Whitworth Alum Publishes New Take on Old Names

Author G.L. Corum shares info about the release of Ulysses Underground, along with some tried and tested tips for aspiring writers:

At Whitworth, I majored in English Literature without Post-it Notes or a MacBook. Thecorum latter had not been invented in the mid-seventies. And Post-it Notes had barely begun marking the pages of history when I took two American History survey classes from Homer Cunningham. I am certain I never thought of writing a book, especially about a war hero.

Post-it Notes appeared after 1968, when chemist Spencer Silver, attempting to develop a super strong adhesive, accidentally invented a super weak, repositionable one. Ulysses Underground came about through a similar arc of unexpected discovery. I set out to find the earliest, organized, nonviolent resistance to slavery. In mid-search, I discovered young Ulysses growing up in an antislavery community committed to ending slavery without dividing the Union.

In the 1990s, while parenting young children in an increasingly materialistic, environmentally toxic world, I began seeking deep lifestyle change. I prayed. I listened. I journaled. I got sick.

Recuperating in bed in 1997, I received a biography of an east coast abolitionist. (Though I did not pay attention at the time) when I picked up that book, I was pulled into a world I could not put down. I became ravenously interested in how slavery ended.

When, how, where and who started its demise? Never had I had such ferocity to learn. My quest took me over tracks of the Underground Railroad spread across the country. As I searched for earlier and earlier sources I found footnotes pointing to southwestern Ohio and moved there.

Ulysses Underground uncovers seventy years of secret history near the banks of the Ohio River. For more than a decade I assembled a 200,000 piece puzzle of hidden history with no cover picture. For months I would work on bits of one section, and then after discovering a small link, I would set in on another section.

Having absorbed the 1920s version of America’s victorious Civil War general, I had no interest in Ulysses when I first came across his name. But I encountered more pieces and began reading current Grant scholarship. I learned how at his death, his immense popularity surpassed that of President Lincoln. Ulysses’ seven-mile-long funeral procession included every stripe of humanity. Thirty years later his reputation was deliberately distorted to foster Jim Crow thinking; black people faced hurdles much harsher than ruined reputations. The distortion hid the history even farther underground, but I kept digging.

Many pieces remain lost, but enough came together to reveal Ulysses’ family inside a startling community committed to liberty and justice for all. Fierce piety and patriotism combined to push for the full benefits of democracy for everyone, regardless of color.

Clusters of families intentionally aligned their homes to form an escape route out of slavery; their children and grandchildren continued their work. Everything incriminating had to be erased. How could I ever explain all this in any compelling manner?ulysses-s-grant_MTx9k

Post-it notes! In 2011, I read David Shenk’s advice: “Get feedback — oodles of it. Show pieces of your book to lots of people — different types of people … beg them for candor. Find out what’s missing, what’s being misinterpreted, what isn’t convincing, what’s falling flat.” Shenk’s quote went on a virtual sticky note on my Macbook desktop.

My readers wrote corrections, suggestions, etc. on Post-it Notes and positioned them on the errant sentence or words. After entering the corrections into the text, I peeled off the note. The process satisfied me. My convoluted writing improved. Ulysses Underground unfurls America’s best history and I hope it will satisfy you deeply when it is released on Memorial Day weekend 2015. One of Whitworth’s founders may link to the history, but that will have to wait for another book.

You can check out Corum’s book at http://www.ulyssesunderground.com.

Readings Galore

All sorts of readings are coming up. Make sure to check them out:

Westminster Round Student Reading
7 p.m. at Boots Bakery, Friday, April 17
Westminster Round will be holding an off-campus reading for the English Department at Boots Bakery & Lounge this Friday (April 17th) at 7 p.m. We’re still finalizing the line-up, so if you’re interested in reading please send us your work.Submissions should include no more than five poems/three pages of prose. Send what you’ve got to Katie Cunningham (kcunningham16@my.whitworth.edu) before Thursday, April 16th.

There will be food. There will be drinks. There will be laughter. There will be carpooling (outside of Westminster Hall at 6:20 p.m.).

For more details, see the Westminster Round Facebook page.


Railtown Almanac Reading

Saturday, April 25 at 5:00 p.m.

Railtown Almanac is an anthology of poems by Spokanites and about Spokane, published in 2014. The 170-page collection draws from a wide range of poets, featuring vastly different styles, subjects, and perspectives. The anthology was curated and edited by writers Thom Caraway and Jeffrey Dodd, and published by Sage Hill Press. 

Venue: Hendrick House, Whitworth University
Free & open to the public 

Emily Gwinn teaches English at Spokane Falls Community College. Her poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in Hubbub, Rock and Sling, Pontoon, andThe Furnace Review, and her poetry is included in Cave Moon Press’s anthology of poems about food, Broken Circles: A Gathering of Poems for Hunger. Emily also had the pleasure of representing Spokane at the 2014 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California. She is the recipient of the Tom Pier Prize in Poetry from Allied Arts of Yakima Washington’s Coffeehouse Poetry Series, and her chapbook,Transpiration, was published by Finishing Line Press. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University.
John Whalen has nearly a hundred publications in literary journals and magazines including: River StyxCity LightsThe Greensboro Review, the Virginia Quarterly ReviewCutBankRedactionsDark Horse, and the Hollins Critic. His work has been anthologized twice in Pontoon. He has been a finalist for both the Ruth J. Lilly Award and the National Poetry Series Award. His first full-length poetry collection, Caliban, was published in 2002, and In Honor of the Spigot won Gribble Press’s chapbook competition in 2010. In 2014, he won the Floating Bridge Press chapbook award for Above the Pear Trees.
Poet, fiction writer, artist, teacher: Nance Van Winckel does it all, and does it well. In 2013, she published her sixth book of poems, Pacific Walkers (a finalist for the Washington State Book Award), along with her fourth collection of stories,Boneland. 2014 saw the publication of her novel in the form of a scrapbook, Ever Yrs. She teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and produces a cross-disciplinary art called photo-ems: photographs with small poems and other graphic material blended on top of the original photograph. She has received many awards and honors, including multiple NEA poetry fellowships.
For more details visit the Get Lit website.
Inland Northwest Faculty Reading
Sunday, April 26 at 4:30 p.m.
Hosted by Eastern Washington University, this reading celebrates creative writers who are also professors, honoring those who split their time between creating art and encouraging the artistic and academic pursuits of their students.

Participating writers and teachers include faculty from EWU, Whitworth, Gonzaga, North Idaho College, SFCC, and SCC, who will read from new works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. EWU professor Natalie Kusz, author of
 Road Song, will host the event. 

Participating faculty include:
*Jaime Baird of Whitworth 
Megan Ciesla of Gonzaga
Christopher Howell of EWU
*Fred Johnson of Whitworth
Leyna Krow of NIC & SFCC
Kathryn McKenna of SCC
Gregory Spatz of EWU
Rachel Toor of EWU
For Moor details, visit the Get Lit website. 

2015 Poetry Contest Winners Announced

In celebration of Whitworth’s 125th anniversary, students were asked to write a poem of exactly 125 words, including the words “pine,” “cone” and curtain.”

1st Place winner Sandra Tully is from western Washington and is currently a senior at Whitworth. She is an English/writing major and also a Computer Science major.

Guest Judge Arlin Migliazzo had this to say about Tully’s poem, “Perhaps Da Vinci Told Her”: I can envision the master himself nodding appreciatively at the poet’s whimsical but humane explanation for Mona Lisa’s smile that almost isn’t.  The reference to da Vinci’s ingenious flying “contraption,” the artist’s care in his desire to hide the “tea stained tinge on her two front teeth” and her damaged incisor cracked “into a thousand tiny triangles” speak to the centuries that separate us from the painting itself.  Yet the recognition that she might have wanted “to show a subtle streak of rebellion” and his efforts to coax a real smile out of her as well as his compassion in masking her physical limitations speak to our shared humanness across the years.


Perhaps Da Vinci Told Her


not to smile, still she turned the corners of her mouth

just enough to show a subtle streak of rebellion.


Perhaps he made her laugh,

recounting the time he tested his own contraption;

catapulting into the cold night air,

and waking up shivering and naked in a field

surrounded by cattle beveled, staring,

like the slanting surface of a cone.


Perhaps he would have seen it then,

her two lips parting like horizontal curtains

revealing the fall from a pine tree that

fractured her left incisor into a thousand tiny triangles.


Perhaps he waited for her amusement to fade,

slowly concealing the tea stained tinge of her

two front teeth until all that was left

was the lingering remnant of delight.


10262049_766898803340337_3865761703545282024_n2nd Place winner Leah Dassler is a freshman marketing major with a Chinese minor. She hails from Denver, Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, playing tennis, and going on adventures with her family. At Whitworth, you can usually find her having random dance parties with her friends or exploring Spokane. In her spare time, Dassler loves to read and write poetry because poetry often presents truth in its rawest form.

Guest Judge Arlin Migliazzo had this to say about Dassler’s poem, “Navigating Red and Black”: I am drawn into the mystery of this poem–and its puzzling, even disconcerting message for me.  Since the author clearly cares for the companion(s?), does the incurred expense “in red and black” refer to a connection (or connections) here at Whitworth?  As the debit/credit ledger theme is carried on in other phrases (“numbers corralled between parentheses/To ignite finely-kept balance sheets” and “gypsy tendencies unaccounted for/The ones tensioned between red and black”) is it rather a paean to the necessity of repeated forgiveness in the constant human struggle upward toward authenticity, both for ourselves and for those we most care about?  What is the poem urging me to consider in my quest for self-knowledge as that quest both connects me to others and also creates pain for those closest to me?  That is the disconcerting part. . .


Navigating Red and Black


In red and black I incurred an expense

One unrepayable


You hurdling up over stairs the way you do,

Insisting the summit must be just

Past swirl-bound mist


Can’t you see as I, from the base, do—

The best climbs lack steps entirely.


To make one’s own way

Beyond pines

Toward sunlight patches


To uncover souls in places where we thought only fog existed

Along the cone-covered way we wander


To disentangle names

from numbers corralled

between parentheses

To ignite all finely-kept balance sheets


This is the path we are meant to stumble upwards

Side-by-side navigating the misty curtain split in two,

Top to bottom


Seven times forgive

These gypsy tendencies unaccounted for

The ones tensioned between red and black


Congratulations winners! Thanks to everyone who submitted, and to our guest judge, Arlin Migliazzo!

Summer 2013A_Migliazzo_5x7 (1)Arlin C. Migliazzo is professor of history at Whitworth University where he has taught since 1983. He received the B.A. from Biola College (1974), his M.A. from Northern Arizona University (1975), and the Ph.D. from Washington State University (1982). His publications include essays and articles on ethnic studies, the Pacific Northwest, colonial South Carolina, church-related higher education, the history of evangelicalism, and comparative democratic development. He has also published some of his poetry in Script, the Whitworth University literary journal.



Mystery, murder, and fun for all


Here’s the scoop from Westminster Round member Kyler Lacey (’15).

Last Friday the 13th of March was the Live Action Literary Clue event, put on by Westminster Round, for all to enjoy. Students across majors attended, demonstrating the importance of different areas of study in the field of murder-mystery investigating. Though in this case, the exact parameters of the crime were left unsolved.

Some of the clues proved difficult to find, and some were found quickly, but re-hidden too well to be discovered in only a few minutes by the next group—so, nobody’s cards were completely filled out. In the end, it was revealed that Beowolf did it, with the Pigs from Animal Farm, in 221 Baker Street. After just shy of an hour and a half, the perp and weapon of choice were found, but the room was left a mystery. The guesses were close, but nobody was able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and as it turned out, Beowolf may have had an alibi.

The rooms in Westminster were converted into deliberation chambers, a Chamber of Secrets, an arena, a Room of One’s Own, 221 Baker Street, and more of the like. Clues were scattered throughout, hidden under tables and rolled up in projector screens. The investigators left no chair unturned or drawer unopened, those that showed up were clearly professionals, seasoned experts.

After the game was done, and it was time to go, almost everyone stayed behind to help clean up. The teamwork during the event was great, but really showed itself afterwards when all of Westminster was put back into shape in less than 20 minutes. The players turned volunteer did a wonderful job picking up paper, rearranging desks, and erasing doodles on white boards.

Thank you to everyone who came, the evening was a blast!

This Whitworth Life 2014 Podcast Is Now Available

This Whitworth Life 2014

If you missed our This Whitworth Life reading last fall and you’ve been plagued with regret ever since, now your prayers have been answered. If you attended last November’s storytelling extravaganza and have wanted to relive the magic, those prayers have been answered, too.

A podcast of the event is now available here.

The event was a project of EL 347: Creative Nonfiction Workshop. Eight members of our campus community wrote and read stories about significant moments in their lives.
Topics include but are not limited to: jigsaw puzzles, introversion, campus tours, grits, comical-only-in-hindsight interactions with law enforcement, martyrs, PTSD, forgiveness.
Enjoy these stories by our 2014 cast: Katie Ferris (’15), Amanda Clark, Alan Jacob, Tim Grayson, Henry Stelter (’16), Amy Hendricks (’09), Laura Bloxham, and Helen Higgs.
Thanks also to our faculty panelists, Fred Johnson and Karin Heller, to Annie Stillar, and to the Fall 2014 students of EL 347.



2015 Poetry Contest Deadline is Monday, March 2

pine cone

Calling all Whitworth poets!

The deadline for the 2015 poetry contest is Monday, March 2, at 5 p.m. Submit your entries at the EL department front desk. Include your name and contact info on a separate sheet.

This year’s challenge is to write a poem of exactly 125 words. Three of those words must be pine, cone, and curtain.

Dr. Arlin Migliazzo, a professor in Whitworth’s history department, is our guest judge.


Kristin Bertsch (’17) wins Founders Day scholarship 2015

The Whitworth Founders Day Scholarship is an annual scholarship that recognizes two students with high academic achievement who have made innovative and realistic proposals for strengthening an aspect of Whitworth College. The scholarship was established in 1999 in memory of Whitworth College’s founder, George Whitworth.

This year’s winner, Kristin Bertsch said the following about her plans for the next semester:

During the Spring 2015 semester, I and twelve of my closest friends (or so we will be after three months sharing hostel rooms) will embark on a quest through England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, learning the lives of the people in their respective geographic contexts. Our learning will enable us to use art, history, economy, and literature as frameworks for understanding the unique and intertwined cultural histories of the region.This blog will function toward two ends: firstly, to keep those at home abreast of the happenings on our journey; secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to awaken us all to the beauty of life as it manifests in underappreciated ways. This blog is for me, as a way of recording my adventures. This blog is for you, so that you might feed your own soul which pines after the beauty of life. This blog is for whatever goodness can be derived from it. I hope My Awfully Big Adventure will speak to yours.
A native of the Spokane area, I am currently in my second year of study at Whitworth as
kristinan honors student of English Literature, with special focus in Women’s Studies, Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and Art History. My participation in the Britain and Ireland Semester Program is generously sponsored by Whitworth University, the U.S. Department of State, and the Benjamin A. Gilman Foundation in partnership with the Institute of International Education.
Congratulations Kristin!

Welcome Jess Walter

“Jess Walter was chosen because he’s both a Spokanite and a nationally known and WeLiveinWaterrespected writer,” said Thom Caraway, a professor in Whitworth’s English department. “For the 125th anniversary celebration this year, we wanted someone who could really enrich the campus environment, and Jess’s presence here will certainly do that.” Walter’s book of short fiction, We Live in Water, deals with questions of social justice in Spokane and around the Northwest.
Walter has been a finalist for the National Book Award as well as #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. He has also won a PNBA Book Award.

Upcoming Events with Jess Walter:

In the Writer’s Studio w/ Jess Walter

Tuesday, February 24th – 7:00pm

Weyerhaeuser’s Robinson Teaching Theatre

Reception & book signing to follow

This event will involve a sit-down interview as well as a reading and Q&A. Walter will mainly be talking about his work, including important themes such as social justice. Caraway says he will also touch on his relationship to Spokane and what makes him tick as a writer.

An Evening w/ Jess Walter

Tuesday, March 31st – 7:00pm

Music Recital Hall


Alumni Update: Emily Grant (’13)

My name is Emily Grant, and I graduated from Whitworth University with a BA in Englishme_whitworthblog in 2013.  Since then I have worked at Classic Café in Deer Park (the diner that supported me through 3 years of college), and Chairs and Bank of America Merchant Services in Spokane.  In this next phase of my life I will be working at Stay Alfred, a vacation rental company, as an operations assistant.

I recently had my first piece published outside of a Whitworth blog.  I wrote a short blog post called “On Crashing” for Nicole Sheet’s class while studying abroad in Costa Rica.  Part of our assignment was to submit it to airplanereading.org, and two years later I was advised that my piece would be published.  It was all very symbolic: on the day that I was told that my piece about flying would be published, I also accepted a job for which I will be flying fairly often.  And planes are great places to do some writing.  Well, I’m going to try to convince myself they are…

I have made many conscious efforts to write daily since graduating from Whitworth, but this is really the most I’ve written, outside of work emails, all week.  I most enjoy writing short fiction and longer fiction, but the book I would like to write never moves seamlessly from my head to my computer, and after starting it five times I’ve taken a break to work on other things.  Usually I journal, as it helps me get my thoughts together, and it can be picked up and dropped back off at any time.  Lately I’ve been blogging.  I’m trying an elimination diet (to test for allergies) and I am blogging not only to remind myself that it’s worth it to eat only foods I hate for almost two months, but also because I think that real people need to hear stories from real people about what it’s really like to undertake such a project.  I undertake quite a few weird projects, so I may have found my niche.

Over the next few months, I hope to pick up some literary journals that interest me and submit away to them.  I might also blog about trying to write on planes.  I’m not sure where I’ll finally settle down as far as a career is concerned, but I do plan to carve out time within a busy work schedule to continue to write, and to continue to do weird things that are worth writing about.