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Visiting Writer’s Series kicks off with Rilla Askew and Paul Austin

Cameron University’s Visiting Writer’s Series kicks off on Friday, October 20, with novelist Rilla Askew and author/poet Paul Austin. The writers will read samples of their work starting at 7 p.m. in the McCasland Ballroom of the McMahon Centennial Complex.

Best known for her American Book Award-winning novel about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, “Fire in Beulah,” Askew is the author of five novels, a book of stories and a collection of creative nonfiction. Her most recent novel, “Prize for the Fire,” portrays the life of Anne Askew, one of the first female writers known to have composed in the English language. In a deft blend of history and imagination Askew brings to life a young woman who defied the conventions of her time, ultimately braving torture and the fire of martyrdom for her convictions. The book was a finalist for the 2023 Oklahoma Book Award in Fiction.

A PEN/Faulkner finalist, Askew is the recipient of the Western Heritage Award, the Oklahoma Book Award, the WILLA Award from Women Writing the West, and the Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her essay collection, “Most American: Notes from a Wounded Place,” was long listed for the 2018 PEN/America Award for the Art of the Essay. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Oklahoma.

“Notes on Hard Times,” a collection of lyric poetry along with prose-poems by Austin, has been described as “music with harsh, smart edges and tender movements.” The titles of the poems indicate Austin’s interests and passions: to battle for social justice, to express outrage against hypocrisies and home-grown terror and to celebrate grace, love, and music as antidotes to the horrors and crimes of "those who govern." His work has appeared in publications including This Land, Sugar Mule, Oklahoma Review, More Monologues by Men and Newport Review. His poems have also been included in “Speak Your Mind,” the 2019 anthology of Woody Guthrie Poets; “Bull Buffalo and Indian Paintbrush,” an anthology of Oklahoma poetry; “Behind the Mask: Haiku in the Time of Covid-19”; “Jerry Jazz Musician”; and “Level Land: Poems for and about the I-35 Corridor.” “Late Night Conspiracies,” a collection of his writings, was performed with jazz ensemble at New York’s Ensemble Studio Theatre. He has written for and about the theatre in essays, poetry and plays.

In his book, “Spontaneous Behavior: The Art and Craft of Acting,” Austin draws on years of experience in his professional career as actor and director on stage, film and TV, and teaching at the Image Theatre in New York, to investigate the art and craft of acting.

In addition to teaching privately in NY, he was a tenured faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College for 20 years. He has also taught at the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute. Austin was a recipient of the Teachers Who Make a Difference award from the Creative Coalition at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Visiting Writer’s Series is co-sponsored by Cameron University Lectures and Concerts, the Department of Communication, English and Foreign Languages, and Sigma Tau Delta.


PR# #23-131

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