2017 Authors

We had a fantastic lineup this year!
Watch this page next spring for our 2018 lineup.

2017 Main Festival authors:

*school authors will be listed separately, please see this page for details

Charles Baxter is the author of There’s Something I Want You to Do, a finalist for the Story Prize in 2016.  He is also the author of Gryphon: New and Selected Stories, The Soul Thief, and of Saul and Patsy. His third novel, The Feast of Love, was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2000 and has been made into a film starring Morgan Freeman. Baxter has published two other novels, First Light and Shadow Play, and four books of stories. He has also published essays on fiction collected in Burning Down the House and Beyond Plot, and has edited or co-edited several books of essays. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, and Harper’s, among other journals and magazines. His fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories seven times, eleven times in The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and translated into many languages.

Baxter now lives in Minneapolis and is currently the Edelstein-Keller Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota. Among his awards, he has received the Award of Merit in the Short Story and the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Rea Award in the Short Story in 2012.

Website: http://www.charlesbaxter.com

Starting a Novel

Saturday, October 21 at 1:00 p.m.
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

How do writers get the plane off the ground when starting a novel? What elements might be required to set the machine into motion and to get readers intrigued by the story? I’ll be reading the opening of a new novel-in-progress and the opening of a published novel, and I’ll talk a bit about elements of plot and character that may create some urgency and momentum in the story.

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Nickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of the internationally-best selling novel Shotgun Lovesongs, a collection of short stories entitled Beneath the Bonfire, and The Hearts of Men. His new novel was short-listed for France’s Prix Femina and Prix Medicis, two of France’s highest honors for foreign literature.  The Hearts of Men is presently in its third printing, and at the time of the festival, will have just been published in Spain.

Shotgun Lovesongs was won national and international awards, including the 2015 Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award, the 2015 UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Regional Literary Award.

Along the way, Nick has worked as: a Burger King maintenance man, a tutor, a telemarketer, a hot-dog vendor, an innkeeper (twice), an office manager, a coffee roaster, a liquor store clerk, and an author escort. His itinerant work includes: potato harvester, grape picker, and Christmas tree axe-man. His short stories, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in: Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review Online, The Lumberyard, The Christian Science Monitor, Narrative, Sixth Finch, and several other publications.

He lives on sixteen acres of land in rural Wisconsin adjacent to a buffalo farm. He is married and has two children.

nickolasbutler.com/

The First Annual John & Elizabeth Morris Memorial Conversation & Reading: 

Building a World Class Book City:
A Conversation & Reading with Nickolas Butler

Friday, Oct. 20th at the Lismore

 

Thank you for your support!  We had a packed house!

Internationally best-selling and award-winning writer Nickolas Butler will join Barstow & Grand editor Eric Rasmussen and former UW-Eau Claire professor Brady Foust in a free-flowing conversation on the present state and future aspirations of Eau Claire as a literary destination, an arts incubator, and a book-loving city.

This conversation will be followed by a reading from Butler’s latest, critically acclaimed novel, The Hearts of Men. In a review in the New York Times, the critic Darin Strauss said,

The Hearts of Men has much to say about goodness and its opposite; about honor; and about manhood, its difficulties and precise texture. How it equivocates, how it can protect or maim. It’s not news that we’re shaped by events. But the dealt cards make for only half the game; the other half is how we play them.”  He concludes at the end of the review, “I keep coming back to Nelson, Butler’s great creation. He is a character of such vivid goodness, such moving and precise sorrow, I don’t think I’ll ever forget him. And in the end, isn’t that what we ask of a novel, that it be unforgettable?” 

  Join us for an unforgettable evening with Nick Butler.

This event is made possible by the sponsorship of Jim Carter & Victoria Miller, Brady & Jeanne Foust, and Steven & Eileen Immerman.

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DR. MATTHEW DESMOND is the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction and a MacArthur “Genius Grant” for his groundbreaking work.  Desmond is the author of the New York Times bestseller Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Evicted also won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the Barnes & Noble’s Discover New Writers Award for Nonfiction, and the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, and was named as one of the Best Books of 2016 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and over thirty other outlets. Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this landmark work tells the stories of eight families living on the edge and the two landlords who control their fates, providing a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today—housing insecurity. Desmond’s findings show that the burden of this crisis is borne dis-proportionally by women of color. He writes, “If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.” Praised as “an extraordinary feat of reporting and ethnography” by The Washington Post, Evicted transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem.

Desmond is Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and also the author of On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters, Racial Domination, Racial Progress: The Sociology of Race in America (with Mustafa Emirbayer), and The Racial Order (with Mustafa Emirbayer). In 2016 he was named to Politico Magazine’s influential Politico 50 list.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Matthew Desmond on Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Co-Sponsored with the UW-Eau Claire Forum Series*
Thursday
, October 19, 2017, at 7:30 p.m.
UW-Eau Claire Campus, Schofield Hall

Evictions used to be rare. But today, for many poor Americans eviction has become a way of life. Desmond’s groundbreaking book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City follows tenants and landlords swept up in the process of eviction. Drawing on the urban reportage and original statistical data gathered for the book, his lectures shows that eviction is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty and that the face of America’s eviction epidemic belongs to mothers and children. Presenting new insights into the fundamental role housing plays in deepening inequality in America, Desmond affirms the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.


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ecWIT (Eau Claire Women in Theater) is a group of area women with backgrounds in education, theater and performance, who use dramatic reading to share their love of literature. ecWIT’s programs include plays, essays, fiction and poetry presented with interactive characterization without props, sets or costumes. They are proud to be a part of the 2017 Chippewa Valley Book Festival where they will explore passages through time, distance and attitude as they present selections from this year’s outstanding authors. Put this on your list of festival attractions not to miss!

ecWIT:  Passage to Possibilities

Saturday, October 21 at 2:15 p.m.
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

 

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Kathleen Ernst is a social historian, educator, and author. A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons was selected by the Library of Congress Center for the Book to represent Wisconsin at the National Book Festival, and earned an invitation to speak at the National Archives. A Settler’s Year features photographs taken at Old World Wisconsin, the nation’s largest historic site dedicated to rural life. Kathleen worked at Old World Wisconsin as curator of interpretation and collections for over a decade. Her experiences at the historic site inspired the Chloe Ellefson mystery series for adults, including the latest, Mining for Justice.

Kathleen has also written many historical novels for young readers, as well as television scripts, poetry, and essays. Honors for her work include a “Notable Wisconsin Author” designation from The Wisconsin Library Association, six awards from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, Edgar and Agatha Award nominations, and an Emmy for children’s programming.  kathleenernst.com

Note Kathleen has two events:


The Chloe Ellefson Mysteries:  Stories Behind The Stories

Tuesday, October 24 at 7:00 p.m.
Fall Creek Library

This lively, richly illustrated program takes readers behind the scenes to reveal the real-life experiences and historic places that inspire the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series. Kathleen will talk about how her 12 years working as a museum curator at Old World Wisconsin led to developing the series and its reluctant sleuth, curator Chloe Ellefson, how her research into police work shapes Chloe’s boyfriend, officer Roelke McKenna, and how she goes about selecting locations, conducting research, and crafting the stories.

 

 

A Settler’s Year:  Pioneer Life Through The Seasons

Wednesday, October 25 at noon (lunch*) $15 SOLD OUT
with program 12:30 p.m.
Chippewa Valley Museum

In this beautifully illustrated program, Kathleen discusses the challenges and triumphs found in rural life during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Using excerpts from original letters, diaries, and newspapers she describes the back-straining chores, cherished folk traditions, and annual celebrations of the state’s European and Yankee pioneers.

* THE LUNCH IS SOLD OUT.  You may attend the free program at 12:30 p.m. if space allows.

 

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Graham Foust was born in Tennessee and raised in Wisconsin.  He is the author of six books of poems, including To Anacreon in Heaven and Other Poems, a finalist for the Believer Poetry Award; Time Down to Mind; Leave the Room to Itself, which won the Sawtooth Poetry Prize. With Samuel Frederick, he has translated three books by the late German poet Ernst Meister, including Wallless Space.  His essays and writing have also appeared in journals such as Conjunctions, Jacket, and TriQuarterly.

Graham once noted that he is “generally uncomfortable with comfort in poetry,” and his work has received praise for its uncompromising, even dark, blend of humor, allusion, and metaphysical investigation. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Denver.

Website: https://portfolio.du.edu/gfoust2

Prodigal Poets: Back in Town!

Saturday, October 21 at 3:45 p.m.
The Lakely at the Oxbow Hotel, Downtown Eau Claire

For the first time in its history, our book festival has invited four Memorial High School graduates to present a reading together. Graham Foust, Nick Gulig, Betsy Wheeler, and Elizabeth Willis are each accomplished poets currently living far and wide: as close as Wisconsin (Fort Atkinson) and Iowa, as far away as Colorado and Massachusetts. Their graduation dates range from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.

In the relaxed lounge atmosphere of The Lakely bar and restaurant of downtown’s new Oxbow Hotel, these poets will astound us with the variety of their strong voices. Years ago, these poets were educated here in their hometown. They went out into the world to seek their fortunes. In 2017 they return to share the fruits of their labors. Come; hear!

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Max Garland is the author of the poetry collections The Postal Confessions (winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry) and Hunger Wide as Heaven. His forthcoming book, The Word We Used for It, is the winner of the 2017-18 Brittingham Prize for Poetry. As a result of this latest achievement, Max’s book will be published in October 2017 as part of the Wisconsin Poetry Series,

Max’s work has appeared in journals and anthologies including Poetry, Gettysburg Review, and Best American Short Stories. Awards include an NEA Fellowship for Poetry, James Michener Fiction Fellowship, and fellowships from Wisconsin Arts Board in poetry and fiction.

He served as the Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2013-2014 and is currently Writer-in-Residence for the city of Eau Claire.

Program: Nadine St. Louis Memorial Poetry Conversation 2017 with Karla Huston and Max Garland:  The Poetry of Memory

Friday, October 20, 2017, at 4:00 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church,  Eau Claire

Karla Huston, the current Poet Laureate of Wisconsin, and former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland will read from their poetry, focusing on poems dealing with memory, and the link between poetry and memory. Both poets will read briefly, then have a “conversation” in poetry, each choosing poems that in some way respond to the poems of the other.

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Nicholas Gulig is a Thai-American poet born in Wisconsin and the author of North of Order. He earned degrees in Montana (BA), Iowa (MFA), and Denver, Colorado (PhD).  He was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Bangkok, Thailand in 2011-2012.

About North of Order, Graham Foust says, “Here is language “hungered into,” which is to say verse, that strangest of nourishments. According to his publisher, Nicholas’s work “is a book-length poem concerned with the locality of what is lost. In part a distorted reconfiguration of the pastoral (thus, imagined) landscape as it appears through the lenses of elegy and eros, North attempts to establish a sense of what it means to miss what wasn’t there to start with, departing from the world of things in order to return unsaved.”

Nicholas lives in Fort Atkinson, WI and teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Prodigal Poets: Back in Town!

Saturday, October 21 at 3:45 p.m.
The Lakely at the Oxbow Hotel, Downtown Eau Claire

For the first time in its history, our book festival has invited four Memorial High School graduates to present a reading together. Graham Foust, Nick Gulig, Betsy Wheeler, and Elizabeth Willis are each accomplished poets currently living far and wide: as close as Wisconsin (Fort Atkinson) and Iowa, as far away as Colorado and Massachusetts. Their graduation dates range from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.

In the relaxed lounge atmosphere of The Lakely bar and restaurant of downtown’s new Oxbow Hotel, these poets will astound us with the variety of their strong voices. Years ago, these poets were educated here in their hometown. They went out into the world to seek their fortunes. In 2017 they return to share the fruits of their labors. Come; hear!

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Karla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate (2017-2018), is the author of A Theory of Lipstick as well as 8 chapbooks of poetry including Grief Bone, recently released from Five-Oaks Press. Her poems, reviews and interviews have been published widely, including the 2012 Pushcart Best of the Small Presses anthology.

A lifelong resident of Wisconsin, Huston started writing poetry in her forties when she began teaching creative writing at Neenah High School, where she worked for fifteen years. She thinks of herself as a Wisconsin writer and much of her writing reflects Wisconsin values. Her poetry finds its roots in the stories we tell and those memories which define us as human. Her poems draw on art, Greek myth and Hollywood movie stars of yore. Recurrent themes often deal with aging and women. Karla teaches poetry at The Mill: A Place for Writers in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Website: http://www.karlahuston.com/

Program: Nadine St. Louis Memorial Poetry Conversation 2017 with Karla Huston and Max Garland:  The Poetry of Memory

Friday, October 20, 2017, at 4:00 p.m.
at Unitarian Universalist Sanctuary, Eau Claire

Karla Huston, the current Poet Laureate of Wisconsin, and former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland will read from their poetry, focusing on poems dealing with memory, and the link between poetry and memory. Both poets will read briefly, then have a “conversation” in poetry, each choosing poems that in some way respond to the poems of the other.

 

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Melanie McManus is a freelance writer and editor specializing in travel and fitness. Her debut memoir, Thousand-Miler, describes her adventures hiking the 1,100-mile Ice Age Trail through Wisconsin’s forests, prairies, wetlands, farms, and small towns. This feat earned her the status as a Thousand-Miler, an elite group of people who have walked the entire Ice Age Trail. McManus has won a gold Lowell Thomas Award for Best Short Travel Article 2016. She has two other Lowell Thomas awards to her credit as well as an honorable mention for Travel Journalist of the Year in 2015. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Society of American Travel Writers, Melanie has also worked as press secretary for the Wisconsin State Legislature.

To date, McManus has twice thru-hiked the Ice Age Trail and is currently exploring the Florida Trail, the New England Scenic Trail, and the North Country Trail.

Website: melaniemcmanus.com/

Thousand-Miler: Adventures Hiking the Ice Age Trail

Tuesday, October 24, 7:00 p.m.
Menomonie Public Library

Author Melanie Radzicki McManus will talk about the creation and development of the Ice Age Trail, one of America’s 11 select National Scenic Trails. During her talk she weaves in personalities and nuggets from her memoir, Thousand-Miler, which takes a look at her 2013 record-setting thru-hike of the Ice Age Trail.

 

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Mindy Mejia is the author of The Dragon Keeper and Everything You Want Me to Be, which the Wall Street Journal called “tantalizing” and was picked as one of People Magazine’s best new books. Booklist magazine gave Everything You Want Me to Be a starred review and said, “Readers drawn to this compelling psychological thriller because of its shared elements with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl will be pleasantly surprised to discover that Mejia’s confident storytelling pulls those themes into an altogether different exploration of manipulation and identity.”

Apart from brief stops in Iowa City and Galway, she’s lived in the Twin Cities her entire life and held a succession of jobs from an apple orchard laborer to a global credit manager. She’s currently working on a project set in Duluth and the Boundary Waters that may or may not be a trilogy.

Website: http://mindymejia.com/

What’s Wrong with That Girl?

Wednesday, October 25, 7:00 p.m.
Altoona Public Library, Altoona, WI

A discussion of psychological thrillers, the story behind Everything You Want Me to Be, and the rise of the grip-lit phenomenon.

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Judith Claire Mitchell, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is the author of the novels, The Last Day of the War and, more recently, A Reunion of Ghosts, which received the Edna Ferber Book Prize and a Friends of American Writers Award and was the runner-up for the Ribalow Prize for Jewish Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award. She currently is the Dorothy Draheim Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she directs its Program in Creative Writing.

Mitchell lives in the Town of Madison, adjacent to the City of Madison, and says on her website, “we’re visited frequently by small herds of deer, gazes of raccoons, passels of possums, flocks of wild turkeys, fluffles of bunnies, and annoyances of Segway explorers. To date no reunions of ghosts have materialized, but (our) terrier is keeping an eye out.”     judithclairemitchell.com

A Reunion of Ghosts: When Historical Truth Meets Literary Truth

Saturday, October 21 at 9:30 a.m.
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

It’s been said that fiction is a way of telling the truth by lying. Judith Claire Mitchell will discuss the way historical novels, including her own, blend an author’s inventions with history’s facts to examine profound human truths while also telling an engaging story. Judy’s talk will be geared to all book lovers, but it may be of particular interest to anyone thinking about using real events (including family stories) as the basis for a foray into fiction.

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Beatrice Ojakangas has been called the “Julia Child of Finnish cuisine.” Her first book, (and the first cookbook on Finnish cuisine), The Finnish Cookbook, is now in its 38th printing. She grew up on a small farm in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota–Duluth. Childhood 4-H, college Home Economics, and work as a hospital dietary assistant, food editor, teacher, homemaker, and mother influenced her cooking career and her food writing for such publications as Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, Cooking Light, and numerous newspapers. She has a total of twenty-nine cookbooks and a memoir published.

Ojakangas was inducted to the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2005. She received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Her memoir, Homemade: Finnish Rye, Feed Sack Fashion, and Other Simple Ingredients from My Life in Food was published in 2016 by University of Minnesota Press. Her husband says this about living with his wife in Duluth, Minnesota: “Around here, I am Mr. Bea Ojakangas. It doesn’t bother me a bit, as long as she feeds me.”

Website: http://beatrice-ojakangas.com

Beatrice Ojakangas:  My Life in Food:  Growing Up in a Small Town in Minnesota

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at Forage
5:30 p.m. Cash bar
6:15 p.m. Dinner
7:30 p.m. Program

With her trademark enthusiasm,  James Beard Hall of Fame honoree Beatrice Ojakangas will tell stories of growing up, her life as a food writer,  and the passion for food that propelled her to author 29 cookbooks and a memoir.  Enjoy sampling some of her favorite recipes in a family style dinner at  Forage.

see info on tickets here 

Use this link to order

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J. Ryan Stradal is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest, which has won awards from the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, and won the American Booksellers Association Indie’s Choice award for the year’s best debut. His other work appears in the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Rumpus, BuzzFeed, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other places.

He currently lives in California, where he works as an editor-at-large for Unnamed Press and fiction editor at TASTE magazine. He grew up in the Midwest, in the southern Minnesota town of Hastings, where he often failed his driver’s license exams. He does not own a gun and a motorcycle, which makes him unique among the men in his extended family. He does, however, like wine, books, football, and peas.

Website: http://www.jryanstradal.com/

Kitchens of the Great Midwest: The Story Behind the Story

Monday, October 23 at 7:00 p.m.
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, downtown Eau Claire

J. Ryan Stradal will talk about how his life growing up in the Midwest influenced his writing, prepared him for a career as a novelist, and inspired the characters and setting of is debut novel.  Kitchens of the Great Midwest delves into the American heartland, sweeping the vast landscapes of Lutheran church bake-offs, chili-pepper eating contests, and the opening of deer season to capture the zeitgeist of the Midwest and the rise of foodie culture.  It is a book about the family you lose, the friends you make and the chance connections that can define a life.

 

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Jim Walsh is an award-winning author, journalist, writer, and songwriter from Minneapolis. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, City Pages, Southwest Journal, Minnpost.com and many other publications. He is the author of Gold Experience: Following Prince in the ‘90s, which was published in 2017, after the Minneapolis-based rock musician’s death in 2016. Gold Experience is based on Walsh’s in-depth coverage of Prince for the Pioneer Press, from major concerts to late-night bashes at his Paisley Park home and studio. Walsh also has published Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes: Jim Walsh on Music from Minneapolis to the Outer Limits, The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting: An Oral History and, with Dennis Pernu, The Replacements: Waxed Up Hair and Painted Shoes: The Photographic History.

A teacher at the Loft Literary Center, Walsh is the former leader of bands REMs, Laughing Stock, and The Mad Ripple, and the ringleader behind the 10-year-old singer/songwriter showcase The Mad Ripple Hootenanny. His new band Jim Walsh and the Dog Day Cicadas released its debut CD, Songs For The Band To Learn, in May 2017.

Prince and Bar Yarns: Music from Minneapolis and Beyond

Wednesday, October 25, 7:00 p.m.
Chippewa Valley Technical College, Business Center, Room 103, Casper Conference Room

Jim Walsh will discuss “Gold Experience: Following Prince in the ’90s”, his reportage (interviews, reviews, columns and liner notes) for the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Prince’s most controversial era, and “Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes: Jim Walsh on Music from Minneapolis to the Outer Limits”, his recent collection of 30 years of music writing and journalism. Walsh is a Minneapolis-based writer, journalist, songwriter and bandleader (of Jim Walsh & The Dog Day Cicadas).

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Jillian Weise is a poet, performance artist and disability rights activist. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post and The New York Times. She is the author of two collections of poetry and a novel, titled The Colony. Her most recent book, The Book of Goodbyes, won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, which recognizes a superior second book of poetry by an American poet, and the Isabella Gardner Award from BOA Editions. She has received writing fellowships from the FineArts Work Center in Provincetown, the Fulbright Program and the Lannan Foundation.

Weise is an Associate Professor at Clemson University and lives in Greenville, South Carolina. In the fall of 2017, Soft Skull Press will release the 10th anniversary edition of Weise’s first book, The Amputee’s Guide to Sex.

Schneider Disability Issues Forum

Permission & Provocation

Thursday, October 26, 5:00 p.m.
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, Phillips Recital Hall, Fine Arts

The poet Jillian Weise will talk about how to embrace the unknown and make art in a time of mystery and doubt. She will draw from literary and scientific examples – such as the concept of negative capability and the discovery of “fast radio bursts” in outer space – to emphasize the joy of the unknown. She will describe three moments in her life when supreme uncertainty led her to artistic innovation.

This event is sponsored by Katherine S. Schneider, Sally Webb and the U.W.- Eau Claire Foundation.  Interpretation for the deaf and captioning supported by the L.E. Phillips Family  Foundation.

another presentation is scheduled the same day at CVTC

Thursday, October 26, 1:00 p.m.
Chippewa Valley Technical College, Business Center, Room 103, Casper Conference Room

The poet Jillian Weise will talk about how to embrace the unknown and make art in a time of mystery and doubt. She will draw from literary and scientific examples – such as the concept of negative capability and the discovery of “fast radio bursts” in outer space – to emphasize the joy of the unknown. She will describe three moments in her life when supreme uncertainty led her to artistic innovation.

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Betsy Wheeler is the author of the poetry collection Loud Dreaming in a Quiet Room, and the poetry chapbooks Start Here, and Mental DetoursShe earned her MFA in poetry at The Ohio State University in 2005, and held the Stadler Fellowship at Bucknell University from 2005-2007. Her poems have appeared in many publications including The Journal, Bat City Review, Better, MiPoesias, Forklift Ohio, and Octopus. 

About her book Loud Dreaming in a Quiet Room, Kathy Fagan writes, “How is it that Betsy Wheeler makes me feel both accompanied by and accompaniment to her seductive, disarming, and lushly inventive poems? “Everything is what we need,” she writes in Loud Dreaming in a Quiet Room. and in this dream, everything is what we get. Such intensity, richness, humor, and unabashed innocence in these poems. I love their lyricism, their playfulness with the poetic conventions of you and I, and the joy they take in making music. An auspicious and captivating debut!”

Betsy is currently the Managing Director of the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. She lives with her wife and daughter in Northampton, MA.

Read some of her poems HERE  or an interview HERE

Prodigal Poets: Back in Town!

Saturday, October 21 at 3:45 p.m.
The Lakely at the Oxbow Hotel, Downtown Eau Claire

For the first time in its history, our book festival has invited four Memorial High School graduates to present a reading together. Graham Foust, Nick Gulig, Betsy Wheeler, and Elizabeth Willis are each accomplished poets currently living far and wide: as close as Wisconsin (Fort Atkinson) and Iowa, as far away as Colorado and Massachusetts. Their graduation dates range from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.

In the relaxed lounge atmosphere of The Lakely bar and restaurant of downtown’s new Oxbow Hotel, these poets will astound us with the variety of their strong voices. Years ago, these poets were educated here in their hometown. They went out into the world to seek their fortunes. In 2017 they return to share the fruits of their labors. Come; hear!

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Elizabeth Willis’s most recent book Alive: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her other books of poetry include Address, recipient of the PEN New England / L. L. Winship Prize for Poetry; Meteoric Flowers;  Turneresque; The Human Abstract, a National Poetry Series selection; and Second Law. Her poems have appeared in recent issues of HamboneHarper’sThe New YorkerPoetry, and A Public Space. Willis has also edited a volume of essays entitled Radical Vernacular: Lorine Niedecker and the Poetics of Place.

In 2012 she received a Guggenheim fellowship for poetry. Willis has held residencies at Brown University, the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, the Centre International de Poésie, Marseille, and the Lannan Foundation. From 1998-2002 she was Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Mills College. From 2002-2015 she taught at Wesleyan University, where she served as Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing. Since 2015 she has been on the permanent faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.            Website: elizabethwillis.net

Prodigal Poets: Back in Town!

Saturday, October 21 at 3:45 p.m.
The Lakely at the Oxbow Hotel, Downtown Eau Claire

For the first time in its history, our book festival has invited four Memorial High School graduates to present a reading together. Graham Foust, Nick Gulig, Betsy Wheeler, and Elizabeth Willis are each accomplished poets currently living far and wide: as close as Wisconsin (Fort Atkinson) and Iowa, as far away as Colorado and Massachusetts. Their graduation dates range from the late 1970s to the late 1990s.

In the relaxed lounge atmosphere of The Lakely bar and restaurant of downtown’s new Oxbow Hotel, these poets will astound us with the variety of their strong voices. Years ago, these poets were educated here in their hometown. They went out into the world to seek their fortunes. In 2017 they return to share the fruits of their labors. Come; hear!

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Hilma Wolitzer’s novels include An Available ManHearts, and The Doctor’s Daughter. She is the recipient of awards and grants from The Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the American Academy of Arts & Letters. Ms. Wolitzer has taught at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and in the writing programs at Columbia University, NYU, and the University of Iowa.

Hilma says, “I started writing when I was a child. My first published work, at 9, was a poem about winter in the Junior Inspector’s Club Journal, sponsored by the New York City Department of Sanitation. But I was really a late bloomer, publishing my first short story in my 30’s and my first novel, Ending, when I was 44. For a while I was billed as The Great Middle-Aged Hope.” She lives in Manhattan with her husband.

Website: hilmawolitzer.com

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The Late Bloomer

Saturday, October 21 at 10:45 a.m.
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, downtown Eau Claire

Hilma will discuss starting to write in middle age (or later), and the literary value of “ordinary” experience.
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Barstow & Grand:  Debut Reading

October 26, 7:00 p.m.
Volume One Gallery

The Barstow & Grand literary journal seeks to fulfill a humble mission – to support the writers of the Chippewa Valley by offering an outlet for their creative writing, and to help them grow and professionalize their craft through the process of submission. After a year of hard work, our first issue, featuring a broad and impressive cross-section of Western Wisconsin writers, is ready for release. Our Debut Reading will feature several fiction, nonfiction, and poetry authors whose work appears in issue one, and a discussion of the publication process with the editors. Stop down to pick up an issue, hear some incredible writing, and help us thank everyone who worked so hard to bring this project to life. With cake.

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