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My Town EGR: Aquinas College announces lineup for Contemporary Writers Series | Arts & Culture

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My Town EGR: Aquinas College announces lineup for Contemporary Writers Series
My Town EGR: Aquinas College announces lineup for Contemporary Writers Series


EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Best-selling author and spoken word poet Sarah Kay is one of four speakers who will be presenting during the 17th season of Aquinas College’s Contemporary Writers Series program.

This year the lineup also features poet Gregory Orr, essayist John D’Agata, and Michigan resident and novelist Peter Ho Davis.

“We are delighted to welcome these dynamic and renowned writers to Aquinas College for the Contemporary Writers Series,” said Dr. Shelli Rottschafer, director of the Contemporary Writers Series. “Each year we strive to find respected writers who will appeal to multiple audiences and create thought-provoking conversations. This year we truly have diverse and engaging writers, and we are excited to share the lineup with the community.”

Aquinas’ Contemporary Writers Series program began in 1997 with a grant from Dr. Tony Foster and his wife Linda Nemec Foster. The program allows the public to experience a wide range of poetry and writing styles from well-known, published writers.

While in town, the writers meet with Aquinas’ students for writing workshops, providing students access to top writers from across the country. In addition, each writer takes part in an evening event (detailed below) that is free and open to the public. All readings take place on the date specified at 7:30 p.m. in Aquinas College’s Wege Ballroom (1607 Robinson Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506).

Gregory Orr

Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

A master of short, lyric free verse, Gregory Orr is the author of eleven collections of poetry. His most recent volumes include: "The River Inside the River," "How Beautiful The Beloved" and "Concerning the Book that is the Body of the Beloved." His memoir, "The Blessing,"  was chosen by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the fifty best non-fiction books of 2002.

Orr has received many awards and fellowships, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships and a Rockefeller Fellowship at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Violence. 


John D’Agata

Thursday, October 30, 2014

John D'Agata is the author of "The Lifespan of a Fact," "About a Mountain and Halls of Fame," and the editor of the anthologies "The Next American Essay" and "The Lost Origins of the Essay."

He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Howard Foundation and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, and he is currently working on a translation of a book by the ancient Greek writer Plutarch, as well as a new collection of his own essays. He teaches courses at the renowned University of Iowa on the history of the essay and experiments in essaying, as well as a variety of other workshops.


Peter Ho Davis

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Michigan resident who specializes in novels and short stories, Peter Ho Davies is the author of "The Welsh Girl; The Ugliest House in the World and Equal Love." His work has appeared in "Harpers," "The Atlantic Monthly," "The Paris Review," "The Guardian," "Independent," "Washington Post" and "Chicago Tribune," among others.

Davies is now on the faculty of the MFA Program in creative writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.


Sarah Kay (co-sponsored by the Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

At 28 years old, Sarah Kay is well-known for her engaging spoken word poetry. In 2006, at just 18, she was a featured poet on HBO's "Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry Jam" and was also the youngest poet to compete in the National Poetry Slam. Since then, Kay has shared her poetry on six of the seven continents. She is perhaps best known for her talk, "If I Should Have A Daughter," at the 2011 TED conference, which garnered two standing ovations and has almost seven million views online.

Kay holds a Master’s Degree in The Art of Teaching from Brown University and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Grinnell College. Her first book, B, was ranked as the #1 Poetry Book on Amazon. Her second book, "No Matter the Wreckage,"  is a collection of poetry from the first decade of her career. Other poems and articles have been published in Pear Noir!, the Literary Bohemian, DecomP, Damselfly Press, Union Station Magazine, Foundling Review, the Huffington Post, and CNN.com, among others. Kay is also a successful educator, who co-directs Project VOICE (Vocal Outreach Into Creative Expression). Founded by Kay in 2004, Project VOICE encourages people to use spoken word poetry as a tool for personal and world understanding, and a medium for vital expression. 

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