Tonya Strickland

In raising funds for the student-produced literary annual “Byzantium” Cal Poly English faculty members Todd J. Pierce and Lisa Coffman may gratify those who crave literary indulgence at “A Night of Poetry and Fiction” this evening.

“We have very talented faculty within the English department,” said Jessica Barba, English senior and “Byzantium” co-editor. She said that all students with an interest in creative expression will get something from attending the reading.

“Even within a technical institution like Cal Poly, because that expression is so personal and truly universal,” Barba said. “I think any student at Cal Poly would enjoy this reading we have set up.”

Shawn Magee, also an English senior and “Byzantium” co-editor said students and faculty alike should come to the event to exercise their love of literature.

“More realistically, we expect a lot of interest in hearing the first reading done by Pierce, our newest creative writing professor,” Magee said.

Pierce is an award-winning teacher and the author of “The Australia Stories,” published in 2003. His other stories have appeared in numerous publications including “The Georgia Review, Fiction,” “The Missouri Review,” “North American Review, Story Quarterly,” and “American Literary Review,” according to a news release.

It also states that Pierce has published a fiction writing textbook, is the recipient of a Kingsbury Fellowship and the Angoff award, and has earned a Master of Fine Arts degree and a doctorate.

“Not only is he a really accomplished novelist, but he is also the kind of guy who will help students immensely,” English professor Kevin Clark said.

Coffman, the second feature performer at the event, is the author of a full-length collection of poems titled “Likely,” has won grants for her poems which have appeared in many journals, and holds a master’s degree in creative writing, according to a news release.

“I have heard good things about both (of the performers) as instructors who foster creativity within their students,” Barba said. “Knowing the caliber of the rest of the Creative Writing Program staff, I can’t imagine these members being any less than great.”

Magee said he agreed both performers are excellent writers and professionals who produce unrivaled pieces of art that all students should experience.

“(They have) demonstrated quality writing that I don’t plan to try and reproduce, or even emulate,” Magee said. “They are both excellent authors as well as terrific professors. This university is fortunate to have them, and should take every opportunity possible to showcase their work.”

The reading is sponsored by Cal Poly’s English department and will take place today at 7:30 p.m. at Phillips Hall in the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center.

There is a suggested donation of $5. All proceeds will go toward the production costs of the next “Byzantium.”

A feature on “Byzantium” 2006 and the students involved will appear in Monday’s edition of the Mustang Daily.

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