Poetry and prose will join at Portland State next week, with published writers both local and national reading their work. The university’s creative writing program will host the readings as part of its ongoing Visiting Writers Readings series.
Poetry and prose will join at Portland State next week, with published writers both local and national reading their work.
The university’s creative writing program will host the readings as part of its ongoing Visiting Writers Readings series.
Next Tuesday the program will bring Portland-based fiction writer Pauls Toutonghi and University of Georgia visiting published poet Andrew Zawacki to campus. Each writer will read from selected works and field questions from attendees.
Toutonghi, who also teaches at Lewis and Clark College, has published several works, including the 2006 novel Red Weather (Random House) and the more recent Evel Knievel Days (Crown Publishers, 2012).
Born to an Egyptian father and a Latvian mother, Toutonghi informs his work with aspects of his upbringing by telling humorous but emotional tales of life and immigration into Midwestern and mountain cities.
“Pauls is a very strong emerging writer in Portland,” said John Beer, a Portland State assistant professor of poetry and Visiting Writers series organizer. “He’s accruing a national reputation as well. He approaches offbeat topics but finds a depth of feeling in his writing.”
Beer also noted that Toutonghi’s visit is part of an effort to bring more fiction writers to the university.
“He’s pretty well known to everyone in the creative writing faculty,” he said. “We were talking about wanting to host more fiction writers. He was definitely at the top of the list.”
Along with Toutonghi the program will host Andrew Zawacki, a poet based in Athens, Georgia. Zawacki has published several books, including Petals of Zero Petals of One (Talisman House, 2009), Anabranch (Wesleyan University Press, 2004) and By Reason of Breakings (University of Georgia Press, 2001).
He has also produced several chapbooks. Zawacki is currently promoting the forthcoming Videotape.
“Videotape is kind of a long poem cut into short sections,” Beer said. “The book is a single poem. Andrew is someone who writes really intellectually ambitious and sometimes elusive poetry.”
Though the two writers work in separate disciplines, Beer explained that he felt there was a common thread in their approach to writing.
“What unites them is a strong undercurrent of emotion,” he said.
The Visiting Writers series hosts a variety of writers from all disciplines. In the past, the program has brought international poets as well as writers of both fiction and nonfiction to PSU. Beer noted that the program brings in talent of both regional and national renown.
Fiction writer Pauls Toutonghi and poet Andrew Zawacki
Part of its Visiting Writers Reading’s series
Tuesday, April 30, 7 p.m.
Smith Memorial Student Union, room 296
1825 SW Broadway
Free and open to the public
“We try to balance both local and national writing,” he said. “Pauls is a local writer, being a teacher at Lewis and Clark College, but he also has a national reputation. Andrew is primarily known in Georgia.”
Portland State’s creative writing program offers a Master of Fine Arts degree with
specializations in poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing.
“Students are admitted for specialization in one style of writing, but the program encourages them to study in all available disciplines,” Beer said. “Students can study across all fields, but their thesis will focus on their area of specialization.”
The visits by Toutonghi and Zawacki are just a part of the university’s ongoing efforts to support and promote writers across all disciplines. But Beer noted that the university is only one place in Portland where writers and poets can find support and an audience.
“I think the writing community is very diverse in Portland,” he said. “There’s probably no place in the nation, outside of New York or the Bay Area, where it’s better to be a young poet.”