WSU announces Visiting Writers Schedule for spring 2021


Washington State University announces the spring virtual Visiting Writers Series, a collaboration of WSU’s campuses in Pullman and Vancouver.

The first online event takes place Jan. 27 at 6:00 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, the Nigerian novelist and two-time Booker Prize finalist Chigozie Obioma will read from his work. 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. His second novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, debuted in January 2019 to wide acclaim and is being translated into 18 languages. The novel was again a finalist for the Booker prize. The talk is open to all and will be held on Zoom at 7:00 p.m.

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 7:00 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.

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