Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

March 19, 2002

Authors Gloria Bird, Alex Kuo and Xu Xi to Take Part in Reading, Panel Discussion at Whitworth College

Whitworth College will host a Live @ Your Library Program, "New Literary Borders and Boundaries: A Semi-Permeable Layer?," featuring authors Gloria Bird, Alex Kuo, and Xu Xi. The authors will take part in a panel discussion on Thursday, April 4, at 3:30 p.m. and in a reading on Friday, April 5 at 8 p.m. The panel discussion and the reading will be held in the Hixson Union Building at Whitworth. Admission is free to both events. For more information, please call (509) 777-4483.

During the panel discussion and reading, Bird, Kuo and Xu Xi will discuss their discovery of self in literature and writing through their experiences of migration, immigration and displacement, and will share how they have coped with new environments and their search for new identity in a changing landscape. The writers' perspectives will inform Whitworth's ongoing conversation about multicultural society, and about the understanding and appreciation of creative writing as literature and art.

One of the founding members of the Northwest Native Writers Association, poet Gloria Bird currently works from her home on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Eastern Washington. She also serves on the board of the Wakiknabe Theater of Albuquerque, N.M., and is an associate editor for Wicazo Sa Review, in which some of her critical work appears.

Bird is the recipient of a Witter-Bynner foundation grant in support of her work (1993), as well as the Diane Decorah Memorial Award for her first book, Full Moon on the Reservation (1992), and an Oregon Institute of the Literary Arts writer's grant (1988).

The Greenfield Review says of Bird's Full Moon on the Reservation, "...Gloria Bird has created poetry of great range and variety. In this extraordinary book, which garnered her the Diane Decorah Award for Poetry, her 'woman heart cut in glass' brings to equal life medicine women and pool sharks, hunters and anti-heroines, and a consciousness that is at once reverent and darkly comic."

Bird, who for five years taught literature and creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts, was an invited workshop leader at The Fishtrap Gathering in Joseph, Ore., in 1997, where she taught a workshop in subversive literary strategies. That same year, her second book of poetry, The River of History, was published, as was the anthology, Reinventing the Enemy's Language, which she edited with fellow writer Joy Harjo.

Alex Kuo's poetry, fiction and nonfiction cover some serious territory. Kuo has written articles on Aryan Nations parades and fundamentalist Christians in China; short stories about smoke-jumping and grade-school math whizzes terrorizing a Beijing bank; and a novel exploring China's political spring of 1989.

Kuo's most recent books are Chinese Opera, a novel; This Fierce Geography, a book of poems; and Lipstick, a collection of short stories that was nominated for both the American and the National Book Awards.

Kuo's awards include a National Endowment for the Arts fiction fellowship (1991), and research grants from both the United Nations and the Idaho Commission for the Arts to study the Three Gorges Project on the Yangtze River.

Literary critics and writers alike praise Kuo's work. Sheila Melvin of the South China Morning Post says of his short-story collection, Lipstick, "This is a lushly written, enigmatic collection of tales, most of which are set in that murky borderland where dreams, memory, imagination and fact mingle and merge, creating an alternate reality in which authenticity trumps mere accuracy."

Calling Kuo "one of the most rewarding poets," Connections critic Keith Browning says of the author's This Fierce Geography, "Think of this poet's poems as mirrors imaging each other. Stroll through this amazing hall and feel the interior-exterior dialectics of a geography from within pressing back against a geography from without." Finally, Sherman Alexie, author of the acclaimed The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and Reservation Blues, sums up his critique of Kuo's Chinese Opera by saying, "This is a book I wish I'd written."

Born in Hong Kong, educated abroad, and a very successful businesswoman for more than 18 years, Xu Xi is at the forefront of a new breed of Asian writers whose novels explore the Hong Kong experience - in English.

The South China Morning Post says of Xu Xi, "Political intrigue, triads, opium, mahjong and other usual clichés found in English writing about Hong Kong don't figure very largely in Xu Xi's work.Her novels, The Unwalled City, Chinese Walls and Hong Kong Rose, and her collections of short stories, History's Fiction and Daughters of Hui, explore the dilemmas of contemporary Hong Kong."

A former writer-in-residence at Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, Florida, Xu Xi has been profiled in The New York Times Book Review and in other literary tabloids and magazines. Andrea Lingenfelter, of Asian American Journal, praises Xu Xi for "her impressive ability to create believable characters that are fully human in their inner contradictions and complexity... [Her] Hong Kong emerges in all of its dimensions as complex, cosmopolitan, ambivalent, haunted by impermanence, but palpably real."

The Live @ Your Library Program is an initiative of the American Library Association, with major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The program is being brought to Whitworth through the support of Whitworth College and local contributors, and by a grant from the Washington Commission for the Humanities, a statewide non-profit organization supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Contacts:

Tami Echavarria, associate professor and coordinator of instructional services, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4483 or techavarria@whitworth.edu.

Nadine Chapman, English instructor, Whitworth College, (509) 777-4792 or nchapman@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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