Lion Rock Visiting Writers 2023-2024

The Lion Rock Visiting Writers Series schedules readings every quarter and features nationally known writers reading their own work. We have hosted winners of the MacArthur Genius Award, WA State Poets Laureate, and recipients of Catamundo, Whiting, Guggenheim, Lannan, and NEA Fellowships, and other major prizes.

Each spring, students enrolled in ENG 568 and ENG 468: Contemporary Writers Colloquium (graduate and upper-level multi-genre writing workshops, respectively), meet with three visiting writers from the Lion Rock Visiting Writers Series. We also sponsor talks by professional editors and publishers, readings by faculty and students, including open mics, and an annual reading for students who have their work published in CWU's literary magazine, Manastash.

Past readers in the Lion Rock Visiting Writers Series include Natalie Diaz, Eduardo Corral, Elissa Washuta, Lucia Perillo, Anthony Doerr, Jos Charles, Major Jackson, Kim Barnes, Linda Bierds, David Guterson, David Wojahn, Prageeta Sharma, and many others.

The Series wishes to thank our many generous sponsors, including the College of Arts and Humanities, CWU Libraries, Museum of Culture and Environment, The Wildcat Shop, Karen Gookin, Len Thayer Grants, Humanities Washington, S&A, President's Office/Diversity and Inclusivity, the WGSS Program, The Douglas Honors College, and many partnerships across departments, schools, and the Kittitas Community, including those with Kittitas County Regional Library Board, One Book One County Program, Ellensburg Public Library, Jerrol's, and Gallery One.

Xavier Cavazos

Tuesday, October 17th, 2023
12 p.m. Craft Talk: Radical Revision featuring an introduction by Alumn and PhD student Karla Yaritza Maravilla Zaragoz (she/her/ella)
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom

6:00 p.m. Reading: The Devil's Workshop, featuring student reading by Alexus Mendoza
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom

Black and white headshot of Xavier Cavazos and his book cover of The Devil's Workshop, featuring a black & white goat and red underlining

Xavier Cavazos (he/him/his) is a performance artist and a grand slam champion of the NuYoRican Poets Cafe in NYC, and a member of three national poetry slam teams. He is the author of three award-winning poetry collections: Barbarian at the Gate (Poetry Society of America), Diamond Grove Slave Tree (Ice Cube Press), and The Devil’s Workshop, (Editor’s Choice Award from Cleveland State University Poetry Center) Currently, Cavazos is a senior poetry editor for Poetry Northwest, directs Liberal Studies, and teaches in the Professional and Creative Writing Program at Central Washington University. 

Karla Yaritza Maravilla Zaragoza, who is a first-year English Ph.D. student and a Joseph Gaia Distinguished Fellow in Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. As a scholar, her passion lies in advocating for greater representation of Chican@/Latinx experiences in literature and education.  In addition to conducting research and writing essays, she is a Washington-based poet whose work explores illness, myth, and sacrifice detailing the experiences of migrant farmworkers in the Yakima Valley, the borderlands, and across the United States. She was the first poet featured in Poetry Northwest’s “Presenting” series for up-and-coming poets and her poetry manuscript “La Casa Negra” was a 2022 semifinalist for the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize through Letras Latinas. She currently works as an Editorial Assistant for the Notre Dame Review.

Alexus Mendoza is a senior at CWU and is currently working on publishing a chapbook and is writing a poetry manuscript. She is an unconventional student from Wenatchee, and is working to transfer to an MFA program after graduating with her bachelor’s in Professional and Creative Writing this spring.

Publishing Panels

1st Panel: Editing & Publishing
Wednesday, November 1st, 2023
12:00—1:00 p.m. in Samuelson 131 & via Zoom
Featuring two speakers: Zoe-Aline Howard and Elaina Ellis

Zoe-Aline Howard facing the camera wearing a white top, blue jeans, and large framed glasses, with a round mirror in the background.

Zoe-Aline Howard (she/her) is a literary agent and literary publicist. Zoe holds a BFA with Distinction and Publishing Certificate from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and has had the privilege to work across publishing with several entities: previously on publicity and marketing teams at Lookout Books, and currently as an agent acquiring adult fiction and nonfiction at Howland Literary, and as a literary publicist at Pine State Publicity.

Elaina Ellis smiling in front of a yellow background

Elaina Ellis (she/her) is publisher and cofounder at Generous Press, a new romance fiction book imprint. She owns and operates A Trusted Reader, providing literary book editing services for brilliant writers of all stripes. For ten years she worked at the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry publishing house Copper Canyon Press where she served as editor. She is the author of Write About an Empty Birdcage, and has received support from Artist Trust, Mineral School, Vermont Studio Center, Jack Straw, Tent, 4Culture, and Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

2nd Panel: Genre Writing & Alternative Publishing
Thursday, November 2nd, 2023
6:00—7:30 p.m. in Samuelson 131 & via Zoom

Featuring three speakers: T.J. Tranchell, Elise Forier Edie, and Knox Gardner

TJ Tranchell is pictured in a black and gray sweater vest in front of a lit up building with the moon shining above him

T.J. Tranchell (he/him) was born on Halloween, has worked as a journalist, horror movie columnist, pizza delivery man, warehouse worker, haunted house monster, customer service clerk, and other less glamorous jobs. Tranchell earned his master’s degree in literature from Central Washington University with, naturally, a focus on the horror genre. Tranchell published his first novel, Cry Down Dark, through Blysster Press in 2016. In 2017, Blysster released a collection of short stories, poetry, and film criticism titled Asleep in the Nightmare Room. 2020 saw the release of a second collection, The Private Lives of Nightmares, followed soon by his second novel, Tell No Man, which he published under his imprint LAST DAYS BOOKS. Through his imprint, he released The Lamentations of Blackhawk in 2022, which concludes his Blackhawk Cycle. He has also published horror short fiction and was co-editor of GIVE: An Anthology of Anatomical Entries, a dark fiction anthology from When the Dead Books. He has presented work on Stephen King at the Popular Culture Association’s national conference, and in 2021 at the Ann Radcliffe Conference on the “Great American Horror Novel.” A book-length version of that paper called Lambs Lost in the Mountains is under contract with Encyclopocalypse Publications. In April 2022, Tranchell crossed off a bucket list item by having an article published in Fangoria magazine. He currently teaches English at a community college in Washington state, where he lives with his wife and son.

Elise Edie smiling brightly at the camera with green trees behind her

Elise Forier Edie (she/her) is an author, playwright and screenwriter, based in Los Angeles. She is best known for her hit play, The Pink Unicorn, about a Christian widow, living in a small Texas town, whose child comes out as genderqueer. Her horror and romance fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines and online publications, including Metaphorosis Magazine, Penumbra, The Enchanted Conversation, Non-Binary Review and in anthologies edited by Rosalie Parker, Ellen Datlow and Rhonda Parrish, among others. Her award-winning paranormal Romance novel, The Devil In Midwinter, was published by World Weaver Press in 2014. Elise teaches courses in Writing Romance Fiction at UCLA Extension. You can find out more about her at her website.

Knox Gardner sitting with hands folded in front of his face

Knox Gardner (he/him) is a queer poet and the publisher and editor-in-chief of Entre Ríos Books, a small press based in Seattle.  Since 2015, ERB has focused primarily on Northwest writers, translators, and artists in collaboration in trade editions. The production process usually includes audio as well. Knox Gardner’s debut collection, Woodland, with musician Aaron Otheim was a finalist for the 2020 CLMP Firecracker award. He finds it very challenging to write and be a publisher at the same time. Learn more about Entre Ríos Books.

Fall Student Reading 

Thursday, November 16th, 2023
6:00 p.m. Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom


Katharine Whitcomb

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

12:00 p.m. Craft Talk: "Let Your Writing Find Its Form"
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons or via Zoom

6:00 p.m. Reading: Habitats
Featuring a reading by CWU student Monica Monk
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons or via Zoom

Katharine Whitcomb headshot smiling at the camera in a brown sweater next to a glass of water and her book cover of Habitats

Katharine Whitcomb (she/her) was born in Appleton, Wisconsin, and earned her B.A. from Macalester College in English. In 1995 she received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She was a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1996-1998. She is the author of three full-length collections of poems, Habitats, forthcoming in the Possession Sound Series from Poetry Northwest Editions, The Daughter’s Almanac, which was chosen as the winner of the 2014 Backwaters Prize and published by The University of Nebraska Press/The Backwaters Press; Saints of South Dakota & Other Poems, which was chosen by Lucia Perillo as the winner of the 2000 Bluestem Award and published by Bluestem Press; and two poetry chapbooks, Hosannas (Parallel Press, 1999) and Lamp of Letters (Floating Bridge Press, 2009), winner of the 2009 Floating Bridge Chapbook Award. She is the co-author, with the artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter, of The Art Courage Program, a parody self-help book and art piece, published by Jaded Ibis Press in 2014. In addition to the Stegner Fellowship, her awards include a Loft-McKnight Award, a Writing Fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a Halls Fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. She received an AWP Fellowship in Poetry to the Prague Summer Seminars at Charles University in the Czech Republic. She has had work published in NarrativeThe Paris ReviewThe Yale ReviewThe Kenyon Review and The Missouri Review as well as many anthologies, including Renga for ObamaFire on Her TongueMaking Poems, and Dorothy Parker’s Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing in the English Department at Central Washington University.  

Monica Monk is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Professional and Creative Writing Program at Central Washington University. She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English (Carleton College) and German (University of Washington) as well as Master of Arts degrees in both Germanics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (University of Washington). Her poetry so far is informed by, among other things, her study of languages and German intellectual history and literature, her hybrid cultural background and experience as a dual Swiss-American citizen, her Pacific Northwest roots, and her love of cats. Her literary review of Kathryn Nuernberger’s Rue was published in Flyover Country last year. She teaches English and English for Academic Purposes at Tacoma Community College.

Juliet Patterson

Thursday, February 15, 2024
12:00 p.m. Craft Talk
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom

6:00 p.m. Reading: Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom

Juliet Patterson headshot against a brick wall and the cover of her book SinkholeJuliet Patterson is the author of Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide (Milkweed Editions, September 2022), finalist for the 2023 Minnesota Book Awards and named one of the best memoirs of 2022 by Library Journal. She has also published two full-length poetry collections, Threnody, (Nightboat Books 2016), a finalist for the 2017 Audre Lorde Poetry Award, and The Truant Lover, (Nightboat Books, 2006), winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize and a finalist for the 2006 Lambda Literary Award. A recipient of the Arts & Letters Susan Atefat Prize in non-fiction, and a Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, she has also been awarded fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Minneapolis-based Creative Community Leadership Institute (formerly the Institute for Community and Creative Development). She teaches creative writing and literature at St. Olaf College and is also a faculty member and director of the college’s Environmental Conversations program. She lives in Minneapolis on the west bank of the Mississippi near the Great River Road with her partner, the writer Rachel Moritz, and their son. Photo color credit: Ayanna Muata

Winter Student Reading

Thursday, February 29, 2024
6:00 p.m. Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & Via Zoom

Poster about the Winter 2024 Student Reading

Callum Angus

Thursday, April 11, 2024
12:00 p.m. Craft Talk: Chimeric Writing, Limbic Architectures: Writing about that which resists language
With introductions by Dr. Ali Ünal
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom

6:00 p.m. Reading: A Natural History of Transition
Featuring a reading by CWU student Sheila Richardson
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom

Callum Angus headshot wearing a green, striped button-down shirt with a packground of trees Callum Angus (he/him) is the author of the story collection A Natural History of Transition, which was a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, a Lambda Literary Award, and an Oregon Book Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon where he edits the journal smoke and mold, teaches at the Independent Publishing Resource Center, and is at work on a novel. His work has appeared in Joyland, Michigan Quarterly Review, Orion, Nat. Brut, and many other venues, and has been anthologized in Kink, a collection edited by Garth Greenwell and R.O. Kwon. He has received fellowships and residencies from Lambda Literary, the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology, and The Seventh Wave, among others. A former bookseller, he holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has taught creative writing at Smith College, UMass Amherst, and Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, as well as at the Tin House Winter Workshop. His nonfiction chapbook Cataract is forthcoming from Fonograf Editions. He can be found on his website and on InstagramPhoto credit: Ebenezer Galluzzo

Ali Ünal, originally from Turkey, is a fiction writer. Before coming to the United States, he worked as a freelance translator and publishing editor for a decade. He also studied creative writing at UMass, Amherst and University of Louisiana, Lafayette. Here at CWU, he teaches fiction and nonfiction as well as literary journal design & production around our department's literary magazine Manastash.

Sheila Richardson is a graduate teaching assistant at CWU, as well as a poet and writer from Seattle, Washington. Sheila is in their first year of Central Washington University’s Professional and Creative Writing master’s program and has a forthcoming publication in Ellensburg’s Walking Chapbook. In their writing, Sheila frequently calls back to her roots in the Pacific Northwest, building their creative works from a foundation of religion and nature.

Roy Scranton

Thursday, April 25, 2024
12:00 p.m. Craft Talk: "Witnessing Climate Change"
CWU Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom
Register in advance to join this event virtually

6:00 p.m. Reading: "Beginning with the End: Climate Change, Ethical Pessimism, and the Limits of Narrative"
Health Sciences 102 & via Zoom ~ Please note this location difference from our other events!
Register in advance to join this event virtually

Book signing to follow: Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

Friday, April 26, 2024
12:00 p.m. Climate Panel: Optimism and Pessimism about the Anthropocene: Is It the End of the World As We Know It?
Ellensburg Public Library

Moderator: Pamela McMullin-Messier, Professor and Chair of Department of Sociology, CWU
Roy Scranton, Author and Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame
Carlyn Saunders, KEEN (Kittitas Environmental Education Network)
Jeff Hashimoto, Science/Environmental Science teacher at Ellensburg High School.
Gwynn Scoville, student from EHS Environment Club, Ellensburg High School. 

headshot-roy-scranton.jpgRoy Scranton is the author of several books, including Total Mobilization: World War II and American Literature (University of Chicago Press, 2019), the novel War Porn (Soho Press, 2016), and Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: Reflections on the End of a Civilization (City Lights, 2015). He has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Nation, the New Republic, and elsewhere. He was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences at Rice University and the inaugural teaching fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Studies, and has been awarded a Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities and a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Fiction. Dr. Scranton is an Associate Professor of English with tenure at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches creative writing and environmental humanities, and serves as director of the Notre Dame Environmental Humanities Initiative. His next book, Ethical Pessimism: Climate Change and the Limits of Narrative, is due out from Stanford University Press in 2025.

Link to Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

Link to We're Doomed. Now What?

This event is sponsored by the President’s Office and in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Sciences, KEEN, Ellensburg Public Library, Kittitas County Regional Library Board and Ellensburg High School. 

Manastash Issue 34 Launch & Reading Event

Wednesday, May 15, 2024
2:00 p.m. SOURCE, SURC Pit
Manastash Poster Launch 2024

Maya Jewell Zeller

Tuesday, May 21, 2024
6:00 p.m. Reading "out takes/ glove box: a story in fragments".
Featuring an introduction by Taneum Bambrick and a reading by Hollis Zepp
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom
Register in advance to join this event virtually

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
12:00 p.m. Craft Talk: Title: "Eco-justice & the poetics of spells."
Brooks Library 2nd Floor Commons & via Zoom
Register in advance to to join this event virtually

In her reading, she will be talking a bit about reproductive rights and the wunderkammer of the body, intersections of gender and socioeconomic class, lyric imagining, hybrid works, the link between poetry and memoir, narrative signposts, deep image, and inventing forms/ experimenting; and she will give her craft talk offering an all-genres generative session titled “Eco-justice & the poetics of spells."

Maya Jewell Zeller black and white headshot and cover of book Out Takes/ Glove BoxMaya Jewell Zeller (she/her) is author of out takes/ glove box, selected by Eduardo Corral as winner of the New American Poetry Prize, and co-author of Advanced Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology, just out from Bloomsbury (UK) in January (2024). Her other books include the interdisciplinary collaboration, Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts, as well as the poetry collection Rust Fish, and the chapbook Yesterday, the Bees. Maya is a 2024 Washington State Artist Trust Fellow, and just returned from University of Oxford where this spring she was a visiting fellow to St. Edmund Hall. Her essay “Scavenger Panorama” received a Notable Status in Best American Essays 2023, selected by Vivian Gornick, and her memoir manuscript, “Raised by Ferns,” was runner up in the 2022 AWP Sue Silverman Prize for Creative Nonfiction. Maya teaches for Central Washington University and serves as poetry and nature writing faculty for Western Colorado University’s low-residency MFA. She lives in the Inland NW with her children. Photo by Dean Davis 

Reviews, Interviews, & Conversations on out takes/ glove box

Poem from out takes/ glove box featured in the Bellingham Review


Portrait of Taneum Bambrick looking down at the ground and smilingT Bambrick (she/they) is the author of Intimacies, Received (Copper Canyon Press, Sept 2022) and Vantage, which was selected by Sharon Olds for the 2019 American Poetry Review/Honickman first book award (APR 2019). Her chapbook, Reservoir, was selected by Ocean Vuong for the 2017 Yemassee Chapbook Prize. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s MFA program, she is the winner of an Academy of American Poets University Prize, an Environmental Writing Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Arts Center, and the 2018 BOOTH Nonfiction Contest. Their essay, "Sturgeon," was named a notable essay of 2019. Her poems and essays appear or are forthcoming in The Nation, The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, PEN, Narrative, The Missouri Review, 32 Poems, West Branch, and elsewhere. She has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. A 2020 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she is a Dornsife Fellow in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California.  

Hollis Zepp posing in red graduation gown and capHollis Zepp is graduating in June with their bachelors in Professional and Creative Writing, and is eternally grateful to her mentors, Maya Zeller and Taneum Bambrick. She enjoys writing sad poetry, building legos, and dedicating far too many hours to Stardew Valley.

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