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, 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.

Congratulations to our 2015 Chapbook Contest Winners!


Congratulations to Dana Stull (’16), the first-prize winner for the 2015 Chapbook contest, and to Annika Bratton (’18) for an Honorable Mention!

Dana (above) describes herself as one who “writes, reads, bakes pies, pickles and preserves, speaks goat, takes names, and is currently developing a stand-up comedy routine.”

Here’s what our guest judge, Daniel Bowman Jr., had to say about Dana’s manuscript, the girl who says nothing:

“I was a bit torn on this decision at first. the girl who says nothing in some ways lacks the range of some other manuscripts—an experimentation with styles, forms, lines and line breaks, and sound necessary as the true voices and chief concerns of young poets begin to emerge.

And yet…the girl who says nothing resounds with a maturity and sense of purpose beyond expectations. It is, quite simply, the one chapbook that haunted me long after I’d read all of them. These terse, focused poems left me no choice but to reckon deeply and personally with this girl who says nothing, and, by extension, with the terrifying distances between how things ought to work and the realities of our world.

The ‘incident reports’ are particularly effective. Told in an alarmingly clinical voice, they remind us how the stories of the most vulnerable are so often mediated—shaped and controlled—by those in power.

In addition, many individual lines reverberate despite the tight spaces of the poems: ‘she is crossing the small bridges/in me.’ Indeed. That image accounts precisely for the way this character, and these poems, get under your skin, how they disturb and finally transcend niceties on the journey toward truth.

The critic R.P. Blackmur wrote of poetry operating at a high level, noting how it ‘not only expresses the matter in hand but adds to the stock of available reality.’ the girl who says nothing has added a rich and subtly textured experience to my own stock of availability reality, and for that I am grateful.”

stull poem

Annika Bratton (’18) describes herself as “a first year student from Banks, Oregon, right between Portland and the coast. I am double majoring in Peace Studies and English and minoring in Environmental Studies. When I’m not studying or writing poetry, I enjoy dancing, hiking, going to the beach, and attempting to solve social justice issues. I am beyond excited to have received such an honor in this competition.”


On Bratton’s manuscript, Bowman states that “the poems in Becoming radiate with an attractive zeal, physicality, and longing. Though they sometimes risk abstraction, they nonetheless provide a space where joy and pain coexist in a creative tension.

I came to a nearly instant trust in the poet’s voice, which is clear, inventive, vulnerable, by turns earnest and ironic, but never dull or stilted. And the poems are consistently invitational; one becomes less a reader and more a participant: ‘Hold every echo in the cavern of your lungs,’ the poet bids us. The brand of partaking described in Becoming isn’t for the faint of heart—this poet is all in. And so was I.”

Here’s “Jewelry Boxes,” a poem from Becoming:

she wrung the light
out of a bulb
but not before a kiss of shattered glass
and chemicals.
children take longer to die
and less time to be alive
when mousetraps are baited with
hollow models and the expectancy
of manhood.
can’t see how many heartbeats
a day makes;
her heart
beat so much faster with
the light stuck in her palms.
she sewed a necklace from her teeth,
presented it to collarbones on one knee.
my heart can’t stop flashing traffic lights
so i had to uncap my brain.
the rocking chair can’t sway
the weather-vane
enough to birth some lightning,
but it keeps a kite in its lap
just in case.
she melted some crayons
for the waxing moon
and fingerpainted a new skyline
from all the blood in her mouth.
Thanks to Thom Caraway, Annie Stillar, the Whitworth Department of English, to all of this year’s contestants, and to our 2015 guest judge, Daniel Bowman Jr.
Daniel_Bowman_Jr_author_photo - large
Daniel Bowman Jr. is the author A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country (virtual artists collective, 2012) andBeggars in Heaven: A Novel (forthcoming 2015). His work has appeared in The Adirondack ReviewBooks and CultureThe CressetThe Midwest QuarterlyRio Grande ReviewSaint Katherine ReviewSeneca Review, and many other journals. A native of the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York, he lives in Hartford City, Indiana and is Associate Professor of English at Taylor University.

Casey Andrews’ adventures in sabbatical scholarship

The Provost’s Faculty Scholarship Award is given to a senior faculty member in order to recognize and encourage scholarly activity. I am pleased to announce that Casey Andrews is the recipient of this year’s award.  Casey will use the award to complete the book manuscript he began working on during his sabbatical this year.  His book analyzes literary figures who were active in the 1930s peace movement, including Aldous Huxley and Virginia Woolf:

My book in progress is called Writing Against War: Literature, Activism, and the British Peace Movement. In the project I analyze five British writers whose fiction contributed to their peace activism in the 1930s. The central writers are Aldous Huxley, Storm Jameson, Siegfried Sassoon, Rose Macaulay, and Virginia Woolf—all of whom had links to the largest pacifist organization the Peace Pledge Union. As part of my research, I have gone to archives in London (the British Library and the archives of the Peace Pledge Union), Hamilton, ON (the William Ready Research Division at Macmaster University), and Swarthmore, PA (the Swarthmore College Peace Collection). The book draws on the resources of peace studies and literary criticism to provide a fresh understanding of politically committed fiction during a moment of deep crisis in Europe. I am currently in conversation with a press about publication, but nothing will be definite about that for some time. I’ll be sure to tell all if/when a contract becomes official. The Provost’s Award for Scholarship is a great honor and will help me complete the project not just through its financial assistance but also because it is a  very encouraging sign from the university regarding my sabbatical work.

2015 Leonard Oakland Film Festival

This weekend marks the kickoff of the seventh annual Leonard Oakland Film Festival.wildlike The structure of the event is a little different than last year’s, so heads up. On Saturday, Feb. 7, the rotation will begin with Wildlike, an independent film that will be showing at the Bing Crosby Theater (in partnership with the Spokane International Film Festival) at 7 p.m. Tickets for this showing will be available at the Info Desk in the HUB. The event will continue with its second film, Unforgiven, at 10 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theater.


​The festival is split up into three weekends with the second and third screening dates falling on Saturday,  Feb. 21 and Saturday, March 7, respectively. If you want more information you can visit this handy website here or contact Annie Stillar at

Alumni Update: Dave Fogelstrom (’92)

After I graduated in 1992, I was hired as a drama teacher at Antioch Junior High School in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Soon after, I started coaching football at Antioch High School.  Since that time, I went on to teach and coach at Deer Valley High School and Heritage High School, where I currently teach senior English.  Two years ago we established a Fellowship of Christian Athletes club at Heritage High School and it has flourished.  I am blessed to be one of their leaders.  I was hired in 2012 to coach the quarterbacks at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

Over the last twenty plus years I have married an amazing lady named Tracy, had two Book Cover (2)children (Hannah and Jacob), and more recently I published a book.  It is currently available through Amazon and is titled McBeth and the Everlasting Gobstopper (check it out). The spelling error is most intentional. As a satiric look at teaching Shakespeare to high school students, the book has been well received by teachers, students, and those who just want a good laugh.  The book writing and publishing process was rewarding, frustrating, and amazing all at the same time.

Whitworth’s English department definitely prepared me for my current job as a teacher, and I find my knowledge of literature to be on par or beyond that of my colleagues.  Whitworth is a special place that gives you every opportunity to challenge yourself.  My advice to current students is to take advantage of literally every opportunity you can to learn and improve yourself in a variety of areas. I was blessed to have the best professors out there and my journey over the last two decades has shown that to be true.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES