2016-17 Trias Writer-in-Residence: Jeff VanderMeer

Posted on Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Described by the New Yorker as "the weird Thoreau" who shows readers "scenes that you won't find elsewhere," best-selling author Jeff VanderMeer will join the Trias Residency for Writers for the 2016-17 academic year.

Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the Nebula Award, and three-time winner of the World Fantasy Award, VanderMeer is the author of more than 20 books, including the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy ("Annihilation," "Authority," and "Acceptance"), released in 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The trilogy explores, among other issues, environmental degradation in extremis, creating, as the New York Times puts it, "an immersive and wonderfully realized world" with language that is "precise, metaphorical but rigorous, and as fertile as good loam."

During the residency, VanderMeer will teach one class in the fall of 2016 and work with a number of select students the following spring. Additionally, he will offer a public reading and lecture, participate in a service event for the greater Geneva community and curate a reading series featuring Dexter Palmer, Ottessa Moshfegh and a third writer to-be-announced.

Beyond his work on campus, VanderMeer adds that he is looking forward to "a creative writing visit to the super max prison [in Auburn, N.Y.] and a possible partnership with the Colleges' environmental center." He has also invited artist John Jennings, a professor at University of Buffalo, to visit in the fall of 2016 "for some cross-media conversation about narrative and creativity."

VanderMeer, who also authored the "Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction," adds that he is excited to use some of the guidebook's more advanced material "as a jumping off point for discussion and creating a reading list" for the fall semester class.

With his wife -- the award-winning editor Ann VanderMeer, who will also spend the fall semester in Geneva working on her own projects -- VanderMeer is the founder of Weird Fiction Review and editor of The Weird, The New Weird and Best American Fantasy, among many other anthologies. Foreign rights to the Southern Reach trilogy have sold in 29 countries and the movie rights have been acquired by Paramount Pictures/Scott Rudin Productions; filming for "Annihilation" begins in May 2016. VanderMeer's nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post,,, and the Los Angeles Times. He recently taught at the Yale Writers' Conference and has lectured at MIT and the Library of Congress.

The Peter Trias Residency at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is designed to give distinguished poets and fiction writers time to write. Academic expectations allow for sustained interaction with our best students while providing the freedom necessary to produce new work. Residents are active, working artists whose presence contributes to intellectual environment of the Colleges and the town of Geneva.

The Residency is supported by The Peter Trias Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing. This valuable fund was established through a generous bequest from Peter J. Trias '70. Trias graduated from Hobart with a bachelor's degree in English, and went on to earn his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1972. In 1976, he published a collection of poems, The House in Venice.



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