We invite our writers-in-residence to the University so they can work on their own compositions in a new environment. Here in Lafayette, LA, they are able to immerse themselves in a new culture and discover new perspectives for their work. It’s an opportunity for promising and talented writers to devote themselves to writing full-time while mentoring the next generation of writers.
Our writers-in-residence are also available to work with our English graduate students, providing feedback and guidance to help our students compose their own short stories, novels, and other bodies of work.
Our writers-in-residence have included, in chronological order:
Ernest J. Gaines, Writer-in-Residence Emeritus
Acclaimed Southern writer Ernest J. Gaines accepted the first writer-in-residence at UL Lafayette in 1981. He held the position until 2004, and during that time he published “A Gathering of Old Men” and “A Lesson Before Dying.” He earned a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1993 and was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000. In 2012, he received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government.
The University established the Ernest J. Gaines Center in 2008 as an international center for scholarship on Ernest Gaines and his work. Learn more about the Gaines Center.
2005 Pulitzer Prize Finalist Luis Urrea was the writer-in-residence at the University in 1996 while Ernest Gaines was working in France for the year. He’s the best-selling author of 16 books and has won awards for his poetry, fiction, and essays—and has also been called a “literary badass” by NPR.
Rikki Ducornet became the writer-in-residence at UL Lafayette in 2007. She is the author of multiple novels, collections of short fiction, essays, and poetry books. She earned the Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2008.
Kate Bernheimer joined the UL Lafayette English faculty as writer-in-residence and associate professor in 2009. She is a novelist and short story writer who has been called “one of the living masters of the fairy tale” by Tin House. She is the founder and editor of the literary journal Fairy Tale Review.
John McNally, Current Writer-in-Residence
John McNally is our current writer-in-residence who focuses on fiction writing, screenwriting, creative nonfiction, and contemporary American fiction. He took the position in 2013 and has since published essays, a nonfiction book titled “Successful Failure: On Writing and the Freedom of Disappointment,” short stories, and a novel.