Laureates visit Duke.

October is flush with visits from award-winning literary figures to Duke University.

First, in conjunction with Duke Theater Studies and with support from the Franklin Humanities Institute, Nobel Prize-winning playwright Wole Soyinka will take time out from launching a new political party in Nigeria to be on campus during the week of October 18.

Photograph: Graeme Robertson for The Guardian

Soyinka will participate in public events around the opening of his play The Beatification of Area Boy (Reynolds Theater, Bryan Center, Oct. 21-24, 28-31). The events listed below are free and open to students and the public.

  • On October 21 there will be a reception outside Reynolds Theater lobby after the show’s opening night performance.
  • On October 22, there will be a lunch discussion with Professor Soyinka titled “Mega-Cities/Mega-Slums: Urban Ruin and Renewal on the Global Stage.” This event will be held in C105, Bay 5, Smith Warehouse. Lunch begins at 12:30 pm; discussion at 1 pm.
  • Also on October 22, there will be a pre-show discussion with Professor Soyinka in the Rare Book Room, Perkins Library at 6:30 pm.

Don’t miss these opportunities to meet and hear from a Nobel laureate whose career illustrates the struggle and power of combining art, politics, and activism.

Second, at month’s end, 2010-2011 US Poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner W.S. Merwin will visit Duke as part of the William Blackburn Visiting Writers Series. Mr. Merwin will give a public reading at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in the Gothic Reading Room at Perkins Library. A reception and book signing will follow the event.

Image: The Barclay Agency

The reading is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets can be picked up beginning October 25 from the English department in the Allen Building. You can also email to reserve your ticket. Remaining tickets will be distributed at the door on the evening of the event.

In honor of Merwin’s visit, I’ve linked a 2009 episode of Bill Moyers Journal (PBS) in which Moyers interviews the prolific poet and translator about the writing life.