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Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Lecture

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Congratulations Rena Priest!

University of Washington Libraries is pleased to announce Rena Priest as the 2022 Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow. Rena Priest is a Poet and an enrolled member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She has been appointed to serve as the Washington State Poet Laureate for the term of April 2021-2023. She is a Vadon Foundation Fellow, and recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award. Her debut collection, Patriarchy Blues was published by MoonPath Press and received an American Book Award. She is a National Geographic Explorer (2018-2020) and a Jack Straw Writer (2019). She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

UW Libraries was honored to host Rena at our Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Lecture in October 2022. Rena shared a reading followed by a conversational interview with Danica Sterud Miller (Puyallup), Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at UW Tacoma, with audience questions afterward.

View Reading & Conversation


What is the Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Lecture?

The Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Lecture is a biennial lecture series that honors the recipient of the Maxine Cushing Gray Visiting Writer Fellow. This highly anticipated event typically occurs in late fall.


What is the Maxine Cushing Gray Visiting Writers Fellowship?

The Maxine Cushing Gray Endowed Libraries Visiting Writers Fellowship was established in 1985 at The Seattle Foundation by friends and admirers of the late Maxine Cushing Gray. The fellowship was established to honor her wide-ranging contributions and to recognize future generations of established writers of exceptional merit. The fellowship includes a one-time monetary award honoring a Northwest writer of notable achievement. In 2004 the fund was moved to the UW Libraries.

Founding members of the Endowment are R.M. Campbell, Meade Emory and Judith A. Whetzel.

Make an online gift to The Maxine Cushing Gray Endowed Libraries Visiting Writers Fellowship


Who was Maxine Cushing Gray?

Black and white photo of person walking outside.

Maxine Cushing Gray was a prominent Northwest critic and editor for nearly 40 years. Gray worked tirelessly to see that all artists, as well as writers, were given just recognition and financial compensation for their work. As a music and dance critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Argus, and founding editor/publisher of Northwest Arts, she not only nurtured the development of artists in the Northwest, but often acted as their conscience. She sought to keep all public bodies accountable and was an advocate for artists seeking an individual voice. She set standards of criticism, fought acceptance of the mediocre and encouraged the young. We are proud to have her extensive papers here at the University of Washington Libraries for students, scholars and community users.

This biennial fellowship is awarded to an established prose writer, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist or critic, who is a writer of sustained achievement and whose intent is serious and talent noteworthy with roots in the Pacific Northwest.


Past Awardees

2018 Fellow, Yussef El Guindi,meets with students after his lecture.
2018 Fellow, Yussef El Guindi, meets with students after his lecture.


2020      Susan Orlean
2018      Yussef El Guindi
2016      Barry Lopez
2014      Heather McHugh
2012      Timothy Egan
2010       Charles R. Johnson
2008      Madeline DeFrees
2007      David Laskin
2006      Robert Schenkkan

Seattle Foundation awardees through 2005

Murray Morgan
David Wagoner
Raymond Carver and Tess Gallagher (joint award)
Ivan Doig
Jonathan Raban
Denise Levertov
Dick Dunn
Shawn Wong