Oregon's Poet Laureate To Present Whiteley Distinguished Lecture
Anis Mojgani, the 10th poet laureate of Oregon and a nationally renowned poet and visual artist, will visit Pacific University’s Forest Grove Campus on Thursday, Feb. 15, for an evening of poetry, art and conversation.
Mojgani will deliver the 2024 Benjamin & Elaine Whiteley Distinguished Lecture at 5:30 p.m. in McCready Hall at the Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center. The lecture is open to the public and is jointly presented by Pacific’s School of Arts & Humanities and the Master of Fine Arts In Writing program.
Prior to the lecture, Mojgani will spend much of the day with students and faculty, talking about his art and writing and his own journey. His schedule includes an afternoon performance of his poetry on the porch of Bates House, reminiscent of poetry performances he did from his studio window in Portland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As poet laureate of Oregon, Anis serves as a key public figure representing the power and necessity of art for our communities,” said Scott Korb, director of Pacific’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing program. “His commitment to the unempowered is profound, and his ability and willingness to engage communities of all kinds, seemingly in any venue, marks his work as very special indeed.”
A two-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, Mojgani has performed at hundreds of universities across the United States and festivals around the world such as the Sydney Writers Festival, Jamaica’s Calabash festival and the Seoul Young Writers Festival. His audiences have been as varied as the United Nations and the House of Blues.
Originally from New Orleans, Mojgani earned his bachelor’s degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia. He has held residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, the Institute for Childhood Success, the Bloedel Nature Preserve and at Sou’western Artist Week. He was named Oregon’s poet laureate in 2020 by former Gov. Kate Brown.
A recipient of an Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate Fellowship, Mojgani has done commissions for the Getty Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum. His work has also appeared on HBO, National Public Radio and as part of the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day series.
“One benefit I emphasize when I teach at Pacific, both undergraduates and graduates, is the humanizing of the arts and the artists when they appear in person to talk and answer questions about their work,” Korb said. “Too often authors themselves become mysterious figures, authorities abstracted behind the books and other works they produce. Bringing writers face-to-face with the community demystifies them and the writing they do.”
The Whiteley Distinguished Lecture Series is named for Benjamin & Elaine Whiteley, longtime supporters of Pacific University who endowed the annual series in 2000.
The chief executive officer of The Standard from 1983 to 1994 and former chairman of the Greenbrier Companies, Benjamin Whiteley was a longtime member of the university’s Board of Trustees and served as board chair from 1986 to 1991. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Pacific in 2001.
Elaine Whiteley was active in the Portland Civic Theatre Guild, the Portland Opera Guild and the PEO Sisterhood. Both were active members in the Vermont Hills United Methodist Church for over 60 years. Longtime philanthropists, the Whiteleys received the Vollum Award for Lifetime Philanthropic Achievement from the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2016. Benjamin Whiteley passed away in 2017. Elaine Whiteley passed away in 2019.