By Willy Doehring Contributing Writer
Writer and poet Christopher Bakken will visit UMF to read from his work as the semester’s first installment of the Visiting Writers series, organized and hosted by the Creative Writing department.
Bakken is currently the chair of the English department at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. He has a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing. Bakken describes himself as “a Swiss-Norwegian hockey-playing hillbilly from rural Wisconsin who accidently fell in love with Greece,” giving much more insight into both his personal background and into his writing.
However accidental it was, Bakken’s love of Greece is reflected in his work. In his non-fiction book Honey, Olives and Octopus: Adventures at the Greek Table Bakken travels Greece to find the eight elements of the Greek table and explores the traditional ways that each of these elements are produced— among other things.
“The chapters meander along the goat path, covering a lot of territory that has little to do with Greek cuisine,” said Bakken. “By which I mean to say my book combines elements of memoir, travel writing, food pornography, historical musing, and action-adventure narrative.”
Professor Jeffrey Thomson of UMF’s Creative Writing program is the primary organizer of the Visiting Writers series and was able to work with Bakken to organize the upcoming reading after another author canceled. The first reading was scheduled for February 15 and would have featured non-fiction writer Stephen Elliot, who was forced to cancel on short notice.
Thomson was unavailable for interview regarding the matter, but Bakken was unfazed when he learned he was replacing Elliot. “I had no idea, nor does it matter to me at all,” Bakken said.
Bakken plans to read primarily from Honey, Olives, Octopus when he visits UMF, but he also recently published his third book of poetry called Eternity and Oranges. Bakken describes the book as being “full of spooky ghost poems,” departing a bit from his focus on Greece. Bakken’s reading will be on February 22nd at 7:30 p.m. in the Landing.