Chris Abani

As the 2014-2015 Trias Writer-in-Residence, Chris Abani led workshops and served as a guide and mentor to many of the Colleges' most dedicated and driven writers. As part of the residency, he offered readings to HWS and the general public. Abani, a Board of Trustees Professor at Northwestern University, has also curated several writers with Cuban and Caribbean influences, such as poet Adrian Castro and novelist Cristina GarcĂ­a.

Born in Nigeria, Abani received a B.A. in English from Imo State University in Nigeria, an M.A. in English, gender and culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing from the University of Southern California. He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award.

Abani is the acclaimed author of "GraceLand" (2004) and "The Secret History of Las Vegas" (2014). His fiction includes "The Virgin of Flames" (2007), "Song For Night" (2007), "Becoming Abigail" (2006) and "Masters of the Board" (1985). In addition to novels, he has also compiled several volumes of poetry, most recently "Sanctificum" (2010), "There Are No Names for Red" (2010) and "Feed Me The Sun - Collected Long Poems" (2010).


Piotr Sommer

The acclaimed poet Piotr Sommer has been selected as the third writer in residence of the Peter Trias Residency for Writers. Sommer will participate in a one-year residency on campus to work with the Colleges' best student writers. As part of the residency, he will also offer a public reading and lecture, and participate in a service event for the greater Geneva community.

Sommer is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, as well as many translations from contemporary American, English and Irish poetry. He authored "Przed snem" ("Before Sleep"), a book of poems for children, and his most recent book in English is "Continued." He also is the editor of the prestigious World Literature in Translation (Literatury na swiecie).

He has received numerous awards including the Silesius Poetry Prize 2010 and fellowships from the National Humanities Center in North Carolina 2005, DAAD in Berlin 2008, and Whitney Humanities Center at Yale 2009. He is currently working on his selected poems and a new collection of essays.

The Trias Residency Reading Series 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.


Mary Gaitskill

The acclaimed short story and novelist writer Mary Gaitskill has been selected as the second writer in residence of the Peter Trias Residency for Writers. She was chosen for her uncompromising and unflinching vision and the stringency of her craft.

Gaitskill is the author of five books fiction,most recently of "Don't Cry," a collection of stories, in 2009. Her novel 2005 "Veronica," which narrates the single day of a former fashion model as she ruminates on life, youth and a friend who recently died of AIDS, was a National Book Award Nominee. Gaitskill’s collection "Because They Wanted To," was nominated for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award in 1998.

Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, "The Best American Short Stories (1993)," and "The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998)." Her story "Secretary," from "Bad Behavior," was the basis for the 2002 film of the same name. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught as numerous institutions, most recently at The New School in New York City.



Award-winning writer Tom Piazza was selected as the first resident of the Peter Trias Residency for Writers. Piazza is the author of nine books including City of Refuge, set in post-Katrina New Orleans. A noted music writer, Piazza is the recipient of a Grammy. Bob Dylan has said, "Tom Piazza's writing pulsates with nervous electrical tension - reveals the emotions that we can't define." Piazza is currently a staff writer for the HBO series, Treme.

Piazza was chosen by the committee and the Provost because of his extraordinary fiction and non-fiction which have garnered him national attention. Additionally, his interdisciplinary interests and his commitment to writing about issues of social importance made him a particularly good match for the mission of the colleges. His work is taught in the political science department and used in faculty research in music. The committee believes, as well, that his work on a vibrant, diverse community will be of interest in Geneva.


For more information, contact:

Kathryn Cowles, Trias Director
Assistant Professor of English and Women's Studies


The Trias Residency for Writers 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.