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2017-2018 Lion Rock Readings

Sherwin Bitsui
October 3, 2017 at 6:00 p.m.
Museum of Culture & Environment

Portrait of Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui (Diné) is the author of Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press) and Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press). He is of the Bįį’bítóó’nii’ Tódi’chii’nii clan and is born for the Tlizilłani’ clan. He is from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. His honors include the 2011 Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Native Arts & Culture Foundation Fellowship for Literature, a PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Bitsui teaches for the MFA in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts.



Sam McManis
February 6, 2018 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Black Hall, Room 151

Portrait of Sam McManis

Veteran journalist Sam McManis, who worked for more than three decades as a staff writer and columnist for several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, is ready to share his best stories.

McManis, currently completing a master’s degree in English literature at Central Washington University, will conduct a brown bag craft talk on Tuesday, February 6, from noon to 1 p.m. in Black Hall, room 151, on the CWU campus.

The discussion coincides with the February 2018 release of McManis’ first book, a collection of travel essays entitled, Crossing California: A Cultural Topography of a State of Wonder and Weirdness.

“Sam’s book is a collection of many of the wonderful travel pieces he wrote over a five-year period for the Sacramento Bee newspaper,” noted Lisa Norris, a CWU professor of English, who is coordinating the event. “It’s been described by one reviewer as a ‘quirky trip through California.’”

Until May 2016, McManis was a lifestyle columnist and feature writer for the Sacramento Bee, covering the entire state of California through columns and cover stories. He previously served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, and has had stories published in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

McManis has received numerous journalism awards, dating to the 1980s, when he was a sports reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He has been honored three times in the past four years by the Society for Features Journalism for his travel writing and columns and was selected as California’s “in-state” journalist of the year for 2016 by Visit California, a website and travel industry group.

He is currently working on a non-fiction book about Yakima’s Eisenhower High School cross-country team and its longtime coach Phil English. Under English, the boy’s squad has won 19 district titles in the past 21 years.

Media contact: Richard Moreno, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-2714.

Ruth Ozeki
February 26, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
SURC Theatre

Portrait of Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki is a filmmaker, novelist, and Zen Buddhist priest, whose award-winning novels have been described as “witty, intelligent and passionate” by The Independent, and as possessing “shrewd and playful humor, luscious sexiness and kinetic pizzazz” by the Chicago Tribune. Her first novel, My Year of Meats, was published in 1998 by Viking Penguin and has garnered widespread glowing reviews, awards, and a still-growing readership. A sexy, poignant, funny tale about global meat and media production, My Year of Meats tells the story of Jane and Akiko, two women on opposite sides of the planet, whose lives are connected by a TV cooking show. My Year of Meats was an international success, translated into eleven languages and published in fourteen countries. It won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Award, the Imus/Barnes and Noble American Book Award, and a Special Jury Prize of the World Cookbook Awards in Versailles.

Ozeki’s second novel, All Over Creation (Viking Penguin, 2003) shifts the focus from meat to potatoes in a story of a family farmer, his prodigal daughter, an itinerant gang of environmental activists, and a New Age corporate spin doctor, whose lives and interests collide in Liberty Falls, Idaho. In a starred review, Kirkus called this cast of characters “most fully realized and heart-wrenching in their imperfect yearnings,” and declared All Over Creation, “a feast for mind and heart.” Again a New York Times Notable Book, All Over Creation is the recipient of a 2004 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, as well as the Willa Literary Award for Contemporary Fiction.

Ozeki was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, by an American father and a Japanese mother. She studied English and Asian Studies at Smith College and traveled extensively in Asia. She received a Japanese Ministry of Education Fellowship to do graduate work in classical Japanese literature at Nara University. During her years in Japan, she worked in Kyoto’s entertainment or “water” district as a bar hostess, studied flower arrangement as well as Noh drama and mask carving, founded a language school, and taught in the English Department at Kyoto Sangyo University.

Ozeki returned to New York in 1985 and began a film career as an art director, designing sets and props for low budget horror movies. She switched to television production, and after several years directing documentary-style programs for a Japanese company, she started making her own films. Body of Correspondence (1994) won the New Visions Award at the San Francisco Film Festival and was aired on PBS.Halving the Bones (1995), an award-winning autobiographical film, tells the story of Ozeki’s journey as she brings her grandmother’s remains home from Japan. It has been screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, the Montreal World Film Festival, and the Margaret Mead Film Festival, among others. Ozeki’s films, now in educational distribution, are shown at universities, museums and arts venues around the world.

Ozeki, a frequent speaker on college and university campuses, currently divides her time between New York City and British Columbia, where she lives with her husband, artist, Oliver Kellhammer. She serves on the advisory editorial board of the Asian American Literary Review and on the Creative Advisory Council of Hedgebrook. She practices Zen Buddhism with Zoketsu Norman Fischer, and is the editor of the Everyday Zen website. She was ordained as a Soto Zen priest in June, 2010. Ozeki’s latest novel, A Tale for the Time Being, was published by Viking Penguin in March 2013 and immediately hit The New York Times bestseller list. It was also shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. For more information about this Speaker please visit their website.


Zach VandeZande and Maya Jewell Zeller
March 6, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Museum of Culture & Environment

Portrait of Zach VandeZande and dog LemonZach VandeZande

Zach VandeZande is an Assistant Professor at Central Washington University. He is the author of the novel Apathy and Paying Rent (Loose Teeth, 2008) and the forthcoming short story collection Lesser American Boys (Ferry Street Books, 2017). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Gettysburg Review, Yemassee, Georgia Review, Wigleaf, Smokelong Quarterly, Portland Review, Cutbank, Sundog Literature, Slice Magazine, Atlas Review, The Adroit Journal, and elsewhere. He likes you just fine.





Portrait of Maya Jewell ZellerMaya Jewell Zeller

Maya Jewell Zeller lives in the Inland Northwest, where the summers are smoky and the winters are cold. Her favorite seasons are: the one when things fall down and start decaying, and the other one when things bud and bloom again. When she isn't outdoors, Maya is often parenting her two children, teaching for Central Washington University, or editing for Scablands Books. Sometimes she does those things outdoors, too. Recipient of a Promise Award from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and writing residencies from the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Maya is also the author of three collections of poems: Rust Fish (Lost Horse Press, 2011); Yesterday, the Bees (Floating Bridge Press, 2015); and the interdisciplinary collaboration (with visual artist Carrie DeBacker) Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts (Entre Rios Books, 2017). You can learn more about Maya on her website.




Jennifer Givhan
April 17, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Museum of Culture & Environment

Portrait of Jennifer Givhan

Jennifer Givhan, a National Endowment for the Arts &  PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellow, is a Mexican-American  writer & activist from the Southwestern desert. She is the  author of three full-length poetry collections: Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize), Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series edited by Billy Collins) & Girl with Death Mask (2017 Blue Light Books Prize chosen by Ross Gay & forthcoming from Indiana University Press). Givhan also has three chapbooks available or forthcoming from Glass Poetry Press, dancing girl press, & Yellow Flag Press. Her novella Jubilee is currently a finalist for the Bakwin Award from Carolina Wren Press and her novel Trinity Sight has signed with Curtis Brown Literary Agency. Her honors include the Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, a National Latino Writers’ Conference Scholarship, the Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, Phoebe Journal’s Greg Grummer Poetry Prize chosen by Monica Youn, the Pinch Poetry Prize chosen by Ada Limón, & seven Pushcart nominations. Her work has appeared in Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Ploughshares, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Witness, Southern Humanities Review, Missouri Review, & The Kenyon Review, among many others. She can be found on her website, as well as Facebook & Twitter (@JennGivhan). 




John McNally
May 1, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Museum of Culture & Environment

Portrait of John McNally

John McNally is the author or editor of seventeen books, including The Boy Who Really, Really Wanted to Have Sex: The Memoir of a Fat Kid, Lord of the Ralphs (a young adult novel), and Vivid and Continuous: Essays and Exercises for Writing Fiction. His short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in over a hundred publications, including One Teen Story, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Washington Post. A finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, John divides his time between Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Lafayette, Louisiana, where he is Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon.

John will also be giving a craft talk from noon - 1:00 PM in Science II, room 101 (Planetarium), on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018.




Jac Jemc
May 15, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Museum of Culture & Environment

Portrait of Jac JemcJac Jemc lives in Chicago. Her novel The Grip of It was recently released from FSG Originals (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) in August 2017. Jemc is also the author of My Only Wife (Dzanc Books), named a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award;  A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books), named one of Amazon's Best Story Collections of 2014; and a chapbook of stories, These Strangers She'd Invited In (Greying Ghost Press).  Jac's nonfiction has been featured on the long list for Best American Essays and her story "Women in Wells" was featured in the 2010 Best of the Web anthology. Jac received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has completed residencies at the Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus, Hald: The Danish Center for Writers and Translators, Ragdale, the Vermont Studio Center, Thicket, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has been the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grants, and was named as one of 25 Writers to Watch by the Guild Literary Complex and one of New City's Lit 50 in Chicago. She's taught English and Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame, Northeastern Illinois University, Loyola University Chicago, Lake Forest College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Story Studio Chicago, and The Loft Literary Center. She currently serves as web nonfiction editor for Hobart. You can learn more about Jac on her website.

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