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ASU showcases literary talents


April 10, 2007

What do you get when you cross pig cookies, a grandmother's wisdom, robots, poets and a godfather? A spectacular line-up of ASU authors at the 2007 Arizona Book Festival.

ASU's Institute for Humanities Research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is sponsoring presentations by an impressive array of university-affiliated literary talent at the Arizona Book Festival, which is presented annually by the Arizona Humanities Council.

ASU Regents' Professor of English Alberto Ríos will be honored with the 2007 Literary Treasure Award, given by the Arizona Humanities Council to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the literary heritage of Arizona. Ríos is the author of nine books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories and a memoir. His latest collection of poems is “The Theater of Night.” Ríos, a recent finalist for the National Book Award, has taught at ASU for 25 years and recently gave the keynote address for the city of Chandler 's Celebration of Unity luncheon.

Jewell Parker Rhodes, a professor of English and the Piper Endowed Chair of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, will read and sign her newest book, “Porch Stories: A Grandmother's Guide to Happiness.” “Porch Stories” is Rhodes' tribute to her beloved grandmother, an account of the love she received and the lessons she learned.

Tom Wayman, Distinguished Visiting Canadian Fulbright Chair in Creative Writing at ASU's Virginia G. Piper Center, will take part in a celebration of poetry at the festival. He is an anthologist as well as a poet, and his academic home is the University of Calgary, Alberta, where he was coordinator of creative writing for the past three years.

A new book of Wayman's poems, “High Speed Through Shoaling Water,” and his first collection of short fiction, will be published this spring.

Joining in the poetry celebration with Wayman will be ASU English alumna Sarah Vap (who earned her master's degree of fine arts in creative writing in 2005). Vap recently published two award-winning books of poetry: “American Spikenard,” winner of the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize, and “Dummy Fire,” winner of the Saturnalia Books 2006 Poetry Prize.

Other talented ASU poets to be featured include Josh Rathkamp (who earned his master's degree of fine arts in creative writing in 2004), Stephanie Lenox (an ASU student and staff member), Eduardo C. Corral (who earned a bachelor's degree in Chicano/a Studies in 1999) and Charles Jensen (who earned a master's degree of fine arts in creative writing in 2005). In addition, ASU master's degree of fine arts students in art and poetry will display their unique collaborative work inside the Carnegie Library as part of the “Visual Text Project.”

Another ASU-affiliated writer to be showcased will be Lee Gutkind, the “godfather” of creative nonfiction and distinguished writer in residence at ASU's Piper Center. Gutkind not only legitimized the genre of creative nonfiction, but made it one of the fastest-growing, too. For him, it's about writing the truth in a “scenic” and “compelling” way. Nonfiction, he believes, can be communicated in a dramatic fashion, in much the same way poets and novelists tell stories. Gutkind will read from his recent memoir, “Forever Fat: Essays by the Godfather,” and his just-released book, “Almost Human: Making Robots Think.”

The event is presented by the Arizona Humanities Council, in partnership with the Arizona State Library, and with major support from Target and SRP.

This annual literary extravaganza is the Valley's premiere book event, featuring dozens of authors from across the United States and Canada. The festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 14, at the historic Carnegie Center, located at 1101 W. Washington St. in Phoenix . Admission and parking are free.

More information about the festival can be found at the Web site www.azbookfestival.org, or by calling (602) 257-0335, extension 28.