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Nature of Words sets festival guest authors


The Nature of Words is pleased to announce the slate of guest authors who will be featured during the 2012 literary festival.

The lineup includes renowned storytellers and social activists, evocative poets, award-winning fiction writers, a conservation biologist, a playwright, a songwriter, and a famed science fiction/fantasy writer.

The Nature of Words 2012 literary festival will take place November 7 – 11 in Bend. The 2012 festival’s gala author dinner will also feature keynote speaker Dan Wieden, co-founder of Wieden + Kennedy and Caldera Arts. Tickets for all festival events will be available in late August. For more information, visit

Meet the 2012 Guest Authors
Ayad Akhtar has been a New York City resident since the late nineties. “American Dervish,” his first novel, was published in January 2012, and will be re-released in 22 languages worldwide. An alumnus of the Graduate Film Program at Columbia University, Akhtar is the author of numerous screenplays. He co-wrote and played the lead role in “The War Within,” which premiered at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award (Best Screenplay) and an International Press Academy Satellite Award (Best Picture – Drama) and released internationally.

Jean Auel is an American author based in Portland, Ore., best known for her Earth’s Children® books, a series of novels set in prehistoric Europe that explores interactions of Cro-Magnon people with Neanderthals. As of 2010, her novels had sold more than 45 million copies worldwide. The series consists of “The Clan of the Cave Bear,” “The Valley of Horses,” “The Mammoth Hunters,” “The Plains of Passage,” “The Shelters of Stone,” and “The Land of Painted Caves.” Auel will receive the Caldera Special Recognition Award during the festival.

Sherwin Bitsui is originally from the Navajo Reservation in White Cone, Arizona. He is the recipient of a Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, an Individual Poet Grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, a Lannan Foundation Marfa Residency, a 2006 Whiting Writers’ Award, a 2008 Tucson MOCA Local Genius Award, a 2010 PEN Open Book Award and an American Book Award for his book “Flood Song.” He is the author of “Shapeshift” (University of Arizona Press 2003) and “Flood Song” (Copper Canyon Press 2009).

Tracy Daugherty is the author of four novels, four short story collections, a book of personal essays, as well as biographies of Donald Barthelme and Joseph Heller. His stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Paris Review online, McSweeney’s, Boulevard, Chelsea, The Georgia Review, Triquarterly, and The Southern Review. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Bread Loaf, and the Vermont Studio Center. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters and PEN, he is a four-time winner of the Oregon Book Award. At Oregon State University, he helped found the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, and is now Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing.

Brian Doyle is an award-winning author, essayist, and editor of the University of Portland’s Portland Magazine. Doyle’s books include “Saints Passionate & Peculiar,” “Credo,” “Two Voices,” and “Mink River.” His books have been finalists five times for the Oregon Book Award. “Two Voices” won a Christopher Award and a Catholic Press Association Book Award. Doyle has received a Catholic Book Award, two Pushcart Prizes, and a 2008 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Doyle’s essays have appeared in The American Scholar, The Atlantic Monthly, Orion, Commonweal, Georgia Review, and Harper’s.

Thor Hanson’s early interest in the natural world steered him towards a career in conservation biology. His research and conservation activities have taken him around the globe. He often works at the interface between natural and human systems, and is currently involved in a project assessing the ecological impacts of warfare. His recent book, “Feathers,” won the 2012 A.A.A./Subaru SB&F Prize for science writing and a 2012 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award. His first book, “The Impenetrable Forest,” won the 2008 USA Book News Award for nature writing. He is also co-editor of the academic volume Warfare Ecology.

Michael Meade, D.H.L., is a renowned storyteller, author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology. He combines hypnotic storytelling, street-savvy perceptiveness, and spellbinding interpretations of ancient myths with a deep knowledge of cross-cultural rituals. He is the author of “Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of The Soul,” “The World Behind the World,” “The Water of Life: Initiation and the Tempering of the Soul;” editor, with James Hillman and Robert Bly, of “Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart;” and editor of “Crossroads: A Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage.” Meade is founder of Mosaic Multicultural Foundation, a nonprofit network of artist, activists, and community builders that encourages greater understanding between diverse peoples.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil was born in Chicago, IL to a Filipina mother and a father from South India. She is the author of three poetry collections: “Lucky Fish;” “At the Drive-In Volcano,” winner of the Balcones Prize; and “Miracle Fruit,” winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, and the Global Filipino Award. Nezhukumatathil was a Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing at UW-Madison and is associate professor of English at State University of New York-Fredonia, where she teaches creative writing and environmental literature.

Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, “The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee,” and four books of poetry, “A Crash of Rhinos,” “Six Girls Without Pants,” “The Invention of the Kaleidoscope,” and “Animal Eye.” A hybrid photo-text memoir that combines poems, nonfiction and fiction entitled “Intimate” has just been published by Tupelo. Her work has received a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, an NEA Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, the University of Georgia Press’ Contemporary Poetry Series Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Fellowship.

Kevin Gordon is a Nashville-based singer-songwriter with five CDs to his credit. His latest, Gloryland, released in 2012, has garnered the highest critical success of his career from a wide variety of sources including Rolling Stone Magazine and The New York Times. Gordon grew up in Monroe, Louisiana. He studied poetry and graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He also became a working musician and began fronting his own band and writing songs, which he has done for more than 20 years. Gordon’s songs have been cut by a host of artists, including Keith Richards, Levon Helm and New Orleans soul queen Irma Thomas.

About The Nature of Words
The mission of The Nature of Words is to strengthen and support the literary arts and humanities in Oregon and the Northwest through community interaction with acclaimed authors, and through creative writing programs for youth and adults. For more information about The Nature of Words, visit, call 541.647.2233 or email In Bend, visit NOW’s literary arts center at 224 NW Oregon Ave.

About Our Sponsors and Donors
The Nature of Words is grateful for the support of its sponsors and donors:

Co Sponsors: OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon Community College
Laureate: M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Meyer Memorial Trust, National Endowment for the Arts, The Starview Foundation in Support of the Deschutes Land Trust, Anonymous Donor
Ex Libris: The Bulletin, BendBroadband, The Collins Foundation, St. Charles Health System, The Source Weekly
Best Seller: Rose and Stephen Archer, Bella Moda, Bend Radio Group, Dan Wieden on behalf of Caldera, Cascade Publications, Julia Kennedy Cochran, Combined Communications, Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation, Express Employment Professionals, Margaret Heater, Herbert A. Templeton Foundation, Edna L. Holmes Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, Kinsman Foundation, Les Schwab Tires, The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, The Old Mill District, Robberson Ford, Roundhouse Foundation, Umpqua Bank, University of Oregon
Page Turner: Autzen Foundation, The Bend Foundation, Brooks Resources Corporation, Central Oregon Radiology Assoc, P.C., Kristee Chick, Christine Coffin, Cushman Family Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, Devore’s Good Food Store, Facebook Prineville Data Center, Ron and Molly Foerster, Sue Fountain, Kristin Kovalik, Max Merrill, Beth Patterson, Pepsi-Cola Company of Bend, Phoenix Inn and Suites, Jeff and Margie Robberson, Sally Russell, Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, Broc and Judy Stenman, Stephen Thompson, Matt and Diana Tomseth, Visit Bend, Margaret and Jim Wood

The Nature of Words is supported in part by an award from the Oregon Arts Commission.

The Nature of Words is supported in part by a grant from Oregon Cultural Trust: Oregonians investing in Oregon’s arts, heritage and humanities.

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