Past Literary Northwest Series Speakers
Wendy Willis is a poet and essayist from Portland. Her recent book of essays, These are Strange Times, My Dear, was released in February 2019. Her last book of poems, A Long Late Pledge, won the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the 2019 Oregon Book Award. She teaches poetry at the Attic Institute and is also the Founder and Director of Oregon’s Kitchen Table at Portland State University and the Executive Director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, a global network of organizations and leading scholars working in the field of deliberation and public engagement.
Steven Moore earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa in 2010 and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Oregon State University in 2016. His debut book The Longer We Were There: A Memoir of a Part-Time Soldier (University of Georgia Press, 2019) won the 2018 AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction, and tells the story of the author’s seven years of service as an infantryman in the Iowa Army National Guard, from enlisting at seventeen, to training during college, to deploying on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
His nonfiction has appeared in Kenyon Review online; The Georgia Review; Ninth Letter; Entropy; War, Literature, and the Arts; North American Review; Southeast Review; DIAGRAM; and forthcoming in the anthology Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War (Middle West Press). He is a contributing editor at Moss: A Journal of the Pacific Northwest and currently resides in Corvallis, Oregon.
Marjorie Sandor’s debut novel, The Secret Music at Tordesillas, is the winner of the inaugural Tuscarora Award for Historical Fiction from Hidden River Press. Her earlier books include the linked story collection Portrait of my Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime, winner of the 2004 National Jewish Book Award in Fiction, and The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction (Skyhorse Press). She is also the editor of The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows, an international anthology of short fiction (St. Martins Press, 2015). She teaches in the MFA Program at Oregon State University and the Rainier Writing Workshop.
John Larison earned an MFA from Oregon State in 2007, and has taught as an writing instructor at SWLF since. Before attending OSU, he studied philosophy and literature at the University of Oregon and worked as a fly fishing guide. He is the author of four books and a frequent contributor to outdoor magazines, including Angler's Journal and The Drake. Whiskey When We're Dry, his most recent novel, has been named a best book of summer by Goodreads, Entertainment Weekly, and others, and was a September 2018 Indie Next Pick. It was featured on NPR's All Things Considered, and is currently being adapted into a feature film.
Erica Trabold is the author of Five Plots (Seneca Review Books, 2018), selected by John D'Agata as the inaugural winner of the Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize. Five Plots delves into notions of how we are shaped by the land every bit as much as we shape it, eschewing easy ways of understanding and experiencing the world by investigating place as a malleable psychological and phenomenological force. "This is a pinprick of a book with a very generous heart," writes D'Agata.
Trabold's lyric essays appear in The Rumpus, Passages North, The Collagist, South Dakota Review, Seneca Review, Essay Daily, and elsewhere. A graduate of Oregon State University’s MFA program and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Erica writes and teaches in Portland, Oregon.
George Estreich’s publications include a chapbook, Elegy for Dan Rabinowitz (Intertext, 1993) and a full-length poetry collection, Textbook Illustrations of the Human Body, which won the Gorsline Prize from Cloudbank Books (2003). The Shape of the Eye (SMU Press, 2011; Penguin, 2013), his memoir about raising a daughter with Down syndrome, received the 2012 Oregon Book Award in Creative Nonfiction. Estreich has published essays and articles in The New York Times, The Oregonian, Avidly, The American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, Salon, Tin House, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
His new book, Fables and Futures: Biotechnology, Disability, and the Stories we Tell Ourselves (MIT Press), explores the way we think and talk about human-directed biotechnology, from next-generation prenatal tests to CRISPR/Cas9, the genome-editing tool. Blending personal narrative and scholarship, Estreich argues that with biotech able to select and shape who we are, we need to imagine what it means to belong.
Keith Scribner has taught in OSU’s MFA program since its founding. He’s the author of four novels, the most recent, Old Newgate Road, published by Alfred A. Knopf in January 2019. His previous novel The Oregon Experiment is set in a fictionalized Corvallis and a university that bears some resemblance to our own. His books appear in translation and his novel The Goodlife was selected for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers series, and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Daily Beast, TriQuarterly, American Short Fiction, Quarterly West, The North Atlantic Review, the San Jose Mercury News, the Baltimore Sun, and the anthologies Flash Fiction Forward (W.W. Norton) and Sudden Stories: The MAMMOTH Book of Miniscule Fiction. He received both Pushcart and O’Henry Prize Honorable Mentions for his short story, “Paradise in a Cup.” His short story “Level” was adapted into an opera by composer Matthew Welch of Experiments in Opera. It premiered at Symphony Space in New York City in May 2017.
Scribner received his BA from Vassar College and MFA from the University of Montana. He was awarded Wallace Stegner and John L’Heureux Fellowships in Fiction at Stanford University, where he went on to teach in the Creative Writing Program as a Jones Lecturer. He loves living in Corvallis.
Gary Fisketjon worked at Random House, Vintage Books, and the Atlantic Monthly Press until 1990, when he joined Alfred A. Knopf, where he is now Vice President and Editor at Large. Authors he has published have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Booker Prize, the Nobel Prize, the Award in Literature and the E.M. Forster Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Wallace Stegner Award, the John Dos Passos Prize, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Minnesota Book Award, the Mississippi Authors Award, the California Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Southeastern Booksellers Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Commonwealth Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, the Richard Wright Award, the Rea Award, the Prix Médicis, the Prix Femina, the Grand Prix de Litérature Américaine, the Jerusalem Prize, and the Yomiuri Literary Prize.
Peter Nathaniel Malae is the author of three novels: Son of Amity (Oregon State University Press, 2018), Our Frail Blood (Grove/Atlantic, 2013), and What We Are (Grove/Atlantic, 2010), which won the San Francisco Foundation's Joseph Henry Jackson Award, was a New York Times Editors' Choice, and a Pacific Northwest Booksellers finalist. His story collection, Teach the Free Man (Swallow/Ohio University Press, 2007), was a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Award and was named a notable book by the Story Prize. His play, The Question (2015), won the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship for Drama. He is a former John Steinbeck, MacDowell Colony, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellow.
Clemens Starck is a Princeton drop-out, a former merchant seaman and a reporter on Wall Street. He has worked mostly as a union carpenter and construction foreman on the West Coast—San Francisco, British Columbia, and Oregon. His carpentry work also includes a long stint as a maintenance carpenter at OSU. His first book of poems, Journeyman’s Wages, received the 1996 Oregon Book Award as well as the William Stafford Memorial Poetry Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. His next two books—Studying Russian on Company Time (1999) and China Basin (2002)—were also finalists for the Oregon Book Award. Additional books of poems include: Traveling Incognito (2004), Rembrandt, Chainsaw (2011), and Old Dogs, New Tricks (2016). Starck has also produced two audio CDs of himself reading his poems against a musical background: Looking for Parts (2008) and Getting It Straight (2013). November 2018 is the publication date for his newest volume, Cathedrals & Parking Lots: Collected Poems. It contains all the poems from his previous six books plus a few new poems. A widower, he has three grown children and lives in a 19th century farmhouse he has rebuilt on forty-some acres in the country outside of Dallas, Oregon, in the mid-Willamette Valley.
Nick Dybek is a recipient of a Granta New Voices selection, a Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award, and a Maytag Fellowship. He received a BA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from The Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He teaches at Oregon State University. He is the author of When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man and The Verdun Affair.
Dionisia Morales grew up in New York City and never thought she could call any place else home. But in her late twenties, while on a 30-day Rocky Mountain wilderness trip, she glimpsed an alternate life and decided to pull up stakes on the East Coast and move to Oregon. Morales’s bi-coastal identity crisis has been the subject of much of her work, which has appeared in journals such as Hunger Mountain, Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Oregon Humanities Magazine. In her debut book, Homing Instincts, she brings together a collection of essays to examine the meaning of home, asking: What does it mean to be a newcomer? What is gained or lost when we try to fit in? Who has the right to claim a sense of place? Morales explores these and other questions through her daily routines as a mother, wife, rock climber, canner, traveler, and aspiring beekeeper. A graduate of the Oregon State University MFA program in creative writing, Morales works as a publishing manager for the OSU Extension Service. She spends most of her time in Oregon but makes sure to get a Manhattan “fix” at least once a year.
Matt Young is a writer, teacher, and Marine Corps veteran. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from Miami University and is the recipient of fellowships with Words After War and the Carey Institute for Global Good. His work can be found in Catapult, Granta, Tin House, Word Riot, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. His first book, Eat the Apple, is a compilation of lyrical flash nonfiction essays about his three combat deployments to Iraq and subsequent returns home between 2005 and 2009. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Centralia College and lives in Olympia, Washington.
Susan Jackson Rodgers is the author of the novel This Must Be the Place, and two story collections: The Trouble With You Is and Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6. Her fiction has appeared in journals such as New England Review, North American Review, Glimmer Train, Beloit Fiction Journal, Midwestern Gothic, Colorado Review, Quick Fiction, and Prairie Schooner. She taught for many years at Kansas State University, and currently teaches and directs the MFA program in creative writing at Oregon State University.
Chris Anderson has been teaching at Oregon State University since 1986. He is also a Catholic deacon. He has written, co-written, or edited fourteen books in a variety of genres and on a variety of subjects, including Free/Style: A Direct Approach to Writing (Houghton Mifflin, 1992); Edge Effects: Notes from an Oregon Forest (Iowa, 1993), a finalist for the Oregon Book Award in creative nonfiction; and Teaching as Believing: Faith in the University (Baylor, 2004). He has also published two books of poetry, My Problem with the Truth (Cloudbank, 2003), and The Next Thing Always Belongs (Airlie, 2011). His latest book is Light When It Comes: Trusting Joy, Facing Darkness, and Seeing God in Everything (Eerdmans, 2016), a book of collage essays. www.deaconchrisanderson.com
Elena Passarello is the author of Let Me Clear My Throat, a collection of essays on pop-culture voices, and Animals Strike Curious Poses, a bestiary of celebrity creatures. Her essays recently appeared in Oxford American, Creative Nonfiction, Virginia Quarterly Review and Iowa Review, as well as the nonfiction anthologies After Montaigne, I’ll Tell You Mine, and Cat is Art Spelled Wrong. She has received residencies from the MacDowell Colony and the Hambidge Center, an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship and the Whiting Award in nonfiction.
Jeff Fearnside’s short-story collection Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air, a finalist for the New Rivers Press MVP Award and the Permafrost Book Prize in Fiction, was published in 2016 by the Stephen F. Austin State University Press. His fiction has appeared widely in journals and anthologies such as The Pinch, Rosebud, Many Mountains Moving, Bayou Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, and—most recently—Story, Fourteen Hills, Pacific Review, Valparaiso Fiction Review, and Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53). His writing has been nominated for Best New American Voices and three times for a Pushcart Prize, and he is the recipient of a 2015 Individual Artist Fellowship award from the Oregon Arts Commission. Fearnside earned degrees in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University (BFA) and Eastern Washington University (MFA), and has taught writing and literature for many years at the Academy of Languages in Kazakhstan, Washington State University, Western Kentucky University, Prescott College, and currently Oregon State University. More info: http://www.jeff-fearnside.com/
Jesse Donaldson was born and raised in Kentucky, attended Kenyon College and Oregon State University, and was a fellow at The Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. His writing has appeared in The Oxford American, The Greensboro Review, and Crazyhorse. Among other things, he’s worked as a gardener, copywriter, teacher, and maintenance man. He now lives in Oregon with his wife and daughter, and a dog named Max.
Justin St. Germain's first book, the memoir Son of a Gun, was published by Random House. It won the 2013 Barnes & Noble Discover Award in Nonfiction and was named a best book of 2013 by Amazon, Amazon Canada, Library Journal, BookPage, Salon, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Pima County Public Library. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, the Guardian, Hobart, Barrelhouse, and various other journals, magazines, and anthologies, including the Best of the West series. He is the recipient of scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and Marsh McCall Lecturer at Stanford University.
Héctor Tobar is the author of four books, including the novel The Barbarian Nurseries and the nonfiction Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free, both published by FSG. A veteran journalist and foreign correspondent, he is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon. Visit his website at www.hectortobar.com.
Selected by Poets & Writers Magazine as a 2014 Notable Debut Poet, Cindy Williams Gutiérrez is inspired by the silent and silenced voices of history. Her collection, the small claim of bones published by Bilingual Press, won second place in the 2015 International Latino Book Awards. Poems have appeared in Borderlands, Calyx, Harvard’s Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Portland Review, Benedictine University’s Quiddity, and UNAM’s Periódico de poesía, as well as in People, Places, and Perceptions: A Look at Northwest Latino Art at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington. Cindy is a founder of Los Porteños, Portland’s Latino writers’ collective, and Grupo de ’08, a Northwest collaborative-artists’ salon. Cindy earned an MFA from the University of Southern Maine Stonecoast Program with concentrations in Mesoamerican poetics and creative collaboration. She has taught poetry to K-12 youth through the Portland Art Museum, the Right Brain Initiative, and Writers in the Schools as well as to adults through Literary Arts’ Delve Seminars, the Oregon Council for Teachers of English, and the Stonecoast MFA Program. Cindy is the recipient of a 2016 Oregon Literary Fellowship.
Justin Taylor is the author of Flings, The Gospel of Anarchy, and Everything Here Is the Best Thing Ever. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Bookforum, Pacific Standard, Tin House, and The New York Times Book Review. He is the editor of the anthologies, The Apocalypse Reader and Come Back, Donald Barthelme, and is currently the fiction editor for The Literary Review. He has taught writing at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, N.Y.U., and the Pratt Institute. He lives in Portland, OR and at www.justindtaylor.net and @my19thcentury .
Jennifer Richter’s new collection, No Acute Distress, was named a Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Editor’s Selection and will be published in Spring 2016; her first book, Threshold, was chosen by Natasha Trethewey for the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and by Robert Pinsky as an Oregon Book Award Finalist. Richter was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship in Poetry by Stanford University, where she taught in the Creative Writing Program for four years; she currently teaches in Oregon State University’s MFA Program. Her website is http://jenniferrichterpoet.com.