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The River Readings at Augustana

The River Readings at Augustana brings literary artists to campus each year from around the country. These writers of poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction meet with students in class or other venues to discuss their work and careers, and present a free reading open to the public. A reception and book-signing is held after the reading. 

The River Readings series is sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs, the Institute for Leadership and Service, the Thomas Tredway Library and the English Department. For more information, contact Amanda Makula, (309) 794-7316, reference librarian and this year's coordinator of the series.




2014-15 schedule

April 27, 2015: TaraShea Nesbit

7 p.m., Center for Student Life, Gävle Room

The final installment of this year's River Readings series features TaraShea Nesbit, author of the historical novel "Wives of Los Alamos."

Nesbit grew up in Dayton, Ohio, one of the lesser-known Manhattan Project locations. Her first novel, "The Wives of Los Alamos," was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, an Indies Choice Spring 2014 Debut Pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, and winner of two New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

Her writing has been featured in the The Guardian, Iowa Review, Quarterly West, The Collagist, Hayden's Ferry Review, Necessary Fiction, and elsewhere.

A graduate of the M.F.A. program at Washington University in St. Louis, Nesbit is completing a Ph.D. in creative writing and literature at the University of Denver. She lives in Boulder, Colo.,and begins a position as assistant professor at Miami University in the fall.

March 11, 2015: Dan Rosenberg and Andy Stallings

7 p.m. in Wallenberg Hall

Dan Rosenberg has won the American Poetry Journal Book Prize and the Omnidawn Poetry Chapbook Contest. Rosenberg earned an M.F.A. at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a Ph.D. from The University of Georgia. He teaches literature and creative writing at Wells College and co-edits Transom.

Andy Stallings teaches English at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and an editor of THERMOS magazine, he is married to poet Melissa Dickey. "To the Heart of the World" (Rescue Press, 2014) is his first book of poems.

Jan. 27, 2015: Jessica Lamb-Shapiro

7 p.m. in the Wilson Center

 Jessica Lamb-Shapiro  has published fiction and nonfiction in The Believer, McSweeney's, Open City and Index magazine, among others.

Her first book, "Promise Land," is a tour of the billion-dollar self-help industry that explores American devotion to self-improvement - even as the author attempts some deeply personal improvements of her own.

The book has been featured on NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross and was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review,, and People.

She has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and is a graduate of Brown (BA) and Columbia (MFA).


Sept. 30, 2014: Todd Davis

7 p.m. in the Wilson Center

Poet Todd Davis is the author of four full-length collections of poetry—In the Kingdom of the Ditch, The Least of These, Some Heaven, and Ripe—as well as of a limited edition chapbook, Household of Water, Moon, and Snow: The Thoreau Poems.  He edited the nonfiction collection, Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball,and co-editedMaking Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets.  

His poetry has been featured on the radio by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and by Ted Kooser in his syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry.  His poems have won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, have been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize, and have appeared in such journals and magazines asAmerican Poetry Review, Iowa ReviewEcotone, North American Review, Indiana ReviewGettysburg Review,Shenandoah, ImageOrion, West Branch, River StyxPoetry DailyQuarterly West, Green Mountains Review,Sou’wester, Verse Daily, and Poetry East.  

Davis teaches creative writing, American literature, and environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College.



Sept. 10: Rebecca Lindenberg

7 p.m. in the Wilson Center

Poet Rebecca Lindenberg will open the 2013-2014 River Readings series. She is the author of Love: An Index, published in 2012 by McSweeney's Poetry Series. The book tells the story in verse of her passionate relationship with Craig Arnold, a much-respected poet who disappeared in 2009 while hiking a volcano in Japan.

Lindenberg earned a BA from the College of William & Mary and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Utah. Her essays and criticism have appeared widely, and she has been a guest blogger for the Best American Poetry Blog.

Lindenberg's honors include a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a MacDowell Colony Residency, and a fellowship at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.


Jan. 16: Kelly Daniels

7 p.m. in the Center for Student Life, 3435 91/2 Ave., Rock Island (map)

Dr. Kelly Daniels, associate professor of English, will read from his memoir Cloudbreak, California. (Related story)

Daniels grew up on the road, living for stints with his parents in a Hawaiian commune, a waterless, powerless cabin in the desert, and in an old step-van outfitted with bunks.

As an adult, he set off on his own, traveling extensively through Europe, Mexico and Central America. Along the way, he picked up odd jobs when he could find them, jobs such as production manager of a furniture factory (Guatemala), newspaper reporter (Mexico), and bartender (all over). Cloudbreak, California focuses on some of these adventures.

His short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Cimarron Review, Third Coast, Sonora Review, South Dakota Review, Santa Clara Review, GSU Review, Orange Coast Review, Eyeshot and other journals. Among other awards, he won first prize in Creative Nonfiction at the San Miguel Writers' Conference.

Daniels holds a Ph.D. from Western Michigan and has taught creative writing at Augustana College since 2007.


April 28: Rachel Hartman

7 p.m. in Gävle Room 3

This spring, River Readings will welcome Rachel Hartman, New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novel Seraphina. Published in 2012 by Random House, Seraphina introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. The book won the 2013 YALSA Morris Award for Best YA Debut Novel; its other accolades include finalist for the 2012 Governor General's Literary Award (Canada), short-listed for the Kitschies' Golden Tentacle Award (UK), long-listed for the Carnegie Medal (UK), and Amazon Best Teen Book of the Month. 

Christopher Paolini, New York Times bestselling author of the Eragon series has described Seraphina as, "Beautifully written, well-rounded characters, and some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy for a long while. An impressive debut novel; I can't wait to see what Rachel Hartman writes next." 

Hartman was born in Kentucky, but has lived a variety of places including Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family.