The By the Book author talk series brings big ideas and smart conversation directly to you. 

Join these book events via Zoom from the comfort of your favorite chair and engage with authors and experts 

on a variety of topics. Keep checking back for announcements of future events. 

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July 22 / 2:00 PM CT

Join us as coeditors John Hausdoerffer and Melissa K. Nelson discuss What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? with contributors Shannon Gibney and Enrique Salmón.

Spanning cultures, generations, and written forms, this collection is a source of wisdom for shaping a resilient world in which our human descendants and other future inhabitants of the earth can thrive. As we face an ever-more-fragmented world, What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be? demands a return to the force of lineage—to spiritual, social, and ecological connections across time. It sparks a myriad of ageless-yet-urgent questions: How will I be remembered? What traditions do I want to continue? What cycles do I want to break? What new systems do I want to initiate for those yet-to-be-born? How do we endure? Published in association with the Center for Humans and Nature and interweaving essays, interviews, and poetry, this book brings together a thoughtful community of Indigenous and other voices—including Linda Hogan, Wendell Berry, Winona LaDuke, Vandana Shiva, Robin Kimmerer, and Wes Jackson—to explore what we want to give to our descendants. It is an offering to teachers who have come before and to those who will follow, a tool for healing our relationships with ourselves, with each other, and with our most powerful ancestors—the lands and waters that give and sustain all life.

John Hausdoerffer is dean of the School of Environment & Sustainability at Western Colorado University. Most recently, he is coeditor of Wildness. For more information, visit

Melissa K. Nelson (Anishinaabe/Métis [Turtle Mountain Chippewa]) is professor of Indigenous sustainability at Arizona State University and president of the Cultural Conservancy, a Native-led Indigenous rights organization. Most recently, she is coeditor of Traditional Ecological Knowledge.

Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, and activist. She is the author of the novels Dream Country and See No Color, which both won Minnesota Book Awards. Most recently, she edited the anthology What God is Honored Here? with writer Kao Kalia Yang. Gibney is faculty in English at Minneapolis College.

Enrique Salmón is a Rarámuri (Tarahumara) Indian. He has a PhD in anthropology from Arizona State University. He is head of the American Indian Studies program at Cal State University East Bay. Enrique has published several articles and chapters on Indigenous ethnoecology, agriculture and ancestral food ways, nutrition, sustainability education, and traditional ecological knowledge. Salmón the author of Eating the Landscape and Iwígara.


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September 14 / 4:00 PM CT

Join us for a poetry reading and conversation celebrating two of our Fall 2021 books from the Phoenix Poets Series: Blue in Green by Chiyuma Elliott and The Missing Mountain: New and Selected Poems by Michael Collier.

Chiyuma Elliott is assistant professor of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of At Most, California Winter League, and Vigil. A former Stegner Fellow, Elliott has published poems in the African American Review, Notre Dame Review, PN Review, and Callaloo, among others. She has received fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, Cave Canem, and the Vermont Studio Center.

“Elliott’s quite amazing Blue in Green is an intricate series of forays and restatements, an ongoing investigation of the language of the world and a search less for ‘meaning’ than among versions of possibility, a search not unlike the sketches in the song that lends its title to the book, the song that takes the good listener beyond the song itself. . . .There’s startling power in Blue in Green, there’s news here that stays news.”—C .S. Giscombe, author of Ohio Railroads

Michael Collier is the author of eight collections of poems, including An Individual History, a finalist for the Poet’s Prize, and The Ledge, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is emeritus professor of English at the University of Maryland and emeritus director of the Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences. He has received numerous honors, including a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and he was the poet laureate of the State of Maryland from 2001 to 2004. He currently lives in Vermont.

“Within the arc of this beautiful book, readers will find two sources of wonder: that Collier’s gift for poetry was, from the beginning, complete, and that the poems have also found a way to deepen with each succeeding volume. . . . The quality of attention is everything in these pages: the missing mountain is the one we climb and, climbing, summon into being.”—Linda Gregerson, author of Prodigal


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September 21 / 4:00 PM CT

Join us for a poetry reading and conversation celebrating the latest collection by Lloyd Schwartz, Who's on First?: New and Selected Poems, who will be joined in conversation by Alan Shapiro.

Lloyd Schwartz is the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Boston, a longtime commentator on classical music and the arts for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, and a noted editor of Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry and prose. He has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in poetry, and the Poet Laureateship of the city of Somerville, Massachusetts. His poems have appeared in the New Yorker, New Republic, and Atlantic, and have been selected for the Pushcart Prize, The Best American Poetry, and The Best of the Best American Poetry. Among his poetry books are Little Kisses, Cairo Traffic, and Goodnight, Gracie, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

"In a series of stark, disarming poems about his mother’s dementia, Schwartz has given us a portrait of what another age would have called THE GOOD. They are collected here for the first time. You will never forget the best poems in this book.”—Frank Bidart, author of Half-Light

Alan Shapiro has published many books, including Against Translation, Life Pig, and Reel to Reel, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He has also been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award (nonfiction and poetry) and the National Book Award and the winner of the LA Times Book Prize, Kingsley Tufts Award, Writers Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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October 13 / 6:00 PM CT

Hall Bjørnstad will be joined in conversation by Larry F. Norman and Ellen McClure to discuss The Dream of Absolutism: Louis XIV and the Logic of Modernity.

What was absolutism, and how did it work? What was the function of the ostentatious display surrounding Louis XIV at Versailles? In this sweeping reconsideration of absolutist culture, Hall Bjørnstad argues that the exuberance of Louis XIV’s reign was not top-down propaganda in any modern sense, but rather a dream dreamt collectively, by king, court, image-makers, and nation alike. Through a sustained close analysis of a corpus of absolutist artifacts, Bjørnstad concludes that the dream of absolutism lives at the intersection of politics and aesthetics—a participatory emotional reality that requires reality to conform to it and that still shapes our collective political imaginary today.

Hall Bjørnstad is associate professor of French at Indiana University, Bloomington, where he also directs the Renaissance Studies Program. He is the author of a monograph on Blaise Pascal, coeditor of Walter Benjamin’s Hypothetical French Trauerspiel and Universal History and the Making of the Global, and the editor of Borrowed Feathers: Plagiarism and the Limits of Imitation in Early Modern Europe.

Larry F. Norman is the Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of several books, including The Shock of the Ancient: Literature and History in Early Modern France, published by the University of Chicago Press.

Ellen McClure  is Professor of French and History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where for the last three years she has also directed the Mellon-funded Engaged Humanities Initiative. She is the author of The Logic of Idolatry in Seventeenth-Century French Literature and Sunspots and the Sun King: Sovereignty and Mediation in Seventeenth-Century France.



To find out more about previous events in the series, visit our YouTube channel,
where you can watch earlier By the Book talks and other author videos.