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Activist, naturalist, author visits Stetson

Janisse Ray (no book)As part of the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program at Stetson University, American writer, poet, naturalist and activist Janisse Ray will speak at Stetson about the international campaign, Food Day, and will read from her book, Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. Open to the public, free of charge, Ray’s lecture is at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Gillespie Museum, located at 234 E. Michigan Ave., on the south end of Stetson’s DeLand campus.

The Oct. 24 public lecture is part of an intensive week-long visit at Stetson, from Oct. 21-25, in which Ray will interact with Stetson students and faculty and the community as a whole. Ray is a leading advocate of Food Day, the grass-roots campaign that has become an international initiative to produce better food policies and celebrate healthful and affordably produced food.

For 35 years the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows (WWVF) program has brought prominent artists, business leaders, diplomats, and other nonacademic professionals to various campuses in the United States.

“Ray will spend a week with our faculty and students, teaching us how to be writers, how to think through thick and complex problems that have no easy answers, and how to apply the results of our intellectual labors to change the world for the better,” explained WWVF program coordinator Michael Denner, Ph.D., who is also associate professor of modern language and literatures at Stetson, with a focus in Russian studies.

Denner has helped bring other fellows to Stetson in the past, such as Nobel Prize winning journalist David Shipler and career diplomat Ken Yalowitz.

Janisse Ray is the author of five books of literary nonfiction and a collection of nature poetry. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Montana and in 2007 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Unity College in Maine. She’s on the faculty of Chatham University’s low-residency M.F.A. program and will be teaching Spring 2014 at the University of Montana as the William Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer.

“Ray will make Stetson her home. She’ll work closely with faculty, students, and staff: visiting classes to discuss everything from creative writing to grass-roots activism to sustainable food networks. It’s not one way,” Denner said. “Our faculty and students will show her central Florida, teaching her about our own corner of the world. Her visit attests to Stetson’s commitment to integrate our intellectual, scholarly life of the mind with practical application of our core values.”

In addition to the public lecture scheduled for Oct. 24, a lecture/discussion titled ‘What I Mean When I Say Sustainable” will be held at 6 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 23, in the Stetson Room, second floor of the Carlton Union Building, 131 E. Minnesota Ave. This lecture is also open to the public, free of charge.

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Denner, at (386) 822-7381.

by George Salis