Literary Southwest Series

Featuring paired, themed readings and workshops by the Southwest's most prominent authors from diverse backgrounds who work in multiple genres.


Featuring readings for Fall 2014 semester:
Fridays, September 19 & November 14
Literary Southwest Series presents:


Time & Location

  • 7:00 p.m.
  • Yavapai College Library
  • Susan N. Webb Community Room
  • Building 19, Room 147

Meet Our Authors Featured for the Fall 2014 series


Friday, September 19, 2014, 7 p.m.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye

describes herself as a “wandering poet.” She has spent 37 years traveling the country and the world to lead writing workshops and inspire students of all ages. Nye was born to a Palestinian father and an American mother and grew up in St. Louis, Jerusalem, and San Antonio. Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas, and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Middle East, Nye uses her writing to attest to our shared humanity.

Nye is the author and/or editor of more than 30 volumes. Her books of poetry include 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, A Maze Me: Poems for Girls, Red Suitcase, Words under the Words, Fuel, and You & Yours (a best-selling poetry book of 2006). She is also the author of Mint Snowball (paragraphs); Never in a Hurry and I’ll Ask You Three Times, Are You Okay?, Tales of Driving and Being Driven (essays); Habibi and Going, Going (novels for young readers); Baby Radar and Sitti’s Secrets (picture books), and There Is No Long Distance Now (a collection of very short stories). Other works include several prize-winning poetry anthologies for young readers, including Time You Let Me In, This Same Sky, The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems & Paintings from the Middle East, What Have You Lost?, and Transfer. Her collection of poems for young adults entitled Honeybee won the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category. A new novel for children, The Turtle of Oman, is due in August 2014.

Naomi Shihab Nye has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Witter Bynner Fellow (Library of Congress). She has received a Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, four Pushcart Prizes, and numerous honors for her children’s literature, including two Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards. In 2011 Nye won the Golden Rose Award given by the New England Poetry Club, the oldest poetry reading series in the country. Her collection 19 Varieties of Gazelle was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is a regular columnist for Organica. Her work has been presented on National Public Radio on A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer’s Almanac. She has been featured on two PBS poetry specials: The Language of Life with Bill Moyers and The United States of Poetry, and also appeared on NOW with Bill Moyers. She has been visiting writer for full semesters for The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. In January 2010 Nye was elected to the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. In October 2012 she was named laureate of the 2013 NSK Prize for Children’s Literature.


Friday, September 14, 2014, 7 p.m.

Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami was born and raised in Morocco, a place whose past and present permeate her writing. A novelist, short story writer, and essayist, she also has garnered a strong following through her widely-read literary blog “MoorishGirl.” Her first book, Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, is a collection of short stories about a group of immigrants attempting to escape Morocco for a better life in Europe. Her next novel, Secret Son, revisits questions of identity and class in contemporary Moroccan life. Lalami’s newest book, The Moor’s Account (to be published in September 2014), imagines the life of the first black explorer of America—a Moroccan slave whose voice is missing from the history books who was part of an ill-fated Spanish expedition that ventured across the Southwest in 1527. Laila Lalami’s writing has been published in Newsweek, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian, and The New York Times, weighing in on contemporary issues in the Arab world and North Africa. Her prose has been translated into ten languages; she speaks five languages. A graduate of Université Mohammed-V in Rabat, she also attended University College in London and the University of Southern California, where she earned a PhD in linguistics. Lalami has received a Fulbright Fellowship, a British Council Fellowship, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship. She teaches creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.


Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe is Diné. She is Sleepy Rock clan born for the Bitter Water clan. She holds a Ph.D. in Indigenous American Literature. A librettist and an award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water, Sister Nations (as editor), Tséyi Deep in the Rock (reflections on Canyon de Chelly), and Code Talker Stories (an oral history inspired by her father, Benson Tohe, a World War II Code Talker). Her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio, made its world premiere in 2008 and was performed by The Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. She currently is working on a hand-made book of poetry on Navajo weaving. She is Professor with Distinction in Indigenous Literature at Arizona State University.


UPCOMING SPRING 2014

On February 26, The Literary Southwest Series is pleased to welcome New Yorker writer and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean. She is author of several books, most noteably, The Orchid Thief, which was the source material for the movie, “Adapation”. Don't miss out on this special event!

About the Director - Jim Natal

Jim NatalJim Natal helped found the Hassayampa Institute’s The Literary Southwest series at Yavapai College in 2008 and has served as series director since then. Prior to that he curated and co-hosted literary series and events in Los Angeles for more than 10 years.

Natal is the author of three poetry collections, Memory and Rain, Talking Back to the Rocks, and In the Bee Trees, which was a finalist for the Pen Center USA and Publisher's Marketing Association Ben Franklin Awards. A fourth collection, 52 Views, is forthcoming from Tebot Bach in spring 2013. A five-time Pushcart Prize nominee (2007-2011), his poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies.

A former executive for the National Football League’s Creative Services Group in Los Angeles for 25 years, Natal received his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles in 2005. With his wife, graphic designer and book artist Tania Baban, he founded Conflux Press in 2003, which specializes in custom trade