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Tami Haaland featured at Dances with Words

UMW News Bureau

Poet, professor and editor Tami Haaland will be the featured reader at the Feb. 17 Dances with Words reading at the University of Montana Western. By Kaitlin Ens Poet, professor and editor Tami Haaland will be the featured reader at the Feb. 17 Dances with Words reading at the University of Montana Western. Haaland, a Montana State University Billings Associate Professor of English, will read at 7:30 p.m. in Montana Western’s coffee shop The Cup, located on the lower level of the Swysgood Technology Center. Montana Western’s English department sponsors the Dances with Words series, which features spoken word by both local and visiting writers and poets. The public is always welcome to the free series. “Tami Haaland is a well-known poet in our region, a professor at MSU Billings, and editor (and force behind) Stone's Throw Magazine, an online literary arts journal,” Montana Western Professor of English Alan Weltzien stated. “Tami has never read on our campus or in our valley, which is another criteria for Dances with Words.” Haaland will read from her collection of poetry “Breath in Every Room” as well as several newer pieces. Primarily a writer of poetry, many of Haaland’s works have been published in recent years. “Two poems have appeared in New Poets of the American West and another in Letters to the World, both recent anthologies,” Haaland said. “In the last couple of years some of my poems have also appeared in the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Redheaded Stepchild and High Desert Journal. A prose poem called “Pitch and Swing” is currently a web feature at, and two poems are forthcoming in a magazine called 5 AM.” Haaland believes that giving voice to literary works is an important practice to partake in. “As a reader I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the work and discover how it sounds in front of an audience,” Haaland added. “I hope it can offer something enjoyable for the listeners. As a listener it’s important to me to hear a writer’s voice. Often it helps me understand the work better.” As a writer Haaland always has new works in progress, but due to a busy schedule, having a standardized writing practice is often hard. “I write whenever and where ever I am on whatever paper I can find,” Haaland stated of her writing. “I’m not so organized as to have a regular practice of writing. It’s difficult for me at this stage of my life to find the place and time for long-immersion in thoughtful writing and revision, though this practice would work best.” Despite the challenges of finding time to write, Haaland uses the world around her for inspiration. On finding stimulus for her writing, Haaland says she finds inspiration “in all kinds of things: art, public space, encounters with other people, the natural world, and literature.” Haaland received her BA and MA in English Literature from The University of Montana before earning an MFA at Bennington College in Vermont. She now teaches literature and creative writing in all genres at MSU Billings as well as the Montana Women’s Prison through the MSU Billings Pathways to Success Program. Montana Western and local patrons fund the Dances with Words series. Following Haaland’s reading, the next Dances with Words will feature poet laureate Henry (Hank) Real Bird on March 31.