Colorado State University - Pueblo speaker series features writers for TV and big screen

Colorado State University - Pueblo speaker series features writers for TV and big screen

PUEBLO – Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Distinguished Speakers Series continues in October with Joel Cohen, a co-writer/producer for the hit television show The Simpsons and Native American writer/filmmaker Sherman Alexie.

Joel CohenCohen’s presentation, “The Business Tao of Homer: Lessons in Creativity and Innovation from The Simpsons,” will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13 in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom. This event is free and open to the public.

Cohen earned his Master of Business Administration and found success in the corporate world before making a completely illogical career move into comedy writing. Luckily for him, it all worked out: he became an Emmy-winning writer for The Simpsons -- "the greatest TV show of the 20th century" (Time). Cohen's experience as both a "creative" and a "suit" has not only left him with a puzzling resume, it also gives him a unique perspective to discuss innovation, creativity, and their place in business. The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series in 1989, including 25 Primetime Emmy Awards, 26 Annie Awards, and a Peabody Award. Armed with inspired anecdotes and clips, Cohen takes you into the fabled writers' room at The Simpsons to draw the links -- and there are many -- between maintaining a hit show and running a successful company. He asks, and then brilliantly answers, questions essential to the success of any industry. How do you manage group dynamics to get the best from your talent? How do you find, evaluate, implement, and even discard, new ideas? How do you chart a renewable path to innovation? And how do you overcome creative log jams?

In association with the Pueblo Library District’s All Pueblo Reads celebration, CSU-Pueblo will host Native American writer, poet, and filmmaker Sherman Alexie at noon on Monday, Oct. 25 in Massari Arena. Following his presentation, he will take questions and will autograph books, which will be available that day through the CSU-Pueblo Bookstore.Sherman Alexie 

With his humorous, revealing and exuberant works of art, he compels audiences to see the world for all of its pitfalls and possibilities Alexie was named one of The New Yorker’s 20 top writers for the 21st century. The New York Times Book Review described him as “one of the major lyric voices of our time.” Men’s Journal called him “the world’s first fast-talking and wisecracking mediagenic American-Indian superstar.”

Much of his writing draws on his experiences as a Native American. Two of Alexie's best known works are The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1994), a book of short stories and Smoke Signals, a film. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, an autobiographical young adult novel, was his first major commercial success.  His first novel, Reservation Blues, won Booklist’s Editors Choice Award for Fiction. Indian Killer was a New York Times Notable Book. The Toughest Indian in the World won the 2001 PEN/Malamud Award, honoring excellence in the art of storytelling. Ten Little Indians was a 2003 national bestseller and Publishers Weekly Book of the Year. His latest books include Flight, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a 2007 National Book Award winner in Young People’s Literature, and Face, his first full collection of poems in nine years. His collection of short stories, War Dances, was released in Fall '09. Alexie wrote and produced the film, Smoke Signals, based on his book, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, which won the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. In 2002, he made his directorial debut with The Business of Fancydancing. He is currently working on a sequel to The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven entitled, Fire with Fire, and a sequel to True Diary entitled, The Magic and Tragic Year of My Broken Thumb.

The Distinguished Speakers Series features eminent national or international speakers who contribute to current thought in social or political activities, in the arts and sciences, or other realm of contemporary significance by individuals who have distinguished themselves in their fields.  The series is co-sponsored by the Office of Student Activities, the Student Fee Governing Board, the Associated Students’ Government, and the Diversity Resource Center. Alexie’s appearance is thanks in large part to contributions by the Department of English and Foreign Languages and the Southern Colorado Writing Project.

The fall schedule will conclude on Nov. 10 with single mother turned lawyer Betty Anne Waters. Her life will be depicted in a film starring Hilary Swank, Conviction, being released in selected theatres on Oct. 15.  

For more information or an updated schedule, contact the CSU-Pueblo Office of Student Life at 549-2586 or visit

Colorado State University - Pueblo is a regional, comprehensive university emphasizing professional, career-oriented, and applied programs. Displaying excellence in teaching, celebrating diversity, and engaging in service and outreach, CSU-Pueblo is distinguished by access, opportunity, and the overall quality of services provided to its students.