Reading Series Features Past, Present, and Emeriti Faculty

Fresno State English Department faculty

The fall 2019 Fresno Poets’ Association reading series lineup will celebrate past and present Fresno State faculty, including an opening reading with an accomplished novelist and a retiring poet professor from the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.

The series will be newly hosted by poet Brynn Saito, who joined Fresno State’s English Department faculty in fall 2018. Saito hopes as much as possible for the series to now feature a local poet or writer alongside a visiting poet or writer, plus a Fresno State graduate student to warm up the crowd with introductions and an opening piece.

“I love when readings curate a diversity of voices and genres, producing unexpected resonances and points of inspiration,” Saito said. “The conversation between artists—from different places, career stages, genres, and forms—is creative fuel for us all.”

Saito, a Fresno native who returned to the Central Valley last year, grew up reading and revering Fresno poets and writers.

“The poems of Lawson Inada, Chuck Hanzlicek, Phil Levine, Sherley Williams, Andrés Montoya, and so many others totally shaped my understanding of poetry’s power—its capacity to make a place sing its own stories of struggle and joy,” she said.

Admission is free to both of this fall’s readings, which are sponsored by Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities, the Fresno County Public Library, and Poets & Writers Inc.

Liza Wieland and Corrinne Clegg Hales
Liza Wieland (left) and Corrinne Clegg Hales (right)

Saturday, Sept. 7 – Liza Wieland and Corrinne Clegg Hales

Liza Wieland has published eight books of fiction and a volume of poetry. In her latest novel, “Paris, 7 A.M.” published by Simon & Schuster, she imagines what happened to the poet Elizabeth Bishop during three life-changing weeks spent in Paris amidst the imminent threat of World War II. Wieland has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and she is the 2017 winner of the Robert Penn Warren Prize from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Her novel “A Watch of Nightingales” won the 2008 Michigan Literary Fiction Award, and her novel “Land of Enchantment” was a long-list finalist for the 2016 Chautauqua Prize. She formerly taught creative writing in Fresno State’s English Department, and she currently teaches at East Carolina University.

Corrinne Clegg Hales is the author of five poetry collections, including “To Make it Right,” winner of the 2010 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in many journals including the Hudson Review, Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. She is a professor of English at Fresno State, where she teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing and coordinates the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry book contest. After teaching poetry and literature at Fresno State for 35 years, Connie will retire this fall.

The reading will be held at 2:30 p.m. in the Betty Rodriguez Regional Library, 3040 N. Cedar Ave.

Fresno State English Department faculty
Top (left to right): Venita Blackburn, Joseph Cassara, Steven Church and Corrinne Clegg Hales. Bottom (left to right): John Hales, Brynn Saito, Tim Skeen and Mai Der Vang.

Saturday, Oct. 26 – Fresno State creative writing faculty

Readers will include: 

  • Venita Blackburn, author of the story collection “Black Jesus and Other Superheroes.”
  • Joseph Cassara, author of the novel “The House of Impossible Beauties.”
  • Steven Church, author of the nonfiction book “I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part.”
  • Corrinne Clegg Hales, author of the poetry collection “To Make it Right.” 
  • John Hales, author of the nonfiction book “Shooting Polaris.” 
  • Brynn Saito, author of the poetry collection, “Power Made Us Swoon.” 
  • Tim Skeen, author of the poetry collection “Reward.” 
  • Mai Der Vang, author of the poetry collection “Afterland.”

Faculty Randa Jarrar will not read on this night.

The reading will be held at 2:30 p.m. in the Woodward Park Regional Library, 944 E. Perrin Ave. 

(Creative Writing Program graduate assistant Nou Her contributed to this report.)

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