Words@Mānoa Events for AY 2023-2024

Please look out for department emails announcing the locations/zoom links for these events.


Fall 2023

Joe Balaz (September 14-19)

Joe Balaz was born and raised in Hawai’i and is of Hawaiian, Slovakian, and Irish heritage. He writes in both American English and Pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English) and often composes concrete poetry with elements of visual art. His album of pidgin poetry, Electric Laulau (1998), is considered a foundational text in Kanaka Maoli literature. His book Pidgin Eye (2019) features thirty-five years of poetry and honors the beauty, strength, and complexity of Hawaiʻi and the voices of its peoples. Balaz’s work has appeared in Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in EnglishBamboo Ridge, and Hawai’i Review, among others. He edited Ho‘omānoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature (1989) and the O’ahu Review, and he is the current editor of 13 Miles from Cleveland. Balaz lives in Ohio.



Francesca Royster (October 4-5)

Francesca T. Royster is a Professor of English at DePaul University, where she teaches courses in Shakespeare Studies, Performance Studies, Critical Race theory, Gender and Queer Theory and African American Literature. She received her PhD in English from University of California, Berkeley in 1995. She is the author of Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon (Palgrave/MacMillan in 2003) and Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Outrageous Acts in the Post-Soul Era (University of Michigan, 2013), which won Honorable Mention in the Modern Language Association’s William Sanders Scarborough Prize for an Outstanding Scholarly Study of African American Literature or Culture. She has also published numerous book chapters and scholarly essays in BiographyJournal of Popular Music StudiesShakespeare QuarterlyShakespeare StudiesText and Performance StudiesPerformance Research International and Women in Performance, among others. Her most recent work is Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance.


Margo Steines (November 9-10)

Margo Steines is a native New Yorker, a journeyman ironworker, and serves as mom to a wildly spirited small person. Margo holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Arizona and lives and writes in Tucson. Her work was named Notable in Best American Essays 2021 and has appeared in The Sun, Brevity, Off Assignment, The New York Times (Modern Love), the anthology Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us, and elsewhere. She is the author of the memoir-in-essays Brutalities: A Love Story, from W.W. Norton. Margo is faculty at the University of Arizona Writing Program.



Spring 2024

Bojan Louis (February 8-9)

Bojan Louis is Diné of the Naakai dine’é, born for the Áshííhí. He is the author of a fiction collection, Sinking Bell: Stories, an NPR Best Book of 2022; a book of poetry, Currents, which received an American Book Award; and the nonfiction chapbook Troubleshooting Silence in Arizona. His fiction has appeared in EcotoneNuméro Cinq MagazineYellow Medicine Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review and his nonfiction in Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. Louis has been a resident at The MacDowell Colony and was the inaugural Virginia G. Piper Fellow-in-Residence at Arizona State University. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona.


Mai Der Vang (April 11-12)

Mai Der Vang is the author of two collections of poetry. Her most recent collection, Yellow Rain (Graywolf Press, 2021), received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, an American Book Award, and a Northern California Book Award. It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, PEN/Voelcker Award, the LA Times Book Prize, and the California Book Awards. Mai Der’s first book, Afterland (Graywolf Press, 2017), received the First Book Award from the Academy of American Poets, was longlisted for the National Book Award in Poetry, and a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. The recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, she served as a Visiting Writer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her poetry has appeared in PoetryTin House, the American Poetry Review, among other journals and anthologies. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, the Washington PostespnW, and elsewhere. Mai Der also co-edited How Do I Begin: A Hmong American Literary Anthology with the Hmong American Writers’ Circle. Mai Der teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Fresno State.