The Pulitzer Prize finalist, National Book Award winner speaking twice at PCC
Photos and Story by James Hill
Ursula K. Le Guin, who writes fiction, science fiction, fantasy, young children’s books and more, is coming to Portland Community College.
Le Guin, 84, will read from and discuss some of her work as well as take questions from the audience from 7-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 20, in the Auditorium, Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building, Cascade Campus. On Thursday, May 22, she will read and participate in a Q&A from 2-3:30 p.m., in the Event Center, Building 9, Rock Creek Campus. The Cascade Campus event is open to the general public, but PCC students and staff will have first priority for seating inside the auditorium. The Rock Creek event is open to the PCC community only. Both engagements are free. For ticket information, contact organizer Blake Hausman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Le Guin is a Portland legend. Three of Le Guin’s books have been finalists for the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and her writings have also received a National Book Award, five Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards, SFWA’s Grand Master, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Howard Vursell Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award.
She has published six books of poetry, twenty novels, over a hundred short stories (collected in eleven volumes), four collections of essays, eleven books for children, and four volumes of translation. Few American writers have done work of such high quality in such a staggering variety of forms, according to Southeast Campus English instructor and a scholar of Native American literature Blake Hausman.
“Ursula K. Le Guin is one of Portland’s most important literary artists,” Hausman said. “Her work has shifted the paradigms and possibilities of science fiction. For many writers interested in Native and Indigenous Futurism, Le Guin has taught us how to build worlds that illuminate and resist the unexamined values of colonial cultures.”
Le Guin’s work is incorporated into many English courses at PCC. For example, Tanya Pluth, English instructor at Cascade, uses Le Guin’s writings in her WR115, 121 and 122 offerings as well as her ENG 261 (Literature of Science Fiction), ENG 260 (Intro to Women Writers), ENG 222 (Images of Women in Literature), WS 101 (Intro to Women’s Studies) and WS 202 (Women Working for Change) classes.
Most of Le Guin’s major titles have remained continuously in print, some for over 40 years. Her best known fantasy works, the first four Books of Earthsea, have sold millions of copies in America and England, and have been translated into 16 languages. Her first major work of science fiction, “The Left Hand of Darkness,” is considered epoch-making for its radical investigation of gender roles and its moral and literary complexity. Her novels “The Dispossessed” and “Always Coming Home” redefine the scope and style of utopian fiction, while the realistic stories of a small Oregon beach town in “Searoad” show her permanent sympathy with the ordinary griefs of ordinary people. Among her books for children, the “Catwings” series has become a particular favorite.
What Faculty Are Saying About Le Guin’s Visits:
Michael Street, Rock Creek writing instructor.
“As a beloved Portland icon and literary pioneer, Ursula K. Le Guin has influenced readers of all ages for nearly fifty years. PCC is honored to be hosting such an important author, and we are all looking forward to hearing Le Guin’s unique and insightful answers to questions generated by PCC students, faculty and staff.”
Melissa Manolas, chair of the Rock Creek Campus English Department.
“This is such a significant event because Ursula Le Guin is a true visionary of our time. Her works are poetic explorations of a variety of themes – scientific, spiritual, political, anthropological, and literary. She is unique as a writer in her ability to wear so many hats; she is a poet, short story writer, and novelist. She is a woman writer, a Northwest writer, a fantasy writer, a science fiction writer, a children’s book writer…etc., so there are so many different pathways for readers to connect to her works.”
Tanya Pluth, Cascade Campus English instructor.
“Le Guin’s personal story of becoming a writer, along with her extensive body of work provide PCC students with an incredible model of the possibilities before them as both readers and thinkers. Le Guin has long resisted the social norms and conventions of writing, by writing across multiple genres, and writing science fiction novels that challenge each of us to re-envision ourselves as individuals and as a collective. Just like students at PCC, Le Guin blazed her own path, and that’s one of the reasons why Le Guin’s work always appears on my course syllabi: students can see themselves in her work.”
Marianne Monson, English composition instructor at Rock Creek.
“Her visit is significant because she is a pioneer and leader in her field, an inspiring leader of a male-dominated genre. I think our students need to hear from those who have achieved success in spite of challenging odds, and be exposed to innovative thinkers who question society’s norms as Le Guin does so eloquently.”
Andrew Zboralski, Writing and English instructor, Rock Creek Campus.
“In 1993, one of my close friends moved to Portland, and every time I visited, I would see the pile of Ursula K. Le Guin’s books in his room. A decade later, I started using Le Guin’s essay, ‘A Matter of Trust,’ in my Writing 121 class. To put it simply: UKL is the local writer who helps my students learn how to write for an audience. PCC needs local authors who believe in community, friendship, and the exploration of a better future for humanity.”