Elk River

Lecture Series

Elk River Arts & Lectures hosts a spring and fall series each year featuring authors, speakers, artists and other professionals who work in the classroom with local students and give free public lectures. Click the links below for upcoming and past series.

Details about the fall 2024 Lecture Series season coming soon!

About Elk River’s

Lecture Series

Each school year, our lecture series hosts four to six writers, artists, and innovative thinkers who might not otherwise come to Park County. These presenters spend time working with students at Park High School, then give free public lectures. Over the past ten years, we have hosted dozens of lecturers of both regional and national prominence, representing a broad range of genres, including poets, novelists, science writers, memoirists, journalists, visual artists, and historians.

We have brought in people like Pulitzer-winning novelist Richard Powers, who talked with Park High students about

writing before giving an evening lecture ruminating on climate change; historian Megan Kate Nelson, whose most recent book examines the complex context that led to the founding of Yellowstone National Park; and Clemson University professor Drew Lanham, an African-American ornithologist who writes about the relationship between race and conservation, and who connected with students over their shared love for hunting.

Our goal is to enrich the lives of Park County students and residents with educational, entertaining and edifying opportunities. We offer exciting programs to open our community to new voices and ideas, while we showcase the talent our home ground has nurtured.

lecturer testimonials

“I’m grateful and honored to have read for Elk River Arts and Lecture series.  There is a rich collective of artists in Livingston and I enjoyed being in such a unique and special place.  From the natural beauty of Montana’s landscape and wildlife to the pleasant company of poets and writers, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute.  Not only did I get to celebrate winning the PEN/Hemingway Award with a generous crowd of book enthusiasts, but I also had the pleasure of being uplifted by a community strong in its literary traditions.”

—March 2023 Lecture Series guest, novelist Oscar Hokeah

“I have rarely enjoyed doing a public event more than I enjoyed reading for Elk River Arts and Lectures.  Livingston supplied a circle of fascinating and accomplished artists, a keen and appreciative audience, and oh — that view!  Something very special is going on just north of Yellowstone, and I was grateful for the chance to experience it.”

—April 2022 Lecture Series guest, Pulitzer-winning novelist Richard Powers

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity in Livingston you presented me. I was so blown away by the turnout, the kindness of everyone involved, etc. What a lovely community.”

—October 2023 Lecture Series guest, Montana Poet Laureate Chris La Tray

“It was an honor to share the stage with Shane Doyle, and to have such a receptive and enthusiastic audience. The event was really amazing — ideal, really.”

—May 2022 Lecture Series guest, writer Dr. Megan Kate Nelson

“Elk River Arts and Lectures serves a vital role in our Greater Yellowstone community, including Bozeman and Billings, by creating a space for intellectual and artistic expression and fostering a culture of connection, curiosity, and joy.  I am grateful to be a part of Elk River’s circle, and excited to see how they continue to enrich and galvanize our friends and neighbors.  Every community should be so fortunate to have the sacred space that ERAL provides, as it engages and includes everyone, and keeps hope alive.”

—May 2022 Lecture Series guest, educator Dr. Shane Doyle

Community reactions

“My students greatly benefit from exposure to speakers, writers, and artists who bring perspectives outside of their usual experiences. “

Park High teacher Carol Phillips-Powalisz on environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth’s visit to her Freshman English class, May 2023

“I’m happy that I went, that was my first time going to see writers talk about their books.  I never thought I would get to see Tommy Orange and we are reading his book in my class right now at Northwest Indian College, so it was really cool to hear him talk about it and describe how he wrote it.  I am Crow and Cheyenne woman, so it means a lot to me to see other Native people who are successful and great at their art.  Seeing Tommy and Tess [Gunty] made me like them and their books even more and I hope there are more events like that.”

—MiKayla Wilson, Apsáalooke undergraduate on the May 2023 event with Tommy Orange and Tess Gunty

“Nick Flynn encouraged students to share their writing with him which was incredibly encouraging for students. He was able to speak from memory about what he specifically appreciated in each student poem as he presented big ideas about art and the writing of poetry. Many of the big ideas he circled back to were key to the mission of the class.”

—Park High teacher Kelly Dick on poet Nick Flynn’s visit to his Poetry class, October 2022

Past Series

Spring 2024

Mona Susan Power, Heather White, Dan Flores

Fall 2023

Kathleen McLaughlin, Chris La Tray, Ilya Kaminsky, Katie Farris, Nick Mott & Justin Angle

Spring 2023

Oscar Hokeah, Sarah Vowell, Tommy Orange, Tess Gunty, & Shane Doyle, Bathsheba Demuth

Fall 2022

Francine Spang-Willis, Stephanie Land, Nick Flynn

Spring 2022

Richard Powers, Shane Doyle,  Megan Kate Nelson

Fall 2021

Joy Williams, Sandra Phillips

Fall 2019

Shann Ray

Spring 2019

CMarie Fuhrman

Fall 2018

Debra Magpie Earling, David McCumber

Spring 2018

J. Drew Lanham, Doug Ammons

Fall 2017

Gretel Ehrlich, Bernard Quetchenbach

Spring 2017

Ambrin Masood, Greg Klyman

Fall 2016

Mark Mykleby, Jacqueline Rieder Hud, Timothy Tate

Spring 2016

Paul Zarzyski, Laura Pritchett, Russell Rowland

Fall 2015

Nina McConigley, Saif Alsaegh, Annick Smith

Spring 2015

ML Smoker, Gary Ferguson, Pete Fromm

Fall 2014

David Barsamian, Mary Clearman Blew, Kim Zupan

Spring 2014

Henry Real Bird, Joshua Phillips, Deanne Stillman

Fall 2013

Pam Houston, William Pitt Root, Pamela Uschuk, Scott Carrier