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Western’s Visiting Writers Series to host author Julene Bair on Thursday, February 12

February 03, 2015

Author Julene Bair w
Author Julene Bair will be on campus Feb. 12 to read from her acclaimed memoir.

ROCK SPRINGS – Western Wyoming Community College continues its 2015 Visiting Writers Series with an author reading by memoirist Julene Bair on Thursday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. in Room 1302 on the Rock Springs campus. This event is free and open to the public.  

Bair, who previously taught in the University of Wyoming’s English Department before moving to Longmont, Colo., is the author of The Ogallala Road: A Memoir of Love and Reckoning. In this environmental and personal memoir, Bair returns to her Kansas family farm with questions about land, water, and relationships. Her journey takes her through motherhood, a search for companionship, and her part in the decline of the nation's largest source of groundwater, the Ogallala Aquifer.

New York Times reviewer Mark Bittman describes The Ogallala Road as “a book by a tough, restless, energetic, admirable, principled Kansan who also happens to be a fine writer.”

Coleen Mondor of Booklist has this to say about Bair’s memoir: “In this thoughtful consideration of life at a crossroads, Bair tackles questions about single parenthood, romance, and the monumental task of determining the future of the family farm.”

“Bair’s voice is fierce, passionate and determined,” writes D.J. Lee in The Los Angeles Times. “The narrative flows like the water she writes about, moving back and forth in time and through emotional changes.”

Bair is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program. She has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyoming Arts Council. Her essay collection, One Degree West, won Women Writing the West’s WILLA award and was a finalist for the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award. Bair has also written editorials on the Ogallala Aquifer, most notably in USA Today and The New York Times.

Bair will also offer an author’s workshop entitled “Images that Shimmer: Mining Memory to Make Literature,” which she describes in the following fashion: “Images lend vibrancy to prose and poetry and are central to place-based writing. In this workshop we will use writing exercises to hone in on luminescent images from our own or our characters’ past.”

That workshop is scheduled from 1 - 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12 in Room 1302. It is also free and open to the public.

Other writers who will be visiting Rock Springs for this year’s Series include:

On Thursday, Feb. 26, poet and spoken-word artist Rhonda Welsh of Detroit, Mich., who will read from her assorted works, which have been collected in the book Red Clay Legacy, the compact disc release I Saw Myself, and the digital release Raw Clay.

On Thursday, March 26, Western author and editor Teresa Jordan, who has written or edited seven books about Western rural life and culture. Jordan will be accompanied by her husband, Hal Cannon, a musician and folklorist.

The Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by the WWCC English Department and the Arlene and Louise Wesswick Foundation, with additional support from the Best Western Outlaw Inn and Open Range Restaurant. 

“The people of Sweetwater County are among the luckiest anywhere, to be able to enjoy events such as these, thanks to Louise Wesswick,” said Associate Professor of English Rick Kempa, MFA, coordinator for the Visiting Writers Series.

Wesswick, retired Professor of Home Economics at the University of Wyoming and the recipient of the 2009 Governors Arts Award for her philanthropic work, established the Foundation to honor the memory of her sister Arlene, who for many years taught English at Western Wyoming Community College.

For more information on Julene Bair’s reading and workshop or on the Visiting Writers Series at Western, contact Kempa at or at (307) 382-1731.


For more information, contact Audrey Harton at (307) 382-1661 or
(307) 382-1600 or toll free (800) 226-1181