Pearl Hogrefe Visiting Writer Series 2017-18

The Pearl Hogrefe Visiting Writer Series events listed below are sponsored by the Pearl Hogrefe Fund, the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment, and the Department of English.

Each year, Iowa State University hosts dozens of environmental writers, scientists, and artists for public lectures. A selected list of speaker series events during 2017-2018 that will be of interest to creative writers is also listed below. For a complete listing of all public lectures at ISU, visit the Committee on Lectures website:


FALL 2017

Medical Apartheid: The History of Experimentation on Black Americans
Harriet Washington
Monday, September 18, 2017, Great Hall/South Ballroom/Oak Room

Harriet Washington is the author of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction Award, a PEN award, and Gustavus Myers Award. The book has been described as “the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans.” She has been a fellow in ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a fellow at the Harvard School of

Public Health, and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University.  She focuses mainly upon bioethics, history of medicine, African American health issues and the intersection of medicine, ethics and culture, and is the first social history of medical research with African Americans. The book Her newest book, Infectious Madness, Washington looks at the connection between germs and mental illness. As a journalist and editor, she has worked for USA Today and several other publications, been a Knight Fellow at Stanford University and has written for such academic forums as the Harvard Public Health Review and The New England Journal of Medicine.



The Thin and Permeable Boundary Between War and Desire
Heather Derr-Smith
February, 2018 (Date/Location, TBA)

Heather Derr-Smith is the author of four books of poetry including The Bride Minaret, Tongue Screw, and Thrust, which was published in 2017 by Persea Books and awarded the Lexi Rudnitsky Editors’ Prize.  She’s a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and she lives in Des Moines, Iowa.  Derr-Smith’s work addresses issues of social justice and slow violence.  Her first collection, Each End of the World, documents experiences she had while working in a refugee camp in Gašinci, Croatia in 1994, during the wars in the former Yugoslavia (Yugoslav Wars).

In The Bride Minaret, Derr-Smith contemplates personal and global issues of exile and identity. The poems were written in Damascus, Syria where Derr-Smith interviewed Iraqi and Palestinian refugees during the Iraq war troop surge of 2007.   Stacey Waite has noted about Derr-Smith’s work: “These poems are imagistically rich and unflinchingly honest as they unfold, one after the other, the thin and permeable boundaries between war and desire, violence and beauty, politics and the inexplicable motion of experience.” 


Bad Feminist
Roxane Gay
Thursday, 05 Apr 2018 at 8:00 pm – Great Hall, Memorial Union

Roxane Gay is an author and cultural critic whose collection of essays Bad Feminist is considered the quintessential exploration of modern feminism. In her most recent book, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, Gay reflects on her struggles with weight, trauma, and self-image. Her other books include the novel An Untamed State and a collection of short stories, Difficult Women. She recently became the first black woman to ever write for Marvel, with the comic series World of Wakanda. Gay is a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, was the coeditor of PANK, and was the nonfiction editor at The Rumpus. She teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University.

Food Security
Winona LaDuke
Wednesday, 28 Mar 2018 at 7:00 pm – Great Hall, Memorial Union

Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe) is founder and Co-Director of Honor the Earth, a national advocacy group encouraging public support and funding for native environmental groups, working nationally and internationally on climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development, food systems and environmental justice. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities with advanced degrees in rural economic development, LaDuke has devoted her life to protecting the lands and life ways of Native communities. In her own community in northern Minnesota, she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based non-profit organizations in the country, and a leader on culturally-based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. In this work, LaDuke also works to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.

In addition to numerous articles, LaDuke is the author of a number of non-fiction titles including All Our Relations, The Winona LaDuke Reader, Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming, Food is Medicine: Recovering Traditional Foods to Heal the People, The Militarization of Indian Country, and her most recent The Winona Laduke Chronicles: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice. She has also penned a work of fiction, Last Standing Woman, and a children’s book, In the Sugarbush.

Other honors include the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Thomas Merton Award, the Ann Bancroft Award, the Global Green Award, and the International Slow Food Award for working to protect wild rice and local biodiversity. LaDuke also served as Ralph Nader’s vice-presidential running mate on the Green Party ticket in the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections.


The Water Knife — The Near Future, Climate Change, and Drought
Paolo Bacigalupi
Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 7:00 pm – Great Hall, Memorial Union


Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut novel, The Windup Girl, was named one of the ten best novels of 2009 by Time Magazine and received Hugo and Nebula Awards.  An environmental science fiction novel, The Windup Girl explores the unintended effects of bioengineering and a future world in which fossil fuels are no longer viable. Bacigalupi’s novel, The Water Knife, is a near-future thriller about climate change and drought in the southwestern United States.

His work has appeared in WIRED, Slate,, High Country News, OnEarth Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. Bacigalupi’s debut young adult novel, Ship Breaker, was a National Book Award finalist, and its sequel, The Drowned Cities, received Kirkus Review’s Best of YA Book Award in 2012.  His most recent YA novel, Tool of War, was published in October of 2017.

Click here to view his interview:  “Looking at Morality Through Science Fiction”




Pearl Hogrefe Fund
MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment
Department of English
Lectures Program
ISU Writer’s Guild
Ames Public Library