Nature of Words 2011 Guest Authors

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Appearing at the Festival November 2-6, 2011.

Augusten Burroughs (Keynoter)

Augusten Burroughs‘ memoirs about his unconventional childhood and battles with addiction are hilarious, caustic and brutally candid. Burroughs, who has no formal education beyond grade school, moved to San Francisco at 19 and forged a highly successful career in advertising. He began writing at age 34 and his first published book, a novel titled Sellevision, was released in 2000. His writing has appeared in numerous publications. Augusten is also known as an effective, inspiring and unscripted speaker.

Recommended Reading: Running With Scissors, Dry and Magical Thinking.

Heidi Durrow

Heidi Durrow grew up as a child of two cultures and languages: an African-American enlisted Air Force man and a white Danish woman. Her debut novel, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, received Barbara Kingsolver’s 2008 Bellwether Prize for Literature of Social Change, and was named one of the best novels of 2010 by the Washington Post, a Top 10 Book of 2010 by The Oregonian, and a Top 10 Debut of 2010 by Booklist. . Durrow, originally from Portland, OR, is a former corporate attorney, a former journalist, a former Life Skills trainer for NBA and NFL athletes, a podcaster and a festival producer.

Recommended Reading: The Girl Who Fell From the Sky


William Kittredge

Recipient of The Nature of Words’ 2011 Caldera Special Recognition Award

William Kittredge is an icon among Western writers. He grew up on the cattle ranch his grandfather built in southeastern Oregon’s Lake County, the setting for his memoir, Hole in the Sky. After a series of personal and philosophical struggles, he left ranching for writing. Kittredge became a major cultural voice with his collection of essays, Owning It All, which was said to “map the emotional terrain of the West.” Kittredge taught at the University of Montana for 29 years, and now is Regents Professor of English and Creative Writing Emeritus.  He has received numerous awards including a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford and Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Recommended Reading: The Willow Field and The Next Rodeo: New and Selected Essays


Nancy Mairs

Nancy Mairs was born in Long Beach, CA, and grew up north of Boston. She is one of the most highly respected writers of literary non-fiction and the personal essay. She has taught writing and literature at Salpointe Catholic High School, the University of Arizona, and the University of California at Los Angeles. Mairs was awarded the 1984 Western States Book Award in poetry for In All the Rooms of the Yellow House. Mairs spiritual autobioigraphy is titled Remembering the Bones. She earned an MFA in creative writing and a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Arizona, and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

Recommended Reading: A Troubled Guest: Life and Death Stories and Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled


Seth Mnookin

Seth Mnookin is an award-winning journalist and author. His most recent book, The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear, uses a combination of investigative reporting, intellectual and scientific history, and sociological analysis to explore the controversies over vaccines and their rumored connection to developmental disorders. He is also the author of the 2006 New York Times-bestseller about the rise of the Boston Red Sox, Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts, and Nerve Took a Team to the Top. Mnookin has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, New York, Slate, Wired, and Spin. He is a graduate of Harvard, and was a 2004 Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Recommended Reading: The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear and Feeding the Monster: How Money, Smarts and Nerve Took a Team to the Top


Aimée Nezhukumatathil

Aimée Nezhukumatathil was born in Chicago to a Filipina mother (Filipana was copied directly from her website) and a father from South India. She is the author of three poetry collections: Lucky Fish, winner of the Hoffer Grand Prize for Prose and Independent Books; At The Drive-In Volcano, winner of the Balcones Prize; and Miracle Fruit, winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, and the Global Filipino Award. Poems and essays have appeared in publications including American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, Slate, and Tin House, as well as many anthologies. She is Associate Professor of English at State University of New York-Fredonia.

Recommended Reading: Lucky Fish and At the Drive-In Volcano


Keith Scribner

Keith Scribner has worked as a carpenter, a merchant marine, and a Boston cabbie. He’s lived in Japan, Turkey, and France, and has traveled widely. His third novel, The Oregon Experiment, was released in June 2011. His two previous novels are The GoodLife, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Miracle Girl. His work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies including American Short Fiction, The North Atlantic Review, and Flash Fiction Forward. He was awarded Wallace Stegner and John L’Heureux Fellowships in Fiction at Stanford University. He teaches in Oregon State University’s MFA program and is a fellow at OSU’s Center for the Humanities.

Recommended Reading: The Oregon Experiment


Mark Spragg

Mark Spragg is the author of Where Rivers Change Direction, a memoir that won the 2000 Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers award, and the novels, The Fruit of Stone, An Unfinished Life, and in 2010, Bone Fire. All four were top-ten Book Sense selections and An Unfinished Life, was chosen by the Rocky Mountain News as the Best Book of 2004. Spragg’s work has been translated into fifteen languages.  He lives in Wyoming with his wife, Virginia, with whom he wrote the screenplay for his novel, An Unfinished Life, starring Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman, and released in 2005.

Recommended Reading: Bone Fire


Kevin Young

Born in 1970, Kevin Young is widely regarded as one of the leading poets of his generation. The author of six books of poems, and editor of five others, Young’s work has been frequently featured in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and Kenyon Review. He often finds meaning and inspiration in African American music, particularly the blues, as well as in the complexities of American history and heartbreak. His awards and fellowships include a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and an NEA Fellowship. He is currently Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and Curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.

Recommended Reading:  Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels and Dear Darkness

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