Some of the country’s top contemporary writers will conduct a weeklong reading series in Seaside in conjunction with a Pacific University Master of Fine Arts in Writing residency program.

The readings, which are free and open to the public, will be held each evening at 7:30 from Jan. 9 through 16 at the Best Western Ocean View Resort, 414 N. Prom in Seaside.

“This event is a rare opportunity to hear some of the best writers of contemporary American literature read on successive evenings,” program director Shelley Washburn said.

Poet Marvin Bell, recipient of an American Academy of Arts & Letters Award in literature and former poet laureate in Iowa who was part of the Beat Generation, and fiction writer Pam Houston, winner of the Western States Book Award, are two of the 23 featured authors.

Washburn said all the writers are of high caliber and fairly well known. The group does include some literary writers who maybe less familiar to the general public, she said. Many have won awards and various honors, such as Guggenheim Fellowships and National Book Awards.

“I think it’s kind of a rare opportunity (for people in Seaside) to hear writers of this caliber,” she added.

Some of the writers are longstanding faculty at Pacific University, and some, such as Vievee Francis and Porter Shreve, are newer additions.

“I have a nice mix of the folks that have been around for a while and some new ones, as well,” Washburn said.

Two or three authors will read each evening. The schedule is as follows:

• Friday, Jan. 9: Pete Fromm, Joseph Millar and Mary Helen Stefaniak

• Saturday, Jan. 10: Ellen Bass, Claire Davis and Vievee Francis

• Sunday, Jan. 11: Sandra Alcosser, Craig Lesley and John McNally

• Monday, Jan. 12: Steve Amick, Eduardo Corral and Mike Magnuson

• Tuesday, Jan. 13: Frank Gaspar, Scott Korb and Valerie Laken

• Wednesday, Jan. 14: Marvin Bell, Carolyn Coman and David Long

• Thursday, Jan. 15: Kwame Dawes, Pam Houston and Porter Shreve

• Friday, Jan. 16: Jack Driscoll and Debra Gwartney

After an introduction, each author will read about 20 minutes from a selection of their choice. Washburn said some authors “play it safe” and read from their already published and well-known books; many, however, will read selections from works in progress before they’ve been published.

“For the most part, it’s very exciting,” she said.

The reading series is part of the program’s biannual 10-day Residency Writer Conferences that kick off each semester for the writing program. The June residency is on campus in Forest Grove, and the January residency is in Seaside when undergraduates are using the campus.

“Years ago, we found Seaside, and we love it,” Washburn said. “It’s different and fun to go there in the winter.”

During the 10-day residency, master of fine arts students participate in workshops, lectures, classes, panels, readings and other events. Each student is matched with one of the professional writers, or faculty advisers, and together they create a guided study plan for the following 15-week semester.

Wanting to engage the public, the school opened the nightly professional reading series.

“We like connecting to the community that we’re in,” Washburn said. “They are reading, they are already there, so why not share it?”

For more information, contact Washburn at 503-352-1532 or visit pacificu.edu/as/mfa/

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