Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

March 8, 2004

Acclaimed Author Kathleen Norris
Featured as Whitworth's 2004 Simpson-Duvall Lecturer

Whitworth College welcomes Kathleen Norris, award-winning author of New York Times bestsellers such as The Cloister Walk, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, and The Virgin of Bennington, as its 2004 Simpson-Duvall Lecturer.

This distinguished thinker and writer will share her stories and chronicle the spiritual journey that lies at the heart of her evocative and graceful work in a presentation, "Spirituality for the Real World," on Friday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. in Cowles Auditorium at Whitworth College. Following her presentation, Norris will sign her books, which will be available for purchase. Admission is free. For more information, please call (509) 777-3253.

A writer whose books explore the spiritual life, Norris "writes about religion with the imagination of a poet," says Molly McQuade of the Chicago Tribune. "The story of her faith is attractively incongruous and more than a little receptive to rebellion."

In The New York Times Book Review, reviewer Robert Coles praised Norris' The Cloister Walk, and said of its author, "Ms. Norris is subtle and shrewd. She is one of history's writing pilgrims but also a contemporary American one, boldly willing to forsake any number of cultural fads, trends and preoccupations in favor of this 'walk,' this searching expedition within herself ...."

And The San Francisco Chronicle lauded Norris with mention of her "lucid, luminous prose, hard-headed logic, and far-reaching metaphors."

In addition to her works of nonfiction, Norris is the author of several books of poetry, including Falling Off, Little Girls in Church, The Middle of the World, The Astronomy of Love, and Journey.

Of the last, which features Norris' poems from 1969-1999, acclaimed poet Scott Cairns says, "Norris's 'Journey' articulates a genuine pilgrimage, bearing witness that the river of appearances runs unfathomably deep, that the evening air is inexplicably scented and close, that the lover's hand upon the beloved attends an inestimable mystery. These are the measures of an expansive soul."

Kathleen Norris was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up "all over," but spent most of her childhood summers in Lemmon, S.D. After college, at Vermont's Bennington, she worked in New York City as arts administrator at the Academy of American Poets.

Falling Off, Norris' first book of poetry, was published in 1971. Soon afterward, she returned to her grandparents' house in Lemmon, where she has now lived for more than 30 years.

The move back to Lemmon was the inspiration for Norris' award-winning bestseller Dakota. The book was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was also selected as one of the best of the year by Library Journal.

Norris has received grants from the Guggenheim and Bush foundations, and her personal narratives, essays, and poetry have been published in a wide range of anthologies, magazines and journals, including The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine.

Of her latest book, The Virgin of Bennington, Norris says, "I have carried the stories around with me for many years, and it is a relief finally to tell them."

The Simpson-Duvall Lectureship honors two of Whitworth's most distinguished professors: Clarence Simpson, professor of English from 1953-1980, and R. Fenton Duvall, professor of history from 1949-1981. The annual lectureship is held in appreciation for these two men's years of commitment and contributions to Whitworth; it continues, in their spirit, to enrich the college community. The lecture is held once each calendar year, and topics alternate between Simpson's and Duvall's disciplines, English and history.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


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

Lisa Sem-Rodrigues, English department program assistant, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3253 or lrodrigues@whitworth.edu.

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

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