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Alan Weltzien’s Summer of Words

July 19, 2017

Professor Alan Weltzien is spending the summer writing, publishing, editing, and traveling all over the country to launch books and speak about the writers he loves.

Novelist Thomas Savage was born in Salt Lake City, but he spent the bulk of his childhood in Dillon, Mont.  Despite growing up in the small ranching town, he always felt like an outsider and rarely visited once he moved away at the age of 22.

However, the majority of his novels revolve around fictional approximations of the city. So while he rarely physically returned to Dillon, as Weltzien puts it, he “returned to Dillon repeatedly in his imagination.”

His fictional depictions of the town are the subject matter of Weltzien’s new article in the Spring 2017 issue of Great Plains Quarterly.

The article explores Savage’s fascination with the high society parties that once took place at the Metlen and Andrus’ hotels, and the rich history of the Sugar Bowl Cafe and its notorious clientele. Weltzien concludes that Savage’s novels remain important as a counterpoint to historical records of the city which often ignore the seedier aspects of the small town’s history.

This is just one of several projects Weltzien has and will be involved in this summer. He just returned from a conference in Detroit where “Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time” was launched.

Weltzien is one of four co-editors of the anthology.

According to the University of Nebraska Press, “This volume collects articles, essays, personal narratives, and poems by more than forty authors in conversation about ‘thinking continental’– connecting local and personal landscapes to universal systems and processes — to articulate the concept of a global or planetary citizenship.”

While in Detroit, Weltzien toured the city on his bike, visiting Wayne University and the Motown Museum.

Along with co-editing an anthology, and writing articles for literary journals, Weltzien will soon be the sole author of a new chapbook. Later this year, FootHills Publishing will be releasing “The Comfort Pathway: Writing and Walking Through Death and Grief.”

On the piece, Weltzien said, “This long essay means the world to me, as it defines my mother during the final three weeks of her life—her slow-motion dying.”

Weltzien also told us about two more of his pieces which will soon be released: “My poem, ‘Pouring Mother,’ is being published in Cirque: A Literary Journal for Alaska and The Pacific Northwest, and my essay, ‘Four Corners, a Point, and a Circle: The Seductions of Geometry,’ will be published soon in Weber– The Contemporary West.”

In addition to his article on Thomas Savage, Weltzien will be rounding out his summer schedule with two speaking engagements about other famous Montana Writers.

The first will be at the second annual In the Footsteps of Norman Maclean Festival. He’ll be on a panel discussing the 25th anniversary of the film adaptation of “A River Runs Through It.”

The festival takes place September 8-10 in Seeley Lake and Missoula, Mont..

His last stop on the summer tour will be in Bozeman, Mont. at Montana State University. He’ll be speaking about historical novelist Ivan Doig at a symposium entitled Doig Country: Imagining Montana and the West.

It’s obvious that professor Weltzien is in high demand these days. This summer he has travelled all over the country for both business and leisure, and the end of his travels is still several weeks away.

Fortunately for the University of Montana Western, this trip around the country will come to an end in the fall, and Dillon will once again have him all to itself.