Visiting Writers Series Returns to Campus for the 2022-23 Academic Year

Jessy Randall, archivist and curator of special collections at Tutt Library, gave a lecture on her book, "Mathematics for Ladies: Poems on Women in Science," on Oct. 11 as part of the English Department's Visiting Writers Series.
Jessy Randall, archivist and curator of special collections at Tutt Library, gave a lecture on her book, "Mathematics for Ladies: Poems on Women in Science," on Oct. 11 as part of the English Department's Visiting Writers Series.

The Colorado College English Department’s MacLean Endowment is bringing a host of writers to campus for the 2022-23 Visiting Writers Series. As part of the series, one to two writers per block travel to Colorado College to speak to both the campus and the broader Colorado Springs community. All events are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is not required.

Steve Hayward, professor of English and director of the Journalism Institute, Brandon Shimoda, assistant professor of English, and Aline Lo, assistant professor of English, are members of the Visiting Writers Committee, which organized the Visiting Writers Series.

“We invite writers whose work is fresh on our minds and that we are excited about, writers with whom we dream of being in conversation. We also consider writers and their work in relation to what we are teaching and in what our students are interested in and thinking about, both as readers and as writers,” says Shimoda.

The committee seeks to feature writers who have recently published books. Committee members may also get suggestions from colleagues who could be teaching an author and want to bring them to campus, says Lo.

“We're excited about all of the writers who are visiting this semester. I'm personally excited to be hosting traci kato-kiriyama, a poet and performer who does a lot of organizing work in Los Angeles,” says Shimoda. “They are also an important figure in the Japanese American arts community, which is my community, and very near to my heart. I'm also excited to be hosting Raquel Gutiérrez, a writer, arts critic, and a friend of mine from Tucson. Their first book, a collection of essays called Brown Neon, just came out; it is a brilliant panorama of life, art, and activism in the US-Mexico borderlands, and is one of my favorite books.”

The Visiting Writers Series works to advance CC’s antiracism commitment in several ways.

We often feature writers who write from perspectives that have been marginalized, often due to race. Many of the writers are committed to anti-racism via publishing practices, subject matter, or other projects,” says Lo. “For example, Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis has helped create platforms for BIPOC writers and prioritizes equitable practices. The Asian American Literature Festival, which he runs, pays all writers an honorarium which is not the case for most literature festivals.”

“Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis's talk was wonderful in many ways. He gave a multimedia presentation on his work as an editor of The Asian American Literary Review and as a curator for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, in which roles he centers and champions Asian American and Pacific Islander literature,” says Shimoda. “He talked about solidarity arts economies—for example, about the need, in the arts, for more equitable distribution of resources, more cooperative structures of ownership and exchange, and the significance of shared justice commitments. He talked, in other words, about the ways literary and arts organizing could—and needs to—evolve.”

Writers generally talk about their writing and work during the lectures, give a reading, and then open the discussion to audience members for questions, says Lo.

Block 1

Caitlin Barasch ’15 was the first visitor of the series. On Sept. 13, Barasch spoke about her debut novel, A Novel Obsession, which was published in March. Barasch’s work has appeared in over a dozen publications. Barasch, who majored in English with a concentration in creative writing at CC, and then earned her MFA from New York University, is also a creative writing instructor at the Writers Circle.

“Publishing A Novel Obsession this year was an emotional rollercoaster—surreal, terrifying, joyful, deeply gratifying—as well as the culmination of a lifelong dream. I started writing my debut novel in 2016, so it took six years to bring it into the world, but upon reflecting on the longform writing projects that preceded it, I realized my senior thesis at CC, a novella, circled the very same themes I explore in A Novel Obsession—the thin boundary between envy and admiration, the dogged pursuit of art, the ways in which our family legacies inspire or inhibit us,” says Barasch. “Returning to CC as a published novelist to kick off the Visiting Writers Series was the most meaningful full-circle moment imaginable! As a student, I was a dedicated attendee; the visiting writers always inspired and motivated me. So it was an absolute delight to experience my own personal homecoming last month—to reunite with Professor Steve Hayward; to meet undergraduate fiction writers, read their work, and answer their questions; and to stand at the podium and share something I'm super proud of at the institution that nurtured me through some of my most formative years as an aspiring writer. I'll never forget it.”

Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis, who came to campus on Sept. 15, is the curator of Asian Pacific American Studies at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, where he oversees the Smithsonian Literature + Museum Initiative. Additionally, he is the co-founding director of the Asian American Literary Review.

“I enjoyed hearing Lawrence talk about ideas for past and future literature festival: an escape room based on an author's mystery novel; a live version of an author's choose-your-own-adventure book; literaoke,” says Lo. “He has a knack for bringing folks together and re-imagining how we ‘read.’ I'm glad students were able to hear about his work.”

There were between 45 and 50 students, staff, faculty members, and community members at the event featuring Davis, says Hayward, who chairs the Visiting Writers Committee. Hayward, along with students in his EN280 Beginning Fiction Writing class, attended the lecture. “The whole room was full, and people were sitting on the floor,” says Hayward. “It was a great crowd.” 

Block 2

traci kato-kiriyama spoke in the Cornerstone Screening Room on Oct. 5. tkk is a core artist with Vigilant Love and a founding member of the the Okaeri Nikkei LGBTQ+ Network. tkk’s book, Navigating With(out) Instruments, was published last year.

Jessy Randall spoke in the South Hall Commons on Oct. 11. Randall’s most recent book is Mathematics for Ladies: Poems on Women in Science, which is a collection of poems about women in STEM fields and is illustrated by NASA artist Kristin DiVona. Randall majored in English at Columbia University and earned a library degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Since 2001, Randall has worked as the Curator of Special Collections at Colorado College. Every other year, Randall teaches a Half-Block course, The History and Future of the Book, which will next be offered in 2024. Her poems and stories have appeared in Nature, Poetry, Scientific American, and Women’s Review of Books.

“I love being included in CC’s Visiting Writers series despite not being a visitor. I’ve worked at CC for over twenty years, and attended dozens of VW events, so it’s especially wonderful to be part of the line-up this year,” says Randall. “Most of my interactions with students and colleagues at CC are library-related, so it’s marvelous to be part of Visiting Writers and show this other, semi-secret side of myself.”

Block 3

Raquel Gutiérrez will speak at the Cornerstone Screening Room on Oct. 28. Gutiérrez is a 2021 recipient of the Rabkin Prize in Arts Journalism and a 2017 recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. Gutiérrez’s book, Brown Neon, was published this past June. Brown Neon is a memoir that considers what it means to be a Latinx artist during the presidency of Donald Trump.

Shimoda will have his Block 3 Advanced Creative Nonfiction Writing class read Brown Neon.

Block 4

Byron Aspaas and Hillary Leftwich will speak at the South Hall Commons on Dec 6.

Aspaas earned a B.A. and M.A. in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Aspaas is a two-time recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship. Aspaas’ first published work was included in Yellow Medicine Review, and since then, his writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies.

“I curated the first Visiting Indigenous Writers Series for Colorado College as a barista in 2016. A year later, I was invited to read with Jennifer Foerster and Layli Long Soldier. In all honesty, it feels great to return, not as a barista or as a guest writer but as Visiting Faculty of Colorado College, while reading with my dear friend, Hillary Leftwich,” says Aspaas. “In a way, I am pretty damn honored, yet intimidated to return to Colorado College because Colorado Coffee gave me an opportunity to meet each and every bright student who inspired me to smile, each morning, and to continue to do more; and, here I am.”

Leftwich is the author of Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock, Aura, and Saint Dymphna’s Playbook. She is the owner and founder of Alchemy Author Services & Writing Workshop and Community Coven. Leftwich is a creative writing professor at the University of Denver and is a visiting professor at Colorado College. Leftwich’s writing is primarily focused on class struggle, single motherhood, trauma, mental illness, the supernatural, ritual, and the impact of neurological disease, according to her website.

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Report an issue - Last updated: 10/18/2022