We received word from reps at Butler University on Wednesday that the writers for this fall's Visiting Writers Series had been selected, and we've got to say, it's an impressive group. On deck: a New York Times bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize-winner poet and a hometown hero cum YouTube star. As always, the events are free and open to the public; call 940-9861 for any additional information. Check out profiles of the chosen pen-wielders below.
Robert Hass; Sept. 21, Reilly Room
Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Hass is one of contemporary poetry’s most celebrated and widely read voices. His first collection, Field Guide (1973), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award and established him as an important American poet. He confirmed his ability with Praise (1979), which won the William Carlos Williams Award. In 1984, Hass published Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry, a collection of previously published essays and reviews.
His third collection of poetry, Human Wishes (1989), experimented with longer lines and prose paragraphs, privileging process and meditation over the poeticized images that had filled his earlier work. The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa (1994) paid tribute to some of Hass’ non-Western mentors. In 1996, Hass published another collection of poems, Sun Under Wood, which was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award. His first book post-laureate was Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005 (2007), and his latest is Apples Trees at Olema: New and Selected Poems (2010).
He has taught at State University of New York at Buffalo; St. Mary's College of California, Moraga; University of California, Berkeley; and has been a visiting lecturer at University of Virginia, Goddard College and Columbia University, as well as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2001-2007. He teaches at the University of California-Berkeley.
Karen McElmurray; Sept. 26, Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall
Karen McElmurray is a writer and assistant professor at Georgia College and State University. She is the author of the novel Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, which won the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing in 2001, and the memoir Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey, in which she wrote about relinquishing her son to state-supported adoption in Kentucky in 1973. The memoir was a National Book Critics Circle Notable Book and received the Associated Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction in 2003.
McElmurray is creative nonfiction editor for Arts and Letters, Georgia College’s literary journal. Her newest novel is The Motel of the Stars.
Tomas Salamun; Oct. 3, Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall
Slovenian poet Toma Šalamun, one of Europe’s most prominent poets and a leader of the Eastern European avant-garde, is the author of more than 30 collections of poetry in Slovenian and English. His poetry has been translated into more than 20 languages.
Early in his career he edited the literary magazine Perspektive and was briefly jailed on political charges. He studied art history at the University of Ljubljana, where he found poetry suddenly, as a revelation, describing its arrival in a 2004 interview as “stones from the sky.”
He has won the Jenko Prize, Slovenia’s Prešeren and Mladost Prizes, and a Pushcart Prize, and was a Fulbright Fellow at Columbia University.
Richard Rodriguez; Oct. 24, Reilly Room
Richard Rodriguez told his family’s story in Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, his well-received 1981 autobiography. This first book placed him in the national spotlight, winning an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and a Christopher Award.
In 1992, he published Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father, another collection of autobiographical essays. His 2002 collection of essays, entitled Brown: The Last Discovery of America, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award.
Rodriguez occasionally serves as an essayist for the PBS NewsHour.
Poet Natasha Trethewey is the author of three collections of poetry: Domestic Work (2000), Bellocq's Ophelia (2002) and Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of a book of creative non-fiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2010). Her fourth collection of poetry, Thrall, is scheduled for release in fall 2012.
Trethewey, a professor of English at Emory University, has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is also the recipient of the 2008 Mississippi Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts and was named the 2008 Georgia Woman of the Year. In 2009 she was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers and she was the James Weldon Johnson Fellow in African American Studies at the Beinecke Library at Yale University.
This year she was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame.
John Green is the New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns. He is also the coauthor, with David Levithan, of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green’s books have been published in more than a dozen languages.
In 2007, Green, who lives in Indianapolis, and his brother Hank ceased textual communication and began to talk primarily through videoblogs posted to YouTube. The videos spawned a community of people called Nerdfighters, who fight for intellectualism and to decrease the overall worldwide level of suck. (Decreasing suck takes many forms: Nerdfighters have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight poverty in the developing world; they also planted thousands of trees around the world in May 2010 to celebrate Hank’s 30th birthday.)
Although they have long since resumed textual communication, John and Hank continue to upload three videos a week to their YouTube channel, vlogbrothers. Their videos have been viewed more than 75 million times, and their channel is one of the most popular in the history of online video. John Green is also an active (if reluctant) Twitter user with more than 1.1 million followers.
Richard Price; Nov. 8, Reilly Room
Richard Price’s novels include Freedomland, Clockers, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Samaritan and Lush Life. In 1999 he received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His fiction, articles and essays have appeared in Best American Essays 2002, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Esquire, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone. He has also written numerous screenplays, including Sea of Love, Ransom and The Color of Money.