Past Writers Reads
March 14, 2013 … Saloma Miller Furlong, memoirist
Furlong grew up in an Amish community in Ohio. Driven by her desire for freedom and more formal education, she broke away from her community — not once, but twice. Furlong graduated from Smith College with a major in German Studies and a minor in Philosophy. Her education included research on the Amish with Dr. Donald Kraybill and a semester abroad in Germany, where she studied at the University of Hamburg and participated in children’s literature classes in which she wrote a children’s book in German. Furlong writes a blog, About Amish, has published a memoir titled Why I Left the Amish, and has published short stories and essays, including in Calyx; A Journal of Art and Literature by Women (1997) and in Vermont Voices III: An Anthology of Vermont Writers (1999). She is currently co-writing, with her husband, David, a sequel to her memoir titled The Amish Daughter and the Yankee Peddler.
January 31, 2013 … Katie Fallon, essayist and non-fiction writer
Fallon is author of the nonfiction book Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird (Ruka Press, 2011). Cerulean Blues was recently named a finalist for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Reed Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment, and her essay “Hill of the Sacred Eagles” was selected as a finalist in Terrain ‘s 2011 essay contest. Fallon’s nonfiction has appeared in a variety of other magazines and literary journals, including The Bark, Fourth Genre, Ecotone, River Teeth, Isotope, Fourth River, Appalachian Heritage, Now & Then, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Rivendell, The New River Gorge Adventure Guide, and elsewhere. She has taught creative writing at Virginia Tech and West Virginia University.
November 1, 2012 … Joy Jordan-Lake, novelist
Dr. Jordan-Lake’s first novel, Blue Hole Back Home: A Novel (David C. Cook, 2008), won the 2009 national Christy Award for first novel and was selected as the 2009 Common Book for Baylor University. Blue Hole Back Home is increasingly being chosen as classroom and summer reading at various public and private high schools, middle schools, colleges and universities. Dr. Jordan-Lake has also authored Grit and Grace: Portraits of a Woman’s Life (Wheaton Library Series, 2000), Whitewashing Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Nineteenth-Century Women Novelists Respond to Stowe (Vanderbilt University Press, 2005), and Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous: Ten Alarming Words of Faith (Paraclete Press, 2007). She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Tufts University and currently teaches part time at Belmont University in Tennessee.
September 20, 2012 … Casey Clabough, non-fiction writer from Lynchburg, VA
Casey Clabough is the author of the novel Confederado, the travel memoir The Warrior’s Path: Reflections Along an Ancient Route, and five scholarly books on southern writers, including Inhabiting Contemporary Southern & Appalachian Literature: Region & Place in the 21st Century. Clabough serves as editor of the literature section of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ Encyclopedia Virginia and as general editor of the literary journal James Dickey Review. He lives on a farm in Appomattox County, Virginia and teaches at Lynchburg College.
February 23, 2012 … Lee Peterson, poet from Penn State University, Altoona campus
Lee Peterson currently teaches creative writing courses full time at Pennsylvania State University, Altoona campus, where she held the position of 2004 “Emerging Writer-in-Residence.” She is the author of Rooms and Fields: Dramatic Monologues from the War in Bosnia, winner of the 2003 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize. She gives readings and leads workshops nationally, including the 2007 Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Her poetry has been published in various journals, including North American Review, Runes: A Review of Poetry, Nimrod: International Journal of Prose and Poetry, and The Seattle Review.
January 26, 2012 … Diane Gilliam, poet from Akron, Ohio
Diane Gillam is the author of several poetry collections, most recently, Kettle Bottom, which earned her numerous honors, including a spot on the American Booksellers Association Book Sense 2005 Top Ten Poetry Books list, the 2008 Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing, and inclusion in The Pushcart Prize XXX anthology. In her review of Kettle Bottom, Catherine MacDonald gives the book high praise, “Set in 1920–21, a period of violent unrest known as the West Virginia Mine Wars, the poems in Kettle Bottom combine compelling narratives with the charged, heightened language of lyric poetry. It is an unforgettable combination, one that characterizes the very best contemporary verse.” Gillam has had her poems published in literary journals and magazines including Wind Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Shenandoah, Ploughshares, and The Spoon River Poetry Review.
October 13, 2011 … Sehba Sarwar, multidisciplinary artist and director of Voice Breaking Boundaries
Sehba Sarwar is a writer, multidisplinary artist, and activist, currently based in Houston, Texas, where she serves as founding director of Voices Breaking Boundaries (VBB), and is an active voice at KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM. She continues to teach writing and multidisciplinary arts workshops at all levels, in both Pakistan and the US. She moves between the city of her birth Karachi, Pakistan, where she spent the first half of her life in a home filled with artists, activists and educators, and her adopted city, Houston, where she has recreated a community similar to the one in which she was raised. Her writings have appeared in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines in India, Pakistan, and the U.S., and her work (writings, installations and videos) explores displacement and women’s issues, moving between South Asia and the U.S. She is the author of the novel Black Wings, and her short stories have appeared in Muneeza Shamsie’s 2008 anthology of Pakistani women writers And The World Changed and in Neither Night Nor Day. Her essays have appeared in publications including The News on Sunday, The New York Times’ Sunday Magazine and Callaloo.
September 22, 2011 … G. C. Waldrep, poet from Bucknell University
G. C. Waldrep Professor is an assistant professor of English at Bucknell University. He is the author of four full-length collections of poems: Goldbeater’s Skin (2003); Disclamor (2007); Archicembalo (2009), winner of the Dorset Prize; and, in collaboration with John Gallaher, Your Father on the Train of Ghosts. His work has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, Ploughshares, Harper’s, The Nation, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, New England Review, Colorado Review, New American Writing, and Tin House, as well as in Best American Poetry 2010. His work has earned prizes and residencies from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Campbell Corner Foundation. He was a 2007 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow in Literature. Waldrep is also the author of Southern Workers and the Search for Community, a historical monograph on the lives of Southern textile workers during the early twentieth century. At Bucknell he teaches creative writing, directs the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets, and serves as Editor-at-Large for the Kenyon Review.
February 17, 2011 … Nathalie Handal
Nathalie Handal is an award-winning poet, playwright, and writer. She teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, most recently in Africa and at Columbia University in New York City. She is the author of the poetry collections, The NeverField and The Lives of Rain; the poetry CDs Traveling Rooms and Spell; the editor of The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology (an Academy of American Poets Bestseller and winner of the Pen Oakland/Josephine Miles Award); and co-editor along with Tina Chang and Ravi Shankar of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008). Her forthcoming poetry book, Love and Strange Horses, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. “It’s late in the world when I finish reading this amazing book of Arab women’s poetry. I cannot put it down and wish to carry it with me everywhere, as a text for remembering how crucial poetry is for the survival of the soul. Each poem carries within it water, blood and the sound of a woman singing. There is sky and earth. I admire these Arab women poets who are makers of some of this world’s finest poetry. What a gift to find them all here together!” -Joy Harjo
September 30, 2010 … Todd Davis
Todd Davis, winner of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, teaches creative writing, environmental studies, and American literature at Penn State University’s Altoona College. He is the author of three books of poetry, The Least of These (Michigan State University Press, forthcoming), Some Heaven (Michigan State University Press, 2007) and Ripe (Bottom Dog Press, 2002), and co-editor of Making Poems: 40 Poems with Commentary by the Poets (State University of New York Press, forthcoming). His poems have been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and by Marion Roach on The Naturalist’s Datebook, as well as by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry. “Rarely has gentleness felt so forceful or images been so deftly allied on the page. This book is a hymnal for anyone who loves nature and hungers for its surprising presence in heart and mind.” – Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Genius Loci and Science and Other Poems, Winner of the Walt Whitman Award
March 18 , 2010 … Julia Kasdorf
Julia Spicher Kasdorf has published two collections of poetry with the University of Pittsburgh Press, Eve’s Striptease and Sleeping Preacher, winner of Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and the Great Lakes College’s Association Award for New Writing. A third collection, Poetry in America is currently under submission. Her poems have been awarded a 2009 NEA fellowship and a Pushcart Prize. She also published a collection of essays, The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life, winner of the 2002 Book of the Year Award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature, and a biography, Fixing Tradition: Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American. Most recently, she co-edited the restored text of Yoder’s 1940 local color classic, Rosanna of the Amish. She is also co-editor of the anthology, Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn, published by NYU Press. An associate professor of English and women’s studies at the Pennsylvania State University, she teaches in the MFA program in creative writing.
January 28, 2010 … Myra Sklarew
Myra Sklarew, former president of the artist community Yaddo and Professor Emerita of literature at American University, is the author of three chapbooks and six collections of poetry, including Lithuania: New & Selected Poems and The Witness Trees; a collection of short fictions, Like a Field Riddled by Ants; a collection of essays, Over the Rooftops of Time; a nonfiction work, Holocaust and the Construction of Memory; and her most recent publication, 1,111 Days in my Life Plus Four. Her poetry has been recorded for the Contemporary Poets’ Archives of the Library of Congress. Her poem “ Lithuania” won the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award from the Judah Magnus Museum: “a powerful, evocative book of selfless love. The award-winning title poem is a living testimonial to those who perished in the Kovno Ghetto, wholly heartfelt and viscerally honest.” – Azul Editions
October 8 , 2009 … Alice Wisler
Alice Wisler is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She graduated from Eastern Mennonite University in 1983 with a degree in social work and has since traveled the country in jobs that minister to people. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina. Wisler’s first novel Rain Song was a finalist for the Christy Award. Her second novel How Sweet It Is was released in May 2009. “… an astonishing debut … Wisler writes with a tremendous amount of talent.” – Annabelle Robertson, Crosswalk.com. “Written with a seasoning of Southern charm and populated with richly drawn characters” – Library Journal. “Alice Wisler tells this story of Rain Song in the slow, deliberate style of Southern tradition.” – Kim Ford, NovelReviews.blogspot.com
September 10, 2009 … Charles Marsh
Charles Marsh is professor of religious studies and director of the Project on Lived Theology at the University of Virginia. His books include Reclaiming Dietrich Bonhoeffer; The Last Days, God’s Long Summer, which won the 1998 Grawemeyer Award in Religion; The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice, from the Civil Rights Movement to Today; and Wayward Christian Soldiers: Freeing the Gospel from Political Captivity. Marsh is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and has written for The New York Times, Books & Culture, and Modern Theology. “Marsh makes us examine our concepts of “just war,” and urges us to move past cultural preconditions, take the teachings of Jesus seriously, and dare to apply them to the issues of contemporary society.” – Southern Reader
March 12, 2009 – Robert Morgan, novelist, Cornell University
Robert Morgan is the author of eight books, several essays, and poems. His latest book, Boone: A Biography won The 2007 Kentucky Literary Award for Nonfiction at the 10th annual Southern Kentucky Book Fest. Boone is a top 10 selection in a critic’s favorite books of 2007 by Jonathan Yardley from the Washington Post. “Robert Morgan carefully separates legend from reality in the life of the country’s most famous frontiersman.” Boone has also been selected as the 2008 title for Together We Read, the annual community-based reading project of Western North Carolina. Morgan was selected as finalist for the LA Times Literary Award in the biography category. The North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, at its annual meeting in Asheville on November 10, 2007, for which Robert Morgan was the keynote speaker, honored him with the R. Hunt Parker Award “for Significant Contributions to the Literature of North Carolina.” (Source: www.robert-morgan.com)
January 22, 2009 – Helon Habila, Nigerian prose fiction writer
Helon Habila was born in Nigeria in 1967. He studied literature at the University of Jos and taught at the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, before moving to Lagos to work as a journalist. In Lagos he wrote his first novel, Waiting for an Angel, which won the Caine Prize in 2001. In 2002 he moved to England to become the African Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia. After his fellowship he enrolled for a PhD in Creative Writing. His writing has won many prizes including the Commonwealth Writers Prize, 2003. In 2005-2006 he was the first Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College in New York. He is a contributing editor to the Virginia Quarterly Review, and in 2006 he co-edited the British Council’s anthology, New Writing 14. His second novel, Measuring Time, was published in February, 2007. He currently teaches Creative Writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he lives with his wife and two children. (Source: www.helonhabila.com) (photo by Tom Langdom)
October 23, 2008 – Maggie Anderson, poet, director of Wick Poetry Program, Kent State University
Anderson is the author of four books of poems, most recently Windfall: New and Selected Poems published in 2000. Her other books include Cold Comfort (1986) and A Space Filled with Moving (1992). Anderson is also the editor of the new and selected poems of Louise McNeill and co-editor of Learning by Heart: Contemporary American Poetry about School and A Gathering of Poets, an anthology of poems read to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the shootings of students in an anti-war protest at Kent State University in 1970. Recent poems have been published in The Alaska Quarterly, The Georgia Review, and The American Poetry Review. (Source: Kent State University website) (photo by Herb Ascherman)
September 18, 2008 – Ervin Stutzman, preacher, professor, author, vice president and dean of E.Mennonite Seminary
Dr. Stutzman is a writer, speaker and a theological educator. He is a vice president at Eastern Mennonite University and serves as Dean and Professor of Church Ministries at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. Stutzman was born into an Amish home as a twin in Kalona, Iowa. Two of his books – Tobias of the Amish and Emma – relate to his family of origin. A third book is entitled Welcome! It is a guide to welcoming new members into the church. (Source: www.ervinstutzman.com)
Febuary 21, 2008 – Cheryl Denise Miller, poet
In I Saw God Dancing, the narrative poetry of Cheryl Denise gathers together her Canadian Mennonite roots, rural life, and her attachment to the people and mountains of West Virginia. Her poetry is rich in concrete detail, and many poems contain a storytelling quality. Subjects range from sheep farming to lusts and longings, biblical women, legs, old lovers and laundromats. Often humorous, she penetrates to the deep current of human relationship. Many people who don’t read poetry find themselves drawn to Cheryl’s truthful, clear style. (From a review on MennoLink Books and Music)
January 24, 2008 – Vigen Guroian, scholar and writer
Vigen Guroian is presently Professor of Theology at Loyola College in Baltimore, Md. Dr. Guroian’s many notable titles include Senior Fellow of the Center on Law and Religion of Emory University, Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum, and an ongoing Fellow of the Wilberforce Forum under the Prison Fellowship Ministries founded by the honorable Chuck Colson. He has published more than one hundred and fifty articles in books, journals, and encyclopedias on a range of subjects including Orthodox theology, marriage and family, children’s literature, education, politics, ecology, genocide, liturgy, and medical ethics. Dr. Guroian is the author of nine books in all, including Rallying the Really Human Thing: The Moral Imagination in Politics, Literature, and Everyday Life and How Shall We Remember?: Reflections on the Armenian Genocide and Church Faith. His most recent book, The Fragrance of God, chronicles not merely the changing seasons but the course of his own life as he and his family move from Maryland to a new home near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Read more on Dr. Guroian on his web site: http://www.guroian.com/
November 29, 2007 – Wayne Johnston, distinguished chair in creative writing at Hollins College
Wayne Johnston’s award-winning fiction includes The Story of Bobby O’Malley, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, and The Navigator of New York. He wrote both the novel and the screenplay for The Divine Ryans and won Canada’s most prestigious prize for creative non-fiction for Baltimore’s Mansion. A native of Newfoundland, Johnston now holds the Distinguished Chair in Creative Writing at Hollins College. Read more on Mr. Johnson on his web site: http://waynejohnston.ca/authorbio.html.
September 25, 2007 – Peggy Payne, novelist, journalist, and editorial consultant
Peggy Payne’s research for her travel writing and novels has taken her to more than 25 countries. Her most recent novel, Sister India, is a New York Times Notable Book. She is author of the novel Revelation (screen rights sold to Synergy Films) and co-author, with Allan Luks of The Healing Power of Doing Good. She also wrote a book on a clothing firm, Doncaster: A Legacy of Personal Style. Her articles, reviews, or essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Ms. Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Travel+Leisure, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and many others. Read more on Peggy Payne on her official web site: http://peggypayne.com/
February 15, 2007 – Jane Kurtz, fiction writer
Award-winning children’s book author Jane Kurtz now lives in Hesston, Kansas, but she has lived and traveled all over the world. Many of her stories take place in East Africa, where she spent most of her childhood, but she has also written about surviving a flood in North Dakota, seatbelts, grouchy days, the Oregon Trail, and several real-life heroes, including Frances Willard, Johnny Appleseed, and Barnum Brown. As a long-time teacher of writing at the elementary, secondary, and university levels, Kurtz has recently offered presentations for fellow-writers, teachers, librarians, and children in all but thirteen of the U.S. states, in several African and European countries, and in the Persian Gulf. She also teaches in the Vermont MFA program in children’s literature.
January 25, 2007 – Frederica Mathewes-Green, NPR commentator and essayist
Frederica Mathewes-Green is a wide-ranging author whose work has appeared in such diverse publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, the Los Angeles Times, First Things, Books & Culture, Sojourners, Touchstone, and the Wall Street Journal. She is a regular columnist for the multi-faith web magazine Beliefnet.com, and she writes movie reviews for the National Review Online. Her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Her essays were selected for Best Christian Writing in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. She has published seven books, most recently Facing East: A Pilgrim’s Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy and First Fruits of Prayer: A Forty-Day Journey through the Canon of St. Andrew, and over six hundred articles.
Special Lecture November 17, 2006 – Gilbert Meilaender, philosopher
Gilbert Meilaender teaches at Valparaiso University (Ind.), where he holds the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics. Meilaender has published eleven books and numerous articles, including Friendship: A Study in Theological Ethics; Faith and Faithfulness: Basic Themes in Christian Ethics; Bioethics: A Primer for Christians; Body, Soul and Bioethics; The Way that Leads There: Augustinian Reflections on the Christian Life; and Working: Its Meaning and Its Limits. He is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics and has served on the board of directors of the Society of Christian Ethics, as an associate editor of Religious Studies Review, and as an associate editor of the Journal of Religious Ethics. Dr. Meilaender is also a Fellow of the Hastings Center and has been a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics since it was established in January 2002.
Special Lecture November 2, 2006 – Yorifumi Yaguchi, poet
Yorifumi Yaguchi is a leading Mennonite poet, writing in both English and Japanese. He is best known in the West for his thirty poems in Three Mennonite Poets (Good Books, 1986), but his published work in English includes nearly 300 poems in five volumes. Yaguchi’s poetry bears witness to the evils of militarism from Shinto nationalism to Hiroshima and then extends to Vietnam and the aftermath of September 11, 2001. He is an international peace activist whose poetic and prophetic voice extends to his roles as professor, poetry editor and Mennonite pastor in Japan.
October 19, 2006 – Michael McFee, poet
Michael McFee has published seven collections of poetry, most recently Shinemaster (Carnegie Melon, 2005). His collection of essays, The Napkin Manuscripts: Selected Essays and an Interview, is forthcoming. He has also edited This is Where We Live: Short Stories by Twenty-five Contemporary North Carolina Writers (UNC Press, 2000), a companion anthology to his The Language They Speak is Things to Eat: Poems by Fifteen Contemporary North Carolina Poets (UNC Press, 1994).
September 21, 2006 – Jean Janzen, poet
Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, and reared in the midwestern United States, Jean Janzen has lived in Freso, Calif., since 1961, where she teaches poetry-writing at Fresno Pacific University. Her published collections of poetry are Words for the Silence, Three Mennonite Poets, The Upside-down Tree, and Snake in the Parsonage. She received an NEA grant in 1995, and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies.
Special Lecture September 7, 2006 – Norman Wirzba, philosopher
Norman Wirzba is professor and chair of the philosophy department at Georgetown College (Ky.). He teaches courses in the history of philosophy, environmental ethics, and theology and is the author of The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age and Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight and editor of The Essential Agrarian Reader, The Art of the Commonplace, and The Phenomenology of Prayer.