Hallie Ford Literary Series exposes students to notable, professional writers

From grief and addiction to abuse and sexuality, acclaimed fiction writer and memoirist Lidia Yuknavitch writes about life’s harsh realities.

By doing so, she hopes to destigmatize experiences she believes should be openly discussed.

“We should all be saying things out loud that most people are quiet about,” she said. “Every time we do, someone else in the room feels counted.”

Yuknavitch, author of several volumes of short fiction and the memoir, “The Chronology of Water,” addressed a crowd of more than 70 people Nov. 8 as part of the Hallie Ford Literary Series.

The series, organized by members of Willamette’s English Department, features poets, novelists, short story writers and others, who are brought to campus each semester to meet with students and discuss the writing process.

During their visits, the writers read excerpts of their works through free, public events at the Hatfield Library. Past speakers have included novelist and essayist Meghan Daum, playwright Andrea Stolowitz and poet Keetje Kuipers.

Scott Nadelson, Hallie Ford chair in writing, said the literary series enables students to learn and gain inspiration from professional writers.

“My first goal is to give students a chance to hear contemporary literature,” he said. “I want them to hear voices other than the ones they hear in the classroom, and (the series) connects them to the larger, literary world.”

Yuknavitch’s work has appeared in Ms., The Iowa Review, Exquisite Corpse and elsewhere. Her book, “Real to Reel,” was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award.

Upcoming speakers include poet Susan Briante on Feb. 2 and fiction writer Anthony Doerr on March 5.

Briante publishes poetry collections and essays on industrial ruins, abandoned buildings and cultural memory. Her first book of poems, “Pioneers in the Study of Motion,” was published in 2007.

Doerr is the author of four books, including the memoir, “Four Seasons in Rome, “ the novel, “About Grace,” and the story collection, “The Shell Collector.” His most recent book, “Memory Wall,” was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle and