Presented by the Saint Martin's University English Program, the Les Bailey Writers Series brings writers and authors of note to campus to read and discuss their books. It was named in honor of Leslie G. Bailey, Ph.D., a gifted and inspiring English professor at Saint Martin's who was beloved for sharing his great passion for the written word with students. Bailey taught at Saint Martin's from 1975 until his death in 2010.
On Oct. 4, 2018, The Les Bailey Writers Series returned for its fifth installment at Saint Martin's University with a presentation from poet Kathleen Flenniken entitled "A Case of–and for–Poetry." Flenniken studied and worked as a civil engineer and didn’t discover poetry until her early 30s. Her collection Plume, published by University of Washington Press in 2012, is a meditation on the Hanford Nuclear Site and her home town of Richland, Washington. The collection won the Washington State Book Award and was a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America and the Pacific Northwest Book Awards.
Her first book, Famous, which was published by University of Nebraska Press in 2006, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was named a Notable Book by the American Library Association. Her other honors include a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Artist Trust. She was the 2012–2014 Washington State Poet Laureate. She currently serves on the board of Jack Straw, an audio arts studio and cultural center. Flenniken holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Pacific Lutheran University, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering.
On October 4, 2017, Saint Martin's hosted internationally-acclaimed novelist Jim Lynch, author of four novels set in Western Washington with his latest creation, “Before the Wind." The New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin picked his novel “Truth Like the Sun” as one of her 10 favorite books of 2012. That novel was also a finalist for the Dashiell Hammett Prize, given to the best literary crime fiction in North America. Lynch’s first novel “The Highest Tide” (2005) won the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Award, was performed on stage in Seattle, and became an international bestseller after it was featured on England’s “Richard and Judy” television show. His second novel, “Border Songs” (2009), was also adapted to the stage and won the Washington State Book Award as well as the Indies Choice Honor Book Award.
Molly Gloss, author of numerous best-selling and prize-winning novels, including “The Jump-Off Creek”, “Wild Life”, and “Falling Off Horses”, came to Saint Martin's as our third annual Les Bailey Writers Series speaker. In her presentation that evening, “Romancing the West: Rethinking and Rewriting the Greak American Mythos”, Gloss discussed her longtime passion with Western literature and history.
Award-winning author Jess Walter, a native son of Spokane whose 2012 novel, "Beautiful Ruins," spent more than a year on The New York Times Best Sellers List, shared his craft and body of work at the second annual Les Bailey Writers Series. Walter has authored eight books and his short story, "Mr. Voice," has been selected for Best American Short Stories 2015. We had the privilege of hosting him Wednesday, September 30, 2015.
Acclaimed author Brian Doyle, whose 14 books of nonfiction, essays, poems and stories provoke deep thought, as well as laughter, was the inaugural author for the Les Bailey Writers Series on October 8, 2014, in the Norman Worthington Conference Center.