An iconic cowboy poet, a pair of literary Spanish translator and the original host of “Blue’s Clues” will headline Distinguished Lecture Series Week for West Texas A&M University.

The series was established to enhance education in the classroom by inviting people of national prominence to speak to WT students and the community about important issues.

As previously announced, Steve Burns will speak at 7 p.m. April 5 in Legacy Hall in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center. Burns’ “What Happened to Steve?” discussion also will be available to watch via Zoom at bit.ly/BurnsWT.  

Burns’ speech is free to the public. Seating will open to WT students at 6 p.m. and to the general public at 6:30 p.m. Overflow seating will be available in meeting rooms in the basement level of the JBK Student Center.

“I love talking to the people who grew up watching ‘Blue’s Clues,’” Burns said. “It feels to me very much like we’re just kind of continuing a conversation, you know? And it’s really, really wonderful and humbling.”

Attendees are invited to bring a new children's book to donate for kids in the Texas Panhandle. The Leaders Readers Network will have a collection box near the entrance of Legacy Hall.

Up next: beloved poet and WT alum Red Steagall will present “Values of the Cow Country told in Story, Verse, and Song” at 7 p.m. April 7, also in Legacy Hall. A Zoom option is available at bit.ly/steagall.

Steagall’s appearance is a joint presentation of the Center for the Study of American West’s Garry L. Nall Lecture Series in Western Studies and the WT Distinguished Lecture Series.

The event also will be free to the public.

Named for a retired WT history professor and former editor of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, the Nall Lecture Series supports CSAW’s mission to promote the study of the American West. Each semester CSAW invites a noted scholar to participate in a community lecture, classroom lectures, a question and answer discussion session, and small group outings with students.

Steagall’s presentation will engage students on Western American history with attention on legend, myth and reality, said Dr. Alex Hunt, Regents Professor of English and CSAW director.

“Red will tell stories and share songs and poems about Western American culture and heritage, with a special emphasis on the Texas Panhandle region,” Hunt said. “He’s a great guy, and he’s excited to return to WT to visit old haunts and see many friends he still has in the area.”

Steagall, a renowned singer-songwriter, western musician, and cowboy poet, holds a degree in agriculture from WT and has recorded more than 20 albums. He is the 2006 poet laureate of Texas, has published five books and is currently the Official Cowboy Poet of Texas.

CSAW will host additional events for students to meet and discuss scholarly and professional matters with Steagall.

Steagall’s appearance was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Other sponsors for Steagall’s presentation include the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages; the WT Department of Agricultural Sciences; and the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities.

Additionally, scholars Lisa Dillman and Gregary J. Racz will be featured in a two-part presentation, “Spanish Literacy Translation in Motion,” on April 4.

The first event will offer students and guests the opportunity to take part in prose and poetry translation activities. The workshop will begin at 12:30 p.m. April 4 in Classroom Center Room 316.

The second event is an evening discussion on literary translation and will begin at 6:30 p.m. April 4 in the Sybil B. Harrington Fine Arts Complex Recital Hall. Dillman and Racz will share their focus on English and Spanish translation.

“Translation is a complex cultural practice that is much more than just swapping out words in another language,” said Dr. Andrew Reynolds, director of WT’s Spanish program.

Dillman is currently teaching in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Emory University in Atlanta. Among other career highlights is her translation of the novel “The Mule” by Juan Eslava Gal├ín, which was turned into a motion picture starring Clint Eastwood.

Racz is a professor of English, philosophy and languages at Long Island University–Brooklyn, review editor for Translation Review, and a former president of the American Literary Translations Association. His latest work includes translations of Latin American poetry that have appeared in the bilingual volumes of “The Butchers’ Reincarnation” by Chilean Oscar Han.

“Because we are a Hispanic Serving Institution, this is something that can be really beneficial for our Hispanic students as well as any student with an interest in language, the arts, and literature,” Reynolds said. “In the 13 years I have been here, we have never had an event like this at WT. I am so excited to have these translators here on campus.”

Other sponsors for the event include the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities, the Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages, and the WT Spanish Program. Both events are free to the public.

The final DLS event for the spring, “Anti-Union Workers and Conservative Backlash Politics During the 1937 Sit-Down Strikes” with Dr. Gregory J. Wood, will take place at 6 p.m. April 14 in the Blackburn Room at Cornette Library. A Zoom option also will be available.

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