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Spring 2004 | Volume 26, Number 6 | Campus
Prize-Winning Novelist Reads as Part of Fan Mayhall Gates Series

IN FEBRUARY, APPROXIMATELY 100 people attended the Fan Mayhall Gates Literary Reading Series at Seattle Pacific University, this year featuring Southern novelist A.G. Harmon. A regular contributor to SPU-based Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Harmon read excerpts from his novel A House All Stilled, which won the Peter Taylor Prize. Harmon, nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, teaches English and law at The Catholic University of America.

In 1999, SPU colleagues established the reading series to honor Professor Emerita Gates, who taught English at Seattle Pacific for 36 years. Although technically retired, Gates keeps her hand in at SPU by leading tours for alumni and Fellows to Shakespeare festivals in Ashland, Oregon, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

The choice of Harmon for this year’s reading may have been particularly apt, since Gates and Harmon were born in nearby towns. “When I learned we were both born in the Mississippi hill country only miles apart,” says Gates, “I felt instant kinship.”

Gates and Harmon also share an appreciation for the work of William Shakespeare and the writings of Flannery O’Connor. According to Image editor Greg Wolfe, “Harmon’s precise and evocative prose has religious and symbolic resonances that O’Connor would recognize and salute.”

“I have no more excuses not to write,” laughs Gates. “This is Harmon’s sixth novel. He gets up and writes for three hours every single morning.”

Funded by the Fan Mayhall Gates Literary Reading Series Endowment, the annual event is intended to bring prominent writers to campus. Last year, poet Julia Kasdorf became the first featured writer in the series. Contributions to the endowment may be sent to Seattle Pacific’s Office of Annual Giving.

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