Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is currently the Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa in Fall 2017.

Laymon is the author of the novel Long Division, a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy: An American Memoir. Heavy, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal, the LA Times Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose and Audible’s Audiobook of the Year, was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by The Undefeated, The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Library Journal, The Washington Post, Southern Living, Entertainment Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, and The New York Times Critics. Laymon is the recipient of the 2019 Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media.

Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeney’s, The New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, ESPN the Magazine, Granta, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Fader, Oxford American, Vanity Fair, The Best American Series, Ebony, Travel and Leisure, The Paris Review, Guernica, and more. Learn more at

Richard Michelson

Visiting Alumni Poet, Winter 2017

Emily Bernard

Visiting Writer, Winter 2020

Tarfia Faizullah

Visiting Poet, Summer 2016

Tere Dávila

Visiting Writer, Winter 2018

Yuri Herrera

Visiting VCFA Reads Author, Winter 2018

Ada Limón

Visiting Poet, Summer 2017