SPOKANE, Wash. – The popular Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series of free public readings by prominent literary figures launches its 2012-13 season Oct. 8 with a reading by Tiphanie Yanique, author of the fictional short story collection, “How to Escape from a Leper Colony” (Graywolf, 2010).
The series, which earned Gonzaga’s first grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, includes another stellar lineup led by Nikky Finney, the 2011 National Book Award winner for poetry, and Jess Walter, the 2005 Edgar Allen Poe Award recipient for best novel who is one of four Inland Northwest authors involved this season. Tod Marshall, a poet and professor of English at Gonzaga, who continues to organize the series annually, started the series in 2007.
All six readings in the 2012-13 series begin at 7:30 p.m. with the exception of Finney’s Feb. 26 (2013) reading, which begins at 7 p.m. All readings will take place in the Cataldo Hall Globe Room and all authors will participate in question-and-answer sessions on campus the afternoon before their readings. Yanique’s Q-and-A session will be at 2 p.m. in the Foley Center Library’s Teleconference Room. All events are free and open to the public.
Tiphanie Yanique was named by The Boston Globe as one of 16 cultural figures to watch in 2010 and was named by the National Book Foundation the same year as one of the “5 Under 35,” a list of the most promising new fiction writers. Yanique, a professor of creative writing and Caribbean literature at Drew University, based in Madison, N.J., also has won a Pushcart Prize and a Fulbright Scholarship in writing.
George Eklund, a professor at Morehead State University, Morehead, Ky., will read Oct. 30 from his works, including “Wanting to Be an Element” (Finishing Line Press, 2012) and “The Island Blade” (ABZ Poetry Press, 2011). Eklund also will read from his newest work, “Essay After the 20th Century,” to be published in spring 2013. Eklund has received both the Al Smith Fellowship in Poetry from the Kentucky Arts Council and Morehead State’s Distinguished Creative Productions Award.
Robert Wrigley, an English literature professor at University of Idaho and the state’s Writer-in-Residence from 1987-1988, will read on Nov. 14 from his most recent work, “Beautiful Country” (Penguin, 2010), as well as from his Poets Prize-winning work, “Lives of the Animals” (Penguin, 2003). Wrigley has had poems published in both the 2003 and 2006 “Best American Poetry” anthologies.
Ben Fountain and Jess Walter will co-present on Jan. 30 (2013). Fountain’s “Brief Encounter with Che Guevara” (Ecco, 2006) was awarded both the prestigious Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a distinguished first book of fiction and the Whiting Writers Award for emerging writers. His newest book, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” has received high praise and been featured on National Public Radio. Walter, of Spokane, has penned essays, short fiction, criticism, and journalism in publications including Harper’s, Esquire, and ESPN the Magazine. His book of fiction “Citizen Vince” (Harper Perennial, 2005) won the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel and his “The Zero” (Harper Perennial, 2006) was a finalist for the National Book Award. His book, “The Financial Lives of the Poets” (Harper Perennial, 2009), was named Time Magazine’s No. 2 novel of the year. “Beautiful Ruins,” his most recent novel, garnered critical attention this last summer.
Nikky Finney will discuss her National Book Award-winning poetry book “Head Off & Split” (Triquarterly, 2011) on Feb. 26 (2013). Her acceptance speech for the award is touted as one of the best speeches ever delivered at such an event. Finney also has received the PEN American Open Book Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry. Finney is the Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Kentucky and is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, a group of black Appalachian poets.
Laura Read and Maya Zeller will co-present the final event in the Visiting Writers Series on March 27 (2013). A Spokane poet, Read earned undergraduate degrees in English and French from Gonzaga and completed her master of fine arts degree in poetry at Eastern Washington University. She has taught at Spokane Falls Community College since 1998. Zeller, a member of the English faculty at Gonzaga, is an acclaimed poet whose work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (2011). “Rust Fish,” Zeller’s first book, was published in 2011 by Lost Horse Press.
The Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by Gonzaga’s English department, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Academic Vice President’s office, the Faculty Speakers Committee, Pennaluna and Company, and the Davenport Hotel. For more information, please contact Tod Marshall at (509) 313-6681 or via email.