Learning should be a lived experience. Literature (reading it and writing it) uplifts and gives voice to our students.
The Ethel Walker School Visiting Writer Seminar is a semester-long course in which students have the rare and special opportunity to immerse themselves in a study of one writer’s works, something few students of English at the undergraduate and graduate levels experience. Throughout the semester, students read a critical mass of texts by that writer, developing a deep and abiding knowledge of that writer’s style, form(s), and ideas.
The course culminates with a visit by the author to Walker’s. Through master classes, writing workshops, and readings to the community, students are invited to ask the questions that only the author can answer. At the end of each semester, students in the Visiting Writer Seminar collaborate on a final project in which they conceptualize, layout, design, and publish a class anthology of works, inspired by the writings of the visiting writer.
The magic of this course is created in the collaborative and symbiotic exchange between the writer and the student. Learning and inspiration move from the writer to the student but also, we hope, from the student back to the writer.
Camille T. Dungy’s debut collection of personal essays is Guidebook to Relative Strangers (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is also the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019.
Dungy’s other poetry collections are Smith Blue (Southern Illinois UP, 2011), finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award, Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010), winner of the American Book Award, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison(Red Hen Press, 2006), finalist for PEN the Center USA Literary Award for Poetry. Dungy edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology (Persea, 2009), and served as assistant editor on Gathering Ground: Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006). Her poems and essays have appeared in Best American Poetry, Best American Travel Writing, 100 Best African American Poems, nearly 30 other anthologies, plus dozens of print and online venues including Poetry, American Poetry Review, VQR, Guernica, and Poets.org. Other honors include two Northern California Book Awards, a California Book Award silver medal, two NAACP Image Award nominations, two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations, fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and fellowships from the NEA in both poetry and prose. Dungy is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University. She lives in Fort Collins, CO with her husband and child.
Renowned as a “poet of witness,” Carolyn Forché is the author of five books of poetry. Her first poetry collection, Gathering The Tribes (Yale University Press, 1976), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. In 1977, she traveled to Spain to translate the work of Salvadoran-exiled poet Claribel Alegría, and upon her return, received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, which enabled her to travel to El Salvador, where she worked as a human rights advocate. Her second book, The Country Between Us (Harper and Row, 1982), received the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, and was also the Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets. Her third book of poetry, The Angel of History (HarperCollins, 1994), was chosen for The Los Angeles Times Book Award. Blue Hour is her fourth collection of poems (HarperCollins, 2003). Her most recent collection, In the Lateness of the World (Penguin Press, 2020), is a tenebrous book of crossings, of migrations across oceans and borders but also between the present and the past, life and death.
She is also the author of the 2019 memoir What You Have Heard Is True (Penguin Random House), a devastating, lyrical, and visionary book about a young woman’s brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others. What You Have Heard Is True was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award.