First Books

The Creative Writing Program's annual First Books reading spotlights first books by Minnesota writers, including the debut publications of MFA alums.

Readings are free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations necessary. First Books is made possible by generous support from the Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writer Series and The Walter Nathan Literary Initiatives.

The First Books reading is held in the spring at Pillsbury Hall.

Previous Writers

Isaac Butler Amanda Coplin Kevin Fenton Sally Franson
Peter Geye Kathleen Glasgow Alan Heathcock Kate Hopper
Arlene Kim Elizabeth Larson Gayla Marty Paul Metsa
Rachel Moritz Josh Ostergaard Karen Rigby Jona C. Sirott
Andy Sturdevant Francine Tolf Andria Williams Jennifer Willoughby
Ryo Yamaguchi Shana Youngdahl Michael Kleber-Diggs Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Marco Wilkinson Erica Berry Emily Strasser Nen G. Ramirez
Chaun Webster      

Spring 2024 Season

Victoria Blanco 

Photo of author Victoria Blanco

Victoria Blanco’s first book, Out of the Sierra: A Story of Rarámuri Resistance, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press. Research and writing for Out of the Sierra has been supported by a Fulbright Award, research fellowships from the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, a Bakeless Scholarship from Breadloaf Orion, a writing residency at St. Paul's East Side Freedom Library from Coffee House Press In-the-Stacks, and the 2018 Roxane Gay Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction for the Jack Jones Literary Arts writers' retreat. Her field research on Rarámuri resistance is ongoing with the support of the Community Development Action Fund (CDAF) from the U.S. Department of State.

She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota, where she taught creative writing and composition courses. She is also the recipient of the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, the Digital Borderlands grant from the University of Arizona, the Jerome Fellowship, and the Minnesota Regional Arts Council grant. She was a Fellow in the 2019 Culture, Too Conference, hosted by Jack Jones Literary Arts, and a Fellow in the 2017-2018 Loft Mentor Series.


Kathryn Savage

Headshot of author Kathryn Savage

Kathryn Savage’s Groundglass: An Essay (Coffee House Press), explores topics of environmental justice and links between pollution and public health. Groundglass was named a best read of the year by the Sydney Morning Herald, a Yale Review Favorite Cultural Artifact of 2022, and was showcased in Orion Magazine, Lit Hub, and selected by EcoLit Books as a Best Environmental Book of 2022.

Recipient of the Academy of American Poets James Wright Prize, her writing across forms has been supported by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Jerome Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, Ucross Foundation, and Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Savage has studied creative writing at The New School, holds an MFA in fiction from Bennington College, and an MFA in poetry from the University of Minnesota. Currently she is an assistant professor of creative writing at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD)