Kiese Laymon courtesy of UCA

Writer Kiese Laymon (“Heavy: An American Memoir,” “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America,” “Long Division”) will give a public reading via Zoom as an artist-in-residence at the University of Central Arkansas Feb. 23-24.

Laymon is currently the Hubert H. McAlexander chair of English at the University of Mississippi, where he founded the Catherine Coleman Initiative for the Arts and Social Justice — a program aimed, Laymon’s bio states, “at getting Mississippi kids and their parents, more comfortable reading, writing, revising and sharing,” his bio states. He’s a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and his work has appeared in the The New York Times, Esquire, Colorlines, The Lost Angeles Times, The Guardian, Ebony, Lit Hub and Arkansas’s own Oxford American magazine. It often blends comedy and solemnity in the same breath, and has become for many one of the most vital and unflinching sets of narratives about what it means to be Black in America right now. If you’ve yet to buy or borrow a copy of Laymon’s memoir “Heavy,” check out his 2019 essay for the OA, “Bedtime Songs,” in the interim, or Jerald Walker’s meditation for the New York Times on Laymon’s deftness at drawing readers stirringly close to his own experiences.


“I honestly don’t know if there is another writer in the U.S. who speaks as relevantly and urgently to the social, cultural and political issues of the day as Kiese Laymon,” said Tom Williams, dean of UCA’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “In his fiction and memoir, he has staked out an unmatched honesty and originality. Plus, he knows all the secrets to break your heart and leave you laughing. We’re so lucky to welcome Kiese Laymon to campus via Zoom.”

Catch the public reading, interview and Q&A session with Laymon at 7:30 p.m. Tue., Feb. 23 here, using the meeting ID number 831 0260 1516 and passcode 992840. Laymon will give a masterclass and Q&A for UCA students and faculty earlier that day, and will hosts a craft talk with UCA writing students Wed., Feb. 24.