Spring semester 2011 writers' visits were supported by a generous grant from Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Award-winning medical writer and editor Harriet Washington read from her best-selling book Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present. In her work, Dr. Washington focuses mainly upon bioethics, the history of medicine, African American health issues, and the intersection of medicine, ethics and culture. Medical Apartheid, the first social history of medical research with African Americans, won the National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction Award and a PEN award, and was chosen as one of Publishers’ Weekly Best Books of 2006.
- Poet Louis Jenkins read from his collected poems and new work. Mr. Jenkins’ poems have been published in a number of literary magazines and anthologies. His most recent books areNorth of the Cities(2007), European Shoes(2008) and Before You Know It: Prose Poems 1970-2005 (2009). Mr. Jenkins has read his poetry on A Prairie Home Companion and has been featured on The Writers Almanac. He has also worked with Mark Rylance, actor and former director of the Globe Theatre, on a stage production titledNice Fish!,which is based on Mr. Jenkins' poems.
- Mystery writer Shirley Damsgaard read from the most recent book in her Ophelia and Abby series,The Seventh Witch. This popular mystery series (described as “cozy mysteries that aren’t too cozy”) has charmed readers across the country. The author, who resides in a small town in Iowa, has published numerous short stories in addition to this well-received paranormal mystery series. (In collaboration with the Pella Public Library)
- Dr. Ralph Savarese, Associate Professor of English at Grinnell College, read from his poems and essays. Dr. Savarese is the author of Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption, whichNewsweekcalled a “real life love story and a passionate manifesto for the rights of people with neurological disabilities.” It won the Independent Publishers Gold Medal in the category of health/medicine/nutrition, and a chapter was selected as a “notable essay” in the Best American Essays series of 2004. Dr. Savarese teaches American literature, creative writing, and disability studies at Grinnell College.
- Keith Ratzlaff, winner of the Anhinga Poetry Prize and Professor of English at Central College, read from his work. Mr. Ratzlaff’s debut collection,Man Under a Pear Tree,gained national recognition.Dubious Angels, published in 2006, is a remarkable volume based solely on the drawings and paintings of Paul Klee. Mr. Ratzlaff’s poems and reviews have appeared inPoetry Northwest,Georgia Review,New England Review,Threepenny Review,Colorado ReviewandNorth American Review.
- Writer Naomi Shihab Nye read from her short story collectionThere Is No Long Distance Nowand new volume of poetry,Transfer. Born to a Palestinian father and an American mother, Ms. Nye grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Middle East, Ms. Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity. Her writing has won many prizes and awards, including a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets and four Pushcart Prizes. Her collection of poems19 Varieties of Gazellewas a finalist for the National Book Award.
- Creative nonfiction writer Clint McCown read from his work. Mr. McCown has published novels, poetry, and three volumes of poems. He has recently completed a fourth book of fiction, an historical novel titled Haints. He has twice won the American Fiction Prize and has received three nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. As a journalist, Mr. McCown received the Associated Press Award for Documentary Excellence for his investigations of organized crime and political corruption. He has worked as a screenwriter for Warner Bros., as a creative consultant for HBO television, and as an actor for the National Shakespeare Company. He has edited several national literary magazines, including theBeloit Fiction Journal, which he founded in 1984 and ran for twenty years. Mr. McCown currently teaches in the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University.