English professor Laymon converses with rapt crowd at reading, welcome reception

Kiese Laymon, author and Rice University English professor

Kiese Laymon, the renowned Black Southern writer and the Libbie Shearn Moody Professor of Creative Writing and English in the School of Humanities, introduced himself to the Rice community at large during a lively reading and welcome reception Sept. 8.

Laymon joined Rice’s Department of English in early 2022, teaching classes remotely during the spring before relocating to Houston ahead of the fall semester. Prior to his arrival at Rice, Laymon’s “Heavy: An American Memoir” won numerous awards and is currently being adapted for film. He also received acclaim for his novel “Long Division” and the essay collection “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.”

A contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Oxford American who’s taught writing for over two decades, Laymon recently received the 2022 United States Artist Fellowship from the Mellon Foundation and Harvard University’s 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellowship. In 2020, Laymon founded the Catherine Coleman Literary Arts and Justice Initiative in his native Mississippi. Named after his grandmother, the program is designed to get young people and their parents more comfortable with reading, writing, revising and sharing.

Rice University English professor Kiese Laymon speaking at event
Photos by Brandon Martin
Kiese Laymon speaks to crowd of Rice students, faculty and staff