The Huffington Post Featuring Dr. Kari Nixon

Last week, our amazing Victorian Literature professor and Medical Humanities specialist, Dr. Kari Nixon’s article, “I’m A Mom and A Vaccine Researcher. Here’s Why You Should Vaccinate Your Children” was published in the Huffington Post. Offer Dr. Nixon your congratulations when you see her and please read, enjoy and share her article, here!

Keep up with Dr. Nixon on her website, – which is currently filled with zombie content just in time for the latest release of Game of Thrones – and her twitter account, @halfsickshadows!

Congratulations to Dr. Bert Emerson!

Congratulations to Dr. Bert Emerson for winning a National Endowment of the Humanities Summer Stipend Award in support of his book project in 19th century American literature and culture!

The Whitworth English Department is so lucky to have Dr. Emerson as a part of its wonderful faculty. Check out the link to the press release below to learn more.

Adventures in Portland: Rock & Sling at AWP 2019

By Gabriel Meek

Eight students and three professors spent a good portion of their spring break in Portland for AWP, representing Whitworth’s in-house literary journal, Rock & Sling. AWP is the Association of Writers and writing Programs, and it puts on a humongous literary conference each year. The conference holds hundreds of panels, featuring thousands of writers and editors, contains a book fair with over eight hundred lit mags and presses, and is attended by over 12,000 people. 

For an introverted, first-time attendee like myself with no real grasp for what the conference would be like, it was a little overwhelming to say the least.

However, it was overwhelming in a good way. I was surrounded by books, lit mags, fellow writers, coffee, more books and lit mags, and as many presses and journals to talk to as I could ever want. I spent most of my free time wandering around the book fair being handed free lit mags (I know—What?) and collecting buttons (check out my new lit mag button collection on my backpack). 

One of the coolest things to experience was meeting many of the writers we’ve published in the pages of Rock & Sling. Recognizing that I had read these poems and prose pieces through the entire length of the editing process, from slush-pile reading to copyediting, and that now I was meeting the people behind these amazing words was fascinating. Also, simply watching the surprised reactions as people walked past the Rock & Slingbooth, its glorious bedsheet art of Jesus Christ fighting a bear on full display, was hilarious and life-giving.

The most amazing panel I attended was a reading by Marilyn Chin, Carmen Giménez Smith, and Maxine Hong Kingston. These three amazing women writers shared the stage and their poems. Maxine Hong Kingston was so excited to announce she is a new grandmother, which made her so happy as well as the crowd. It’s a very unique experience to read someone’s words in a classroom and then to actually hear them read those words in person.

Honestly, it was amazing to be surrounded by so many people all speaking the same language, one of writing, submitting, editing, and publishing. 

Despite all of this, my AWP 2019 experience will forever be defined by something completely separate that occurred on the way back. It’s summed up by the title of a collab poem Meghan Foulk, Emily Hanson, and I created during a few extra hours we had: “To the tire that left us.” One of our tires had unexpectedly come off the car an hour and a half away from Spokane. Although we spent some extra time on the side of the highway, every Whitworthian who made the journey to AWP got home safely with a few more stories to tell than we had when we left.

Mark Your Calendars for the 2019 Whitworth Film Festival!

Film minors! (And friends/lovers of film), 

The 2019 Whitworth Film Festival is happening in April! Mark your calendars for Saturday the 27th at 7PM for an evening of watching good movies (including student work!) and possibly eating some snacks. The festival will be held in the Robinson Teaching Theater. 

As part of the film festival each year, we accept and review student submissions of film and animation work. We will be selecting 1st-3rd place winners, AND, based on the number of submissions we receive and how long those submissions are, your work could be shown at the festival! Find a friend (or 3 or 4) and make some movie magic happen.

Submissions are open NOW and will be accepted through April 23rd. (This gives you all of spring break to shoot/edit). Anything from a few seconds up to about 25-30 minutes is eligible for consideration. Eligible films and animations must include major contributions by current Whitworth students, but feel free to collaborate with your non-Whitworth friends, and be sure to invite them to attend the festival with you. We will accept no more than two entries per student.

Use the Google Form link below to submit your film. Submissions must include a YouTube or Vimeo link to your film (no file uploads). Please submit only those films that have been made in the last 12 months (since last year’s festival).

Please visit this link below to submit your work!

If you have any further questions about criteria for submissions or other festival-related inquiries, contact Erin Wolf at

Happy filming!

Poetry of Witness

Whitworthians, English lovers, alumni and friends,

As our local community, nation and world experience divisiveness, tragedy and uncertainty, it is imperative that we remind one another of the power of witness. Dr. Laurie Lamon and her creative writing students have aimed to add poetry to ethical conversations by writing poems of witness (some of which are featured, below). Please join the Whitworth English Department and Dr. Lamon’s students in exploring poetry of witness in this season.

Poetry of Witness is an enormous phrase that to me speaks to the core of the relationship between art and truth. Witness means that one is present to; that one is compelled to speak the truth. This is the definition, if there can be one, of poetry writing. But as a sub-genre, Poetry of Witness places the speaker in the space of the other, whether that be fellow human being or animals or geography.

Laurie Lamon
By Anonymous

For me, a poem of witness is a political poem, a poem that makes a statement about the world, and in which I urge the reader to reconsider or look at the world through a new lens. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically a bisexual person, inclusivity is very important to me, and I wanted this poem to reflect the importance of thinking outside of categorical boxes, and appreciating the world for what it is: a beautiful spectrum of diversity in all shapes and forms.  -Anonymous

By Elyse Herrera

For me, a poem of witness works to utter what there may otherwise seem to be no words for. Works of witness give an identity and a story to the person, thing or idea that is in need of advocacy. Poetry of witness aims at truth, and in doing so, evokes change. -Elyse Herrera

By Bryn Cavin

For me, poetry of witness means connecting moments of individual experience to the world outside of oneself.  Poems of witness have the responsibility of presenting truth in a way that cannot be disputed.  I wrote this poem after visiting the White House with the other Whitworth Smithsonian interns last semester.  The quote from the Secret Service agent stayed in my mind for a long time, and it sort of felt as if I had no choice but to put it into a poem.  -Bryn Cavin

By Hope Mallet

My poem of Witness is about a young boy I knew when I was 9 years old named Dylan. He was being fostered by my neighbors across the street who treated him so terribly that my family had to report it to child protective services after he already had one of the worst child abuse cases in all of the United States from his past. When the foster care system took him away from my neighbors who could never again serve as foster parents, we were never able to see or talk to him again. Thus, this poem is called “What Dylan Taught Me.” -Hope Mallet

By Aaron Slape

My poem kind of blends between being a poem of self in the world and a poem of witness as it has elements of both. The poem was about an encounter I had with a raccoon one night walking home. I find more subconscious themes in it each time I reread it so there is a lot going on. With that I think its one of those pieces that are really up for the readers interpretation. -Aaron Slape

By Hannah Mumm

This poem was written about my mother, who provides in-home childcare. Her work can be taxing and underappreciated at times, but hers is a labor of love. Through the years, she has been a second mama to countless babies -Hannah Mmmm

By Ashton Kittleman

Poetry of witness gives a voice to experiences and people that may usually be marginalized or forgotten. It’s a way of showing, rather than telling someone else of an experience. These poems provide a greater opportunity for empathy and understanding. -Ashton Kittleman

“Imagining Lasting Peace” with Dr. Andrews in the Spokane Community

In November 2018, the Spokane County Library District invited Professor Casey Andrews to give a lecture at a couple of local libraries related to the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. The talk is entitled “Imagining Lasting Peace: British Literature, War Memorials, and Armistice Day 1918-2018” and it integrates Prof. Andrews’s research in literature, peace studies, and political theology. One of the events in Spokane Valley was filmed for eventual broadcast on CMTV. Below is a link to the video on the library district’s YouTube channel.

Take Your English Expertise to Washington, DC!

It was such a wonderful opportunity for me to gain an insider’s view of all that it takes to run an institution like the Smithsonian.

Bryn Cavin

Did you know that Whitworth offers a semester-long study away internship experience in Washington, DC? The Smithsonian Semester gives students of all majors the opportunity to apply their area of study to an internship with The Smithsonian Institute! Read Bryn Cavin’s story from her time in Washington, DC below!

Hi blog readers!  My name is Bryn Cavin, and I am a junior English Literature and Writing major with a minor in Editing and Publishing. I spent the fall semester interning with the Smithsonian Latino Center (SLC) in Washington, DC.  I worked primarily with the Advancement team, but the SLC is one of the smallest units within the Smithsonian, so I had the chance to get to know most people in the office quite well.

One of my main projects at the SLC was to write the language for the Thanksgiving and year-end campaigns, and help the staff prepare for the press event for the newly-announced Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History.  It was such a wonderful opportunity for me to gain an insider’s view of all that it takes to run an institution like the Smithsonian. I met so many amazing people, and I’m so thankful for the chance to have been a part of the work that they are doing across the Smithsonian.

Living in DC was a marvelous adventure.  I loved having the chance to explore and get to know the city.  I think I may have spent more time in the local theaters than in my apartment!  I traveled to New York City with my roommates (which was super amazing–I got to see Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway and I’m still screaming about it), heard Michelle Obama speak at the Capital One Arena on her Becoming book tour, and watched lots and lots of sunsets over the Capitol from the roof of our apartment building.  I had such a wonderful time in DC, and I miss it all terribly.

Rock & Sling: VOX II

Whitworthians, please enjoy Assistant Poetry Editor, Emily Hansen’s piece about the up-and-coming, special issue of Rock & Sling!

VOX II: American Identities

American Identities is the exploration of the fluidity and the multiplicity of the different identities that have created the world we live in. As assistant poetry editor for this issue, I will be screening poems that share unique identities, exploring the idea of what being an American means. 

In this special issue we will explore all facets of what an identity can be and how it can complement and supplement other identities in order to create a functioning and working society. I am hoping that with this issue people will be open and free in expressing their unique take on what identities that they see and experience in daily observation and reflection. We are looking for perspectives that offer new and insightful takes on the way that identity works together to create a layered and colorful way to view the world. 

American Identities to me creates a discourse that will aid all people in seeing the concerns and feelings of the people around them, creating a wider range of ideas that will lead people to be more empathetic and understanding of different experiences. The reason that we chose “identities” plural is to admit to the fact that there is no single American Identity. Instead, there is a richness in diversity and differing opinions, and this is what has created the culture that we live in today.

We want to represent all voices and opinions, and I will be looking for poems that showcase opinions and identities that are rooted in what it means to be an individual while living in a world that seems to be converging together more and more. I am not looking for any one single idea, I am looking for different identities that work together and create tension together. I am looking for identities that are changing and in transformation in a rapidly changing world. I am looking for identities that speak to who we are as a society and why we have many identities instead of one sole American Identity.

Dr. Casey Andrews on Paul Schrader’s First Reformed

In his article, “Too Much in the Garden: Paul Schrader’s First Reformed Dr. Andrews explores the theological, environmental and psychological turmoil of 2018 award-winning film First Reformed. A film which Casey considers to be a “crowning achievement” in its director’s decade-spanning career. The cinematic stillness of the film (Casey describes) is an intentional and powerful move towards holiness on its way to the film’s broader concern, transcendentalism. 

More from Dr. Andrews on his piece:

One of my favorite movies of the last year was Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, a crowning achievement in Schrader’s career. This film became a featured text in my Jan Term 2019 course, EL/WGS 222: Gender & Faith in Film & Literature, a course originally created by our friend and colleague Pam Parker. The film’s investigation of spirituality during despair makes it deeply relevant for us today. 

Dr. Casey Andrews

Visit The Cresset for Casey’s full-length commentary and analysis!

Announcing: The 2019 Chapbook Contest Finalists

Hi blog readers!  The English Department is thrilled to announce this year’s Chapbook Contest winner, Bryn Cavin! Bryn is a junior at Whitworth, majoring in English Literature and Writing, with a minor in Editing and Publishing.  She is a big, big fan of dogs, sunsets, and new adventures. Enjoy Bryn’s introductory thoughts on her work and an excerpt from Racing Our Shadows below.

I have been lucky enough to do quite a bit of traveling over the past year, and visit so many museums that I’ve almost lost track. Most of the poems in this collection came from moments in those travels that took my breath away, broke my heart, or have otherwise taken up residence in my mind.  I suppose that these poems are my attempts to put those feelings into some sort of order, to capture them and save them for a time when my memories of these moments have faded somewhat. 

This year’s runner-up is Alexandra Jackson! Alexandra is a senior at Whitworth, majoring in English, Writing track.

Alexandra says that her piece, Eyes That See consists of three interconnected stories that explore the lives of small wooden people, and the Providers who accidentally created them, from multiple points of view. The Providers, for the most part, regard the wooden figures as non-sentient, and have consequently not paid much attention to maintenance, causing the problem present in the excerpt. Enjoy the excerpt of Alexandra’s work below!

I’d found him wandering, and knew it was the end. Months ago, he’d added a scarf to the hat. The crevasse had worked its way down his neck to disappear under his collar. If you touched between his shoulder blades your hand sunk in where he was broken. It must have hurt, but we couldn’t bear to ask. His expression was vague and unrecognizing, with no smile. He looked past me and continued walking. When I grabbed him, he stopped but didn’t so much as glance at me. I talked to him as I guided him back to his house, but he showed no sign of understanding. He was pliant, so I sat him down on his bed and began to unwind the scarf. I set that aside and snatched the hat next, tossing it across the room. I jerked the jacket from his shoulders and threw it away too. His shirt was more difficult to remove. Whenever I raised his arms over his head they would immediately sink back down. I grabbed one wrist at a time, squeezing hard in hopes of some response. Nothing. I kept his left arm suspended with one hand and worked the sleeve off with the other, then repeated the process. When that was done the shirt pooled around his neck in a sad collar, revealing how ravaged he was. Two sharp cuts curled around his side and onto his midsection, nearly meeting in the center. I yanked the shirt over his head, tearing it. The ripping noise was so fitting I wanted to shred it. I tipped him down into the pillow to see the damage. 

“Damn you, damn you!

I didn’t know whether I was cursing him, or The Providers. Either way, I wouldn’t be heard. He followed The Providers as faithfully as anyone, believed in them with every breath, yet he was barely in one piece. A scant centimeter of wood held together below the crack. One shove and he could split in half, but it wouldn’t matter. The crack had finally grown until Finch fell in like a house over a fault line. Whatever he had been was gone. I wanted to shake him, to see if I could rattle any sense back into his placid expression, but doing so would be the end of his body too. If that final break happened, he would’ve splintered into pieces. He deserved better than to disintegrate. 

When I calmed, I made my way over to the pile of Finch’s clothing and folded it while Finch stared straight ahead. I couldn’t do anything for him. I locked his door behind me and left to go find the town judge, Silas, who would know what to do. We went together to find the architect, Johnson. His understanding of wood was greater than anyone else’s. He wouldn’t be able to fix the crack, but he could fill it, and maybe save Finch. The Providers were the only ones capable of real healing. 

We dressed Finch and led him through town to the architect’s garage. Here Johnson had us undress Finch and guide him up onto a table, lying on his stomach. Harnesses used to secure large projects for cutting were tightened around his shoulders and knees. Johnson came over with a large vessel, filled with heated resin. He looked grim as he climbed up to kneel over Finch. We braced ourselves for the scream we’d heard from those others who had needed this treatment, but Finch stayed silent and still as Johnson poured the liquid into the crevasse. He had to heat more resin to finish. Once that was done, we stood together, waiting while the liquid set. It was an amber color and the light pouring in from the ventilation hole in the ceiling made it shine as we gazed at Finch. He never moved, and when the resin cooled Johnson took up his position once more and began smoothing the surface down with his tools. He was familiar with shaping resin to match bodies, able to follow the curves he was replacing perfectly. When we rolled Finch over the resin had seeped through cracks to leave pools of hardened amber underneath him. Johnson sculpted him back together. 

When he was finished Finch still just stared. He was lying on his back, gaze directed at the hole in the ceiling. It was a familiar posture; his gaze being directed to the sky looking for any glimpse of The Providers and their huge eyes. He’d only seen them once, when he was new. His own eyes had met those huge colorful orbs above us and latched onto them, watching them open and close. I’d thought the regard was mutual, that the eyes had met Finch’s with respect despite the blankness they must have seen in comparison. He’d felt a connection. We must have both been wrong. Finch’s devotion counted for nothing, yet even now he seemed to be staring up at the sky waiting for the gaze to reappear.