Arts and Entertainment

Penn State alumni to kick off 2021-22 Mary E. Rolling Reading Series

James Charlesworth, Leah Huizar to read from their works on Sept. 9

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two Penn State alumni – novelist James Charlesworth and poet Leah Huizar – will kick off this year’s Mary E. Rolling Reading Series at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9. The reading, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium and will also be available via livestream.

Originally from Pennsylvania, James Charlesworth earned his bachelor’s degree from Penn State and his master of fine arts from Emerson College in Boston, where he currently lives. His first novel, “The Patricide of George Benjamin Hill,” was published in 2019. Writer and reviewer Laura van den Berg called it, “a vital debut novel, with thrilling plot and unforgettable characters. A brilliant send-up of American mythologies.” She further described it this way: “When estranged siblings flock to their wealthy, scandalized father, the poisonous illusion of the American dream, of capitalism and conventional masculinity and familial betrayal, is powerfully exposed.”

Charlesworth is a frequent contributor of music-related essays for, and his short fiction has appeared in “Natural Bridge” and was a finalist for “Glimmer Train’s” Short Story Award for New Writers. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Writers Association of Northern Appalachia and a recipient of a Martin Dibner Fellowship.

A writer and poet with a master of fine arts from Penn State, Leah Huizar is currently an assistant professor of English at Drake University in Iowa, where she teaches creative writing (poetry) with additional focus on Latinx poetics and literature. Originally from Southern California, Huizar’s writing draws on the cultural and historic landscapes of the West Coast and the ways in which colonization, faith, and gendered injustices have shaped it. Her work has been published in Nimrod International Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Acentos Review and elsewhere, and her debut collection of poems, “Inland Empire,” was published by Noemi Press (2019).

About the collection, Penn State Professor Julia Spicher Kasdorf wrote: “In these exquisitely crafted lyrics, [Huizar] claims a place for herself in that fleeting repository of gilded dreams, California. Guided by desire and devotion to language, her search leads to landscapes ruled by 16th century Queen Calafia, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and La Llorona; haunted by migrations of the Indios and the labor of field hands; celebrated in the Grape Day Festival and holy eucharist.”

The Mary E. Rolling Reading Series is a program offered by Penn State’s Creative Writing Program in English. The series receives support from the College of the Liberal Arts; the Department of English; the Joseph L. Grucci Poetry Endowment; the Mary E. Rolling Lectureship in Creative Writing; and University Libraries.

A full list of readings in the 2021-22 series, as well as links for livestreams and virtual readings, can be found at Registration for the livestream is required and can be accessed via Zoom.

Last Updated September 02, 2021