event on Monday, February 26, 2018 at the University of South Alabama. John Darnielle will be the inaugural performer in an exciting new series exploring the intersection of music and literature.  Not only is Darnielle the central figure behind the indie-folk juggernaut the Mountain Goats, but he's also the author of two critically-acclaimed novels: Wolf in White Van, which was longlisted for the National Book Award in 2014, and Universal Harvester, which Kazuo Ishiguro calls "a moving, beautifully etched picture of America’s lost and profoundly lonely."  The event, which will be held in the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center, will feature both a musical performance and a reading.  More details coming soon!

Please note:  this event will be held in the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center, Dramatic Arts Mainstage Theatre.

May HeadshotJamaal May - Thursday, March 22, 2018, TBD

Jamaal May’s book Hum won the Beatrice Hawley Award, the ALA Notable Book Award, and was a finalist for the NAACP Image award. His second collection is The Big Book of Exit Strategies, and he has also published two chapbooks, The God Engine and The Whetting of Teeth. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, The Believer, Ploughshares, New England Review and The Kenyon Review. He has also been a recipient of the Kenyon Review Fellowship at Kenyon College, Bread Loaf, Callaloo and the Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. He is the series editor, graphic designer and filmmaker for the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series. May will meet with advanced poetry students currently enrolled in creative writing at the University of South Alabama and critique their work. He will also give a reading at a local high school on the 22nd.

Please note:  time and location to be determined.

Kolbert HeadshotElizabeth Kolbert - Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 7pm

Elizabeth Kolbert’s most recent book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, won the 2015 nonfiction Pulitzer and is first on the Guardian’s list of the 100 best nonfiction books ever. Her book weaves natural history with reporting in the field about mass extinctions and climate change. While at U.S.A., Kolbert will conduct a one-hour master’s class for current science majors interested in writing on environmentalism and activism for the general public.  At the evening lecture, Kolbert will focus on her book regarding climate change and extinctions by explaining the science, unpacking the politics, and presenting personal tales of those who are being affected most.

Please note: this event will be held in the USA Student Center Ballroom.

Our Creative Writing Faculty 


Gaillard Headshot

Frye Gaillard | USA Writer in Residence

Specializes in Southern culture and history.

CB 128  |  460-7559 fgaillard@southalabama.edu


Parker Headshot

Linda Busby Parker | Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing

Specializes in creative writing and the processes of contemporary publishing.

HUMB 253  |  460-6146  |  lbparker@southalabama.edu


Charlotte Pence Headshot

Charlotte Pence | Assistant Professor of Creative Writing

Director of Creative Writing and Director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing.  Specializes in poetry and creative nonfiction.

HUMB 277  |  460-6149  |  cpence@southalabama.edu


Nathan Poole Headshot

Nathan Poole | Assistant Professor of Creative Writing

Specializes in fiction.

HUMB 256  |  460-7417  |  njpoole@southalabama.edu


Adam Prince Headshot

Adam Prince | Stokes Visiting Writer

Specializes in fiction and screenwriting.

HUMB 277  |  460-6149  aprince@southalabama.edu