Soon, a group of award-winning writers from around the world will read their work for an audience of students, professors and members of the public in Seaside.
These writers are mentors in Pacific University’s low-residency Master’s of Fine Arts program. From Jan. 10 to 17, they will lead an intensive workshops for the MFA students during the winter residency in Seaside.
Every evening after the workshops, these writers will read their own work at the Best Western in Seaside. The public is encouraged to listen and meet the authors at these free events.
Top of the class
Shelley Washburn, the director of the MFA writing program, said the writers are all highly regarded.
“It’s an opportunity for me to cherry pick some of best writers in the world,” Washburn said. “The writers like to come to Oregon and it’s an opportunity for students to get to work with experienced writers they wouldn't normally get to work with.”
One of these writers, Pete Fromm, has been writing full time for 30 years. He said being a mentor in the program for the last 15 years has been beneficial for him as well.
“I've learned so much about writing, it’s been extremely helpful for me,” Fromm said.
Fromm, who lives in Montana, writes novels, short stories and memoirs about the time he’s spent in the wilderness of Montana and Idaho. He said the other writers who will participate in the readings are from all over the country and the world, including Australia and Nigeria.
“It’s a huge mix of writers,” Fromm said. “Every night we usually have a poet, a fiction writer and a nonfiction writer.”
A selection of stories
Another one of the readers, Mary Helen Stefaniak, lives in Iowa City and has been involved in the residencies since 2008. She also writes literary fiction novels and short stories.
“I love it when people from the community come to the readings,” Stefaniak said. The first year she came to Seaside, a group of local people invited her to a crab feed in Astoria.
This year, Stefaniak said she plans to either read from her upcoming novel, “The World of Pondside” or her first novel, “The Turk and My Mother.”
Washburn said the readings are a fun opportunity for people at the coast to hear what writers are thinking and writing about right now.
“They’re all very skilled so it’s a rare opportunity for people along the coast to see this gathering of unusual writers together,” Washburn said.
The readings will begin at 7:30 p.m. each evening of Jan. 10 to 17 in the Lewis and Clark room of the Best Western Ocean View Resort in Seaside.
Pacific University also hosts a summer residency each June in Forest Grove. After the residencies, the writers return home and work with the students remotely throughout their MFA program.
For more information about the Pacific University program, the readers and the event, visit the MFA website.
“Come on in and enjoy the readings,” Washburn said.