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Cal Poly’s WriterSpeak will host two well-known authors of the American West, Pam Houston and Greg Glazner, for an on-campus reading on April 24.
“They’re alike in that many of their settings are of the American West,” poet and Cal Poly English professor Kevin Clark said.
Whereas Glazner focuses on the Southwest, Clark said, Houston focuses more on the mountain West.
Houston, known for her collection of short stories, and Glazner, a poet and a fiction writer, have different writing styles, though they share similar interests.
“We don’t exactly collaborate on anything per se,” Houston said. “We have been together for eight years, so we bounce ideas off of each other and certain ideas we have are in common with out (CE: OUR?) work.”
Houston started writing when she was very young, and made a commitment in graduate school to pursue creative writing.
“I write a lot in the first person,” Houston said. “I’m super interested in form and shape.”
Houston said she thinks of stories in a geometric shape, and writes in a form rather than a theme.
At WriterSpeak, Houston plans on reading a short story she just finished, in addition to her book, Contents May Have Shifted.
“I’m always more excited about something new and untested,” Houston said. “Contents I know well, and I feel nostalgic about it whenever I read it.”
Clark describes Houston’s style as placing women outdoors and seeing what happens to them as the plot thickens.
“She’s extremely courageous in the way she depicts independent women,” Clark said. “Her female characters can get themselves into tight binds, and often, they succeed in extruding themselves from it, but sometimes they don’t.”
Clark said there is a kind of courage at the heart of her work, depicting what it’s like to be a woman in the contemporary West.
Glazner differs from Houston in that he is a poet and a fiction writer.
His fiction writing blends poetry and prose together, which is highly unusual, and he sets much of his work in the desert Southwest, Clark said.
“I was writing songs in high school, but it was really college when I started writing poems,” Glazner said. “I think what drew me to writing them was how a poem could be free verse and so rigorous with its words at the same time.”
Glazner plans on reading a poem or two from his multi-genre novel and a humorous, non-fiction essay.
“He’s reading an essay about a baseball game that we went to, and we’ll probably end up doing a Q&A together,” Houston said. “We know each other so well.”
The event will take place at 7 p.m. in Agricultural Engineering (building 8), room 123.
“It’s free and we’d love the public to come out, as well as the students,” Clark said.
Clark said the event is for everybody, and even those not interested in writing will have a good time at the event.
Writers will learn a lot about how to write, as well as what is going on in contemporary writing, he said.