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‘Battleborn’ Author Claire Vaye Watkins Visits UW

January 16, 2014
Claire Vaye Watkins

Dylan Thomas Prize winner Claire Vaye Watkins will give a free public reading Tuesday, Jan. 21, hosted by the University of Wyoming Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program.

Watkins, the MFA program’s first visiting writer this semester, will read from her works at 7 p.m. in the Berry Biodiversity Center auditorium. A reception and book signing, hosted by the University Store, will follow the reading. Watkins also will meet with UW creative writing students during her campus visit.

Born in California and raised in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, Watkins considers herself a writer of the West. Her collection of short stories, “Battleborn” (Riverhead Books), has been compared to the work of other great Western literary voices, including Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford and Annie Proulx.

Watkins’ stories -- whether set in a brothel outside Las Vegas, various small Nevada towns, or the Mojave Desert -- depict characters struggling to live modern lives within the vast open spaces and rough landscapes of the region.

“A story is savage, unforgiving of error and inelegance, and also accommodating to experimentation and tinkering. It’s a good place to fall on your face,” Watkins says of her work as a short story writer.

Along with the Dylan Thomas prize, her “Battleborn” collection has been awarded the Story Prize; the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award; the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

Her stories and essays have appeared in such publications as Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Best of the West 2011, New Stories from the Southwest 2013 and the New York Times. In 2012, she was selected as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” recipients.

A graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, she earned her MFA from Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow.

For more information about Watkins’ reading and the MFA’s Visiting Writers Series, contact the MFA program at (307) 766-6453 or visit

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