Washington State University announces the spring virtual Visiting Writers Series, a collaboration of WSU’s campuses in Pullman and Vancouver.
All events in the series are free and open to students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. For more information on the series, including the Zoom links to upcoming readings, visit the Visiting Writers Series website.
The first online event takes place Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. via Zoom with a reading and talk by Ryka Aoki, an L.A.-based poet, composer, teacher, and author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song), Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul and The Great Space Adventure.
A Japanese American and transgender woman, Aoki has been praised by the California State Senate as having an “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.” She is a two-time Lambda Award finalist, and winner of the Eli Coppola Chapbook Contest, the Corson-Bishop Poetry Prize, and a University Award from the Academy of American Poets.
On Feb. 10, Nigerian novelist and two-time Booker Prize finalist Chigozie Obioma will read from his work at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Obioma’s debut novel, The Fisherman, won the NAACP Image award, the FT/Oppenheimer prize for fiction, and was a finalist for the Booker Prize, the top international prize given for work in the English language. The novel, which is being translated into 26 languages, is also being adapted into a stage play. Obioma, a professor of writing and literature at the University of Nebraska, was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Influential People of 2015.
Poet Major Jackson, fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, and winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award, will be giving a poetry reading on March 1 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Jackson’s work explores human intimacy and war, mining the solemn marvels of ordinary American citizens whose heroic endurance makes them remarkable and transcendent. His books include Roll Deep, Holding Company, Hoops, Leaving Saturn, Renga for Obama, and Countee Cullen.
Professor and creative nonfiction writer Catina Bacote delivers a talk entitled “Against Erasure: Reclaiming Our Stories,” on March 16 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The talk will contextualize personal stories within social history, reflecting Bacote’s research into the consequences of economic oppression and residential segregation. She is working on a book about the lasting impact of the illegal drug trade on her family and community.
Poet and nonfiction writer Cecil Giscombe, professor of English at UC Berkeley, will lead a three-day workshop for WSU students March 22-24 at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Giscombe believes that poetry and essays (life-writing, creative nonfiction, “essaying,”) have similar aims or field-marks. They are literary vehicles of exploration and documentation.
They have value as experimental approaches to writing. Giscombe will show students how various wide particulars make up each of us—social class, race, ability, gender, place of birth, etc. These particulars endow us with privileges, deficits, blindnesses, insights, and the like. Prompts will encourage students to document these particulars and explore how they qualify us (and how or if they obligate us) to “speak” from various positions.
To register, contact Leisa McCormick at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Giscombe will also be speaking remotely on March 23 at 7 p.m., registration not required.
The final two Zoom literary events are on April 7 and 12 at 6 p.m. and will feature Mahogany L. Browne and Debra Magpie Earling, respectively.
Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer, vocalist, performance poet, educator and author of poetry and fiction. Her YA poetry book Black Girl Magic celebrates a black girlhood that is “free, unforgettable, and luminous” (School Library Journal), while her children’s book Woke Baby is for all the littlest progressives who grow up to change the world. Her poetry collections include Kissing Caskets (YesYes Books, 2017) and the NAACP-nominated chapbook Redbone (Willow Books, 2016).
The final Spring 2021 speaker is novelist Debra Magpie Earling, a member of the Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation. She is the author of Perma Red (2002) and The Lost Journals of Sacajewea (2012). Her first novel Perma Red won the Western Writers Association Spur Award, WWA’s Medicine Pipe Bearer Award for Best First Novel, a WILLA Literary Award, and the American Book Award.
The Lost Journals of Sacajewea, a collaboration with photographer Peter Rutledge Koch, re-invents the life of Sacajewea, the Shoshone guide on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Her talk is titled “Cabinets of Curiosities and the Fictional Dream.”