Contemporary Writers Series  


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2012 - 2013 Featured Writers

Bonnie Jo Campbell Thursday, September 20, 2012
Robin Hemley Thursday, November 1, 2012
Jaimy Gordon Thursday, March 14, 2013
Herbert Woodward Martin Tuesday, April 9, 2013 

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

Lunchtime talks to the Aquinas Community are at 12:30 p.m. in the Wege Center Loutit Room.

Bonnie Jo Campbell: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Bonnie Jo Campbell

Bonnie Jo Campbell grew up on a small Michigan farm with her mother and four siblings. She has hitchhiked across the U.S. and Canada, scaled the Swiss Alps on her bicycle, and traveled with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus selling snow cones. She is the author of the novel Once Upon a River (July 2011, W.W. Norton) and a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow.  She was a 2009 National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for her collection of stories, American Salvage, which won the Foreword Book of the Year Award for short fiction. She also wrote the novel Q Road and the story collection Women & Other Animals. 

She’s received the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Award for Short Fiction, a Pushcart Prize, and the Eudora Welty Prize.  Her poetry collection Love Letters to Sons of Bitches won the 2009 CBA Letterpress Chapbook award.
Campbell has an M.A. in mathematics and an M.F.A. in writing from Western Michigan University.  She lives in Kalamazoo, where she practices Koburyu Kobudo weapons training, gardens and hangs out with her husband and her two donkeys, Jack and Don Quixote. You can check out her website at

Poetry: Love Letters to Sons of Bitches
Novels: Once Upon a River, Q Road
Short Stories: American Salvage, Women and Other Animals

Robin Hemley: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Robin Hemley

Robin Hemley has authored ten books of nonfiction and fiction.  His writing has been published in the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong (and elsewhere), and has been widely anthologized. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Believer, The Huffington Post, Orion, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine, and many fine literary magazines. A feature film based on his book Invented Eden (telling of a purported anthropological hoax in the Philippines) is under development by the BBC.   

Among his awards are a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship, The Nelson Algren Award for Fiction from The Chicago Tribune, The Story Magazine Humor Prize, an Independent Press Book Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. The University of Georgia Press published his book A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism, and Travel earlier this year, and, also this year, Indiana University Press (Break Away Books) is scheduled to publish Reply All (his third collection of short stories).

Hemley is a Senior Editor of The Iowa Review, and he also edits the popular online journal, Defunct ( He directs the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa and frequently teaches creative writing workshops around the world. If you want more information on Robin Hemley, find it at

Novels: The Last Studebaker
Creative NonFiction: Do Over
NonFiction: A Field Guide for Immersion Writing: Memoir, Journalism, and Travel; Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday; Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art, and Madness; Turning Life into Fiction (A manual for turning life into fiction)
Short Stories: Reply All: Stories
Jaimy Gordon: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Jaimy Gordon

Aquinas College Contemporary Writers Series welcomes National Book Award Winner Jaimy Gordon to campus. A native of Baltimore, she received her M.A. in English as well as her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Brown University. She is currently Professor of English at Western Michigan University where she has taught since 1981.


Jaimy Gordon’s work includes poetry, fiction, translations and essays. Her three earliest novels are Shamp of the City-Solo, She Drove without Stopping and Bogeywoman, which made the Los Angeles Times Best Books List of 2000. Her latest novel, Lord of Misrule, won the 2010 National Book Award. Gordon is known for her work as a translator as well. Her poems, short stories, essays, and translations have appeared in several literary journals.  More information can be found at

Poetry: The Fall of Poxdown (chapbook); The Bend, The Lip, The Kid (a book length narrative poem)
Novels: Circumspections from an Equestrian Statue (novella); Shamp of the City-Solo; She Drove Without Stopping; Bogeywoman; Lord of Misrule
Translations:Lost Weddings by Maria Beig (translated with Peter Blickle); Hermine, an Animal Life by Maria Beig
Herbert Woodward Martin: Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Herbert Woodward Martin

Herbert Woodward Martin has a special connection with Grand Rapids. He taught at Aquinas from 1967-1970 and was also the college's poet-in-residence. In addition to publishing eight books of poetry, Martin has edited major collections on Paul Laurence Dunbar and expanded his creative talents by exploring the intersection of poetry and music. Each year Martin speaks about Paul Laurence Dunbar for the Humanities Program at Aquinas.


In recent years, he has recorded the narration for William Grant Still's Symphony No. 1: The African American with The Dayton Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. He has written the libretti for a new American opera, a Cantata with Adolphus Hailstork, another American Opera, and a Magnificat with Philip Carl Magnuson.


Martin has also supplied the texts for several song cycles with other composers. His many awards for his work include: four Honorary Doctorate Degrees; a Fulbright Scholarship to Hungary (1990-91); the Ohio Humanities Council Bjornson Award (1996); the Mellen Prize for Narrative Poetry for The Log of the Vigilante (1999); and the Mark Twain Award from The Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (2002). 

His poetry collections include:

New York The Nine Million (1967), The Persistence of the Flesh (1976), The Forms of Silence (1980), Galileo's Suns (1999), The Log of the Vigilante (2000), Escape to the Promised Land (2005), Inscribing My Name: Selected Poems (2007)