Visiting Writers Series begins

First event will feature poet Ryka Aoki



Aoki’s newest book, “Life From Uncommon Stars,” will be released this fall.


The WSU Visiting Writers Series is holding its first event of the spring semester, a literary reading at 6 p.m. Jan. 27 on YouTube.

Guest Ryka Aoki is a poet, author and performer. Her newest book, “Life From Uncommon Stars,” will be released this fall, said Chelsea Ratzlaff, event sponsor and English instructor for WSU Vancouver.

Aoki also wrote a novel called “He Mele A Hilo,” which is written in Hawaiian Pidgin English, Ratzlaff said.

“It’s just a really beautiful novel that’s funny and really emotionally complex,” she said. 

Ratzlaff said the series welcomes noted poets and writers of fiction and nonfiction. Events include creative readings, class visits, workshops and collaborative discussions across various intellectual and artistic disciplines. 

The series was started about 25 years ago by Peter Chilson, a professor in the department of English.

The goal was to bring different perspectives and works to the WSU community, said DJ Lee, regents professor in the department of English. 

Through the various events, students and WSU faculty members are able to hear from artists and writers actively working in the field today, Ratzlaff said. 

Ratzlaff said they wanted to use the series to realize WSU’s mission of equity, diversity and inclusion. 

“I think it’s really important as well that we have these connections across campuses because as we focus on our work towards this mission of equity, diversity, we create sort of like a standard across all campuses,” Ratzlaff said.  

Ratzlaff said this year’s series will be entirely virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’m so amazed that we have such incredible speakers this year,” she said.