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Saturday, January 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gonzaga Visiting Writers Series books ‘There There’ author Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange is making a return trip to Spokane. He’ll be at Gonzaga University on Feb. 4 as part of the university’s Visiting Writers Series. (Elena Seibert / Elena Seibert)
Tommy Orange is making a return trip to Spokane. He’ll be at Gonzaga University on Feb. 4 as part of the university’s Visiting Writers Series. (Elena Seibert / Elena Seibert)

Tommy Orange is coming back to Spokane.

The celebrated author of “There There” will be part of the 2019-20 Gonzaga Visiting Writers Series. His visit is planned for Feb. 4, less than 10 months after he was here for Eastern Washington University’s Get Lit festival.

But Meagan Ciesla, who coordinates the Gonzaga series, doesn’t think that’s a problem.

“There were a whole bunch of people who didn’t get to see him” at Get Lit, she said, including herself.

“I just know that it’s someone the whole Spokane community will be really excited about,” she said. And that’s the point of the Visiting Writers Series, to engage with people off campus, too.

“Usually with the bigger names, we’ll get a bigger, wider draw,” she said.

Ciesla said she wants Orange’s visit to be a very student-centered event, so his talk will be mediated by a Gonzaga student.

Orange, who was born and raised in Oakland, California, is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. In his novel, he follows 12 characters from Native communities as they travel to the Big Oakland Powwow.

“There There” won the PEN/Hemingway Award and an American Book Award and was picked as one of the best books of 2018 by the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR and others.

Orange will speak at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at Gonzaga’s Hemmingson Ballroom. Spokane Falls Community College is partnering with Gonzaga for the event.

The rest of this year’s series features a range of poets, fiction and nonfiction authors.

“I always just make sure that we have diverse coverage in writing style and background,” Ciesla said.

Sept. 17: “Disability Poetics,” featuring Denise Leto and Adam Giannelli and facilitated by Roseanne Quinn, at 7:30 p.m. in the Wolff Auditorium in Jepson. Giannelli is the author of 2017’s “Tremulous Hinge,” winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize. He teaches literature and creative writing at Hamilton College. He’s also a poetry translator and a person who stutters.

Leto is a poet who has dystonia, a neurological muscle/voice disorder. Quinn will frame disability poetics and prepare the audience to be present for the poets during the pauses caused by their speech disorders, Ciesla said.

“Always with an eye to diversity and inclusion, I thought it was a great idea because we’ve never had an event like this.”

Oct. 24: Nicholas Carr will speak about “Technology and the Humanities” at 7 p.m. in the Hemmingson Ballroom. Carr’s books include the New York Times best-seller “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Carr’s lecture will consider the access to technology and how that changes what society can do in the humanities and what we think about it, Ciesla said.

April 2: Award-winning poet and short-story author Jim Daniels will speak at 7:30 p.m. at the Wolff Auditorium. Daniels is an English professor at Carnegie Mellon University. His most recent poetry collections are “The Middle Ages” and “Street Calligraphy.” In May, he released “The Perp Walk,” a collection of related short stories. His writing often focuses on the working class.

All of the events are free and open to the community. For more information, visit

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