SPOKANE, Wash. – Fiction writers Bruce Holbert and Shawn Vestal will launch the popular Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series this year with a co-presentation Oct. 2. All six of the free public readings begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Cataldo Hall Globe Room except for Lisa Olstein’s Oct. 23 reading, which will take place in the Jepson Center’s Wolff Auditorium. Authors will participate in question-and-answer sessions (TBA). All events are free and open to the public.
The series, which earned Gonzaga’s first National Endowment of the Arts grant, includes a stellar lineup with Pulitzer Prize finalist Linda Hogan, critically acclaimed novelist Matt de la Pena and Gonzaga alumna Brooke Matson. Tod Marshall, a poet and Gonzaga English professor, started the series in 2007 and continues to organize it annually.
Holbert is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, where he assisted editing The Iowa Review and held a Teaching Writing Fellowship. His fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, Hotel Amerika, Other Voices, The Antioch Review, Crab Creek Review, among other publications. He recently co-authored, with his wife, “Signed, Your Student,” a collection of remembrances of influences teachers recounted by prominent Americans. His first novel, “Lonesome Animals,” was released last year by Counterpoint Press.
Vestal is a columnist and reporter for The Spokesman Review in Spokane, where he has worked for many years as a journalist and editor. Vestal’s fictional stories have appeared in McSweeney’s Tin House, American Short Fiction, EcoTone, Best American Fantasy and other publications. His first book is titled “Godforsaken Idaho.”
Lisa Olstein, presenting Oct. 23 in the Wolff Auditorium, is the author of three books of poetry: “Radio Crackling, Radio Gone,” winner of the Hayden Carruth Award; “Lost Alphabet,” a Library Journal best book of the year; and “Little Stranger,” a Lannan Literary Selection. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Nation, The Iowa Review, American Letters and Commentary, and New Voices. She is the lyricist for Cold Satellite, a rock band fronted by acclaimed songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. Before joining the New Writers Project in fall 2013, she co-founded and co-directed the Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action at University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she was associate director of the Master of Fine Arts Program for Poets and Writers.
Matt de la Pena, presenting on Nov. 14, is the author of four critically acclaimed young adult novels: “Ball Don’t Lie,” “Mexican WhiteBoy,” “We Were Here,” and “I Will Save You.” Also, he is the author of the award-winning picture book “A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis” (illustrated by Kadir Nelson). Matt earned a master’s degree in creative writing from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree University of the Pacific where he attended school on a basketball scholarship. De la Pena lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., teaches creative writing, and visits schools nationwide. His presentation is co-sponsored by the Inland Northwest Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Marshall Boswell, presenting on Jan. 29, 2014, earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington & Lee University, a master’s from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Ph.D. from Emory University. He has taught English and fiction writing at Washington University, University of Miami, Washington & Lee and Rhodes College in Memphis, where he is the T.K. Young Professor of English. He is the author of two works of fiction, “Trouble with Girls” and “Alternative Atlanta.” Also, he authored two works of literary scholarship: “John Updike’s Rabbit Tetralogy: Mastered Irony in Motion,” and “Understanding David Foster Wallace.” He is working on a new novel titled “The Opinion Leader.”
Linda Hogan, presenting on Feb. 25, 2014, is a Chickasaw poet, novelist, essayist, playwright and activist. Widely considered among the most influential and provocative Native American figures in contemporary American literature, she is an internationally recognized speaker. Her most recent books are the poetry books “Indios” and “Rounding the Human Corners,” and the novel “People of the Whale.” A new collection of poems, “The Remedies,” is due out next month. Her other novels include “Mean Spirit,” a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Oklahoma Book Award and the Mountains and Plains Book Award; “Solar Storms,” a finalist for the International Impact Award; and “Power.” Her poetry collection “The Book of Medicines” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other poetry books have received the Colorado Book Award and an American Book Award. She co-authored with Brenda Peterson “Sightings: The Mysterious Journey of the Grey Whale” for National Geographic Books; edited several anthologies on nature and spirituality; and wrote the script for “Everything Has a Script,” a PBS documentary on American Indian religious freedom.
Brooke Matson and the 2014 Gurian Writing Award Winners will co-present on March 26, 2014. Matson was born and raised in Yakima, Wash., earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Gonzaga. Her first collection of poetry, “The Moons,” appeared in 2012 from Blue Begonia Press. Matson lives in Spokane, where she teaches at a small experiential high school and helped found RiverSpeak, a Spokane-area arts forum. The Gurian Writing Awards are given annually to recognize excellence in writing poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Michael and Gail Gurian generously sponsor them.
For more information, please contact Tod Marshall at (509) 313-6681 or via email.