Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series

The Gonzaga University Visiting Writers Series brings distinguished authors to campus to engage both the Gonzaga audience and the wider Spokane community. The series fosters artistic collaboration across disciplines, encourages intellectual curiosity and seeks to share the wonder and challenges of living a creative life.

2023-2024 Events

Visiting Writer's Series: Laura Read

Date: March 21, 2024
Time: 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Location: College Common, Humanities Building
Cost: This event is free.

Poet Laura Read

GU alumnae Laura Read is a poet and educator living in Spokane. She is the author of Dresses from the Old Country (forthcoming from BOA Editions, 2018); Instructions for my Mother’s Funeral (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012, winner of the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, selected by Dorianne Laux), and The Chewbacca on Hollywood Boulevard Reminds Me of You (winner of the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award, 2011). Her poems appear widely. Recipient of a Washington State Artists Trust Grant, a Florida Review Prize for Poetry, and the Crab Creek Review Prize for Poetry, Laura teaches and presents regularly at literary festivals and conferences throughout the Northwest, such as GetLit!, Write on the Sound, Litfuse, and the Port Townsend Writers Conference. Laura served as Poet Laureate of Spokane from 2015-2017 and teaches writing and literature at Spokane Falls Community College.

She will be joined by the student winners of the 2023-2024 Gurian Writing Awards. A reception will follow.


Past Events

Visiting Writer's Series: Jeff Rutherford

Date: February 29, 2024
Time: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Location: Hemmingson Auditorium
Cost: This event is free.

Portrait of Film Maker Jeff Rutherford

GU alumnus Jeff Rutherford, Class of 2014, visits to screen and discuss his first feature film, A Perfect Day for Caribou. Jeff has written, directed, and produced over a dozen short films and music videos since graduating from GU with an English degree (Writing Concentration) and a MFA from New York University's Film School. His work centers on human relationships, the magic and mystery of how single days unfold in our lives, and our human connection to our physical environments. All of these features are rooted in the Jesuit perspective of Cura Personalis, Magis, and Laudato si'. Jeff will be on campus for a week to visit classes, facilitate a craft talk, and an evening event to screen and discuss his film.

A Perfect Day for Caribou was written, directed, and produced by Jeff. It was also produced by Joseph Longo and Kyra Bailey. It was photographed by Alfonso Herrera Salcedo. The film stars Jeb Berrier and Charlie Plummer.

Talent and perseverance and enthusiasm are a great combination. Jeff blends the three of them together—and the results have made Gonzaga proud." -Tod Marshall, Professor of English

Learn more about Jeff Rutherford's time at Gonzaga.

Official Selection 75th Locarno Film Festival (World Premiere, 2022).
Official Selection 67th Cork International Film Festival (2022).
Official Selection 29th Slamdance Film Festival (North American Premiere, 2023).
Official Selection 49th Brussels Independent Film Festival - Winner: Best Narrative Feature Film (2023).
Official Selection 32nd Florida Film Festival - Special Jury Award for Singularity of Vision (2023).

“Jeff Rutherford’s film reveals an attentive and deeply humanist gaze. His work on words and landscape reveals a formal awareness that constitutes the best guarantee for his future films. A cinema that is intertwined with the deepest layers of the United States’ history and best literature and yet remains an absolutely unique cinematic experience up until the end. A Perfect Day For Caribou is already a classic of the new American cinema.”
Giona A. Nazzaro Artistic Director of Locarno Film Festival

His artist website is www.jeffrutherford.com

For more information on the series please contact: Tod Marshall

An Evening with Sabrina Imbler

Date: Tuesday, Oct 24, 2023
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Martin & Edwidge Woldson Recital Hall, Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center

Portrait of Sabrina Imbler by Beowulf Sheehan
Sabrina Imbler is a writer and science journalist living in Brooklyn. Their first chapbook, Dyke (geology) was published by Black Lawrence Press, and they have received numerous fellowships and scholarships in the US, including from the Asian American Writers' Workshop and Tin House. They are the recipient of the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for young science journalists, and their essays and reporting have appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Catapult, and Sierra, among other publications. Their latest publication is the essay collection, How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures, published by Little Brown and Company. They have always been drawn to the mystery of life in the sea, and particularly to creatures living in hostile or remote environments. Each essay in the collection profiles one such creature. Imbler discovers that some of the most radical models of family, community, and care can be found in the sea. Exploring themes of adaptation, survival, sexuality, and care, and weaving the wonders of marine biology with stories of their own family, relationships, and coming of age, How Far the Light Reaches is a book that invites us to envision wilder, grander, and more abundant possibilities for the way we live.


We thank our event co-sponsors: the English Department, the Women’s & Gender Studies Department, the Biology Department, the Environmental Studies Department, and the Davenport Hotel.

Image Credit: Beowulf Sheehan


For more information on the series please contact: Tod Marshall

Email: marshall@gonzaga.edu
Phone: 509-313-6681

2022-2023 Events

An Evening with Reginald Dwayne Betts

Reginald Dwayne Betts transformed himself from a sixteen-year old kid sentenced to nine-years in prison to a critically acclaimed writer and graduate of the Yale Law School. He has written three acclaimed collections of poetry, the recently published Felon, Bastards of the Reagan Era and Shahid Reads His Own Palm. He has been awarded the PEN New England Award for poetry, named a Guggenheim Fellow (2018) and NEA Fellow (2018), and received a NAACP Image Award. Mr. Betts is also the founder of Freedom Reads, a first-of-its-kind organization working to radically transform access to literature in prison.

We thank our co-sponsors for their support of this event: the English Department, the College of Arts & Sciences Dean, the Center for Civil & Human Rights, and the Davenport Hotel.

Reginald Dwayne Betts Headshot
Wednesday, Oct 26, 2022, 7:30 p.m. in the Hemmingson Ballroom


An Evening with Rena Priest

Rena Priest is a Poet and an enrolled member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She has been appointed to serve as the Washington State Poet Laureate for the term of April 2021-2023.  She is a Vadon Foundation Fellow, and recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award. Her debut collection, Patriarchy Blues was published by MoonPath Press and received an American Book Award. She is a National Geographic Explorer (2018-2020) and a Jack Straw Writer (2019). She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Image ofRena Priest
Tuesday, March 29, 7:30 pm Reading
Humanities Building, College Common

Conversations with Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown earned his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He is the recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland. His first book, Please (New Issues), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal. Brown is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University and lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Brown will be discussing his most recent poetry collection, The Tradition.

Image of Daniel Butterworth
Wednesday, November 3, 2021 7:30 pm Reading
Thursday, November 4, 2021 12:25 pm Q&A with students

An Evening with Daniel Butterworth

Daniel Butterworth is professor of writing and literature at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. He grew up in Seattle and earned MA and PhD degrees at the University of North Carolina. His writing has appeared in many journals, including Cream City Review, The Wisconsin Review, The Louisville Review, The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Plainsong, The Seattle Review, Willow Springs, and other journals. His books include Waiting for Rain: A Farmer’s Story (nonfiction, Algonquin), The Radium Watch Dial Painters (poetry, Lost Horse Press; finalist for the Washington State Book Award) and The Clouds of Lucca (poetry, Lost Horse Press). Dr. Butterworth will be reading from his new book, Drunken Man on a Bicycle.

Image of Jericho Brown
Wednesday, December 1, 2021 7:30 pm Reading
College Common, Humanities Building



Citizen and Beyond: An Evening with Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine, the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University, is one of our country’s most compelling voices on the subjects of race and racial inequities. She is the author of five collections of poetry, including the award-winning book Citizen: An American Lyric.

Claudia Rankine Headshot

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 6 - 8 p.m.
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Due to concerns related to COVID-19, this event will not take place as scheduled. We will announce a new date and time if we can reschedule in 2020-2021.

Portrait of guest speaker Jim Daniels

Thursday, April 2, 2020
7:30 p.m.
Wolff Auditorium in Jepson

Jim Daniels is the author of numerous collections of poetry and stories. His most recent books include The Perp Walk: Michigan State University Press, The Middle Ages: Red Mountain Press, and Street Calligraphy: Steel Toe Books.  His third collection, Places/Everyone: University of Wisconsin Press, won the Inaugural Brittingham Prize in Poetry.  He lives in Pittsburgh and is the Thomas Stockham University Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University.



Portrait of guest speaker Tommy Orange

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
7:30 p.m.
Hemmingson Ballroom

Tommy Orange's debut book, the Pulitzer-nominated novel There,There follows twelve characters from Native American communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to each other in ways they may not realize. This chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American-grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism.  Hailed as an instant classic, There,There is at once poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, utterly contemporary and always unforgettable.


NICHOLAS CARR presents "Technology in the Humanities"

Portrait of guest speaker Nicholas Carr.

Thursday, October 24, 2019
7:00 p.m.
Hemmingson Ballroom

Nicholas Carr is a well-known author and essayist. He is best known for his books: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, The Glass Cage: How Computers are Changing Us, and The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google.


DISABILITY POETICS featuring Denise Leto and Adam Giannelli

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
7:30 p.m.
South Ballroom, Hemmingson Center

Denise Leto (Your Body is Not a Shark: North Beach Press and Waveform: Kenning Editions) and Adam Giannelli (Tremulous Hinge: University of Iowa Press) read from their work and discuss their experiences as writers with speech disorders.  The event is facilitated by Roseanne Quinn, professor in English and Women's Studies at De Anza College.

This event is close-captioned.

Gonzaga Reads with Jessica Halliday

Gonzaga Reads with Jessica Halliday & Michael & Gail Gurian Award Winners - Various Genres

March 28, 2018
Wolff Auditorium, Jepson Center, Gonzaga University

Jessica Halliday is an American writer and educator. Ms. Halliday’s writing has appeared most recently in Sports Illustrated Online and Better Culture and Lit. Her previous publications include “A Mother’s Fairy Tale” (Weber Studies: The Contemporary West) and “Out Where Everyone Can See” (The Spokesman-Review).

She studied at the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University. She currently teaches at Gonzaga University.

The Michael & Gail Gurian Awards annually recognize excellence in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. The contest is open to all enrolled Gonzaga undergraduates. Winners in each category will read excerpts from their work.

Marie Howe Portrait

Marie Howe - Poetry

March 6, 2018 7:30pm

Cataldo Globe Room, Gonzaga University

Marie Howe is an American poet and educator. Ms. Howe’s poetry is recognized for incorporating Biblical and mythical allusions and moving deftly between biographical and metaphysical aspects of human life.

She is the author of several renowned poetry collections, including: The Good Thief; What the Living Do; and The Kingdom of Ordinary Time.

Ms. Howe is the recipient of the Lavan Younger Poets Prize from the American Academy of Poets and fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation and was the Poet Laureate of New York State from 2012-2014.

Her most recent collection, Magdalene, has been selected on the 2017 National Book Award Longlist for Poetry.

She studied at the University of Windsor and Columbia University. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University and New York University.

Portrait of  Chris Abani, author

Chris Abani - Multi-Genre Author

Feb. 12, 2018
Hemmingson Ballroom, Gonzaga University

Chris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. Born in Nigeria, he has resided in the United States since 2001. He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award. He is the author of the novels, GraceLand and The Secret History of Las Vegas. His poetry collections include Kalakuta Republic, Dog Woman, and Sanctificum among others. Other writings include the novella, Becoming Abagail, the memoir, The Face. Mr. Abani is also known for his TED Talk, On Humanity. He currently teaches at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

Yusef Komunyakaa Portrait

Yusef Komunyakaa - Poetry

Please note this event has been canceled.

January 25, 2018
Hemmingson Ballroom, Gonzaga University

Yusef Komunyakaa is an American poet, educator and scholar whose writing career began as a Vietnam War correspondent, for which he earned a Bronze Star. Mr. Komunyakaa is known for his personal narratives that weave biography, jazz rhythms and vernacular language. He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including: Copacetic; I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head; Dien Cai Dau; Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems; Thieves of Paradise; and his most recent, Emperor of Water Clocks.

He is the recipient of several awards, including the San Francisco Poetry Center Award, Dark Room Poetry Prize, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Mr. Komunyakaa was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1994.

He studied at the University of Colorado Springs, Colorado State University and the University of California at Irvine. He has taught as several institutions including the University of New Orleans, Indiana University and Princeton University. He currently teaches at New York University.

GUVWS thanks the Center for Public Humanities, and its Director, Dr. Brian Cooney, Director, for their support in bringing Mr. Komunyakaa to campus.

Readings from WA129 Logo

Readings from WA129 - Poetry

November 29, 2017
Wolff Auditorium, Jepson Building, , Gonzaga University

WA129 is an anthology of poems gathered from the people of Washington State, collected and curated by State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall. The anthology includes works from experienced poets and newcomers to the art, young students and lifetime learners. There are 129 poems in the published book—one for every year of statehood up to 2018, the end of Marshall’s term as State Poet Laureate.

We welcome poets Christopher Howell, Nance Van Winckel, Ellen Welcker, Kat Smith, Laura Read and others to read from the collection.

WA129 is a project of the Washington State Poet Laureate Program, funded by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission. The anthology is designed and published by Sage Hill Press, Spokane.

Proceeds from the sale of the book will help fund the State Poet Laureate program.

Angela Davis is an American activist, scholar, educator and writer who advocates for the oppressed.

Angela Davis - Nonfiction

October 25, 2017
Hemmingson Ballroom, Gonzaga University

Angela Davis is an American activist, scholar, educator and writer who advocates for the oppressed. Ms. Davis is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including If They Come in the Morning; Angela Davis: An Autobiography; Women, Race and Class; Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday; Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empires, Prisons and Torture; and The Meaning of Freedom.

Her most recent publication is a collection of interviews and speeches, Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement.

She has studied at Brandeis University, University of California at San Diego and Humboldt University. She has been on faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles, Syracuse University and most recently UC at Santa Cruz. GUVWS supports Angela Davis’ visit to campus under the auspices of the Center for Public Humanities at Gonzaga and its director, Dr. Brian Cooney, and the Women’s & Gender Studies Department, Dr. Ann Ciasullo, chair.

Portrait of Helena MarĂ­a Viramontes

Helena María Viramontes

Tuesday, April 2, 2019
7 p.m.
Cataldo Globe Room

Helena María Viramontes is the author of The Moths and Other Stories (1985) and Under the Feet of Jesus (1995), a novel. Her most recent novel, Their Dogs Came with Them, (2007), focuses on the dispossessed, the working poor, the homeless, and the undocumented of East Los Angeles, where Viramontes was born and raised. In the 1980s, Viramontes became co-coordinator of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association and literary editor of XhistmeArte Magazine. Later in the decade, Viramontes helped found Southern California Latino Writers and Filmmakers. In collaboration with feminist scholar Maria Herrera Sobek, Viramontes organized three major conferences at UC-Irvine, resulting in two anthologies: Chicana Creativity and Criticism: Charting New Frontiers in American Literature (1988) and Chicana Writes: On Word and Film (1993). Named a USA Ford Fellow in Literature for 2007 by United States Artists, she has also received the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, a Sundance Institute Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Luis Leal Award. A teacher and mentor to countless young writers, Viramontes is currently Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of English at Cornell University.

giovanni singleton

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
7 p.m.
Hemmingson Ballroom

giovanni singleton earned a BA from American University and an MFA from the New College of California. She is the author of the poetry collections AMERICAN LETTERS: works on paper (2017) and Ascension (2011), which won a California Book Award for Poetry. The book earned praise for its evocative use of white space, silence, and omissions. Poet Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon noted that singleton’s “poems are minimalist, while engaging a concern for the historical, the personal, the spiritual, as expanses… The buildup is slow, and culminates as play, in the clear space left as we literally watch an I disappear. Thereafter, we find the blank page again. And time to make another poem.” singleton is founding editor of nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts. Her honors and awards include fellowships from the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Cave Canem, and the Napa Valley Writers Conference. Her work has been anthologized widely and appeared on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts building. Coordinator for the Lunch Poems reading series at the University of California–Berkeley, singleton has taught at Saint Mary’s College, Naropa University, and New Mexico State University.

Portrait of Elena Passarello

Elena Passarello

Thursday, November 8, 2018
7 p.m.
Hemmingson Ballroom

Elena Passarello is an actor, writer, and recipient of a 2015 Whiting Award. Her first collection Let Me Clear My Throat (Sarabande, 2012), won the gold medal for nonfiction at the 2013 Independent Publisher Awards and was a finalist for the 2014 Oregon Book Award. Her essays on performance, pop culture, and the natural world have been published in Oxford American, Slate, Creative Nonfiction, and The Iowa Review, among other publications, as well as in the 2015 anthologies Cat is Art Spelled Wrong and After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essay. She lives in Corvallis, Oregon and teaches at Oregon State University. https://www.elenapassarello.com/books/

Portrait of Sierra Golden

Sierra Golden

Thursday, October 18, 2018
7 p.m.
Wolff Auditorium/Jepson Building

Gonzaga Alumna Sierra Golden will read from her forthcoming poetry collection, The Slow Art, which was the winner of the 2018 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize. After graduating from Gonzaga, Golden received her MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Winner of the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize, Golden's work appears in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner, Permafrost, and Ploughshares. She has also been awarded residencies by Hedgebrook, the Island Institute, and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Although she calls Washington State home, Golden has spent many summers in Alaska, working as a commercial fisherman. She was a 2015-2016 Made at Hugo House Fellow and now works in communications at Casa Latina, a nonprofit organization advancing the power and well-being of Latino immigrants through employment, education, and community organizing.

Art Spiegelman stands over a light table with artwork.

Art Spiegelman

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
7 p.m.
Hemmingson Ballroom

Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novelist and comic literacy advocate Art Spiegelman will visit Gonzaga University where he will give a talk titled "What the %@&*! Happened to Comics?" Best known for his Holocaust narrative, Maus, Spiegelman is a pioneer in bringing "comics out of the toy closet and onto the literature shelves." In addition to Maus and its sequel, Maus II, Spiegelman's work includes the post-9/11collection of broadsides, In the Shadow of No Towers, three comic anthologies for children, and many New Yorker Magazine covers. Spiegelman has been named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People, and has also received Grand Prix at the Angoulême International Comics Festival among many other prestigious awards.