Award winning writers set to speak at AU

Madison Graver

The AU English Department is holding their Spring Reading Series starting Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. with a reading by award-winning writer and educator Robert Olmstead. Olmstead’s presentation will be followed up with a visit by nonfiction writer Elissa Washuta on Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. and poet Mark Jarman on Apr. 8 at 4 p.m.

All of the readings will be held in Ronk Lecture Hall in the Dwight Schar College of Education and are free and open to the public.

Deborah Fleming, Professor of English and organizer of this event, said that “the guests are distinguished authors who can introduce students to new ideas.”

The first reader, Robert Olmstead, is currently the Director of Creative Writing at Ohio Wesleyan University and will be presenting a fictional reading. He has written the novel’s America by Land, A Trail of Heart’s Blood Wherever We Go and Coal Black Horse amongst others.

Coal Black Horse, released in 2007, received national acclaim including the 2007 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for fiction. The sequel to it titled Far Bright Star was named by Booklist as one of the Top Ten Westerns of the Decade.

Olmstead’s most recently released book is titled Savage Country and was released in September 2017.

The series’ second reader will be at AU on Feb. 27 and is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at The Ohio State University, Elissa Washuta.

Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a nonfiction writer. She has published two books titled Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules.

She said she was “happy to receive the invitation to read at Ashland University and has been thrilled to have the opportunity to meet students around the state.”

My Body Is a Book of Rules was named as a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.

According to Washuta’s website, “she has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, 4Culture, Potlatch Fund, and Hugo House.”

For the event, Washuta plans on reading from her manuscript-in-progress titled “White Magic”.

The final presenter of the series is poet Mark Jarman who will be visiting on Apr. 8 in celebration of Ashland Poetry Press’s 50th Anniversary.

Jarman is a professor of English at Vanderbilt University and is the author of 11 books of poetry, two books of essays, and co-authored another book of essays with Robert McDowell.

Some of his works include The Black Riviera which won the 1991 Poets Prize, Questions for Ecclesiastes which was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry, and Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems which won the 2013 Balcones Prize.

His other awards include a Joseph Henry Jackson Award, three grants from the NEA, and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Fleming says she “hope[s] visitors to the readings find a deeper appreciation for literature.”

For more information on this event please contact Lindsay Brandon-Smith at 419-289-5110 or [email protected]