Public Programs And Events

 12th Street Launch at Barnes & Noble Union Square

12th Street Launch at Barnes & Noble Union Square

Barnes and Noble, Union Square
General Public 

Politics and letters come together for an evening of readings by Jeff Smith, Natalie Diaz, Matt Bell, and student contributors to 12th Street, the undergraduate journal of The Riggio Program: Writing and Democracy at The New School.

Jeff Smith is Assistant Professor at The New School's Milano Graduate School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. He teaches and researches political campaigns, urban political economy, incarceration, policy advocacy, and the legislative process, and has won several awards for his teaching. 

Jeff served in the Missouri Senate from 2006-2009, representing St. Louis City, where he co-founded a group of charter schools called the Confluence Academies. He has written two books as well an an e-book: Trading Places, his Ph.D. thesis on U.S. partisan realignment from 1975-2004, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison (St. Martin's, 2015), a narrative nonfiction account of his time in prison, and Ferguson in Black and White, an historical analysis of the roots of Ferguson, Missouri's unrest. He has published research in various political science journals, and contributed chapters to three edited volumes. His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, The New Republic,, The Atlantic, Inc., National Journal, Salon, Politico Magazine, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, and the Chicago Tribune.

Jeff frequently addresses audiences of public officials on ethics in politics and criminal justice reform, and his TED talk on prison entrepreneurship has been viewed over a million times. The film Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, which was short-listed for an Academy Award, chronicled his youth-powered grass-roots congressional campaign. He currently serves on the national advisory boards of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program and American Prison Data Systems. 


Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a Lannan Literary Fellow and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, a Hodder Fellowship, and a PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Residency, as well as being awarded a US Artists Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Rez MFA program and splits her time between the east coast and Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she works to revitalize the Mojave language.

Natalie Diaz is a current Hodder Fellow at Princeton. She also lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona where she works to revitalize the Mojave language.


Matt Bell is the author most recently of the novel Scrapper, a Michigan Notable Book for 2016. His previous novel, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indies Choice Adult Debut Book of the Year Honor Recipient, as well as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. He is also the author of two collections of fiction and a non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur’s Gate II, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, Conjunctions, and many other publications. His next story collection, A Tree or a Person or a Wall, will be published in Fall 2016. A native of Michigan, he now teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

Sponsored by the Creative Writing Program. 

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