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Visiting Distinguished Writers

Forrest Gander

A photo of Forrest Gander 2019 by Nina Subin

Forrest Gander, a writer and translator with degrees in geology and literature, was born in the Mojave Desert, grew up in Virginia, and taught for many years at Brown University with his wife, the poet CD Wright. Among Gander’s most recent books are Be With, awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize, the novel The Trace, and Eiko & Koma, a collaboration with the eponymous movement artists. Gander is also known as a translator whose recent works include Alice Iris Red Horse: Poems by Gozo Yoshimasu and, with Patricio Ferrari, The Galloping Hour: French Poems of Alejandra Pizarnik. He has a history of collaborating with artists such as Ann Hamilton, Sally Mann, Graciela Iturbide, and Vic Chesnutt. The recipient of grants from the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim, Howard, Whiting and United States Artists Foundations, Gander lives in northern California.

Spring 2019-Rick Bass

Bass has written over 20 books, including “The Hermit’s Story,” “For a Little While” and “Why I Came West.” His fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters (in fiction, creative nonfiction and journalism categories), fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, nominations for Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, a PEN/Nelson Algren Special Citation (judged by the American poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren), and a General Electric Younger Writer’s Award. He has had numerous stories anthologized in “Best American Short Stories.”

In addition to writing fiction, Bass is a well-known environmental activist who lives in Montana with his family.

Summer 2018 Special Guest Faculty: Heather Marion
Heath Marion is a screenwriter for the television series “Better Call Saul.” She is also an actor and producer, and earned her MFA in screenwriting from the University of California, Los Angeles. She was selected as one of 10 writers chosen to participate in the inaugural Episodic Story Lab at the Sundance Institute in 2014. Prior to her work on “Better Call Saul,” she was a crew member on “United States of Tara,” “The Goldbergs” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” She will co-teach a screenwriting class with fiction professor Brady Udall for MFA students in spring 2018.

Spring 2018 – Bhanu Kapil
Bhanu Kapil is the author of five books, including Ban en BanlieueSchizophrenehumanimal [a project for future children]Incubation: a Space for Monsters, and The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers. She specializes in cross-genre narrative and poetics and has taught at Naropa University and in Goddard College’s low-residency MFA. She holds an MA from SUNY Brockport and a BA from Loughborough University, UK.

Spring 2017 – Joy Williams
Joy Williams is the author of four novels, five story collections, and one essay collection. Her novel, The Quick and the Dead, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and State of Grace received a nomination for the National Book Award. Ill Nature, a collection of essays, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent book is Ninety-Nine Stories of God. The acclaimed short stories of Ms. Williams have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, The Paris Review, Granta, Tin House, The Missouri Review, The Idaho Review, and numerous other publications. Her stories have been widely anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and The Pushcart Prize. Ms. Williams has received many honors for her fiction, including the Harold and Mildred Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Rea Award for the Short Story. In 2016, she was awarded the PEN/Malamud Short Story Award.


Spring 2016 – Pierre Joris
Pierre Joris has published some 50 books of poems, essays & translations, most recently An American Suite (inpatient press 2016) Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press 2014), Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan (FSG 2014) & A Voice Full of Cities: The Collected Essays of Robert Kelly (coedited with Peter Cockelbergh, Contra Mundum Press 2014). Previous books include Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press and The University of California Book of North African Literature (volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), coedited with Habib Tengour and Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader edited, introduced and translated by Joris (Black Widow Press). Cartographies of the In-between: The Poetry & Poetics of Pierre Joris, edited by Peter Cockelbergh came out in 2012. He lives in Sorrentinostan, a.k.a. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with his wife, multimedia performance artist and writer Nicole Peyrafitte & is author-in-residence at BSU for the spring ’16 semester.

Denis Johnson

Fall 2015 – Denis Johnson
Denis Johnson was born in Munich, West Germany, and was raised in Tokyo, Manila and Washington D.C. His books include Jesus’ Son, Tree of Smoke, Train Dreams, Nobody Move, The Laughing Monsters, The Name of the World, Already Dead: A California Gothic, Angels, Fiskadoro, The Stars at Noon, and Resuscitation of a Hanged Man. Johnson received many awards for his work, including a Lannan Fellowship in Fiction, a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction from the Paris Review for Train Dreams, and most recently, the National Book Award for Fiction. He taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop and the James Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas in Austin, among other universities.

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