Poets & Writers Series

Pictured: Professor CoryAnne Harrigan and Poet Sam Ross (photo courtesy of The Simpsonian)

Sponsored by the English department and established in 1985, the Simpson College Poets and Writers series brings three to five contemporary writers from around the world to campus each year. Invited writers perform a public reading, meet with classes, and engage with interested student writers. Recent guests have included poets, Ray Young Bear and Sam Ross.

Spring 17' Ray Young Bear

Simpson welcomed poet and winner of the American Book Award, Ray Young Bear in the spring. A native Iowan, Young Bear grew up near Tama, Iowa on the Meskwaki Tribal Settlement and studied at the University of Iowa, among other Iowa universities. His creative pursuits also include teaching. Young Bear has taught creative writing and Native American literature at The Institute of American Indian Art, Eastern Washington University, and two public Iowa universities. Besides writing poetry and teaching, Young Bear and his wife perform traditional Meskwaki music and dance for communities near and far.

Young Bear shared selections of his poetry, some from his most recent collection, Manifestation Wolverine, with Simpson audiences. Simpson also welcomed Young Bear’s family, who performed a traditional Meskwaki song and dance alongside the poet. 

Ray Young Bear’s most recent collection

Fall 16' Sam Ross

“Visual art, queerness, political narrative and the relationship between human and animal [inspire] my work. Many of my poems are quietly influenced by the generational loss created by AIDS. I think it can be a birthright of a queer artist to reckon with history pushed to the margins by social and economic forces” (courtesy of The Simpsonian).


Sam Ross, a New York transplant and talented contemporary poet took to Simpson classes, students, and faculty during his visit for the Poets and Writers series. Ross inspired the Simpson community with his poems and thoughts on the writing process during a public reading in the fall semester.