Every year the MFA program invites several prestigious writers to campus, where they lead workshops of student work and give readings to the broader community. Recent guests include Albert Goldbarth, Thomas Lynch, Aurelie Sheehan, Peter Everwine, Patricia Hampl, Linda Bierds, Thomas Lux, Alison Baker, James Tate, Dorianne Laux, Yusek Komunyakaa, Phillip Lopate, Lan Samantha Chang, Marilynne Robinson, Stuart Dybek, Jane Smiley, and many more.

Please contact Pam Russell at 509.828.1434 for more information on visiting writers and all general program questions. 

2017-2018 Visiting Writers Reading Series


Judy Blunt spent more than 30 years on wheat and cattle ranches in northeastern Montana, before leaving that life to attend the University of Montana. Her best-selling memoir, Breaking Clean, was published by A.A. Knopf in 2002 to wide critical acclaim, including a PEN/Jerard Fund Award for nonfiction, the 2001 Whiting Writers’ Award, 2003 Mountains and Plains Bookseller’s Award, Willa Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, and a 2004 National Endowment for the Arts writer’s fellowship.  Blunt received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2005.  She teaches creative nonfiction at the the University of Montana. October 27th, 7:30pm at Spark Central.




Darin Strauss, a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and a winner of the American Library Association’s Alix Award and The National Book Critics Circle Award, is an internationally-bestselling writer and the author of the novels Chang & Eng, The Real McCoy, and More Than It Hurts You, and the NBCC-winning memoir Half a Life. These have been New York Times Notable Books, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Amazon, Chicago Tribune, and NPR Best Books of the Year, among others. Darin has been translated into fourteen languages and published in nineteen countries, and he is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU’s creative writing program. November 17th,  7:30pm at Spark Central.


Jesse Graves grew up in Sharps Chapel, Tennessee, about 40 miles north of Knoxville, in a community his ancestors settled in the 1780s. He is an Associate Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at East Tennessee State University, where he won the 2012 New Faculty Award from the College of Arts & Sciences. His first poetry collection, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, won the 2011 Weatherford Award in Poetry from Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association, as well as a Book of the Year Award from the Appalachian Writers’ Association. He was given the 2013 Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. His second collection of poems, Basin Ghosts, also won the 2014 Weatherford Award in Poetry, making him the first poet to win the award more than one time. His poems have appeared in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Connecticut Review, and in the Poem of the Week feature for Missouri Review. He is editor of several volumes of poetry and scholarship, including three volumes of The Southern Poetry Anthology (Contemporary Appalachia, Tennessee, and North Carolina), Jeff Daniel Marion: Poet on the Holston, and the forthcoming Complete Poems of James Agee (University of Tennessee Press, 2017). Graves was awarded the 2014 Philip H. Freund Prize for Creative Writing from Cornell University, and the 2015 James Still Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. January 19th, 7:30pm at Auntie’s Bookstore.

Krys Lee is the author of the short story collection Drifting House and the recent debut novel How I Became a North Korean, both published by Viking, Penguin Random House. She is a recipient of the Rome Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, the Honor Title in Adult Fiction Literature from the Asian/Pacific American Libraries Association, and finalist for Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the BBC International Story Prize. Her fiction, journalism, and literary translations have appeared in Granta, The Kenyon Review, Narrative, San Francisco Chronicle, Corriere della Sera, and The Guardian, among others. She is an assistant professor of creative writing and literature at Yonsei University, Underwood International College, in South Korea. February 16th,  7:30pm at Spark Central.


Emily Van Kley was raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula but now lives with her partner in Olympia, Washington, where she writes, works at a cooperative grocery, practices aerial acrobatics, and nurses a near-pathological longing for snow. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications and anthologies, including The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, The Mississippi Review, Best New Poets 2013, and Best American Poetry 2017. Emily holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University and has taught composition and creative writing at the high school and college levels. Her first book, The Cold and the Rust, is forthcoming from Persea in spring of 2018. April 13th,  7:30pm at Spark Central.

Dan Chaon’s most recent book is Ill Will,  a novel.   Other works include the short story collection Stay Awake (2012), a finalist for the Story Prize; the national bestseller Await Your Reply and Among the Missing, a finalist for the National Book Award. Chaon’s fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize Anthologies, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction, the Shirley Jackson Award, and he was the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Chaon lives in Ohio and teaches at Oberlin College. April 28th, 12pm at the Montvale Events Center.



Nance Van Winckel is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Our Foreigner, winner of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series Prize (Beyond Baroque Press, 2017), Book of No Ledge (Pleiades Press Visual Poetry Series, 2016), and Pacific Walkers (U. of Washington Press, 2014). She’s also published five books of fiction, including Ever Yrs, a novel in the form of a scrapbook (Twisted Road Publications, 2014), and Boneland: Linked Stories (U. of Oklahoma Press, 2013). She teaches in the MFA Programs at Eastern Washington University and Vermont College of Fine Arts. The recipient of two NEA poetry fellowships, the Paterson Fiction Prize, Poetry Society of America’s Gordon Barber Poetry Award, a Christopher Isherwood Fiction Fellowship, and three Pushcart Prizes, Nance lives with her husband Rik Nelson in Spokane, Washington. April 28th, 12pm at the Montvale Events Center.


Laura Kasischke was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She is the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, 2012. She has published nine novels, three of which have been made into feature films—The Life Before Her Eyes, Suspicious River,White Bird in a Blizzard—and eight books of poetry, most recently Space, in Chains.  Her new poetry collection, The Infinitesimalswas published in May, 2014. She has also published the short story collection If a Stranger Approaches You. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as several Pushcart Prizes and numerous poetry awards and her writing has appeared in Best American Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Harper’s and The New Republic. She has a son and step-daughter and lives with her family and husband in Chelsea, Michigan.  She is Allan Seager Colleagiate Professor of English Language & Literature at the University of Michigan. May 11th, 7:30pm at Spark Central.




EWU’s Visiting Writers Series is presented by:


Past Visiting Writers

2016-2017 Visiting Writers

Alexis M. Smith was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her sophomore novel, Marrow Island, is “a stunning novel about sacrifice in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters” (Kirkus Review). Her debut novel, Glaciers, has been translated into Spanish and Italian. It was a finalist for the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and a World Book Night 2013 selection. Alexis attended Mount Holyoke College, Portland State University, and holds an MFA from Goddard College.

Her interests include trail running, beach combing, bird watching, and jam making. In 2015 she received a grant from Regional Arts & Culture Council and a fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission. She lives with her wife and son in Spokane, Washington.

Alexis was also a Visiting Professor at EWU for the 2016-17 academic year.

Kristin Dombek’s journalism and essays can be found in The Paris Review, Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, the London Review of Books, Vice, and n+1.

Heather McHugh was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” for her poetry in 2009.  She has won numerous awards including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, the O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize, the Griffin Prize, one of the first United States Artists Awards, a Guggenheim fellowship and a Witter Bynner fellowship.

Joe Wilkins is the author of a memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing up on the Big Dry, winner of a 2014 GLCA New Writers Award, and two collections of poems, Notes from the Journey Westward and Killing the Murnion Dogs. His third full-length collection, When We Were Birds, part of the Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series edited by Billy Collins, was released in the spring of 2016 with the University of Arkansas Press.

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum is the author of two novels, Ms. Hempel Chronicles, a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award, and Madeleine Is Sleeping, a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award and winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize.

Liz Kay has been the recipient of both an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Wendy Fort Foundation Prize for exemplary work in poetry. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Nimrod, Willow Springs, The New York Quarterly, Iron Horse Literary Review, Redactions, and Sugar House Review. Liz’s debut novel, Monsters: A Love Story, was published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in June of 2016.

John Rybicki is the author of two previous poetry collections, We Bed Down into Water and Traveling at High Speeds as well as the short Yellow Haired Girl with Spider. His third book of poems, When All the World Is Old, was released by Lookout in April 2012. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Ecotone, FailBetter, and Bomb, among many others, and have been reprinted in Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize.

2015-2016 Visiting Writers Series

Linda Bierds is the author of nine books of poetry, the most recent being 2014’s Roget’s Illusion, and her work has appeared in the New Yorker since 1984. She has taught at the University of Washington since 1989 and was director of its creative writing program from 1997 until 2000. She has received several Pushcart Prizes, as well as grants and awards from the Seattle Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Poetry Society of America, and the MacArthur Foundation, who praised her in 1998 as “a poet whose attention to historical detail and to narratives of lyric description sets her apart from the prevailing contemporary styles.”

S.M. Hulse is the author of the novel Black River, which was long-listed for the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and was an American Booksellers Association Indies Introduce title, an Indie Next title, and an Amazon Best Book of the Month. Hulse received her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon and was a fiction fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her stories have appeared in Salamander, Willow Springs, and Witness. A horsewoman and fiddler, Hulse has lived throughout the West.

Bethany Schultz Hurst is the author of Miss Lost Nation, which won the 2013 Robert Dana-Anhinga Prize for Poetry. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2015and in journals such as American Literary Review, Cimarron Review, Drunken Boat, Gettysburg Review, and New Ohio Review. She lives in Pocatello, Idaho, where she teaches creative writing at Idaho State University.

Lily Hoang is the author of four books: Unfinished, The Evolutionary Revolution, Changing (recipient of a PEN Beyond Margins Award), and Parabola (winner of the 2006 Chiasmus Press “Un-Doing the Novel” Contest). With Blake Butler, she edited the anthology 30 Under 30: An Anthology of Innovative Fiction by Young Writers. Hoang serves as co-director of Puerto del Sol, editor at Tarpaulin Sky, and associate editor at Starcherone Books. She received her M.F.A. in Prose from the University of Notre Dame in 2006.

Lidia Yuknavitch is the National Bestselling author of the novels The Small Backs of Children and Dora: A Headcase, the memoir The Chronology of Water, as well as three books of short fictions, and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories of Violence. Her writing has appeared in publications including Guernica Magazine, Ms., The Iowa Review, Zyzzyva, Another Chicago Magazine, The Sun, Exquisite Corpse, TANK, and in the anthologies Life As We Show It, Wreckage of Reason, Forms at War, Feminaissance, and Representing Bisexualities, as well as online at The Rumpus. She writes, teaches and lives in Portland, Oregon with the filmmaker Aandy Mingo and their renaissance man, son Miles. She is the recipient of the Oregon Book Award – Reader’s Choice, a PNBA award, and was a finalist for the 2012 Pen Center creative nonfiction award. She is a very good swimmer.

Paul Harding is the author of two novels about multiple generations of a New England family: the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers and Enon. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, he was a drummer for the band Cold Water Flat before earning his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Harding has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and was a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.

Nance Van Winckel is the author of six books of poetry, four collections of short stories, and her work has appeared in literary magazines across the nation. Nance has received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Pushcart Prize, Poetry Magazine’s Friends of Literature Award, and numerous others. Her most recent book of poems, Pacific Walkers, was released in 2014 and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. While originally from Roanoke, Virginia, Nance has lived in Spokane since 1990 and currently teaches in the low-residency MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. To read more about Nance’s extensive literary background and achievements, and to learn about her newest project– “PHO-TOEMS”– visit her website.

William Finnegan has been a contributor to the New Yorker since 1984 and a staff writer since 1987. Reporting from Africa, Central America, South America, Europe, the Balkans, and Australia, as well as from the United States, he has twice received the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism and twice been a National Magazine Award finalist. His article “Deep East Texas” won the 1994 Edward M. Brecher Award for Achievement in the Field of Media; his article “The Unwanted” the Sidney Hillman Prize for Magazine Reporting. His report from Sudan, “The Invisible War,” won a Citation for Excellence from the Overseas Press Club, and he received the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism for “Leasing the Rain.” His article “The Countertraffickers” won the Overseas Press Club’s Madeline Dane Ross Award for International Reporting, and his report from Mexico, “Silver or Lead,” won the Overseas Press Club’s Robert Spiers Benjamin Award. Finnegan is the author of five books: Crossing the Line, which was selected by the New YorkTimes Book Review as one of the ten best nonfiction books of the year; Dateline Soweto; A Complicated War; Cold New World: Growing Up in a Harder Country, which was a finalist for the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism; and Barbarian Days, his latest.

Elizabeth Spires is the author of six collections of poetry: Globe, Swan’s Island, Annonciade, Worldling, Now the Green Blade Rises, and The Wave-Maker. She has also written six books for children, including The Mouse of Amherst and I Heard God Talking to Me: William Edmondson and His Stone Carvings. Her poems and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, American Poetry Review, The New York Times, and Paris Review. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and is a professor of English at Goucher College where she co-directs the Kratz Center for Creative Writing. Spires has been the recipient of the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2011-12 she was a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library.

2014-2015 Visiting Writers Series

Joseph Salvatore has published fiction and criticism in The Brooklyn Rail, Dossier Journal, H.O.W. Journal, LIT, New York Tyrant, Open City, Post Road, Salt Hill, Sleeping Fish, Willow Springs, 110 Stories (NYU Press, 2001), and Routeledge’s Encyclopedia of Queer Culture (2003). He is a frequent fiction reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, and an assistant professor at The New School, where he founded their literary journal, LIT, and where he was awarded the University’s Award for Teaching Excellence. He is the Book Review editor for fiction and poetry at The Brooklyn Rail. His debut collection of short stories, To Assume a Pleasing Shape, from BOA Editions, was published 2011. He lives in New York City.

Andrea Scarpino is the author of Once,Then, a collection of poems published in March 2014 by Red Hen Press, and The Grove Behind, published by Finishing Line Press in 2009, She is a contributor to the blog Planet of the Blind and is widely published in print and online journals. She teaches in Union Institute and University’s Cohort Ph.D. Program in Interdisciplinary Studies where she is the Creative Dissertation Coordinator, Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing, and Director of the Master of Arts Program.

William Wright is the author of eight collections of poetry: four full length
books, including Tree Heresies (Mercer University Press, forthcoming in 2015), Night Field Anecdote (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011), Bledsoe (Texas Review Press, 2011), and Dark Orchard (Texas Review Press, 2005). Wright’s chapbooks are April Creatures (Blue Horse Press, forthcoming in 2015), Sleep Paralysis, Winner of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Prize, selected by Kwame Dawes, (Stepping Stones Press, 2012), Xylem & Heartwood (Finishing Line, 2013) , and The Ghost Narratives (Finishing Line, 2008). Wright is Series Editor and Volume Co-editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, a multivolume series celebrating contemporary writing of the American South, published by Texas Review Press. Wright is also co-editor of Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry, to be published by the University of South Carolina Press in 2015. Additionally Wright serves as Assistant Editor for Shenandoah, translates German poetry, and edits several volumes, including The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins (with Daniel Westover). Wright won the 2012 Porter Fleming Prize in Poetry and will serve as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee during the Spring 2016 term.

Emily Rapp is the author of Poster Child: A Memoir (BloomsburyUSA) and The Still Point of the Turning World (Penguin Press), which was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the PEN Literary Award in nonfiction. A former Fulbright scholar, she was educated at Harvard University, Trinity College-Dublin, Saint Olaf College, and the University of Texas-Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. She has received fellowships and awards from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Jentel Arts Foundation, the Corporation of Yaddo, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Bucknell University, where she was the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence. Her blog, Little Seal, was named by TIME as one of the top 25 blogs of 2012, and The Huffington Post has recommended her work as “Required Reading for Women.” In 2013 she was named one of the “Faces to Watch” by The Los Angeles Times. Her work has appeared in VOGUE, the New York Times, The Times (UK), Salon, Slate, Huffington Post, The Sun, TIME, the Boston Globe, The Week, Redbook, O, the Oprah Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today, the Los Angeles Times and many other publications. She regularly reviews books for the Boston Globe and the New York Times. She is on faculty in the University of California-Riverside Palm Desert MFA Program, and is currently the Joseph Russo Chair in Creative Writing at the University of New Mexico. She lives in a small mining town outside Santa Fe with her family.

Elizabeth Graver’s fourth novel, The End of the Point, was long-listed for the 2013 National Book Award in Fiction and selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her other novels are Awake, The Honey Thief, and Unravelling. Her story collection, Have You Seen Me?, won the 1991 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories (1991, 2001); Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards (1994, 1996, 2001), The Pushcart Prize Anthology (2001), and Best American Essays (1998). She teaches at Boston College and is at work on a new project that draws on the Sephardic Jewish history of her family.

Walter Kirn is a novelist, literary critic and essayist. He is the author of eight books and an e-book. His novels Up in the Air and Thumbsucker have both been adapted into popular films. Kirn’s most recent publication, a memoir entitled Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery and a Masquerade, tells the story of his friendship with imposter and convicted murderer Clark Rockefeller. Kirn graduated from Princeton University in 1983 and went on to earn a second degree in English literature from Oxford. He is a contributing editor to Time magazine, where he was nominated for a National Magazine Award in his first year, and a regular reviewer for the New York Times Book Review. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vogue, New York and Esquire. He splits his time between Montana and California.

Michele Glazer’s books of poems are It Is Hard to Look at What We Came to Think We’d Come to See (Pittsburgh, 1998), which won the AWP Prize, Aggregate of Disturbances (Iowa, 2004), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize, and On Tact, & the Made Up World (Iowa, 2010), published in the Kuhl House Series. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Oregon Arts Commission, and Literary Arts. Glazer teaches in and currently directs the MFA Creative Writing program at Portland State University.

Mary Szybist is most recently the author of Incarnadine, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. She the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. Her work has appeared in such publications as Best American Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, and two Pushcart Prize anthologies. Her first book , Granted, won the 2004 GLCA New Writers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A native of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, she now lives in Portland, Oregon where she teaches at Lewis & Clark College