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Presented By: Zell Visiting Writers Series

Craft Lecture: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Writing Violence

Mark Powell, Zell Visiting Writers Series

Mark Powell Mark Powell
Mark Powell
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Zell Visiting Writers Series craft lectures are free and open to the public, and will be offered both virtually (via Zoom) and in person (in Angell Hall #3154). Seats at the in-person events are capacity-limited and offered on a first come, first served basis; please arrive early to secure a spot. Please contact with any questions or accommodation needs.

Whether it is a lever (Colson Whitehead) or a carpenter’s hammer (Flannery O’Connor), violence is as prevalent in serious fiction as it is in the world. As writers, we can’t ignore such. So how do we engage with violence, how (and when) do we depict it? And what are the ethical responsibilities and consequences of writing about violence in an already violent world? There are, of course, no definitive answers. Instead of answers, we’ll look at examples from a number of writers, among them Jesmyn Ward, J.M. Coetzee, Carmen Maria Machado, and Don DeLillo.

Powell is the author of seven novels, including Small Treasons (Gallery/Simon & Schuster 2017), and Lioness, forthcoming in 2022. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Breadloaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and twice from the Fulbright Foundation to Slovakia and Romania. He has written about southern music and culture for The Oxford American, the war in Ukraine for The Daily Beast, and his dog for Garden & Gun. In 2009, he received the Chaffin Award for Contributions to Appalachian Literature. At present, he is under contract for a graphic novel about Russian malign influence in the US election, and working on a novel about the prison system in Florida.

Powell has degrees from Yale Divinity School, the University of South Carolina, and the Citadel. He taught at Stetson University in Florida for eight years, where he directed and co-founded their Low-Residency MFA and ran a prison writing program at Lawtey Correctional Institute. Currently, he is an Associate Professor and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Appalachian State University. He lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with his wife, children, and dog.

For any questions about the event or to share accommodation needs, please email we are eager to help ensure that this event is inclusive to you. The building, event space, and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. A lactation room (Angell Hall #5209), reflection room (Haven Hall #1506), and gender-inclusive restroom (Angell Hall 5th floor) are available on site. ASL interpreters and CART services at in-person events are available upon request; please email at least two weeks prior to the event, whenever possible, to allow time to arrange services.

U-M employees with a U-M parking permit may use the Church Street Parking Structure (525 Church St., Ann Arbor) or the Thompson Parking Structure (500 Thompson St., Ann Arbor). There is limited metered street parking on State Street and South University Avenue. The Forest Avenue Public Parking Structure (650 South Forest Ave., Ann Arbor) is five blocks away, and the parking rate is $1.20 per hour. All of these options include parking spots for individuals with disabilities.

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