Coming Soon…Jericho Brown!

Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 26th, when Whitworth University will be hosting poet, Jericho Brown. Jericho Brown is a poet and professor, whose most recent book, The New Testament, has been described by critics as being, “lyrical clarity,” and as “ushering the body from political and religious battlegrounds” (Jericho Brown website here). His first book, Please won the American Book Award and his second book of poetry, The New Testament won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is the Director the Creative Writing Program and an associate professor of English and creative writing at Emory University.

Invite your friends and family to enjoy this night of poetry, community, and fun!
Reading poster_Elyse_Kara

Kathryn Smith Poetry Reading! 11.15.2017

On November 15th, the Whitworth English Department will be hosting poet and nonfiction author, Kathryn Smith.


Her most recent works within her book, BOOK OF EXODUS, examine wilderness, loneliness and faith. This collection of poems follow an imagined Russian family’s experiences and trials while living in Siberia.

There will be a reception immediately following the reading in the Red Room directly across from Stage 2 in Cowles Auditorium.

Wednesday, November 15th


Cowles Auditorium, Stage 2

Find out more about Kathryn Smith and her work on her 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.



2015 Campus-Wide Poetry Contest

To celebrate Whitworth University’s 125th anniversary, write a poem of exactly 125 words. Three of those words must be “pine,” “cone,” and “curtain.”


The contest is open to all Whitworth Students. Previous 1st place winners are ineligible. Entries should be submitted at the English Department front desk no later than 5:00 pm on Monday, March 2; please attach your name and contact information on a separate sheet of paper. No entry fee. Multiple submissions permitted.

1st Place: $50 gift card to Auntie’s Bookstore
2nd Place: $20 gift card to Auntie’s Bookstore

Guest JudgeSummer 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.


In Response to Dave Harrity’s Reading September 19 by Audrey Strohm (’16)


Dave Harrity read at Indaba Coffee on September 19.

Walking into Indaba, I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of Writing Track English Majors. Yes, I had come to the event with some Writing-Trackers and I have taken Writing-Track classes— but this was different. I felt like the awkward kid at a soccer-themed birthday party who had never touched a ball and is expected to play nice and play well with the other kids. I mean, I wrote my first poem ever two days prior to attending this event. Who am I becoming?

All things aside, this event was extremely beneficial for both my understanding of creative writing and my confidence as a writer. The poems Dave Harrity read aloud were unlike anything I have really heard before, and even he— this poet who has been published, this poet whose reading made a few listeners cry— expressed a sort of ambivalence or even apprehension before diving into his work. This isn’t to say that I belong to the Dave Harrity class of poets, but I now know that it is okay to feel uneasy about what you’ve written, even if you really like what you’ve produced. Hopefully I can mount this newly found creative courage when I share my poem in class on Monday (if we are going to end up sharing them).

For the sake of this reflection, I have to pare down my commentary of Dave Harrity’s work. So, the main thing I want to share is the inclusion of the Christian perspective of his work. I was caught by surprise when he began to share the context of his first series of poems. The major theme to note was lycanthropy. Yes, that’s right. Werewolves. And Christianity. I grew up around Stephen Curtis Chapman and Reliant K, and as a result have come to intensely dread any sort of Christian-inspired art. I have begun to trust in the Christian perspective again through Rock and Sling and other artists sponsored by Whitworth. And although Dave Harrity did not explicitly discuss his religion during his comments or works, I could see how his faith underlies his poetry. If I ever am inspired to write about my faith, I will use him and others as inspiration; faith based writing doesn’t need to be a kumbaya circle praising Jesus. It is an opportunity to express how faith has touched and influenced the human experience, however good or bad, explicit or innocent, taboo or accepted.


Audrey Strohm (’16) is an English Literature and Philosophy student at Whitworth University and a  Contemporary Rhetoric and Composition theory enthusiast.

An Afternoon of Words: Off-Campus Reading, May 10

Reading Poster-01

This Saturday, May 10, at 3 pm, there will be food, live music, and many many words. Join us for this off-campus reading at 9511 N. Wall St. between Mountainview Inn and Holland St.

Readers will be Josie Camarillo, Rowanne Fairchild, Mackenna Kuehl, Maggie Montague, Adam Reed, Kaitlin Schmidt, Olivia White, and more.

Hosted by members of EL 444: Advanced Writing Workshop.

For more information or if you would like to get involved, contact Josie Camarillo at

2014 Poetry Contest Winners Announced

For this year’s poetry contest, students were asked to write an abecedarian.

Dr. Richard Strauch, our faculty guest judge, was so taken with the task that he contributed his own verse to the mix:

Abecadarian poems have to

Be among the most

Challenging structures to negotiate, for the

Danger is one of pedantry: how

Easy it is to lose sight of the

Forest of beautiful language for the trees of the rules.  Yet

Good poetry acheives both; indeed, Igor Stravinsky’s words

Have equal meaning here: The more I constrain myself, the more

I free myself.

Just as I found myself looking for adherence to rules, so I

Knew a good abecedarian poem would

Let me forget the rules and simply speak to


No poem emerged as one that should be out of contention.

On the other hand, each

Presented itself

Quite individually, in its own voice,

Reaching out to me.

Selecting one winner, or even

Two, proves to be a challenge.

(Uff da, I would say, if I were Norwegian, and not so

Very German, as I am.)  Nevertheless, I am always so impressed

With Whitworthians’ work (sextuple-U!):

Excellent, and

Yes, literary Pirates trump

Zags any day of the week.

shannon ritchie

Shannon Ritchie (’15) has won first prize and a $50 gift card to Auntie’s bookstore for her poem “Cloud-Watching.”

Shannon explains: “I’m a junior English writing major/math minor who will be graduating in December. It’s easy to identify me across campus from my hot pink Doc Martens, faded bomber jacket from the 80s, or my flamboyant My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic backpack. Next summer I will attend a Masters in Teaching program with the immediate goal of teaching high school English and possibly mathematics. However, my true aspiration is to eventually become the quirky creative writing teacher of a misunderstood junior college – and own pet seahorses.”

Dr. Strauch had this to say about Ritchie’s poem: “I was intrigued by the two poems that used the abecedarian form to evoke childhood – the ABCs are so elemental (and elementary), and the pairing of form and content seems a brilliant wedding.  What I loved about ‘Cloud-watching’ was that a set of lines that seemed at first contrived held the key for me: Is ‘simply existing’ an illusion?  I can look back to an idyllic childhood and see the extent to which my life, too, was defined by order, rules, structure – and at the same time, this is the tension of the abecedarian poem.  The language is evocative (I don’t know why, but it put me in the mind of Samuel Barber’s Knoxville 1915), and as the poem called me to remember my own childhood, it also invited me to re-examine it.”



Away meant simply existing

between happiness and myself.

Coloring outside of the lines I

daily sketched freedom into my routine,

earning a name for my construction.


Fridays brought kite flying in the

garden. Watching patterns

hurry away from grounded life,

I always felt completely

justified in my desire to be.


Kenton lived three houses down

Lincoln Drive. We would pick

marionberries together under each

new moon celebrating adolescence,

optimism our only language.


Pies required precision, intentional

quietness. Windows cracked, scent

reached to the outdoors inviting

seasons to stay. Baking meant

that neighbors may stop to say hello.


Under umbrellas we defied the

varying seasons. Resisting any

warnings I reminded Kenton:

x-rays had shown that all

young people were missing, like

zoo animals, the will to be.

dana stull

Dana Stull (’16) won second prize and a $20 Auntie’s gift card for her poem “Brittlebush.” Dana explains: “I write (poems and comics) and read (everything) and make pies (my favorite being rhubarb).​”

Of her poem, Strauch said, “Psalm 119 is, of course, one of the more famous abecedarian forms, though that is lost in translation. What would an abecedarian psalm in English look like?  What if David were living in the American southwest? There is a beautiful trajectory to this poem, a sense of advent, a quality of light triumphing over darkness. An empty dance gives way to an excess of joy. This was a poem upon which I found myself meditating much as I would a psalm, and which drew me in by the way that the language of confession and praise engaged all of the senses.” 



All of it—the quiet

bloom that stuns,

calls me out of this empty

dance. I stood there, asked

everyone. A quiet

flight, the space between

God, my



I asked; demanded



love, held blind in

me. I stood there, gave

nothing. Then,

overwhelmed, my hands


pressed with morning—

quilted in a strange

rescue. He breathes,

tremor of ground

underneath my feet. Gives

voice to me, this

excess of joy, called out


zenith King.

erin kreycik

EL major Erin Kreycik (’15) received an honorable mention for her poem “On Being Trapped In the Royal Court Theatre.” Strauch claimed, “This poem really intrigued me. It may be due to my discipline, but I found this poem to be one of the most musical in quality – reading it aloud enlivened it more to me that simply reading it on the page. There were several turns of phrase that caught both my ear and my imagination: ‘a thousand things that ran lapping down the aisles like dark light’; ‘rows of handkerchief voices’;  ‘No-sleep Xanax churchhood.’ This is a poem whose meaning is not readily apparent, and yet I have the feeling that, as with a great piece of music, the longer I live with it, the more it speaks to me.”

On Being Trapped In the Royal Court Theatre

(after Beckett)

All you want at first’s it all. It. All. Like

boards, like blue. Like creak—

creak. Carpetless. Slow.

Don’t ask what it is, or why. It. All.

Every face. You, too.

First this. You call this a face?


Go out. Come back in again.

Hush. Hush. Listen. Don’t stop.

It. All.

Jesus Christ this spotlight never stops. And your voice


knocked over a thousand things that ran

lapping down the aisles like dark light.

Mother. Ghost of your child-self –

nave, altar, His arm, His gushing heart.

O holy holy. Under and over.

Piss in the bedpan she won’t have emptied – not

quite                                    yet.


Roaring up the aisles, you a tiger’s wraith, prowling

shroud. You the woman in white. Soon.

Too soon. Not yet. Up. Down.


Voices, rows of handkerchief voices. You jump

when they call you woman. No-sleep

Xanax churchhood, head a prayer-book, how many shoes?


You hated carpet. Had to hear them. Step. Not. Step. Yet.

Zone of fracture. Till the lights go out.


Thanks to Annie Stillar, Thom Caraway, and Laurie Lamon for their help with the contest. And high-fives to Dr. Strauch.

Rich Strauch

Richard Strauch is professor of music and Director of the Whitworth Wind Symphony.  In addition, he teaches music history and applied low brass, and is second trombonist in the Spokane Symphony.  His area of research is the impact of religiosity on the aesthetic and reception of late 19th century music.  He holds degrees from Wheaton College and Yale University, and is in his 17th year of teaching at Whitworth.  He is married to a poet, and has three children who are also poets.




Congratulations to the 2014 Chapbook Contest Winners!

Hearty congratulations to Rowanne Fairchild (’14) and Kaitlin Schmidt (’14), the winners of this year’s chapbook contest.

rowanne fairchild

Rowanne Fairchild (’14) won for her fiction manuscript “Refraction.” Guest judge Esther Lee called “Refraction” “a poignant story about a narrator whose empathy for a childhood friend serves as a reminder to us: that to honor those who have been traumatized requires a refusal to forget them.”

Rowanne is a graduating senior from Whitworth’s English department. “Refraction” is her first published manuscript. An avid traveler, she draws inspiration for her writing from the places she experiences and people she encounters. She enjoys telling stories, and loves being able to communicate with an audience through writing.

You can read an excerpt of “Refraction” below. Rowanne wins the $100 prize and she’ll be the featured reader at the Script reading on May 9. Thom Caraway & Co. will design and print a small run of her chapbook.

Big cheers also to Kaitlin Schmidt (’14), this year’s runner-up.


Of Kaitlin’s poetry collection, “After Babel,” Esther Lee said, “These poems feel like tiny leaves in your palms. Their meditative power begins to accumulate and reveals an intimate address and vulnerable questioning by the speaker.”

Kaitlin says, “I grew up as a quiet person who read all the time, and somehow became an extroverted person who talks all the time. This combination leads to being very open about inward thinking, which is what I explore in my writing. This manuscript deals with how much communication is strangled in any relationship, which I hope comes across as ironic considering I am trying to communicate something to you, the reader.”

You can catch more of Kaitlin’s poems at a reading on Sunday, March 30, at Jones Radiator.


Thanks also to the 2014 guest judge, Esther Lee.

Esther Lee has written Spit, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011) and her chapbook, Blank Missives (Trafficker Press, 2007). Her poems and articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Lantern Review, Ploughshares, Verse Daily, Salt Hill, Good Foot, Swink, Hyphen, Born Magazine, and elsewhere. A Kundiman fellow, she received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Indiana University where she served as Editor-in-Chief for Indiana Review. She has been awarded the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize and Utah Writer’s Contest Award for Poetry (selected by Brenda Shaughnessy), Snowcroft Prize (selected by Susan Steinberg), as well as twice-nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She recently received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Utah. She began teaching as an Assistant Professor at Agnes Scott College in the Fall 2013.

And now, the samples! Here’s a look at Rowanne’s “Refraction”:

I traced my way back from the crossroads after school and managed to find the house without much difficulty.  I stood on the edge of the road and watched the piece of glass flash in the sunlight.  After several moments I crossed the ditch and made my way back until I was crouched by the wire mesh.  With a cautious hand I tugged on the screen, but was still startled when the boy unfurled from the shadows under the porch.

“Hi,” I whispered.  I lowered myself to sit cross-legged.

He looked at me and gurgled.

“What’s your name?  Do you have a name?”  When he didn’t answer I remembered the story I’d learned in Sunday school last weekend, about a boy who was made a slave and then became a prince.  “Can I call you Joseph?  I’m Jacob.”

Joseph’s eyes were blank and he stretched his arms out towards me.  He was wearing my socks on his hands, and had his thumb jammed through the hole where my big toe used to fit.

“Yeah, those are socks, they usually go on your feet.” He inched towards me and I saw he wore a thin t-shirt and a pair of tattered pants.  Grime was ground into the fabric.  His clothes hung from his emaciated frame and trembled as he shivered.  His feet were bare.  His hair was so filthy I couldn’t tell what color it was.

“I’m ten.  How old are you?”

Joseph’s face was empty, blank.  Like Mama’s garden before she planted daffodils in the fall.  He looked maybe eight or nine.  He made a noise in the back of his throat and tried to push a socked hand through the mesh towards my lunch pail.

I unscrewed the cap and pulled out a crust that was left over from my lunch.  “Is this what you want?”  I extended it towards him and suddenly the sock came off, he snatched it with dirty fingers, stuffed it past cracked lips.

He gulped and then looked at me as if waiting for more. He reminded me of the stray mutt I used to feed scraps to when he would follow me home from school.  He went mad from a coon fight three days before Dad was drafted, and Dad had to shoot the dog from our back porch.

I felt heavy, like a rock that was being shoved into motion and yet still wouldn’t move.  “Sorry, that’s all I have.”

And enjoy this poem from Kaitlin’s “After Babel”:


We fishtail apart across ice,

careening legs and arms cut

up with each other’s words.

I try to get to you with language

but malfunction use my hands

to sort out the air but slaughter it

like a nightmare try to pick up

a mouse but squeeze too hard

apart. There are so many things

I want you to know.

3 Things You Should Know


#1 Poetry Contest Deadline has been extended to Monday, February 24. Don’t forget to turn yours into the front desk by 5 pm. First place prize is a $50 gift card to Auntie’s Books and  second place is $20.

Entries must use the abecedarian form. Attach a title page (name, poem title, year, major, email & phone number). And yes, you can submit as many poems as you would like.

#2 Comprising the grand finale of the sixth annual Leonard Oakland Film Festival  Saturday, February 22, are: The Band’s Visit at 7 pm  and Benny and Joon at 10 pm followed by a Q & A with Steven Ritz-Barr in Robinson Teaching Theatre, Weyerhaeuser Hall.

#3 Start planning your act now for the Pinecone Cabaret. The Whitworth English Department’s Annual Fun(d)raising Talent Show will be April 4 at 6 pm in the Multipurpose Room, HUB.

Tip jar donations (suggested $3 donation, $1 for students) will go to supporting the nonprofit Spokane FAVS.

Email Nicole Sheets at to claim your spot.