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A bright (and international) literary season: Boise State hosts visiting poets, novelists, translators

Mary Pauline Lowry

Boise State’s creative writing program is marking its 20th anniversary by hosting a season of visiting writers.

The season culminates in April with a reading by Mary Pauline Lowry, who received her MFA in creative writing from Boise State in 2019. Lowry will read from her new novel, “The Roxy Letters” published by Simon and Schuster. The publisher has chosen the novel as its number one title for the spring 2020 season.

Here’s the line-up:

April 3: Poet, translator, essayist and novelist Forrest Gander, the program’s Visiting Distinguished Writer during the spring 2020 semester, will give a reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Hemingway Gallery.

Gander’s books of poetry include “Be With” (2018), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, “Eye Against Eye” (2005), “Torn Awake” (2001), and “Science and Steepleflower” (1998). Born in California’s Mohave Desert, he has won numerous awards, including two Gertrude Stein Awards for innovative North American writing, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation and United States Artists. He has taught at Harvard University and Brown University. A reception will follow at The Cabin.

April 9: Poets Erin Moure and Maria Baranda will give a reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Hemingway Gallery.

Moure is a Canadian poet and translator from French, Spanish, Galician and Portuguese. Moure has published 12 books of poetry, including “A Frame of the Book,” and five books of poetry in translation, including “Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person” by Fernando Pessoa, shortlisted for the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize and the 2002 City of Toronto Book Prize.

Baranda was born in Mexico City. Her many awards include two FONCA “young artist” fellowships in poetry, a FONCA / Rockefeller nonfiction fellowship, the National Efrain Huerta Prize, the Aguascalientes National Poetry Prize, the Villa de Madrid Latin American Poetry Prize of Madrid, Spain, and the FILIJ Children’s Story Prize. She is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and eight works of children’s literature. In the U.S., her poems have appeared in Chicago Review, Zoland Poetry, Boston Review and other publications.

April 10: Poets Patricio Ferrari and Forrest Gander will give a reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Hemingway Gallery.

Argentinian-born Ferrari has translated poetry from French, Portuguese, English and Hindi. He edited two journals in the U.S. on Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa’s English writings and published eight editions of Pessoa’s works, including the first critical edition of his “Poèmes français” and “Teatro Estático.”

April 17: Novelist Mary Pauline Lowry will give a reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Student Union Building Lookout Room.

Lowry has already begun pre-publication tours for her second novel, “The Roxy Letters,” written in epistolary, or letter, form. It is a comedic novel about a 20-something woman who works in the deli of the original Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, Lowry’s hometown. Lowry set the novel in 2012, at a time when Whole Foods hadn’t yet grown into the mammoth retailer it is today.

Lowry said Roxy “is grappling with her hometown becoming more corporatized” – a theme that’s bound to resonate with many Boise readers. “When a store selling very expensive yoga pants moves into a space that had been a small, local business, she takes matters into her own hands.”

Roxy addresses her letters to her live-in ex-boyfriend who is not paying his share of the rent.

As part of the MFA program, Lowry taught writing classes at Boise State. “The Roxy Letters” grew from an assignment she gave her students – to write a letter in the voice of a quirky, angry person. She wrote her own letter along with her students and Roxy’s voice emerged.

The novel won Boise State University’s Distinguished Master’s Thesis Project for the Creative, Visual and Performing Arts in June, 2019. Poets and Writers magazine profiled Lowry in 2019.