Valparaiso University’s English department presents Wordfest, the annual reading, lecture, and discussion series presented by practicing writers of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction prose to help stimulate and inspire students in their own creative journeys.

Speakers for the 2017–2018 academic year include:

  • Chelsea Wagenaar and Mark Wagenaar, Sept. 14, 7 p.m., Brauer Museum of Art, Center for the Arts. Award winning poets Chelsea Wagenaar, Ph.D., Valparaiso University Lilly Fellow, and Mark Wagenaar, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of English at Valparaiso University, will read from their work. Chelsea’s first collection of poetry, Mercy Spurs the Bone, won the 2013 Philip Levine Prize. She is currently at work on a second collection of poems entitled The Spinning Place. Mark’s work “String Theory” received the 2015 CBC Poetry Prize, and he was a 2015–2016 Jay C. & Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Mark Irwin, Oct. 2, 7 p.m., Brauer Museum of Art, Center for the Arts. Poet, critic, and translator Mark Irwin is an associate professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California and author of Passion According to Green, his ninth book of poems. Recognition for his work includes The Nation/Discovery Award, four Pushcart Prizes, two Colorado Book Awards, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright, Lilly, and Wurlitzer Foundations.
  • Walter Wangerin Jr., Oct. 26, 7 p.m., Duesenberg Recital Hall, Center for the ArtsAmerican Book Award winner Walter Wangerin Jr., prolific author, homilist, and senior research professor at Valparaiso University, will read from his new book of poetry, The Absolute, Relatively Inaccessible. He describes his new work as “a volume of poems divided into three parts … bound together by a brace of persistent and developing themes, as well as by the repetition (and the development) of language, metaphor and imagery.”
  • Spencer Reece, Nov. 9, 7 p.m., Chapel of the ResurrectionSpencer Reece is not only a critically acclaimed poet, but also an ordained Episcopal priest and chaplain to the Reformed Episcopal Bishop of Madrid. His accolades include his debut collection of poetry The Clerk’s Tale winning the Bakeless Poetry Prize and later being adapted into a short film by director James Franco, and his collection The Road to Emmaus being a longlist nominee for the National Book Award. His newest anthology of poetry was edited by girls from an orphanage in Honduras with whom he worked on a Fulbright scholarship in 2012–2013.

In addition to Wordfest events, these artists often meet with classes, hold workshops, and confer with interested student writers.

All events are free and open to the public. Books are available for purchase and signing after the readings. The series is co-sponsored by the Pathway to Purpose program of the Institute of Leadership and Service and the international studies and foreign languages and literatures departments.

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