2019 Guest Writers

We are pleased to announce that three distinguished authors will be on campus April 4-5, 2019, for Agnes Scott College’s 48th Annual Writers’ Festival, the oldest continuous literary event in Georgia.

Writers’ Festival Guests this year are Ngugi was Thiong’o, Nikky Finney, and Agnes Scott alumna writer, novelist Gillian Lee-Fong ’00. Join us!


Ngugi wa Thiong’o, literary and social activist, is currently the Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Irvine. Born in Kenya, in 1938, he was educated at Kamandura, Manguu and Kinyogori primary schools; Alliance High School, all in Kenya; Makerere University College (then a campus of London University), Kampala, Uganda; and the University of Leeds, Britain. He lived through the Mau Mau War of Independence (1952-1962), the central historical episode in the making of modern Kenya and a major theme in his early works, and was imprisoned without charge for a year. Amnesty International named him a Prisoner of Conscience and an international campaign secured his release after a year; however, he was forced into exile in Britain and then in the United States. A prolific writer, editor, and theorist, he is the author of dozens of books across genres, including memoirs, theoretical and critical works, novels, and children’s literature. He holds honorary doctorates from a variety of institutions around the world, is an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2003), was awarded the Nonino International Prize for Literature (2001), and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014).

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Nikky Finney, inspired by the legendary Toni Cade Bambara, follow the path Bambara lived and taught: a writing life rooted in empathetic engagement and human reciprocity. Finney’s work includes the arenas of Black girl genius unrecognized, Black history misplaced and forgotten, and the stories of women who prefer to jump instead of ride the traditional tracks of polite and acceptable society. Currently, she is the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters, with appointments in both the Department of English Language and Literature and the African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Her awards include the PEN American Open Book Award (1996) and the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for the Arts in South Carolina (2016). She edited Black Poets Lean South, a Cave Canem anthology (2007), and authored On Wings Made of Gauze (1985), Rice (1995),  Heartwood (1997), The World Is Round (2003), and Head Off & Split, winner of the 2011 National Book Award (NBA) for Poetry. Her acceptance speech has become a thing of legend, described by the 2011 NBA host, John Lithgow, as “the best acceptance speech ever–for anything.”

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Gillian Lee-Fong, ASC ’00, has extensive experience in supervising, servicing, and engaging a diversity of at-risk populations, including refugee and immigrant families from all over the world. She has over ten years of experience conducting workshops and training and is certified in facilitating Healthy Family communication workshops for refugee couples and Transformation for Change community building workshops. She has taught in both secondary and higher education and is a published author of a young adult novel. Gillian is dedicated to bridging cultural and social gaps in the field of education and advocates for the human rights and empowerment of refugee and immigrant women and children. Since 2006, Gillian has been a student and practitioner of various forms of the healing arts, including Buddhism, yoga and contemplative meditation. Born in Jamaica, of African and Asian descent, she integrates all she has learned, as well as her rich life experiences into her workshops. Her passion is helping others find emotional healing, personal transformation, and deeper spirituality through artistic expression, sacred writing, and authentic soul work. One quote she aspires to live by is “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” (Anais Nin).

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