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Writers Read from Their Work at Augustana

Opportunities abound for Augustana English majors to hear writers read from their work. SAGA magazine hosts guests readings, student readings, and poetry slams. Augustana's own writing faculty, including permanent faculty and long-term Visiting Fellows from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, host readings from their own work, particularly during April, the National Poetry Month. Augustana also features prominent writers as guest speakers, most recently Tim O'Brien in 2005 and Wendell Berry in 2008. Finally, Augustana is the host of the series River Readings: Writers Read at Augustana, which brings a constant flow of acclaimed writers to read from their work to students and faculty at Augie.

The River Readings at Augustana

Since 2007, Augustana has hosted a yearly series of literary readings, bringing onto campus a decorated selection of poets, fiction writers, and memoirists to read from their work. Now in its third year, the series has given students, faculty, and the community the opportunity to see and hear accomplished contemporary writers. In addition, students have a chance to dine with the writers before their readings and, sometimes, to have them as guest speakers in the classroom. The readings are free and open to the public.

Schedule of readings for the 2013-14 school year:

Sept. 10: Rebecca Lindenberg

7 p.m. in the Wilson Center

Poet Rebecca Lindenberg will open the 2013-2014 River Readings series. She is the author of Love: An Index, published in 2012 by McSweeney's Poetry Series. The book tells the story in verse of her passionate relationship with Craig Arnold, a much-respected poet who disappeared in 2009 while hiking a volcano in Japan.Lindenberg earned a BA from the College of William & Mary and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Utah. Her essays and criticism have appeared widely, and she has been a guest blogger for the Best American Poetry Blog.Lindenberg's honors include a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a MacDowell Colony Residency, and a fellowship at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.

Jan. 16: Kelly Daniels

7 p.m. in the Center for Student Life, 3435 91/2 Ave., Rock Island (map)

Dr. Kelly Daniels, associate professor of English, will read from his memoir Cloudbreak, California. (Related story)Daniels grew up on the road, living for stints with his parents in a Hawaiian commune, a waterless, powerless cabin in the desert, and in an old step-van outfitted with bunks.As an adult, he set off on his own, traveling extensively through Europe, Mexico and Central America. Along the way, he picked up odd jobs when he could find them, jobs such as production manager of a furniture factory (Guatemala), newspaper reporter (Mexico), and bartender (all over). Cloudbreak, California focuses on some of these adventures.His short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Cimarron Review, Third Coast, Sonora Review, South Dakota Review, Santa Clara Review, GSU Review, Orange Coast Review, Eyeshot and other journals. Among other awards, he won first prize in Creative Nonfiction at the San Miguel Writers' Conference.Daniels holds a Ph.D. from Western Michigan and has taught creative writing at Augustana College since 2007.

Below is a list of past River Readings:


  • Dan Rosenberg and Eduardo Corral, Sept. 4 (video)
  • Carl Phillips, Sept. 20 (video)
  • Peter Geye, Nov. 29 (video)
  • Donald Ray Pollock, April 18, 2013 (video)


Gerald Stern, poetry

Stern has taught at Temple University and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. For a number of years prior to achieving fame, he taught at Raritan Valley Community College. For many years he taught poetry writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
He has been given many prestigious awards for his writing, including the 1996 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1998 National Book Award for This Time: New and Selected Poems, and the 2012 Library of Congress Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Award for Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992. He was Poet Laureate of New Jersey from 2000 to 2002, and received the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2005.

Jill Alexander Essbaum, poetry

Jill Alexander Essbaum is a Christian erotic poet distinguished as the author of the 1999 Bakeless Prize winner in poetry, Heaven, the 2005 collection of sonnets, Oh Forbidden, and the full length collections Harlot and Necropolis. Bruce Covey singled out Essbaum as "contemporary poetry's best punster." She currently teaches at the University of California Riverside Palm Desert Graduate Center in the Masters of Creative Writing Graduate Program.Jaimy Gordon, fiction
Jaimy Gordon was born in Baltimore, graduated from Antioch College in 1966, received an M.A. in English from Brown University in 1972, and earned Doctor of Arts in Creative Writing in 1975, also from Brown. Gordon is considered to be an important writer, whose literary works have been recognized and highlighted at Michigan State University in their Michigan Writers Series. She is author of the underground fantasy classic Shamp of the City-Solo. Her fourth novel, Lord of Misrule, published by McPherson & Co., won the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction.


Click here for information on the writers who will be reading in third and forthcoming River Readings series during the 2009-2010 academic year.


Farah Marklevits, poetry
An alumna of Augustana College (1999), Marklevits is now an instructor of English and assistant director of the Reading and Writing Center at Augustana. Her work appears in Three New Poets: Sarah C. Harwell, Farah Marklevits, Courtney Queeney.

Rick Moody, fiction and memoir
Author of seven books of fiction, including The Ice Storm and Purple America, and a memoir, The Black Veil: A Memoir with Digressions, Moody's work combines humor and tragedy to deeply moving effect. He has won the Pushcart Editor's Choice Award, the Addison Metcalf Award, the Paris Review Aga Khan Prize, the PEN/Marth Albrand Award for the Art of Memoir, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Li-young Lee, poetry and memoir
Lee's new book of poetry, his fourth, is Behind My Eyes. He has also written a memoir, The Winged Seed: A Remembrance. Much of Lee's poetry and prose chronicles his childhood as a refugee from Maoist China and his adulthood as a Chinese-American. He is the winner of an American Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award, and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award.

Aryn Kyle, fiction
Making a splash with her first novel, The God of Animals (2007), Kyle received her MFA in fiction at the University of Montana. In 2008, her novel won an Alex Award from the American Library Association, which recognizes adult books with teen appeal.

Marvin Bell, poetry
A faculty member at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop for more than 30 years and poet laureate of Iowa from 2000 to 2004, Bell is the author of 18 books of poetry, including Mars Being Red and The Book of the Dead Man. In addition to his reading for the River Readings series, Bell served as Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow at Augustana for the week of May 4-8, 2009, which included, among other activities, lending his wisdom and insight to literature and writing classes across campus.


Kelly Daniels, fiction
Augustana's own Kelly Daniels' fiction has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Cimarron Review, South Dakota Review, GSU Review, Orange Coast Review, Eyeshot, and other journals.

Mark Turcotte, poetry
Turcotte, author of Exploding Chippewas, Road Noise, and Feathered Heart, composed much of his poetry in his head while working manual labor around the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation in North Dakota. As such, his verse lends itself to oral performance, and he does not disappoint.

Eddy Harris, memoir and travel
Harris' work chronicles his various trips in America and abroad, and includes Mississippi Solo: A River Quest, wherein he tells of his quest to travel the entire length of the Mississippi River by himself in a canoe, and South of Haunted Dreams, in which he recounts his experiences travelling by motorcycle across the racially-charged atmosphere of the Deep South.

Elizabeth McCracken, fiction
McCracken is the author of one collection of short stories, Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry, and two novels, The Giant's House and Niagara Falls All Over Again. The latter was the winner of the 2002 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award.

William Logan, poetry and criticism
Winner of the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism for his collection The Undiscovered Country, Logan is also the author of four other books of criticism and eight books of poetry. He has also been the recipient of the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence and the Randall Jarrell Award in Criticism, among other honors.