Dances with Words Event

Francis Davis

On Feb. 15, 2018, at 7:30 pm, University of Montana Western Assistant English Professor Francis Davis will be reading from his new short-story collection, “West of Love,” as a part of the “Dances with Words” series. Each performance in the series takes place at The Cup, Montana Western’s coffeehouse located below the library on campus.

“Dances with Words” is produced by English Professor Alan Weltzien. The series, free and open to the public, provides the community with a unique opportunity to listen to writers reading their own works, including Montana Western student writers.

Davis was a finalist for the 2016 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction for “West of Love.” He’s won writing fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, The Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center.

The official summary for “West of Love,” states: “Staring down heartbreak and regret, Stewart Simmons, flees a haunted Philadelphia for the beauty of the West. In a raw, yet lyrical, voice that gives life to the urgency and appetites of youth, “West of Love” takes place in a time before the internet, before cell phones, before technology changed the ways we live and love. And as an older Stewart looks candidly back at his younger self, a picture of the human heart emerges–one that offers a testament to how we heal, how we go on.”

Daryl Farmer, author of “Where We Land,” said of the collection: West of Love” is a fierce and moving elegy to young love in a world that’s about to change, in essential ways, forever. The narrator of these linked stories tries to plumb his life and attachments in the ‘90s for clues to the man he is in middle age, and he does so in a pungent and obsessive voice that aches with yearning for the mysterious just-beyond.  A memorable debut collection by a writer who knows how to get to the heart of it.” 

Previous “Dances with Words” guest reader Shann Ray also spoke of the new book with high praise:

“Francis Davis has horses to spare, a thousand of them under a sleek hood, and when you get in the muscle car called “West of Love” it will set a burn in you like none other!  The stories in this fast, clean, engine of a book are powerful, all-American in their existential sweep, ironic undertow, and miraculous facility with the crucible called life.  Get ready for torque, wonder, desolation, and transcendence.  This one is on fire!”

For more information about “Dances with Words,” please contact Alan Weltzien by email at or call 406-683-7431.