Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Poet Garret Hongo shares work, past at Visiting Writers Reading Series

Award-winning poet, professor of creative writing and editor Garrett Hongo will read his work and share tips with students at this semester’s first Visiting Writers Readings Series event. Hongo’s published works include “Yellow Light”, “The River of Heaven” and “Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai’i.”

“Hongo is an important Japanese American Poet and memoirist/nonfiction writer who’s taught for years in the Graduate Program at the University of Oregon,” said Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing and Garrett Fellow Katrina Roberts, who also organizes the series.

Hongo’s culture and personal history influence his writing, and his poetry often addresses problems immigrants’ face, with a specific focus on the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II.

“Every writer offers provocation and unique eyes through which to comprehend the human condition, and Hongo’s past provides him with a fascinating, and likely familiar to many who feel marginalized in some way, story,” said Roberts. “For others, he offers culturally resonant experiences rendered in the music of natural speech and heightened by an eye attentive to vibrant unexpected detail.”

In preparation for the event, creative writing students have studied his work, focusing the unique style that has garnered Hongo comparisons to poet Walt Whitman.

“The students in classes here at Whitman have been reading his poems and memoir, and have noted his lyricism, his ability to transport readers through richly detailed portraits of place, as well as through his compelling arguments of imagery that create seamless shifts and bridges through time,” said Roberts.

Many students, such as sophomore Lea Negrin, appreciate the series because it gives them an opportunity to ask authors questions about their craft.

“The [VWRS] is specifically relevant to me because I am an English major who is hoping to one day publish written work,” said Negrin. “It is truly inspiring to attend the reading series because the authors always answer questions and talk about their personal experience with getting published.”

Hongo’s visit to campus marks the fifth writer to share his knowledge and expertise with budding writers and interested students. The purpose of the series is to expose students to a wide array of styles, experiences and points of view.

“Hongo brings an important diversity to campus as part of the Visiting Writers Reading Series,” said Roberts. “Each of the writers included this year has a range of established and emerging voices who share work across genres, enriching the Whitman and greater community by challenging and promoting discussions of humanitarian concern.”

Hongo will visit campus on Thursday, Feb. 17. The reading, followed by a question and answer session, will take place in the Kimball Theatre starting at 7 p.m.

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