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Lion Rock Visiting Writers 2018-2019 Readings

Lion Rock Visiting Writers Series Logo

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

Each spring, students enrolled in ENG 468: Contemporary Writers Colloquium (an upper-level multi-genre writing workshop), 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 Lucia Perillo, Anthony Doerr, Major Jackson, Kim Barnes, Linda Bierds, David Guterson, David Wojahn, Prageeta Sharma and Sam Green.

2018-2019 Readings


Faculty Showcase Reading

October 16, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Museum of Culture and Environment


Portrait of Xavier Cavazos

Xavier Cavazos 

Xavier Cavazos is the author of Diamond Grove Slave Tree (2015), the inaugural Prairie Seed Poetry Prize from Ice Cube Press, and Barbarian at the Gate (2014), which was published in the Poetry Society of America's New American Poets Chapbook Series. Cavazos earned an MFA in Creative Writing and the Environment from Iowa State University.

Cavazos was part of the 1990’s second wave of writers from New York’s legendary Nuyorican Poet’s Café that included Paul Beatty, Regie Cabico, Ava Chin, Maggie Estep, Reg E. Gaines, Tracie Morris, Willie Perdomo, Beau Sia, Edwin Torres, Crystal Williams, Sal Williams, and Emily XYZ.

Cavazos has poetry published in anthologies such as Aloud: Voices from the NuYoRican Poets Café (1994), Under the Pomegranate Tree: Best Latino Erotica (1994), Verses That Hurt: Pleasure and Pain from the POEMFONE Poets (1996), and Best American Experimental Writing 2015.

Cavazos’s honors include a Nuyorican Poets Café “Fresh Poet Award”(1993), Grand Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poet’s Café (1995), and a Poetry Society of America National Chapbook Fellowship (2013). He currently teaches in the Africana and Black Studies and the Professional and Creative Writing Programs at Central Washington


Seanse DuckenPortrait of Seanse Lynch Ducken

Seanse Lynch Ducken received her MFA in Poetry through Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her work has appeared in the 2nd edition of the online anthology, A Sense of Place: The Washington State Geospatial Poetry Anthology, Windfall: A Journal of Poetry of Place, Mudfish 19, Noble/Gas Qtrly, New Limestone Review, and Ecotone. She currently teaches English at Central Washington University.







Sonya DunningPortrait of Sonya Dunning

Sonya Dunning lives in Tacoma, Washington and teaches English online for Central Washington University. She has a B.A. in English from Western Washington University, a M.A. in Literature from Central Washington University, and a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of Idaho. Her essay “for(e)closure” won Creative Nonfiction’s 2011 MFA Program-Off, was listed as a “notable essay” in Best American Essays, and has since appeared in The Irish Times. Her writing has more recently been published in The Sun, The Meadow, and The Swamp. She is also the nonfiction-editor and editor-in-chief of 5x5 Literary Magazine


Katharine WhitcombPortrait of Katharine Whitcomb

Katharine Whitcomb, a CWU Distinguished Professor of Teaching, is a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She is the author of four collections of poetry including The Daughter’s Almanac (Backwaters Press, 2015), Saints of South Dakota and Other Poems (Bluestem Press, 2000), and two poetry chapbooks—Lamp of Letters, and Hosannas;  she is also co-author of the faux self-help art book, The Art Courage Program (Jaded Ibis Press, 2014). Some of her recent publications include poems in the anthologies Renga for Obama, and WA 129, and in the journals Rise Up Review, Bennington Review, and She has taught creative writing at Central Washington University for over a decade, where she is currently the chair of the English Department, and coordinator of the Professional and Creative Writing MA Program. 



Laura Read

November 6, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Museum of Culture of Environment

Portrait of Laura ReadLaura Read’s first collection of poems, Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral, was published in 2012 by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her second collection, Dresses from the Old Country, will be published by BOA in fall of 2018. She teaches English at Spokane Falls Community College. 







Erin Stalcup

January 15, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Portrait of Laura ReadErin Stalcup is the author of the story collection, And Yet It Moves (Indiana University Press, 2016), and the novel Every Living Species (Gold Wake Press, 2017). Her fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Sun, Monkeybicycle, and elsewhere, and her creative nonfiction about her teaching experiences was listed as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016. Erin received her MFA from Warren Wilson College’s Program for Writers. After teaching in community colleges, universities, and prisons in New York City, North Carolina, Texas, and Arizona, she recently joined the faculty in the MFA Program in Writing & Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Erin co-founded and co-edits Waxwing, and she is the Editor of Hunger Mountain. You can learn more about Erin on her website






"If on a Winter's Night..." Showcase

January 29, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
Brooks Library Second Floor Commons

Portrait of Lisa NorrisLisa Norris

Lisa Norris is a professor of English at Central Washington University where she has taught since 2007. Previously, she was an instructor for 15 years at Virginia Tech. Her story collections are Toy Guns and Women Who Sleep With Animals, winners of the Willa Cather and SFASU Fiction Prizes, respectively. Her poems and nonfiction have appeared in Shenandoah, Ascent, Fourth Genre,, Bullets Into Bells, Gulf Stream, and others. You can learn more about Lisa on her website





Joe PowellPortrait of Joseph Powell

Joseph Powell has published six full-length collections of poetry, including Holding Nothing Back (Main Street Rag, 2018), Preamble to the Afterlife (2013), and Hard Earth (March Street, 2010) and four chapbooks. Two books (Getting Here and Counting the Change) won the Quarterly Review of Literature's international book award. He co-wrote a textbook on meter with Mark Halperin called Accent on Meter, (NCTE, 2004). His book of short stories, Fish Grooming & Other Stories, (2007) was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and he won a National Endowment for the Arts Award in 2009. He is a CWU University Distinguished Professor and Emeritus Faculty of English at Central Washington University. 





Jeff SuwakPortrait of Jeff Suwak

Jeff Suwak attended CWU after finishing his service in the Army. While deployed overseas, he swore that if he got through it alive, he'd pursue his passion for writing and literature. CWU was the beginning of that journey. Today an editor and writer in Tacoma, he's excited to revisit CWU, and particularly to talk with any veteran students who may want some perspective from someone who's made the readjustment to civilian life. He has been published in five different countries (he likes to say that because he thinks it sounds cool). In addition to an upcoming appearance in Stupefying Stories (run by cyberpunk legend Bruce Bethke), Jeff's recent publications include "Shang Qin's War" in Guardbridge Books' international anthology titled Myriad Lands: Around the World, "The Guitaissta's Lament" in Dimension6 (run by Australia's most-eminent Keith Stevenson), and The Familiar and his Alchemist (audio version produced on Audible by Plympton and print in Spark: A Creative Anthology). Recently he's been experimenting with the platform and is a "top writer" there. His novella Beyond the Tempest Gate was published by Vabella Publishing in 2013. He also writes about music, his locale, and “various doodads.” During his time as a student, he won a creative writing scholarship at Pacific Lutheran University and the Nursia Prize for Undergraduate Scholarship for his paper on Cormac McCarthy's Suttree. It's possible, though he can't confirm, that he is the only writer to ever have published work in four different institutions of higher learning while he was enrolled as a student in them. You can learn more about Jeff on his website.

Jos Charles

April 2, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
Brooks Library Second Floor Commons

Portrait of Jos CharlesJos Charles is author of feeld, a winner of the 2017 National Poetry Series, and Safe Space. She is a recipient of the 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. Charles has an MFA from the University of Arizona and is pursuing a PhD in English from UC Irvine. 

Charles will also be giving a Craft Talk from noon-1:00 p.m. on April 2, 2019, in Brooks Library Second Floor Commons. 









Kristiana Kahakauwila

April 23, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
Brooks Library Second Floor Commons

Portrait of Kristiana KahakauwilaKristiana Kahakauwila is a hapa writer of kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian), German, and Norwegian descent. Her first book, This is Paradise: Stories (Hogarth, 2013), was named a 2013 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Currently at work on a historical novel set on the island of Maui, she has published excerpts and essays in Kartika Review, Red Ink, Mistake House, and GEO Magazine, among others. Kristiana earned a BA in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Michigan. She was a 2015-16 Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study and is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University. She also teaches in the Low-Residency MFA at the Institute of American Indian Art (IAIA) in Santa Fe.

You can learn more about Kristiana on her website.


Kahukauwila will also be giving a Craft Talk from noon-1:00 p.m. on April 23, 2019, in Brooks Library Second Floor Commons.

Erika L. Sanchez

May 7, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
Brooks Library Second Floor Commons

Portrait of Erika L. SánchezErika L. Sánchez's acclaimed young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, was nominated for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature and was an instant New York Times bestseller. A novelist, essayist, poet and self-described "cheerleader" for young women, she seeks to amplify the stories and voices of marginalized people everywhere through the power of storytelling.

Erika L. Sánchez’s first novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, was immediately heralded as one of the most significant works of young adult fiction in recent years. Born and raised in a working class town outside of Chicago to formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants, Sánchez’s experience informed her moving depiction of the realities of undocumented life in America. Told through the eyes of a teenage girl trying to find her place between Mexican culture and American life after a tragedy upends her family, the book compassionately and powerfully touches on numerous contemporary issues including mental health, gender, and immigration.

Prior to publishing I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Sánchez received numerous grants and accolades in support of her work from the Poetry Foundation, the CantoMundo Prize, Bread Loaf Scholarship, the Guild Complex of Chicago, and the Boston Review, all of which added to her reputation as an emerging writer to watch. As a journalist, she’s been featured in The Guardian, Jezebel, Rolling Stone, Salon, Buzzfeed, and Cosmopolitan, and released her first book of poetry, Lessons on Expulsion to acclaim from outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post.

When not writing, Sánchez is an enthusiastic advocate for young women everywhere, and speaks about the rights and experiences of undocumented immigrants and young people of color, using her platform and her journey as a writer to encourage her audiences to tell their own stories. Sánchez is available for speaking engagements with both English and Spanish-speaking audiences. Recently, she was awarded the Princeton Arts Fellowship and currently teaches in the creative writing department at Princeton University. 

You can learn more about Erika on her website.

Sanchez will also be giving a Craft Talk from noon-1:00 p.m. on May 7, 2019, in Brooks Library Second Floor Commons.


2017-2018 Visiting Writers

2016-2017 Visiting Writers

2015-2016 Visiting Writers

2014-2015 Visiting Writers

2013-2014 Visiting Writers

2012-2013 Visiting Writers

2011-2012 Visiting Writers

2010-2011 Visiting Writers


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