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EOU Visiting Writers Series

And the Carl and Sandra Ellston Ars Poetica Fund

The EOU literary lecture series has promoted literary arts in the region since its inception in the early 1960s, hosting as many as a dozen visiting writers every academic year. Past visiting writers include Czeslaw Milosz, Denise Levertov, Richard Hugo, William Stafford, Robert Creeley, among others.

In more recent years, Ars Poetica has hosted readings and workshops by Carl Adamshick, Sandra Alcosser, Sherman Alexie, Christopher Buckley, Kerry Cohen, Jon Davis, Matthew Dickman, Anthony Doerr, Danielle Deulen, Debra Earling, Scott Elliot, Molly Gloss, Garrett Hongo, Marie Howe, Thomas Kennedy, Keejte Kuipers, William Kittredge, Melissa Kwasny, Dorianne Laux, Michael McGriff, Joseph Millar, Lance Olsen, Katrina Roberts, Peter Rock, Primus St. John, Carter Sickels, Mandy Smoker, Jess Walter, Crystal Williams, and many more.

Now supported, in part, by the Carl and Sandra Ellston Ars Poetica Fund, EOU’s Visiting Writers Series continues to bring standout writers to campus, in person and virtually, for readings and conversation. Scroll below for some of our latest visitors and please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Older reading events are available here.*

Upcoming 2023 Events:

Stay tuned for event announcements for 2023-2024 academic year.

Previous Ars Poetica Guests:

Saturday, June 3, 2023, 5 pm PT, Loso Hall Lobby and livestreamed: Allison Cobb, whose latest book, Plastic: An Autobiography, won the 2022 Oregon Book Award in Creative Nonfiction. Cobb’s obsession with a large plastic car part leads her to explore the violence of our consume-and-dispose culture, including her own life as a child of Los Alamos, where the first atomic bombs were made. The journey exposes the interconnections among plastic waste, climate change, nuclear technologies, and racism. As critic John Freeman says, “Why have we created a culture of such wanton waste if we want to live on earth? In the long shelf of books interrogating our moment in the climate crisis, this memoir is a sharp, urgent breakthrough, a triumph of honesty.” Also a poet, Cobb is the author of three previous books and is a Senior Director for Equity and Justice at Environmental Defense Fund. She lives in Portland. She’ll be in conversation with EOU Assistant Professor Nick Neely in an event sponsored by Literary Arts as part of EOU’s Second Annual Arts Fest.

May 18, 2023, 6 pm PT, Zoom: Memoirist Bryce Andrews reading and in conversation with Taylor Brorby. Andrews’s latest book is Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West. As Alta magazine writes, “Andrews’s heartfelt reflection on the American West confronts one of the region’s essential paradoxes: that a place defined by innovation and beauty also has a  legacy of horrible violence. For the author, the catalyst is inheriting his grandfather’s Smith & Wesson handgun, which carries its own awful history. From his ranch in Montana, Andrews turns to neighbors and family as he seeks a new way to live in the West.” Andrews’s previous books are Down from the Mountain and Badluck Way, which won a Reading the West Book Award and a High Plains Book Award. Andrews will be in conversation with Taylor Brorby, author of the recent memoir Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured Land. Register here.

Thursday, March 2, 2023, 6 pm PT, EOU Library and livestreamed: Adrian Shirk, whose latest book is Heaven is a Place on Earth: Searching for an American Utopia (Counterpoint 2022)“Told in a series of essays that balance memoir with fieldwork, Heaven Is a Place on Earth is an idiosyncratic study of American utopian experiments—from the Shakers to the radical faerie communes of Short Mountain to the Bronx rebuilding movement—through the lens of one woman’s quest to create a more communal life in a time of unending economic and social precarity.” Kirkus Reviews calls the book “[a] sprawling synthesis of memoir and social history . . . [A] rigorous, personalized argument for the continued relevance of an old idea.” Shirk is also the author of And Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: Stories From the Byways of American Women and Religion, named an NPR Best Book of 2017. Raised in Portland, Oregon, she now lives at the Mutual Aid Society in the Catskill Mountains and teaches in Pratt Institute’s BFA creative writing program. She is a frequent contributor to Catapult, and her essays have appeared in The Atlantic and Atlas Obscura, among other publications. Shirk will be in conversation with Nick Neely, Assistant Professor of English/Writing.

February 8, 2023, 6 pm PT, Zoom: Poet Sara Eliza Johnson reading and in conversation with MFA faculty member Christopher Kondrich. Johnson’s second book is Vapor (Milkweed 2022): “With a mind informed by physics, and a heart yearning for sky burial, Vapor’s epic vision swerves from the microscopic to telescopic, evoking an Anthropocene for a body and planet that are continually dying. … Almost omnipresently, Vapor stitches stars to microbes, oceans to space, and love to pain, collapsing time and space to converge everything at once.” Johnson’s first book is Bone Map, and she is the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry and Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award among other honors. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of Alaska–Fairbanks.

January 19, 2023, 6 pm PT, Zoom: Essayist, poet, and environmental activist Taylor Brorby reading and in conversation with Nick Neely, Assistant Professor of English/Writing. Brorby is the author of the new memoir Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured LandIn a New York Times review, novelist Jung Yun writes, “Brorby has written not only a truly great memoir, but also a frighteningly relevant one that speaks to the many battles we still have left to fight.” Brorby is currently the Annie Tanner Clark Fellow in Environmental Humanities and Environmental Justice at the University of Utah.

December 8, 2022, 6 pm PT, Zoom: Poet Robert Wrigley reading and in conversation with MFA Faculty Member Joe Wilkins. In his latest collection, The True Account of Myself as a Bird, Wrigley “means to use poetry to capture the primal conversation between human beings and the perilously threatened planet on which they love and live.” Wrigley has won numerous awards, including the Kingsley Tufts Award, the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award, and a Pacific Northwest Book Award. He lives in the woods of Idaho, with his wife the writer Kim Barnes. The True Account of Myself As a Bird is his twelfth collection of poems. He is also the author of a collection of personal essays, mostly about poetry, called Nemerov’s Door

May 21, 2022, 5 pm PT, Gilbert Center Plaza: Memoirist Tina Ontiveros reading and in conversation with Nick Neely, Assistant Professor of English/Writing. Ontiveros’s debut book is Rough House (Oregon State UP 2021): “A memoir of family, addiction, joy, and adventure set in the rural spaces of the Pacific Northwest. Ontiveros follows her logger father as he migrates across his wooded territory, cobbling together shelters for his family, burning bridges, and forever starting over.” The book won a Pacific Northwest Book Award and was a finalist for the 2022 Oregon Book Award in Creative Nonfiction. Our first in-person Ars Poetica in several years, held during the inaugural EOU Arts Fest.


April 28, 2022, 6 pm PT, Zoom: Poet Allison Adelle Hedge Coke reading and in conversation with MFA faculty member Abigail Chabitnoy. Hedge Coke’s newest book, now a National Book Award finalist, is Look at This Blue (Coffee House Press 2022): “Interweaving elegy, indictment, and hope into a love letter to California, Look at This Blue examines America’s genocidal past and present to warn of a future threatened by mass extinction and climate peril.” Hedge Coke has written seven books of poetry, a book of nonfiction, and a play, and has edited ten anthologies. She is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.


April 7, 6 pm PT, Zoom: Essayist Marco Wilkinson reading and in conversation with Nick Neely, Assistant Professor of English/Writing. Wilkinson’s debut is Madder: A Memoir in Weeds (Coffee House Press 2021), which “combines poetic meditations on nature, immigration, queer sensuality, and willful forgetting with recollections of Wilkinson’s Rhode Island childhood and glimpses of his maternal family’s life in Uruguay.” A one-time farmer and horticulturist, Wilkinson has taught at Oberlin College; University of California, San Diego; James Madison University; and in Antioch University’s MFA program. His essays have appeared in journals such as Kenyon Review, Seneca Review, and Bennington Review. He is the nonfiction editor of the Los Angeles Review.


March 3, 2022, 6 pm PT, Zoom: Featuring Katherine Standefer, author of Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life, about her troubled relationship to her own implanted cardiac defibrillator; and Emily Maloney, whose first book The Cost of Living: Essays, chronicles her experiences as both patient and caregiver. In conversation with MFA faculty member Melissa Matthewson.


February 10, 2002, 6 pm PT, Zoom: Featuring novelist Kirstin Valdez Quade, award-winning author of The Five Wounds and Night at the Fiestas, in conversation with MFA faculty member Claire Boyles. (Click here or on image for recording.)

Ars Poetica Recording

(Click here or on image for recording)


January 20, 2022, 6 pm PT, Zoom: A reading and conversation about the anthology Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verse from the Gloomy Northwest (Scablands 2021) featuring editors Sharma Shields and Maya Jewell Zeller, and contributors Beth Piatote, Joe Wilkins (an EOU MFA faculty member), and Alexander Ortega (current EOU MFA student).


December 2, 2021, 12 pm PT, Zoom: A reading and conversation with Ben Ehrenreich about his most recent book, Desert Notebooks: A Roadmap for the End of Time, a New York Times Notable Book of 2020. His previous books include one of The Guardian‘s Best Books of 2016, The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine, and two novels, Ether and The Suitors.

November 14, 2021

June 15, 2021

May 20, 2021

April 29, 2021

April 8, 2021

March 10, 2021