PSU: a literary arts contender?

A lineup of literary heavy weights promises to pack a punch and put a campus alliance in the ring of literary contenders.

Collaborating with the Portland State University English Department, the Center for Excellence in Writing, the Literary Arts Council and the Friends of English, the Literary Alliance hopes to establish Portland State as a destination for writers and the bibliophiles who read their work.

Kicking off the month-long, inaugural event include award-winning authors Bharati Mukherjee, Clark Blaise, Matthew Klam and Melissa Bank.

By working with major publishing firms like Random House and Norton, the Literary Alliance hopes to continue bringing authors of national renown to PSU. Much like Powell’s has weekly readings from touring authors, the hope is that PSU can host readings from authors who come through town.

Along with the readings, Melissa Bank and Matthew Klamare will be offering writing workshops for PSU and non-PSU students. The registration fee for the workshops is $15 for PSU students and $40 for non-PSU students. Klam’s workshop will be held Feb. 15 from 1 ?” 4 p.m. in room 327 of Smith, while Bank’s workshop will be held from 1 ?” 4 p.m. in room 329 of Smith.

Bank, author of “The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing,” a collection of interconnected short stories, won the 1993 Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction. Her work has appeared in Zoetrope, the Chicago Tribune and the North American Review. She is at currently at work on a new novel and a screenplay based on her short-story collection. “The Girls Guide” focuses on the character Jane Rosenal, following her from her childhood to her ’30s as she struggles with life, love and family.

Klam, named one of “20 best fiction writers under 40” by The New Yorker, is the author of “Sam the Cat and Other Stories.” He’s a recipient of the Robert Bingham/PEN award, a National Endowment of the Arts award, a Whiting Writers award and an O. Henry award. His work deals with romantic men of all ages who are in love with love, and it has been featured in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Allure and USA Weekend.

Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise are husband and wife writers. Mukherjee has been writing since 1972, both fiction and non-fiction, and her newest novel is “The Desirable Daughters.” Blaise is the author of many fiction and non-fiction books, including “Days and Nights in Calcutta,” which he wrote with Mukherjee. Mukherjee’s work deals with immigrant migration, the social status of immigrants and the alienation expatriates often feel. Blaise’s newest work, “The Time Lord,” deals with life before standard time existed.

Readings will take place each Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Smith Memorial Center in the Vanport Room (338). Admission is free.