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Ursula K. Le Guin visits Portland Community College

Ursula K. Le Guin with President Jeremy Brown and faculty members Tanya Pluth and Blake Hausman.

Ursula K. Le Guin with President Jeremy Brown and faculty members Tanya Pluth and Blake Hausman.

It’s undeniable that Ursula K. Le Guin is a literary powerhouse. She’s also a local legend, an inspiration to writers of all levels, and a really cool lady.

Winner of a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, and countless other accolades, her best known fantasy works, the first four Books of Earthsea, have sold millions of copies and have been translated into 16 languages. Her first major work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness, is considered epoch-making for its radical investigation of gender roles and its moral and literary complexity.

At a public reading last week on the Cascade campus, Le Guin read a short selection from both her fiction and nonfiction, spoke with English faculty members Blake Hausman and Tanya Pluth in a structured Q & A, and took questions from the audience.

With queries ranging from how she tackles writer’s block (“don’t read anything for a week”) to more nuanced questions about specific books published early in her career, Le Guin dished her answers out with wisdom and wit.

Although Le Guin has lived in Portland for almost fifty years, this was her first visit to PCC and she said she loved the campus. When she was given one of those unmistakable PCC umbrellas at the end of the visit, she wielded it in one hand above her head like a wand–not unlike a wizard of Earthsea herself.

“I’m pinning my hopes for the future of education on community colleges,” the author said. A teacher of writing herself for many years, Le Guin’s daughter also teaches literature on the English faculty at PCC.

Learn more about Ursula K. Le Guin’s background and which PCC classes discuss her work here.

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