Writers Buckley, Singer, Mayer, and Tierney to discuss ‘Things I Learned from William Zinsser’

test test
William Zinsser (1922–2015)

Four alumni authors will pay tribute to a late Yale professor during the panel “Things I Learned from William Zinsser,” which will take place at Yale on Wednesday, Oct. 14 in honor of the late writer. The event is sponsored by the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

Zinsser, who died in May, was a faculty member in the English department and taught nonfiction writing at Yale in the 1970s. His book “On Writing Well,” based on his Yale seminar, sold over a million copies, and his influence continues in classes and seminars today.

The panel will include alumni writers Christopher Buckley, Mark Singer, Jane Mayer, and John Tierney, who will talk about how they applied Zinsser’s lessons in both writing and life. The event will take place at 8 p.m. in the common room of Branford College, 74 High St., where Zinsser served as master 1973-1979.

Christopher Buckley ’75 is a widely published novelist, essayist, humorist, and critic. His works, which include the popular political satire “Thank You For Smoking,” have been translated into more than 15 languages. Buckley, who worked as a White House speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, has lectured in over 70 cities around the world, and was awarded the Thurber Prize for American Humor and the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence.

Mark Singer ’72 has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1974. He has contributed hundreds of  Talk of the Town stories and scores of profiles and reporting pieces. In the fall of 2000, he revived the U.S. Journal column in the magazine, a monthly feature that was written by Calvin Trillin from 1967 to 1982. His most recent books, “Somewhere in America” (2004) and “Character Studies” (2005), are collections of articles that originally appeared in The New Yorker.

Jane Mayer ‘77 has been a New Yorker staff writer since 1995. Before joining the magazine, she worked for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered groundbreaking events like the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Persian Gulf War. At The New Yorker, Mayer became the magazine’s first female White House correspondent. She is the author of the 2008 Times best-seller “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals,” which was based on her work for The New Yorker, and was named one of the top 10 works of journalism of the decade by New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

John Tierney ’75 is a writer for The New York Times, where he pens a column titled Findings for the News’ Science section. Previously, he wrote the Big City column for the New York Times Magazine and the Political Points column for the Washington bureau. Tierney frequently covers emerging topics in social sciences, as well as general controversies in science and medicine, such as the prosecution of doctors for prescribing pain medication. Prior to joining the Times, Tierney was a contributing editor to Discover and Health magazines.

The Poynter Fellowship in Journalism was established by Nelson Poynter, who received his master’s degree in 1927 from Yale. The fellowship brings to campus journalists from a wide variety of media outlets who have made significant contributions to their field. Recent Poynter fellow include Nicholas Kristoff, Maxim Eristavi, and Janet Mock.