Santa Monica College (SMC) is pleased to continue its Literary Talks & Readings series featuring a noteworthy spectrum of writers reading from and discussing their works. The ongoing series opens its fall season on Thursday, September 9.

All presentations in the series are free, and will be held online as live virtual events. A Zoom link to each talk will be available with the listing on the event date on the SMC Events calendar at To attend the events, Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer (free download available at

The fall 2021 series lineup is:
• Thursday, September 9: Mark Doty: “An Afternoon with Mark Doty” at 11:15 a.m. Renowned author of poetry and prose Mark Doty is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and also teaches in NYU’s low-residency MFA program in Paris. His work includes nine books of poetry, three memoirs, and a book about craft and criticism. He is the first American poet to have won Great Britain’s T.S. Eliot Prize, and has also received a National Book Award, a National Book Critics Circle Award, two NEA fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2011, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. His most recent book is What Is the Grass (W.W. Norton, 2020), a memoir that centers on his poetic relationship with Walt Whitman. Sponsored by the SMC Associates and SMC English Department.

• Thursday, October 7: Marsha de la O: “Of Bodies Changed to Other Forms” at 11:15 a.m. Award-winning poet Marsha de la O will read selections of her work, with a focus on fluidity of identity and consciousness. She is the author of three books of poetry. Her first, Black Hope, won the New Issues Prize. Antidote for Night received the Isabella Gardner Award. Her latest book, Every Ravening Thing, was published by Pitt Poetry Series through the University of Pittsburgh. She has also published extensively in journals and anthologies, including The New Yorker, the Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and North American Review. Sponsored by the SMC Associates and SMC English Department.

• Thursday, October 21: Michael Berry: “Translation and the Virus: COVID-19, Cyber-Politics, and Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang” at 11:15 a.m. Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang, a blog that ran for 60 days in early 2020 documenting the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, quickly became an online phenomenon attracting tens of millions of Chinese readers, and a lightning rod for fierce political debate in China. Michael Berry will talk about his work translating Wuhan Diary into English, and how the blog provided an important portal for Chinese around the world to understand the outbreak, the local response, and how the novel coronavirus was impacting everyday people. He is Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies and Director of the Center for Chinese Studies at UCLA. Sponsored by the SMC Associates, SMC English Department, and SMC Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, and Physical Sciences departments.

• Thursday, November 4: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: “Unfathomable. Astonishing. Measureless: Creating Women Characters: A Reading by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni” at 11:15 a.m. Award-winning author, poet, and activist Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has written 19 novels — many of them bestsellers nationally and internationally — on topics such as contemporary life in America and India, women’s experiences, immigration, history, and mythology. She teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the University of Houston, where she is the McDavid Professor of Creative Writing, and her work has been translated into 29 languages and published in more than 100 renowned magazines and anthologies.
Sponsored by the SMC Associates and SMC English Department.

• Tuesday, November 16: Ben H. Winters: “The Art of Genre Fiction with Ben H. Winters” at 11:15 a.m. Novelist and screenwriter Ben H. Winters will talk about writing genre fiction. His latest work is the novel The Quiet Boy (2021), and he is also the author of the novel Golden State (2019), the New York Times bestselling Underground Airlines (2016), The Last Policeman and its two sequels, the horror novel Bedbugs (2011), and several works for young readers. Winters has won the Edgar Award for mystery writing, the Philip K. Dick Award in science fiction, the Sidewise Award for alternate history, and France’s Grand Prix de L’Imaginaire. He was also a producer on the FX show “Legion.” Sponsored by the SMC Associates and SMC English Department.

Now in its 21st year, the SMC Literary Series has brought to SMC such acclaimed writers as Khaled Hosseini (author of the bestselling The Kite Runner), Steph Cha (writer of the popular ‘Juniper Song’ novels), Audrey Niffenegger (author of the bestselling Time Traveler’s Wife), Edward J. Larson (author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion), and Viet Thanh Nguyen (author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer).

Additional information is available by calling SMC’s Office of Public Programs at (310) 434-4100.

Submitted by Grace Smith