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Poet Sherwin Bitsui to read, discuss ecopoetry of American Southwest

Thursday, September 26, 2019

LAWRENCE — The Department of English at the University of Kansas will host a poetry reading and discussion with lauded poet Sherwin Bitsui for the annual Gunn Lecture.

Bitsui, winner of the American Book Award, is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation. He is Diné of the Todich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl’izilani (Many Goats Clan). He is the author of the poetry collections “Shapeshift” (2003), “Flood Song” (2009) and “Dissolve” (2018).

Drawing upon Navajo history and enduring tradition, Bitsui leads readers on a treacherous, otherworldly passage through the American Southwest. Fluidly shape-shifting and captured by language that functions like a moving camera, “Dissolve” is urban and rural, past and present in the haze of the reservation. Bitsui proves himself to be one of this century’s most haunting, raw and uncompromising voices.

Bitsui’s honors include a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship and a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Arts Fellowship. He is also the recipient of a 2010 PEN Open Book Award and a Whiting Writers Award. In addition to teaching at the Institute of American Indian Arts, he is joining the faculty at Northern Arizona University in fall 2019.

Free and open to the public, the poetry reading and discussion lecture will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, at The Commons. Please contact Megan Kaminski, associate professor of poetry writing, at kaminski@ku.edu for questions or accommodations.

The Gunn Lecture was endowed by the late Richard W. Gunn, brother of James Gunn, KU professor emeritus of English and founding director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction.