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Fall 2015

Elk River Arts & Lectures presents Fall 2015 featuring Saif Alsaegh, Nina McConigley and Annick Smith

saifElk River Arts & Lectures will host poet Saif Alsaegh, short story writer Nina McConigley and memoirist/filmmaker Annick Smith for its fall 2015 lecture series. Each writer will work with Park High School students and give a free, public reading at Elk River Books, 120 N. Main St. in downtown Livingston.

Originally from Iraq, Saif Alsaegh currently lives in The United States. After a youth spent in Baghdad listening to rock music and reading Arabic, French, and American writers, he continued his education in Damascus, New York, California, and Montana while writing and performing poetry in both Arabic and English. His work has appeared in Witness, The Great Falls Tribune, The Legendary, and other venues. His first book, Iraqi Headaches, was published in 2013. His reading will take place on September 17 at 7 p.m.

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Winner of the PEN Open Book Award and the High Plains Book Award, Nina McConigley was born in Singapore and grew up in Wyoming. She holds an MFA from the University of Houston and an MA from the University of Wyoming. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, and the Asian American Literary Review, among others. She teaches at the University of Wyoming. Her short-story collection Cowboys and East Indians explores the immigrant experience and the collisions of cultures in the American West as seen through the eyes of outsiders. O Magazine notes that “the real achievement is the author’s mix of hilarity and intelligence,” and Luis Alberto Urrea praises it as “a fresh and wise view of a new world—at turns delightful and sad, but surprising at every turn. I love this work, and I know it begins a fine career.” Her reading will take place on October 8 at 7 p.m.

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Annick Smith’s latest book, Crossing the Plains with Bruno, charts a journey across the Great Plains with her chocolate lab Bruno. It weaves meditations on family history, the West, the value of place, and animal companionship. This new memoir has been compared to Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley and described by Gretel Ehrlich as “a delightful road log and reverie – fascinating, funny, and poignant.” Smith’s other books include the memoir Homestead; the Montana anthology The Last Best Place, which she co-edited with William Kittredge; and Big Bluestem, about Oklahoma’s tallgrass prairie. Her articles, essays, and stories have appeared in Audubon, Outside, National Geographic Traveler, the New York Times, and Story. Her film work includes production credits on A River Runs Through It, Heartland and the public television series The Real People. She is a founding board member of the Sundance Film Institute. Her reading will take place at 7 p.m. on November 5.

The events are co-sponsored by the Murray Hotel and Elk River Books. They are made possible, in part, by a grant from Humanities Montana.

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