Award-winning American memoirist and fiction writer Lidia Yuknavitch has been chosen as the 2019-2020 Trias Writer in Residence at HWS. Her residency will begin in the fall, when she will guide students in an advanced workshop and lead other campus events.
Based in Oregon, where she is a teacher, Yuknavitch is the author of the novels Dora: A Headcase, The Small Backs of Children and others. Slated for release in February 2020 is her short story collection Verge. Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the Oregon Book Award Reader’s Choice. The Small Backs of Children, published in 2015, was called “a brave and affecting novel” by Kirkus Reviews and received the Oregon Book Award’s Ken Kesey Award for Fiction.
Yuknavich’s latest work, The Book of Joan, is a riveting dystopian epic that features a loose retelling of the Joan of Arc story. The New York Times called it a “brilliant and incendiary new novel,” and NPR Books wrote, “[A] searing fusion of literary fiction and reimagined history and science-fiction thriller and eco-fantasy. … Yuknavitch is a bold and ecstatic writer, wallowing in sex and filth and decay and violence and nature and love with equal relish.”
Yuknavitch has also published shorter literary works in Guernica, Ms., The Iowa Review and The Sun, among others. The Misfit’s Manifesto, published in 2017, is based on a popular TED talk she gave the year before titled “The Beauty of Being a Misfit.”
The founder of the workshop series Corporeal Writing in Portland, she teaches in person and online. The series features workshops and classes that focus on exploring the realm of the creative genres.
In her youth, Yuknavitch was a competitive swimmer who had hopes of qualifying for the U.S. Olympics team; the boycott of the 1980 games in Moscow led to the end of her competitive career. She moved to Eugene, Ore., and enrolled at the University of Oregon, from which she received her doctorate in English literature. Her first published work, Caverns, was co-written by Yuknavitch and her colleagues in a novel-writing class taught by Ken Kesey.
The Trias Residency offers visiting writers the freedom to write and engage in meaningful mentorship of students. It combines the best characteristics of a high (fall semester) and low (spring semester) residency program over the course of the school year. Past Trias writers include John D’Agata ’95, Jeff VanderNeer and Mary Ruefle.
The residency is named for poet Peter J. Trias ’70, author of the collection The House in Venice. His gift to the Colleges established the Peter J. Trias ’70 Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing, to help attract poets and writers of distinction to the campus.