Celebrities are coming to Sacramento for the 2017-18 Speakers Series

Author Doris Kearns Goodwin will be part of the 2017-18 Sacramento Speaker Series.
Author Doris Kearns Goodwin will be part of the 2017-18 Sacramento Speaker Series. Associated Press file

The creative-writing staff of American River College has organized the sixth annual SummerWords Creative Writing Festival, Thursday-Sunday, May 25-28.

SummerWords is several days of panels, discussions, readings and workshops in fiction, poetry, nonfiction and screenwriting. Attendees can expect hands-on activities and expert advice from professional writers and the ARC creative-writing faculty, which includes SummerWords co-founders Michael Spurgeon (author of the novel “Let The Water Hold Me Down”) and Christian Kiefer (“The Infinite Tides,” “The Animals,” “One Day Soon Time Will Have No Place Left to Hide”).

Other presenters include Jodi Angel, Kate Asche, Kirstin Chen and David Dominguez. Featured readings and additional workshops and panels will be presented by Anthony Swofford, Jericho Brown, Natashia Deón, Albert Garcia and others.

“SummerWords is one more example of American River College providing an affordable and high-quality event to the community we serve,” said Spurgeon.

Full-event admission is $95 at, where there’s a schedule and map. Admission includes access to all readings and activities, including the Friday, May 26, barbecue. Attendees also will receive a copy of the award-winning American River Review and books by presenters Deón (“Grace”) and Daniel Rounds (“Eros Zero”).

Celebrity speakers coming to town

Astronaut Scott Kelly, actor George Takei and veteran journalist Chris Wallace will headline the Sacramento Speakers Series’ 2017-18 program, said managing principal Mitchell Ostwald.

“For our 13th season, we have assembled some of the most entertaining and informative forward-thinkers in America,” Ostwald said. “We Sacramentans can say we have something unique that’s ours to share.”

The six-event series brings top-tier professionals from the arts, sciences, politics, media and other fields to Sacramento to speak about their careers and issues of the day and answer questions from the audience.

Each of the events will start at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) at the Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento. Subscriptions are priced at four levels, from $210 to $450. 916-388-1100, Here’s the lineup:

Oct. 4: George Takei, widely known for his role in the “Star Trek” franchise, is one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice.

Nov. 15: Doris Kearns Goodwin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, renowned presidential historian and political commentator.

Jan. 17: Capt. Scott Kelly spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station.

Feb. 21: Bryan Stevenson is founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of “Just Mercy.”

March 28: Ehud Barak is the former prime minister of Israel and the most highly decorated soldier in Israel’s history.

April 17: Chris Wallace is the host of “Fox News Sunday” and a multiple Emmy Award-winner.

California Book Awards

The San Francisco-based Commonwealth Club of California, the oldest public-affairs forum in the U.S., has announced the winners of its 86th annual California Book Awards. The awards ceremony (with a book-signing) will be 6 p.m. Monday, June 12, 555 Post St., San Francisco. 415-597-6700,

Fiction: Michael Chabon, “Moonglow” (gold); Elizabeth McKenzie, “The Portable Veblen” (silver)

First fiction: Melissa Yancy, “Dog Years” (gold)

Nonfiction: Andrés Reséndez, “The Other Slavery” (gold); Jordan Fisher Smith, “Engineering Eden” (silver)

Juvenile: Anne Nesbet, “Cloud and Wallfish” (gold)

Young adult: Nicola Yoon, “The Sun Is Also a Star” (gold)

Poetry: Aja Couchois Duncan, “Restless Continent” (gold); Douglas Kearney, “Buck Studies” (silver)

Californiana: Benjamin Madley, “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873” (gold)

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe