photos of books stacked up with reading glasses on top

By Halley Sutton

When a writer publishes a book, he or she might be lucky enough to give public readings as part of a book tour. It’s a way for the writer to reach her literary community, promote her work, and participate in a rich literary tradition, all at once.

On Sunday, April 8th at 5:00pm, the Otis College of Art and Design Masters of Fine Arts graduate writing students will have the opportunity to read from their final projects at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. The reading is free and open to the public, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis. The event functions as a celebration of the culmination of the hard work of the Grad Writing students, as well as a chance to usher them officially into the Los Angeles literature scene.

This year, student projects range from completed novels to short story collections to collections of poetry. The event will feature eight student readers and each student will have approximately seven minutes to read from his or her collection. During the two years of their writing program, students practice for the event by holding on-campus informal student readings, usually three a semester, to hone their practice of reading aloud from their work.

“I’m proud of these writers, and thrilled for their opportunity to read at one of Los Angeles’ very supportive and celebrated literary hotspots,” said Marisa Matarazzo, grad writing faculty member and the official organizer of the Skylight Books student reading, which occurs every year. This year’s readers, all graduates from the Otis College MFA in Writing program, include:

  • Nicole Bradford, who will be reading from her collection of poetry that explores the / a female psyche as it reenters and recodifies past experiences with men, traumatic and not, sexual and not.
  • Heather John Fogarty, who will be reading from her completed novel entitled Safe House, which explores race, class, privilege, and safe spaces in a contemporary Los Angeles setting.
  • Newton Garner, who will be reading from his collection of poetry that considers art and culture and his roots in the South alongside life in Los Angeles.
  • Chenel King, who will be reading from her novel, Esther Days, which seeks to embody various voices throughout time, history, and space to provide perspective and bend and break held knowledge.
  • Olivia Batker Pritzker, whose short story collection, Hunting Season, explores relationships, storytelling and cautionary tales, the body, female identity, and the tradition of fairytales as mutating reflections of our changing world.
  • Angelina Sàenz, who will be reading poetry from her collection Edgecliffe, which focuses on memory, mujeres, motherhood, and cultural / linguistic unfolding.
  • Halley Sutton, who will be reading from her completed novel, The Lady Upstairs, a Los Angeles noir told through the perspective of a modern day femme fatale.
  • Brittany Ambree Williams, aka B.A. Williams, who will be reading from her completed novel, The Blue Line, which combines lyric prose and poetry to focus on all things “other” with a heavy emphasis on Blackness, womanhood, and queerness.

“Independent bookstores like Skylight are at the heart of Los Angeles literary culture, and their reading series is especially expansive in attracting local and national authors. So we're honored to be back for our annual MFA reading. Hopefully, our students will go on to have their book launches at Skylight, too!” said Peter Gadol, Department Chair of the Master of Fine Arts Writing program.

Recent and upcoming events at Skylight Books include readings from Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen; Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz; National Book Critics award winner Maggie Nelson (who is speaking at Otis College on April 4); and more.

MFA Writing students will also be reading from thesis projects at the Annual Exhibition at Otis College’s campus in May. Learn more about the Skylight Reading