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Reading Series Returns This Fall With Highly Esteemed Writers

The CSULB English Department Reading Series returns to campus this fall with an appearance by poet Dorianne Laux, author of Facts About the Moon: Poems, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, in the University Student Union.

These free events are co-sponsored by the English Students Association and Poets and Writers Inc., through a grant it received from the James Irvine Foundation.

Laux, born in Maine, worked as a sanatorium cook, a gas station manager and a maid before receiving a B.A. in English from Mills College in 1988. Her fourth book of poems, Facts About the Moon, from W. W. Norton and Co., received the Oregon Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2006 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for the most outstanding book of poems published in the United States in the previous year. Laux is currently writing The 20th Bather.

“Laux is a very accessible poet,” said series organizer Charles Harper Webb, coordinator of the English Department’s creative writing program. “That is in keeping with CSULB’s tradition of accessible, emotionally strong poetry. Laux is an excellent, all-round poet who fits in perfectly with our aesthetic.”

Laux will be followed in on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. in USU Room 24 by novelist Cai Emmons, author of the The Stylist and His Mother’s Son, published by Harcourt in 2003. His Mother’s Son has been translated into French and German and has been a Book Sense selection as well as a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection. It won the 2003 Ken Kesey Award for the Novel (an Oregon Book Award) and was released in paperback in 2004. 

Poet Richard Garcia appears on Tuesday, Dec. 4, in the USU. He is the author of several books including Selected Poems in 1972, My Aunt Otilia’s Spirits, a bilingual children’s book in 1978, The Flying Garcias in 1991, Rancho Notorious in 2001 and The Persistence of Objects in 2006. Garcia received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize and the Georgetown Review Poetry Prize.

Memoirist Emily Rapp, author of Poster Child, concludes the outside readers on Tuesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. in the USU. Born with a congenital defect, Rapp had her left foot amputated at age 4 and has worn a prosthetic limb ever since. A former Fulbright scholarship recipient, she was educated at Harvard University, Saint Olaf College, Trinity College-Dublin and the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow in fiction and poetry. She has received awards and recognition for her work from The Atlantic Monthly, Story Quarterly, the Corporation of Yaddo and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, where she was a winter writing fellow.

“We have a vibrant MFA program in the Department of English and also a very popular creative writing concentration in our BA program,” said series co-organizer Suzanne Greenberg. “We're excited to be able to attract such highly esteemed writers. Working writers who share their work and offer insights into the creative process have much to offer all of our students, faculty and staff.  We encourage the entire CSULB community to support these important ─ and always entertaining ─ events.”

Webb believes the reading series demonstrates the English Department’s strong commitment to poetry and fiction. “It’s important for students to see real writers in person,” he said. “Hearing a writer read aloud is a great way to connect with that writer in a personal way. We want to help students become familiar with working writers and to see first-hand why they are important.”

Webb encourages anyone interested to attend. “It’s a chance to spend an enlightening and entertaining evening,” he said. “We believe that writing should be interesting and fun. These readings are as entertaining as movies or concerts. They’re good art and good fun.”

Other 2007-08 literary events include a faculty reading on Tuesday, Feb. 19 in the University Student Union, Beach Ballroom A, as well as an MFA student reading on Tuesday, May 6 and a publication reading for RipRap, the student literary magazine on Tuesday, May 13. The locations for the last two events will be announced at a later date.