Contemporary Writers Series  


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2011 - 2012 Featured Writers

Linda Nemec Foster '72 Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Patricia (Plese) Gussin ’67 Wednesday, September 21, 2011
John Otterbacher ’66 Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Luis J. Rodriguez Thursday, October 27, 2011
Richard Katrovas Thursday, February 9, 2012
Scott Turow

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 (Ticketed Event:See details below.)


Note: Unless otherwise noted, all readings are at 7:30 p.m. and in the Wege Ballroom.

The September 21st, October 27th and February 9th lunchtime talks to the Aquinas Community are at 12:30 p.m. in the Wege Center Loutit Room.)

Linda Nemec Foster '72: September 21, 2011
Linda Nemec Foster; Photo by: Jim Gebben Photography Linda Nemec Foster was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Aquinas in 1972 with a degree in social science. At Aquinas, she was the first recipient of the General Motors Leadership Scholarship. In 1974, she married another AQ graduate, Tony Foster. Together, Linda and Tony founded the Aquinas College Contemporary Writers Series in 1997.
Foster started her career as a poet and writer when she attended Goddard College in Vermont and received her M.F.A. in creative writing in 1979. Since then, her poems have appeared in over 300 literary journals and magazines including The Georgia Review, New American Writing, North American Review, Nimrod, and Quarterly West. Her work has also been translated in Europe, exhibited in museums and galleries, produced for the stage, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Foster’s nine collections of poetry have been finalists for the Ohio Book Award, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, and the Michigan Notable Book Award. She has received honors from NYC’s National Writer’s Voice, the Michigan Foundation for the Arts, ArtServe Michigan, and the Academy of American Poets. In 2008 she received the International Creative Arts Award from the Polish American Historical Association.

Linda’s poetry collections are:
• Talking Diamonds (2009)
• Ten Songs from Bulgaria (2008)
• Listen to the Landscape (2006)
• Amber Necklace from Gdansk (2001)
• Contemplating the Heavens (2001)
• Living in the Fire Nest (1996)
• Trying to Balance the Heart (1993)
• A Modern Fairy Tale: The Baba Yaga Poems (1992)
• A History of the Body (1987)


Patricia (Plese) Gussin '67: September 21, 2011
Patricia Gussin

Patricia Gussin grew up in Grand Rapids, graduated from Aquinas College in 1967, then studied medicine in Detroit. She is a board certified Family Medicine physician, and practiced medicine in Philadelphia until her retirement. She now splits her time between Florida, New York, and New Zealand. A major part of Patricia’s career was spent as Vice President of a large health care company.

In addition to being a physician, Patricia is an author and mother of seven children, so it’s no surprise that her fiction exploits both her medical background and the emotional fragility of families in crisis.

Her suspense-filled novels are:
• And Then There Was One: A Novel (2010)
• The Test (2009)
• Twisted Justice (2007)
• Shadow of Death (2006)
Patricia also co-authored with her husband a nonfiction book: What’s Next…For You? The Story of Robert and Patricia Gussin.
John Otterbacher '66: September 21, 2011
John Otterbacher

John Otterbacher was born and raised in Grand Rapids, and graduated from Aquinas College in 1966 with a degree in Psychology. He went on to receive a Master and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at St. Louis University in Missouri.

John returned to Grand Rapids as an assistant psychology professor at Aquinas and also began his private practice. In the early 70’s, politics called him away to Lansing. He left politics to return to private practice in the late 70’s.

Eventually, health challenges led John to begin sailing, and the family’s sailing adventures to many places around the world began. After starting with the Great Lakes, they tackled the Atlantic Ocean. Sailing Grace, is a “Michigan Notable Book”, and a finalist for “Best Book” Award by USA Book News. Sailing Grace, retitled Outrageous Grace, was published in the summer of 2009 for international distribution by Adlard Coles of London.

John was recently published in Thin Ice, a collection of Grand Rapids folks “many of whom went on to become famous.” (Eerdmans’) He is currently working on a new book.
Luis J. Rodriguez: October 27, 2011
Luis Rodriguez Luis Rodriguez is a poet, a memoirist, a novelist, and also a writer of children’s literature and nonfiction. He is best known as the , Chicano author of Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (1993), which has sold over 300,000 copies. Not only has the book received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, a Chicago Sun-Times Book Award and been a New York Times Notable Book; Always Running was also 66th on the ALA list of 100 most banned books in America.

Poetry includes:
• My Nature Is Hunger: New and Selected Poems, 1989–2004 (2005)
• Seven and Two Women/Dos Mujeres, numbered and hand-made art books (2005)
• My Name’s Not Rodriguez, a CD of original music and poems (2002)
• Trochemoche (1998)
• The Concrete River (1991)
• Poems Across the Pavement (1989)

NonFiction includes:
• It Calls You Back: A Writer’s Odyssey through Love, Addictions, Revolution & Healing (to be released Fall 2011)
• Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times (2001)
• Always Running (mentioned earlier)

Children’s Books includes:
• Si, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! Essay and Poem (2002)
• It Doesn’t Have to be This Way: A Barrio Story (1999)
• America Is Her Name (1998)

Fiction includes:
• Music of the Mill (2005)
• The Republic of East LA: Stories (2002)

Richard Katrovas: February 9, 2012
Richard Katrovas

Born November 4, 1953, in Norfolk, Virginia, Richard Katrovas, the oldest of five children, spent his early years in cars and motels living on the highways of America while his father, a petty thief and conman, eluded state and federal authorities. His father was eventually caught, but upon being released on probation from federal prison reverted to his criminal ways, and was caught and incarcerated again. During his father's prison terms, Katrovas and his mother and siblings lived on welfare in public housing projects.


Katrovas was adopted by relatives in his early teens, and lived with them for three years in Sasebo, Japan, where he earned a second-degree black belt in Shobukan Okinawa-te Karate. He graduated from high school in Coronado, California,

and attended San Diego State University (B.A., English, 1977). He was then a Hoyns Fellow at the University of Virginia, attended the MFA program at the University of Arkansas, and finished his graduate work in the Iowa Writers' Workshop (MFA, 1983). Between 1970 and 1983, Katrovas taught karate and worked in numerous restaurants in San Diego, then New Orleans.


On a Fulbright fellowship, Katrovas was in Prague, Czechoslovakia in the months preceding the Velvet Revolution, and subsequently witnessed that event. The recipient of numerous grants and awards, Katrovas is the founding director of the Prague Summer Program, and is the author of seven books of poetry, Green Dragons (winner of the Wesleyan University Press New Poets Series), Snug Harbor (Wesleyan), The Public Mirror (Wesleyan), The Book of Complaints (Carnegie Mellon University Press), and Dithyrambs (Carnegie Mellon), Scorpio Rising: Selected Poems; a book of short stories, Prague USA (Portals Press); a memoir, The Years of Smashing Brick (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2007) and The Republic of Burma Shave (Carnegie Mellon University Press), and a novel, The Mystic Pig (Smallmouth Press); and Prague Winter. Katrovas, as guest editor of a special double issue of The New Orleans Review, edited, and participated in much of the translation of, the first representative anthology of contemporary Czech poetry, Ten Years After the Velvet Revolution. His poems, stories, reviews and essays have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, including Antioch Review, Contemporary Fiction, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Iowa Review, Missouri Review, New England Review, Poetry, Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review; as well as Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry In Traditional Forms (Harper&Row), New American Poets of the 90’s (Godine), and Poets of the New Century (Godine), among many others. Katrovas's current projects are Raising Girls in Bohemia: Meditations of an American Father, a collection of essays, and Confessions of a Waiter, a novel.


Richard Katrovas is married to the yogini Krista Katrovas and has three daughters, Ema, Anna, and Ella. He and his family live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, New Orleans, and Prague. Katrovas taught for twenty years at the University of New Orleans and is now a professor of English at Western Michigan University. From:

Scott Turow: March 14, 2012
An Evening with Scott Turow: Contemporary Writers Series 15th Anniversary Endowment Fundraiser.
Scott Turow; Photo by Jeremy Lawson Photography

Scott Turow is a writer and attorney. He has been a partner in the Chicago office of the international law firm of SNR Denton (formerly Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal) since 1986. His area of concentration is white collar criminal defense, and he also devotes substantial time to pro bono matters.

Born in Chicago in 1949, Scott graduated with high honors from Amherst College in 1970. He was an Edith Mirrielees Fellow at Stanford University Creative Writing Center from 1970 to 1972. From 1972-1975, he was an E. H. Jones Lecturer, teaching Creative Writing at Stanford University.

In 1975, Scott entered Harvard Law School, graduating with honors in 1978. From 1978 to 1986, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago. During that time, he served as lead counsel in a number of prosecutions related to corruption in the legal profession, an initiative connected to “Operation Greylord,” a federal investigation of corruption into the Illinois judiciary.


He is the author of nine best-selling works of fiction:
• Innocent (2010), sequel to Presumed Innocent (1987)
• Limitations (2006)
• Ordinary Heroes (2005)
• Reversible Errors (2002), which won The Heartland Prize
• Personal Injuries (1999), (Time Magazine’s Best Work of Fiction)
• Burden of Proof (1999)
• Laws of Our Fathers (1996)
• Pleading Guilty (1993)

• One L (1977) about his experience as a law student
• Ultimate Punishment (2003), a reflection on the death penalty. 2004 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award